Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creating & Maintaining Poverty


State Of The Democratic Race With Two Weeks To Go

(Photo of Clinton and Sanders is from abc13.com.)

There are two weeks left in the primary season for the Democratic Party, and Bernie Sanders is still trying to fool people into believing he has a chance to win the presidential nomination (and some of his supporters are actually buying into that delusion). Here's the truth about the delegate count (according to Bloomberg Politics).

HILLARY CLINTON

primary/caucus delegates...............1769
super delegates...............541
total delegates...............2310
needed to win...............73

BERNIE SANDERS

primary/caucus delegates...............1499
super delegates...............43
total delegates...............1542
needed to win...............841

And here are the contests still to come (with delegates available).

June 4th
Virgin Islands...............7 delegates

June 5th
Puerto Rico...............60 delegates

June 7th
New Jersey...............126 delegates
North Dakota...............18 delegates
South Dakota...............20 delegates
New Mexico...............34 delegates
Montana...............21 delegates
California...............475 delegates

June 14th
District of Columbia...............20 delegates

Total delegates still available...............781

Sanders needs 841 more delegates, but there are only 781 delegates still available. That means if he won 100% of the delegates still remaining, he would still be 60 delegates short of the 2383 needed for the nomination. Since he will be doing good to win 50% of the remaining delegates, that means once the primary season is over he will still be between 300 and 400 votes short -- while Clinton will be about 300 votes over the needed total.

After all the bad-mouthing he did about super delegates, Bernie is now hoping to convince several hundred of them to abandon Clinton and support him. That is not going to happen. Since the inception of super delegates, a majority of them has never voted for a candidate who did not win the majority of primary/caucus delegates -- and that is not going to change this year. Clinton has won the most votes, the most states, and the most primary/caucus delegates -- and the super delegates pledged to her will hold firm.

We will play this out for a couple more weeks, but it's clear to anyone who can do elementary school math -- Hillary Clinton is going to be the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Canned Patriotism

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Hillary Clinton Is Clearly Ahead In The 2016 Election

If you just listened to the cable news networks, you might think the campaign of Hillary Clinton is in trouble. That is just not true. Those networks want you to think that, because a close election gets them many more viewers (and they make more money with more viewers). The truth is that Clinton is already assured of the Democratic nomination, and is leading Donald Trump in both the national polls and the electoral college projections.

Here is how Paul Krugman describes it is his New York Times column:

This is my fifth presidential campaign as a New York Times columnist, so I’ve watched a lot of election coverage, and I came into this cycle prepared for the worst. Or so I thought.
But I was wrong. So far, election commentary has been even worse than I imagined it would be. It’s not just the focus on the horse race at the expense of substance; much of the horse-race coverage has been bang-your-head-on-the-desk awful, too. I know this isn’t scientific, but based on conversations I’ve had recently, many people — smart people, who read newspapers and try to keep track of events — have been given a fundamentally wrong impression of the current state of play.
And when I say a “wrong impression,” I don’t mean that I disagree with other people’s takes. I mean that people aren’t being properly informed about the basic arithmetic of the situation.
Now, I’m not a political scientist or polling expert, nor do I even try to play one on TV. But I am fairly numerate, and I assiduously follow real experts like The Times’s Nate Cohn. And they’ve taught me some basic rules that I keep seeing violated.
First, at a certain point you have to stop reporting about the race for a party’s nomination as if it’s mainly about narrative and “momentum.” That may be true at an early stage, when candidates are competing for credibility and dollars. Eventually, however, it all becomes a simple, concrete matter of delegate counts.
That’s why Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee; she locked it up over a month ago with her big Mid-Atlantic wins, leaving Bernie Sanders no way to overtake her without gigantic, implausible landslides — winning two-thirds of the vote! — in states with large nonwhite populations, which have supported Mrs. Clinton by huge margins throughout the campaign.
And no, saying that the race is effectively over isn’t somehow aiding a nefarious plot to shut it down by prematurely declaring victory. Nate Silverrecently summed it up: “Clinton ‘strategy’ is to persuade more ‘people’ to ‘vote’ for her, hence producing ‘majority’ of ‘delegates.’” You may think those people chose the wrong candidate, but choose her they did.
Second, polls can be really helpful at assessing the state of a race, but only if you fight the temptation to cherry-pick, to only cite polls telling the story you want to hear. Recent hyperventilating over the California primary is a classic example. Most polls show Mrs. Clinton with a solid lead, but one recent poll shows a very close race. So, has her lead “evaporated,” as some reports suggest? Probably not: Another poll, taken at the very same time, showed an 18-point lead.
What the polling experts keep telling us to do is rely on averages of polls rather than highlighting any one poll in particular. This does double duty: it prevents cherry-picking, and it also helps smooth out the random fluctuations that are an inherent part of polling, but can all too easily be mistaken for real movement. And the polling average for California has, in fact, been pretty stable, with a solid Clinton lead.
Polls can, of course, be wrong, and have been a number of times this cycle. But they’ve worked better than many people think. Most notably, Donald Trump’s rise didn’t defy the polls — on the contrary, he was solidly leadingthe polls by last September. Pundits who dismissed his chances were overruling what the surveys were trying to tell them.
Which brings us to the general election. Here’s what you should know, but may not be hearing clearly in the political reporting: Mrs. Clinton is clearly ahead, both in general election polls and in Electoral College projectionsbased on state polls.
It’s true that her lead isn’t as big as it was before Mr. Trump clinched the G.O.P. nomination, largely because Republicans have consolidated around their presumptive nominee, while many Sanders supporters are still balkingat saying that they’ll vote for her.
But that probably won’t last; many Clinton supporters said similar things about Barack Obama in 2008, but eventually rallied around the nominee. So unless Bernie Sanders refuses to concede and insinuates that the nomination was somehow stolen by the candidate who won more votes, Mrs. Clinton is a clear favorite to win the White House.
Now, obviously things can and will change over the course of the general election campaign. Every one of the presidential elections I’ve covered at The Times felt at some point like a nail-biter. But the current state of the race should not be a source of dispute or confusion. Barring the equivalent of a meteor strike, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee; despite the reluctance of Sanders supporters to concede that reality, she’s currently ahead of Donald Trump. That’s what the math says, and anyone who says it doesn’t is misleading you.
(The caricature of Paul Krugman above is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Potty Party

