Friday, February 12, 2016

"Welfare Queens"

Can Bernie Achieve ANY Of His Promises If Elected ?

(Photo of Bernie Sanders is from Politico.com.)

If there's one thing Bernie Sanders can do, it's paint a beautiful dream of all the things he will accomplish if elected president. But after watching his campaign for a few months now, I'm left to wonder if he has much connection to the real world. How is he going to actually get any of his promises into law? Can he bring any of them to fruition?

He doesn't seem to realize that he cannot do that alone. There is a Congress in Washington that must approve what he wants to do. What has he done to make sure he will have a friendly Congress to work with? The answer is NOTHING. He has not campaigned for any Democrats, and he has not raised any money for Democratic candidates (or the DNC). He seems to think his "revolution" will automatically bring a flood of new Democrats into Congress, without him having to do anything.

That's not reality. The truth is that his socialist label (which he wears much more proudly than the Democratic label) will probably scare many Democratic candidates. Instead of uniting with his campaign, most are far more likely to separate themselves from it.

The best case scenario for the Senate is that the Democrats become the majority. But don't fool yourself into thinking it'll be a filibuster-proof majority (if it happens). There will not be the votes to override a filibuster by the GOP, and you can bet the GOP will filibuster any of Bernie's radical changes.

The hopes for the House are not even that good. It is possible that Democrats will gain some House members, but almost no one believes they will have the majority in the House. The Republicans will still be able to block anything Bernie proposed -- just like they do to President Obama.

So, how is Bernie going to overcome a do-nothing, block-everything Republican Congress? The only answer I've heard from him is that he'll bring in so many new voters with his revolution that they'll force Congress to go along with Bernie programs and proposals. Are you kidding me? The Republican Congress has already showed us that you can't "force" them to do anything -- no matter how many people want it.

Remember that 80% to 90% of the people want loopholes closed in the background check law for gun purchases. Congress didn't care, and won't even seriously discuss doing that. And substantial majorities of the public favor raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, protecting gays from discrimination in the workforce, higher taxes for the rich, making corporations pay their fair share of taxes, making sure we have clean air and water, and stopping the export of good American jobs. Has the Republican Congress allowed a serious discussion of any of these things (let alone a vote on them)? Of course not.

Most of the Republicans in the House are in safe gerrymandered districts -- and as long as they say nutty right-wing things, they can get re-elected. They don't have to care about what the public wants.

I think Bernie knows he is making promises he can't keep. But even sadder, I think many of his supporters know that also. A progressive blogger that I have always respected said as much a couple of days ago. He said Bernie's supporters (like him) know Bernie can't get anything done if elected, but that doesn't matter. They are voting for a dream -- a idea. That may make them feel better, but it doesn't do anything to help hurting Americans.


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

Oklahoma, New York, & Georgia Democrats Favor Clinton

The Oklahoman Poll (Feb 6-9) 382 Oklahoma Democratic voters (5.01 point moe)

Siena College Poll (Jan 31 - Feb 3) 434 New York Democratic voters (5.6 point moe)

WSB-TV / Landmark Poll (Feb 4) 500 Georgia Democratic voters (4.4 point moe)

Oklahoma and Georgia will vote on March 1st (Super Tuesday). New York will vote on April 19th.

All three states show Hillary Clinton with a substantial lead right now -- 16 points in Oklahoma, 21 points in New York, and 41 points in Georgia.


Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Hillary Clinton's Position On Social Security And Medicare

(This photo of Hillary Clinton from hillaryclinton.com is by Kat Kane.)

This is Hillary Clinton's stand on issues important to most Americans -- Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security

For 80 years, Social Security has been America at its best. Social Security reflects our shared belief that every American should be able to retire with dignity after decades of hard work. That no American should face poverty because he or she is disabled, or when a loved one dies. That we all have an obligation to each other.
Social Security isn't just a program—it's a promise. As president, Hillary will:
Defend Social Security against Republican attacks. Republicans are using scare tactics about the future and effectiveness of Social Security to push through policies that would jeopardize it. The real threat is Republican attempts to undermine the bedrock of the system. Hillary believes that Social Security must remain what it has always been: a rock-solid benefit that seniors can always count onnot subject to the budget whims of Congress or to the fluctuations of the stock market. She fought Republican efforts to undermine Social Security when she was a senator and throughout her career, and she will fight them as president. As president, she would:
  • Fight any attempts to gamble seniors’ retirement security on the stock market through privatization.
  • Oppose reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments.
  • Oppose Republican efforts to raise the retirement agean unfair idea that will particularly hurt the seniors who have worked the hardest throughout their lives.
  • Oppose closing the long-term shortfall on the backs of the middle class, whether through benefit cuts or tax increases.
Expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system—including women who are widows and those who took significant time out of the paid workforce to take care of their children, aging parents, or ailing family members. Social Security works well, but it should work better. Hillary will fight to expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly today. For instance:
  • The poverty rate for widowed women 65 or older is nearly 90 percent higher than for other seniors—in part because when a spouse dies, families can face a steep benefit cut. For a two-earner couple, those benefit cuts can be as much as 50 percent. Hillary believes that we have to change that by reducing how much Social Security benefits drop when a spouse dies, so that the loss of a spouse doesn’t mean financial hardship or falling into poverty.
  • Millions of women—and men—take time out of the paid workforce to raise a child, take care of an aging parent or look after an ailing family member. Caregiving is hard work that benefits our entire economy. However, when Americans take time off to take care of a relative, that can reduce their Social Security benefits at retirement, since those benefits are calculated based on their top thirty-five years of earnings. No one should face meager Social Security checks because they took on the vital role of caregiver for part of their career. Americans should receive credit toward their Social Security benefits when they are out of the paid workforce because they are acting as caregivers.
Preserve Social Security for decades to come by asking the wealthiest to contribute more. Social Security must continue to guarantee dignity in retirement for future generations. Hillary understands that there is no way to accomplish that goal without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap, and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.


Medicare is the bedrock of coverage for more than 50 million American seniors and people with disabilities. Hillary has fought to protect and strengthen Medicare throughout her career, and she won't stop in this campaign. 

As senator, Hillary co-sponsored and sponsored bills to reduce the impact of the Medicare prescription drug gap by reducing the price of pharmaceuticals for seniors. As president, Hillary will defend against the efforts to end Medicare as we know it by privatizing Medicare or even to “phase out” the program.
  • Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that would raise costs and limit coverage for seniors. Republicans in Congress have voted more than 50 times to repeal or dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and on the campaign trail, candidate after candidate has put forward plans to roll it back. The Affordable Care Act made preventive care available without cost sharing to an estimated 39 million people with Medicare. It also began to close the drug coverage gap, or “donut hole,” saving more than 9 million people with Medicare an average of almost $1,600 per person. Seniors and people with Medicare coverage cannot afford repealing the ACA.
  • Fight back against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it. Republicans have called for privatizing or even “phasing out” Medicare, and shifting millions more seniors into private plans that can segment the program and lead to a “death spiral” that dramatically raises costs for those relying on basic Medicare and thus undermining the basic Medicare guarantee. Hillary Clinton will stand strongly against these attempts to weaken the program.
  • Drive down drug costs for seniors and other Americans. A typical senior spends over $500 per year out of his or her own pocket on prescription drugs. Hillary’s plan will drive down drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with drug and biologic manufacturers; demanding higher rebates; and allowing Americans to import lower-cost drugs from foreign countries with approved safety standards. Her plan will encourage drug companies that get ahead by investing in life-saving treatments, rather than jacking up prices without innovating. The changes and reduced payments or higher rebates to drug companies will strengthen Medicare by saving more than $100 billion in program spending.
  • Medicare delivery system reforms that will deliver value and quality to our seniors and people with disabilities. Hillary’s plan will continue to reward quality and improve value in Medicare by building on delivery system reforms that began as initiatives and pilot projects under the Affordable Care Act. For example, her plan will encourage the expansion of payment systems that pay for an entire episode of care or “bundle,” rather than the traditional “fee for service” payments, and those that incentivize doctors and hospitals to coordinate care in an Accountable Care Organization, so that providers are responsible for offering the best possible care at the highest value to patients. These delivery reforms will provide higher quality at lower costs to people in Medicare, and Clinton’s plan will work to expand them to other parts of our health system so every American can benefit.