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

The Same Politicians


Sunday, May 29, 2016

I Think


Are The Moral Values In The U.S. Getting Worse ?


These charts are from a Gallup Poll -- done between May 4th and 8th of a random national sample of 1,025 American adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.

It seems that about 73% (nearly three-fourths) of the people in this country say they believe the state of moral values is getting worse in this country. I find that rather shocking, and I disagree with it. The truth is that while a lot of hate still exists, more Americans enjoy more equal rights than ever before in this country -- and that's because a greater portion of the population now believes in giving those rights to all people (and in letting others live their lives on their own terms).

To me, that spells a more moral America, and a case can be made that we are becoming a more moral nation. So why do so many think otherwise? I think they are confusing morality with religion. They know that the portion of non-religious people in the U.S. is growing, and the portion of religious people is shrinking -- and this has been happening for decades now.

The problem with that thinking is that religion is more concerned with dogma rather than morality. And they defend that dogma (equating it with morality) even when it hurts other people -- for instance discriminating against or denying rights to others when it conflicts with religious beliefs. Morality is different. It is doing what's right (helping others) even when it may be in conflict with dogma.

Some religious people are very moral, and some non-religious people are not moral at all -- and conversely, some non-religious people are very moral while some religious people are immoral. This is because religion and morality are not the same thing, and in fact, they have little to do with each other.


Embrace

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Rust Belt Middle Income Voters Are With Hillary Clinton


The cable news networks are all abuzz with the idea that Donald Trump will steal middle income (union) workers in the Rust Belt away from the Democrats (and Hillary Clinton). But as the top chart shows, that is not true -- at least for now. In the states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, those middle income voters still prefer Clinton over Trump by a 7 point margin.

The chart was made using results from a Bloomberg Politics / Purple Insights Poll -- done between May 18th and 24th of a sample of 803 middle income voters ($30k - $75k), with a margin of error of 3.5 points.

As the bottom chart shows, a plurality of those voters also expect Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.


Supporters

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

Morality Beliefs Of U.S. Religious (And Non-Religious)


Results from the Gallup Poll -- in a survey taken between 2001 and 2016 of a random national sample of 16,754 American adults, with a margin of error of 1 point.

Citizen Politician

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

People Are More Important Than Dogma


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Character


Clinton Should NOT Pick Warren, Brown, Or Booker For Veep


The three senators pictured above have been repeatedly mentioned as possible vice-presidential picks for Hillary Clinton. They are Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Cory Booker of New Jersey. They are all good Democrats, good liberals, and would make a great candidate for vice-president. But none of the three should be chosen by Clinton.