In Bed With Trump

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

Not Oppression

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Don't Like Liberals ?

Outsiders Don't Get To Make The Democratic Party Rules

The latest complaint from Bernie Sanders supporters is that the rules of the Democratic Party are unfair to their candidate. The unfairness they speak of is the party rule that gives some party officials (like elected officials) an automatic delegate vote at the nominating convention -- the so-called "super delegates".

In 2016, there will be 4,764 convention delegates. Of that number, about 713 are super delegates. The rest will be chosen in the primaries and caucuses.

This same system was in place for the 2008 nominating process -- and no one complained about it. Barack Obama won the majority of primary/caucus delegates and the majority of super delegates, and won the nomination. The system worked just as it was supposed to work.

So, what is different about 2016? Well, after Bernie tied Hillary in Iowa, and beat her in New Hampshire, the delegate total stands at 394 for Clinton and 44 for Sanders. That's because about 362 super delegates have pledged their support for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. That leaves about 351 unplugged super delegates. Sanders could prove he deserves a big share of those by winning a majority of primary/caucus delegates. But his supporters know they are not likely to do that, so whining about the rules is the path chosen.

Why have more than half of the super delegates decided to support Hillary Clinton? It's not secret, and it's not a "conspiracy" either. They support the candidate who has been a good Democrat for 47 years -- working hard to support the party and its elected officials. Clinton has earned their support.

Why wouldn't they support Bernie, who is as progressive as Hillary? It could well be because Sanders is NOT a Democrat. For 73 years, he avoided the Democratic label like the plague. He has turned down Democratic Party nominations, and made it clear that he is not a Democrat (even though he caucuses with Democrats in the Senate). And while he is now using the Democratic Party apparatus to run for president, he still refuses to simply say "I am a Democrat". Why should long-time Democrats (as almost all super delegates are) support any candidate too ashamed to wear the Democratic Party label?

The Democratic Party's rules are fair. They were created by Democrats to help them nominate the best Democratic candidate to carry their banner into the general election. They were created to be fair to Democrats -- not Independents, Socialists, Libertarians, Greens, Republicans, or anyone else who is not a Democrat. And it is not up to Independents, who find themselves supporting someone running in the Democratic primaries/caucuses, to change the party rules -- no matter how unfair they perceive them to be.

If you want to help make Democratic Party rules, then you should be a Democrat. Join the party, work for its candidates (even in off-year elections), become a delegate to state and national conventions or a party official (it's not hard and it's a democratic process), and then campaign within the party for the changes you want. Staying outside the party, and sometimes voting Democratic, doesn't give you the right to help make party rules -- or to whine about them.

We have a big-tent party, and we welcome all those willing to work for the party (regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political orientation). We welcome your ideas and hard work. But we will not bend (or break) our rules to placate whiners who don't really want to proudly call themselves Democrats.

Not Liked

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Two More Republicans Drop Out Of Presidential Race

I borrowed the image above from a Facebook friend, because it effectively tells the story. When the Republican presidential nominating race started a few months ago, there were 17 hopeful candidates. Ten of them have now fallen by the wayside -- and we're only two states into the primary/caucus season.

On Wednesday morning, Carly Fiorina suspended her presidential campaign. After finishing with only 4% of the GOP vote in New Hampshire, she finally saw the writing on the wall (in giant letters) -- and realized she had no chance to become the party's nominee.

Fiorina had her moment of glory last summer, after an early debate (where she bested the others at the GOP's "kiddie table". But after being promoted to the "big kids" debate, she couldn't hang -- and her numbers started dropping. Thankfully, she has now realized she's just another "also ran".

Then on Wednesday afternoon, Chris Christie told his supporters that he is also suspending his presidential campaign. Christie had entered the campaign a damaged candidate, thanks to Bridge-gate (and the teabbagger perception he was too nice to President Obama after Hurricane Sandy). He thought he could bluster his way through as the candidate who was not afraid to speak boldly -- but that hope faded after another candidate with more bluster came along -- Donald Trump.

Christie was banking on New Hampshire to get him back in contention -- but an 8% showing and a sixth place finish put an end to that. He finally realized he's wasting his time (and other people's money).

Now there are seven Republicans left -- actually five candidates, and two hangers-on. Carson and Gilmore are dead-candidates walking. They just aren't ready to admit it. Their campaign suspensions will come soon.

That leaves Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. If this is the best they can do, I almost feel sorry for the Republican Party.


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

I Like Hillary - And I'm Proud To Support Her

The following post is by Lesleyann Coker in The Huffington Post. She sums up my feeling exactly. Too many people have accepted the Republican lies about Hillary (especially Sanders supporters). I like Hillary, and I trust her, and she has earned that trust many times over the years.

Coker writes:

I like Hillary. 
There, I said it. 
I'm tired of feeling like a pariah. Liking Bernie Sanders is cool. Liking Hillary Clinton is not. 
Whenever I tell people I like Hillary, I'm met with incredulous stares and voices dripping with disgust. "Really?" they ask. "Why? How can you like her?" You'd think I confessed to killing puppies the way they carry on. 
I'm then met with a litany of common refrains. "She lies. You can't trust her. Remember Benghazi?" Or my personal favorite, "She's a Clinton. She thinks she's entitled." 
And those are just my Democrat friends! My Republican friends are even more unrelenting in their irrational disdain for this woman.
Yet when I ask them to explain, they can't delve deeper than the platitudes.
When President Obama famously said to Hillary in a debate before the New Hampshire primary in 2008, "You're likable enough," he was tapping into a deep vein of unlikability that surrounds her like a cone of shame.
I can't think of another national figure, politician or celebrity who has been as scrutinized and savaged for over two decades the way Hillary has. 
In addition to the run of the mill haters, she has to contend with more stereotypes and overt sexism than anyone else in modern politics.
When Bernie raises his voice, it's cute and humorous. He's the beloved cranky grandpa. Memes are created. When Hillary raises her voice, she's a shrill, angry woman, and the hate ensues. Yet if she's soft spoken, compassionate or shows too much emotion, she's criticized as weak. She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.
Any other public servant would have left politics for a career where character assassination isn't standard practice. 
But Hillary hasn't retreated. With balls of steel, she's still here fighting the good fight, delivering a positive message in her stump speech. This stands in sharp contrast to the fearful Chicken Littles on the right. 
To the purveyors of hate, Hillary is the dreaded "other." She's the embodiment of "those people" we're supposed to fear, like uppity women, African Americans, Mexican immigrants, the poor, the LGBT community, and religious minorities.
The media bears much responsibility for the defamation and demonization of Hillary. By giving self-serving zealots air time for the sake of ratings and blood sport, Americans are left misinformed. 
It's one thing to disagree with Hillary over honest differences in policy. It's quite another thing to dislike her based on fear mongering, allegations and innuendo.


Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This Just Ain't Right

Bernie Sanders Wins Big In New Hampshire

(The graphic above is by DonkeyHotey.)

The people of New Hampshire have spoken, and Bernie Sanders is the big winner in that state. I had hoped that Hillary Clinton could close the gap in that state, but it doesn't look like that happened. As I write this, it looks like Sanders will win with a 20 to 21 point margin.

I congratulate Sanders on his victory. His supporters have every right to celebrate. But I'm not yet ready to accept the cable media's pronouncement that this is somehow a game changer. Sanders has been expected to win New Hampshire for months now, and even a large margin there doesn't provide him with an easy path to the nomination.

The campaign now goes to the Nevada caucuses (where it could be another tight race), but after that it goes to South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states -- and that's territory much friendlier to Clinton.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump finished in first place, but far from a majority. He got about a third of the GOP vote. The surprises of the night came from Kasich, who grabbed second place, and from Rubio, who dropped down into fifth place. Cruz was third and Bush was fourth. It looks like those five will all get delegates from New Hampshire. The big losers were Christie and Fiorina, who did not make the 10% mark that would give them delegates.