Why would I say that, especially when I have a high regard for all three of them (and Brown could help to bring along the swing state of Ohio)? Because all three are senators from a state with a Republican governor.

That means if they were elected vice-president, a Republican governor would appoint their replacement -- and you can be sure it would not be a Democrat chosen to replace them. In fact, it's possible that after replacing them with a Republican, the governor could then drag his feet in scheduling a special election (if he had to call one at all) -- and the sitting GOP senator would have the incumbent advantage once an election was called.

It is extremely important that the Democrats regain control of the Senate in the 2016 election. And there is a pretty good chance that can be done. But it will not be by much if it happens, and Democrats just cannot afford to give a seat back to the Republicans -- especially not one occupied by a solid liberal. Democrats are going to need every senate vote they can get to keep the Republicans from blocking every thing Clinton tries to do for this country.

Repeating History ?

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

Demographic Breakdown Of Clinton And Trump Favorability


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by Demographic Group
% with favorable opinion

Hillary ClintonDonald TrumpClinton minus Trump
(pct. pts.)
Non-Hispanic black69%11%58
Nonwhite female65%9%56
Nonwhite non-college grad61%13%48
Nonwhite college grad62%17%45
Hispanic58%14%44
Domestic partnership/Living with partner (not legally married)57%19%38
Nonwhite male57%19%38
Muslim53%17%36
Identify as LGBT54%18%36
Asian51%18%33
Jewish56%26%30
Unmarried woman48%20%28
Separated50%23%27
Postgraduate50%24%26
Less than $24,000/year50%25%25
Female, 18-4944%20%24
No religion/Atheist/Agnostic43%21%22
Female45%26%19
Pacific44%25%19
Single/Never been married41%24%17
Not religious42%26%16
Female, 50+47%32%15
Divorced46%31%15
30-4942%29%13
18-2933%21%12
Middle Atlantic45%33%12
Have children under 1841%29%12
New England43%32%11
Catholic46%35%11
Married woman42%32%10
Moderately religious44%35%9
East Central/Great Lakes40%31%9
College graduate40%31%9
White college grad39%31%8
Southwest40%32%8
High school or less41%33%8
Widowed44%36%8
$24,000/year-less than $60,000/year39%32%7
Have children (all ages)41%35%6
50-6442%39%3
Married with children under 1837%34%3
Unmarried man37%35%2
Southeast39%37%2
White female36%34%2
West Central36%34%2
$90,000+/year38%36%2
Male, 18-4933%32%1
65+42%42%0
$60,000/year-less than $90,000/year36%36%0
Married37%38%-1
Highly religious35%37%-2
Protestant/Other Christian36%38%-2
Some college34%37%-3
Rocky Mountain30%34%-4
Male34%40%-6
Non-Hispanic White30%41%-11
Mormon21%33%-12
Married man32%45%-13
Male, 50+36%49%-13
Veteran household29%49%-20
White non-college grad26%47%-21
White male25%49%-24
MAY 1-24, 2016

GALLUP POLL

SAMPLE SIZE -- 11,600 AMERICAN ADULTS

Back-Door Help

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

President Obama's Speech To The World From Hiroshima

[This photo of President Obama in Hiroshima is by Shoji Kajiyama (AP) and from abcnews.go.com.]

This is the speech President Obama gave from Hiroshima:

Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.
Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.
Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.
It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind. On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.
The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.
In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die. Men, women, children, no different than us. Shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death. There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war, memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism, graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity.
Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.
How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.
Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.
Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines.
The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.
That is why we come to this place. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.
Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.
Some day, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.
And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan have forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. The nations of Europe built a union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. Oppressed people and nations won liberation. An international community established institutions and treaties that work to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.
Still, every act of aggression between nations, every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.
We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations and secure deadly materials from fanatics.
And yet that is not enough. For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale. We must change our mind-set about war itself. To prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun. To see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. To define our nations not by our capacity to destroy but by what we build. And perhaps, above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.
For this, too, is what makes our species unique. We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story, one that describes a common humanity, one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.
We see these stories in the hibakusha. The woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself. The man who sought out families of Americans killed here because he believed their loss was equal to his own.
My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens. But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family — that is the story that we all must tell.
That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.
Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.
The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.