Delegate numbers are from Bloomberg.com.

Number of delegates needed to win the nomination..........2,382

The Torturer

Political Cartoon is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post.

Bernie Has Benefitted More From Super-PACs Than Hillary

(These caricatures of Sanders and Clinton are by DonkeyHotey.)

I have always liked Bernie Sanders (and even donated to his last senate campaign), but I am starting to be disappointed in him. That's because he has been very dishonest in his talk about super-PACs. He continues to claim that he's the only candidate who doesn't have a super-PAC. That is a lie.

The truth is that no candidate "has" a super-PAC. If they did, they would be violating federal election law. The law prohibits any candidate from having a connection with (or even coordinating with) a super-PAC. His inference, of course, is that Hillary Clinton has a super-PAC. She does not. She has super-PAC support, but so does Sanders (a fact that he omits when talking about this).

He also charges that Hillary Clinton has raised money for a super-PAC. That is true. Clinton has helped the Priorities USA Action super-PAC to raise money. That is a progressive super-PAC founded to support the election of Barack Obama, and now supports the election of a progressive to be elected president in 2016. Priorities USA Action has spent very little in the primaries -- preferring instead to save their money to fight for the Democratic nominee in the general election (which, ironically, would be Sanders if he could win the nomination).

The impression Sanders is trying to give Democratic voters is that he is not getting super-PAC help, while his opponent (Clinton) is getting massive super-PAC help. Is that true. No. That turns out to also be a lie. The money spent to help the Clinton campaign in the primaries by all outside groups (Priorities Action USA, Correct The Record, Planned Parenthood, and the League of Conservation Voters) is $847,000. Those groups together don't equal the super-PAC support Sanders has received from the National Nurses United super-PAC, which has spent about $1,000,000 to support Sanders.

And that doesn't count the conservative super-PACs, that have spent $4.3 in attacking Clinton this campaign season -- including American Crossroads spending on ads attacking Clinton for Wall Street speaking fees (a favorite Sanders campaign theme), and the Ending Spending group that ran ads in Iowa (supposedly attacking Sanders, but in a way that seemed to encourage Democrats to support him). These groups have decided that would much rather have their GOP nominee run against Sanders than Clinton.

Suffice it to say that when Sanders gets on his patented super-PAC rant, he is being disingenuous at best and is outright lying at worst. Since he's not a stupid man, I think he is just lying. Sanders supporters like to say that Clinton can't be trusted. It looks like that same charge can be leveled at their own candidate.

Jumping The Birthers

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Arkansas, Michigan & N. Carolina Strong For Clinton

Now that voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have made their decision, we move on to other states -- and three of those states voting in the next month are Arkansas (on March 1st), Michigan (on March 8th), and North Carolina (on March 15th). Hillary Clinton still looks very strong in those three states -- leading Sanders by 32 points in Arkansas, by 32 points in Michigan, and by 26 points in North Carolina.

The Talk Business & Politics / Hendrix College Poll was done on February 4th of a random sample of 451 Arkansas Democrats, with a margin of error of 3.3 points.

The IMP/Target Insyght Poll was done between February 2nd and 4th of a random sample of 400 Michigan Democrats, and has a margin of error of 5 points.

The High Point University Poll was done between January 30th and February 4th of a random sample of 478 North Carolina Democrats, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.

Pull The String

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

New NBC National Poll Shows Clinton Holding Big Lead

This is from the NBC News / Survey Monkey Weekly Poll -- done between February 1st and 7th of a random national sample of 10,707 adults (9,690 of them registered voters), with a margin of error of 1.4 points. It shows Hillary Clinton still holding a 51% majority -- 12 points ahead of Bernie Sanders.

Robot Rubio

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

Traditional ?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Newest Polls Show New Hampshire Race May Be Tightening

The top chart represents results from the new Boston Herald / Franklin Pierce University Poll -- done between February 2nd and 6th of a random sample of 407 New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, and has a 4.9 point margin of error.

The second chart is the newest Monmouth University Poll -- done between February 4th and 6th of a random sample of 502 New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, and has a margin of error of 4.4 points.

Right after Iowa, the first polls in New Hampshire showed Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points. These two polls suggest the race might be tightening in New Hampshire. One has Sanders leading by 7 points, and the other has him leading by 10 points.

If Clinton can make the primary outcome closer than predicted (say 7 points or less), that could be considered a victory for her, since Sanders has been leading big for some time now in New Hampshire. -- and it could bode well for hr as she enters friendlier states.

Race Vehicle ?

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

Texas Green Party Announces Convention Dates

For you progressives who just don't feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, the Green Party is always an alternative -- and they have just announced their convention dates for those who wish to participate. Here's the announcement:

As we begin the 2016 election cycle, GPTX candidates are now filed and we look ahead to the convention nominating process. Texas Election Code sets the date of our precinct conventions on March 8thcounty conventions as March 12thdistrict as March 19th , and state as April 9th. As core GPTX volunteers, it is our role to help our membership and Green voters become familiar with our candidates so they can optimally participate in the convention process. Most of our races are uncontested, but the party still has an important duty to approve each candidate as a GPTX representative by conferring its nomination. Five candidates recognized by GPUS contest the presidential nomination.
Ideally, we would hope to see each GPTX region meet or host a forum with their applicable candidates before the precinct conventions, even if this needs to be accomplished via video chat. GPTX SEC must ask co-chairs & key volunteers for your assistance in arranging the particulars that are right for your area. A complete list of candidates is provided here.
County parties should plan now where to hold their precinct & county conventions. GPTX will provide ballots & convention procedures to support you in this effort, but local volunteers will be needed to operate each convention, where delegates are nominated to subsequent conventions. District conventions will be held via teleconference. We are also continuing to plan for the state convention & meeting in San Antonio on April 9th & 10th.  Please inform the state co-chairs of precinct & county convention locations as soon as they are determined so that they may be posted on txgreens.org.
If your county party has not fully developed, now is an excellent time for volunteer organizers to call supporters together for the conventions & to give voters in your area an opportunity to vote Green.
Several positions on GPTX State Executive Committee are open and coming up for election at April’s state meeting in San Antonio. At-Large, Secretary, Treasurer, and Co-Chair slots will all be determined by the delegates to the state meeting on April 10th, after we have concluded the candidate nomination activities of the convention on April 9th. Nominations for officer elections should be sent to the state co-chairs for listing in meeting agenda materials. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor.
Laura Palmer
co-chair GPTX SEC

GOP Dogs

Political Cartoon is by Jack Ohman in the Sacramento Bee.

Trump Still Leads GOP Race Nationally

The chart above was made from the results of a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on February 3rd and 4th of a random national sample of 725 likely Republican voters, with a 4 point margin of error.

Barring any surprises in today's New Hampshire primary, this poll shows the GOP race is currently a three man race -- between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. They are the only candidates getting at least 20% support nationally. All other candidates are in low single digits.

Trump Voter

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Terms The Right-Wing Tosses Around Without Understanding

(This chart is from Across The Fruited Plain.)

I thought this post by Mark E. Andersen at Daily Kos was very good.

Since 2008 we have seen conservatives call President Obama a socialist, a fascist, a Nazi, a communist, and all of the above. Who knows where the American right comes up with this stuff, because even the communists aren’t communists anymore.
Fascism, socialism, communism, National Socialism, Marxism, Islamofascism, and democratic socialism: Today’s conservatives, in their search for a bogeyman equal to the former Soviet Union, have thrown all these words around as if they all mean the same thing. But they are all different philosophies on how to govern (except for Islamofascism and National Socialism—more on those later). That is where the similarities between them end. The mental gymnastics required to think that fascism and socialism are the same philosophy are beyond belief. So to help our confused conservative friends, below is a primer of what each of these philosophies really are (hint: Obama is not any of them). Please keep in mind, this is just a brief overview of these philosophies and not an in-depth look.
Fascism: What is it? Think Mussolini—he is the poster child for what a fascist is. While he started out as a socialist, he did not stay one, denouncing socialism in December 1914. The formal definition of fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. Fascism is usually placed on the far right within the traditional left/right political spectrum.
Marxism: The granddaddy of political philosophies on the left. The child of Karl Marxand Friedrich Engels, it’s the philosophy that laid the ground work for socialism and communism. But what is it? The formal definition of Marxism is the political, economic, and social principles and policies advocated by Marx, and “a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society.” Much is this is laid out by Marx in Das Kapitalwhich is a fascinating read if you are so inclined. Marxism is on the far left of the traditional left/right political spectrum.

Communism: The direct descendant of Marxism. Some of the more well-known communist states in the world are the Soviet Union (and her satellites), the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba. Communism calls for the means of production to be owned by the government, and there is no private property. In theory, it is the final evolution of Marxism and is the perfect classless society. In practice: Well, George Orwell said it best in Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Communism is on the far left of the traditional left/right political spectrum.

Socialism: The middle step between capitalism and full-blown communism. The formal definition of socialism is a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies. So the important industries like healthcare, power, communications, transportation, and other industries are owned by the state, but there is private property. Socialism is on far left of the traditional left/right political spectrum.

Democratic socialism: Social ownership of the means of production, but with a democratically elected government. The formal definition is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy with social ownership of the means of production. The adjective "democratic" is often added to distinguish itself from the Marxist-Leninist brand of socialism, which is widely viewed as being non-democratic. We have many aspects of democratic socialism in the United States today: Public libraries, snow removal, trash pick-up, Medicare, fire protection, police protection, and Social Security are just a handful of examples. Democratic socialism is on the left of the traditional left/right political spectrum.

National Socialism, aka the Nazis: This is not socialism no matter what anyone tells you. It is a fascist-based philosophy. The formal definition is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th century German Nazi Party and Nazi state, as well as other far-right groups. It’s usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and anti-Semitism. National Socialism is on the far right of the traditional left/right political spectrum.
Islamofascism: Is this really even a thing? Formally it is defined as an ideologypromoted by some Islamists, the aims of which are to establish Islamic orthodoxy andto resist western secularism. However, many critics are dismissiveDaniel Benjamin brands it as "meaningless." Norman Finkelstein calls it a “kosher-halal" throwback version of the "vacuous" old leftist epithet "fascist pig.” Paul Krugman calls it a "figment of the neocon imagination,” and Angelo Codevilla states that it “betrays an ignorance of both Islam and Fascism.” It appears that Islamofascism is something our conservative friends made up as a bogeyman to replace the former Soviet Union. I have no idea where this made-up thing goes on the traditional left/right political spectrum.

So there you have it. A very brief tutorial on some of the political philosophies that conservatives in the United States are willfully ignorant about. Next time your uncle starts raving about that fascist/communist/socialist/Marxist/Islamofascist Obama—just print this, hand it to him and walk away. It likely won’t do any good, but, you won’t have to waste your time trying to explain that fascism is not the same as communism.


Political Cartoon is by Keith Knight at kchronicles.com.


Monday, February 08, 2016

One Person

There's Still Too Much Misogyny In The United States

This chart was made from results of a Washington Post / Kaiser Family Foundation Poll -- done between May 21st and June 17th of a random national sample of 1,610 adults, and has a 3 point margin of error. It shows that only 60% of women and 33% of men say they are feminists, while 32% of women and 55% of men say they are not feminists. Frankly, I find those numbers shocking.

I don't understand. Do people still believe the old right-wing lie that feminism is a lesbian plot against men? Surely not. I'd like to think Americans are smarter than that. Do they still think that equality is a zero-sum game -- and if one group is given rights, then another group must lose rights? I hope not, because that is a stupid idea (whether applied to women, race, or the LGBT community). Making sure all people have the same rights does not take rights away from anyone.

Maybe people just don't understand the term feminism. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities". That's it. If you believe that, then you are a feminist.

How could anyone not be a feminist? Do you really believe more than half of our population should have less rights and opportunities than the rest? Do you really believe your mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, niece, or female cousin or friend should have less rights and opportunities than men have?

Personally, I believe we are either feminists or misogynists. There is no middle ground. You either believe women should have equal rights and opportunities or you don't, and if you don't then you are
a misogynist (prejudiced against women).

I have always been proud to call myself a feminist, and I simply don't understand why all Americans aren't the same way.

Road To Defeat

Political Cartoon is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post.

Electing A Socialist President In U.S. Is Just Not Realistic

Many progressives and young people are deluding themselves. They have become excited about the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, and because they are willing to believe, they think most Americans can be convinced to do the same. One look at the chart above should show that is not a realistic hope.

The chart above, from the Gallup Poll, was done with interviews of a random sample of 177,991 adults throughout 2015. It shows the percentage in each state that self-identify as conservative, moderate, or liberal. Note that only one state (Vermont) has a larger percentage of liberals than either moderates or conservatives. And only two other states (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) have more liberals than conservatives (although both groups are outnumbered by moderates). In all other states, both moderates and conservatives outnumber the liberals.

And that's just liberals. You can bet that most Americans consider socialism to be significantly to the left of liberalism. It is hard enough to get good liberals elected in this country, and it would be impossible to get an avowed socialist elected -- especially after the Republicans started running ads against him (calling him not just a socialist but also a communist).

I am old enough to remember the last time the progressives and the young combined to nominate a leftist to be their nominee -- George McGovern in 1972. McGovern was a good man, and would have made a good president, but Americans saw him as too far to the left -- and the result was disastrous. McGovern carried only one state, and lost the electoral vote 520 to 17.

I know the Bernie supporters claim this is nothing like what happened in 1972, but I disagree. I see many parallels. In 1972, a candidate was nominated that excited Democrats, and in 2016 many Democrats are excited by Sanders. But we need to realize that progressives (or even all Democrats) won't be electing a president (and neither will the Republicans). The next president will be elected because he or she won over most of the moderate independents -- and that isn't going to happen if a socialist is nominated.

And nominating a socialist would also hurt down-ballot Democrats (most of whom would separate themselves from the national ticket to survive). But many would not survive, because they will be tainted by Bernie's socialism.

I am glad Vermont sent Bernie to Congress, and I think he's a great senator. But getting elected senator from Vermont (the most liberal state in the nation) is a lot different from getting elected was the nation's president. We need to remember that politics is the art of the possible --n and right now, it's just not possible for a 74 year old socialist to be elected.


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

Iowa Put A Dent In Trump Inevitability

This is the latest result from the Rasmussen Poll on the likelihood of Donald Trump being the GOP presidential nominee. The survey was done on February 3rd and 4th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

It looks like losing the Iowa caucuses has caused some to change their minds about Trump being the likely GOP nominee. Before Iowa, 74% of Republicans and 63% of the general public said Trump was the likely nominee. After Iowa, only 61% of Republicans and 52% of the general public think that. That's a 13 point drop among Republicans, and an 11 point drop in the general public.

Does it mean he can't win? Not at all. He would still have to be considered the favorite -- especially if he wins New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he has significant leads in both states. But it does show he's not infallible, and if he wants to win, he's going to have to take things more serious than he has in the past.


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

A Fraction Of A Dot

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Religions Of Peace ?

Americans Think The Republican Party Favors The Rich

These charts were made from Pew Research Center surveys done in December and January of 3,509 adult Americans. They show some good and some bad news for Democrats. The good news is that a majority of Americans (62%) think the Republicans favor the rich over everyone else.

The bad news is in the two charts below. The bottom chart shows that while about 31% think the Democrats favor the poor (and 2% say the Republicans do). Those numbers show that Americans think both parties don't pay much attention to the poor.

But the worst chart concerns the middle class -- the group that will provide the majority of the votes in the 2016 election. It seems that most Americans think both parties ignore the middle class when they propose policies. Only 32% say the Democrats favor the middle class, and 26% say the Republicans do.

The party that convinces middle class voters they are on their side will win the presidential election -- and right now neither party is doing a very good job of that. It's good that most people think the Republicans favor the rich, but that is not enough. Democrats need to let the middle class know how their policies will help them.

Brain Damage

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