Friday, May 27, 2022

Red States Have Highest Rate Of Child Firearm Deaths




 

Most Support Background Checks & Banning Assault Rifles



The charts above reflect the results of the new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done on May 25th of a national sample of 1,920 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

The Issue Is Mental Health

Political Cartoon is by Drew Sheneman in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
 

About 210,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week


The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that about 210,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on May 21st. Here is the official Labor Department statement:

In the week ending May 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 210,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 218,000. The 4-week moving average was 206,750, an increase of 7,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 199,500.

Blood Trail

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

We Are Sacrificing Children On An Alter Of Guns


The United States has made a terrible choice -- that we are willing to sacrifice children to protect the right of criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, domestic abusers, and terrorists to have any kind of gun and ammunition they want. Republicans will tell you they are protecting the right of Americans to own a gun, but no one is trying to deny that right to honest and law-abiding citizens. The Republican intransigence only protects those who should not have a gun, and this just insures that more mass murders will happen (including those of children).

Alyssa Rosenberg discusses this sacrificial mentality in The Washington Post. Here is part of what she wrote:

On the surface, contemporary America seems very distant from the world of Greek tragedy or the Toltec capital of Tula in 950 A.D. But our societies have something in common. We all practice child sacrifice.

The latest young victims of the ritual slaughter our culture permits are the 19 children shot to death inside their school in Uvalde, Tex., on Tuesday.

The massacre brings the total number of children killed in school shootings since the 1999 Columbine attack to 185. That figure doesn’t account for all the other settings in which children have been the victims of mass gun violence. And it doesn’t include the 311,000 children who were injured in school shootings, witnessed their classmates and teachers being shot, or sought shelter in barricaded classrooms, bathrooms and closets.

Given the lack of action after these spasms of butchery, there is only one possible conclusion: We are willing to tolerate the murder of children. We accept events that will gravely wound the bodies and psyches of many others.

30 Pieces Of Silver

Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in the Columbia Missourian.
 

The U.S. Is A Killing Field Created By Republicans


The following sad and thought-provoking op-ed is by Charles M. Blow in The New York Times

The Republican Party has turned America into a killing field.

Republicans have allowed guns to proliferate while weakening barriers to ownership, lowering the age at which one can purchase a weapon and eliminating laws governing how, when and where guns can be carried.

They have done this in part with help from conservatives on the Supreme Court who have upheld a corrupt and bastardized interpretation of the Second Amendment.

But Republicans have also done so by promoting fear and paranoia. They tell people that criminals are coming to menace you, immigrants are coming to menace you, a race war (or racial replacement) is coming to menace you and the government itself may one day come to menace you.

The only defense you have against the menace is to be armed.

If you buy into this line of thinking, owning a gun is not only logical but prudent. It’s like living in a flood plain and buying flood insurance. Of course you should do it.


The propaganda has been incredibly, insidiously persuasive. As Vox pointed out last year, “Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet they own roughly 45 percent of all the world’s privately held firearms,” according to 2018 data.

But once you accept the dogma that a personal arsenal is your last line of defense against an advancing threat, no amount of tragedy can persuade you to relinquish that idea, not even the slaughter of children and their teachers in their classrooms.

Even if you think that shootings like the one in Texas are horrendous, you see yourself and your interests as detached from them. You didn’t do the killing. Your guns are kept safe and secure, possibly even under lock and key. You are a responsible gun owner. The person who did the killing is a lunatic.

Republicans carry this logic in Congress. They offer thoughts and prayers but resist reforms. They offer the same asinine advice: To counter bad guys with guns, we need more good guys with guns. They seem to envision an old-school western in which gunmen square off and the ranger always kills the desperado.

They want to arm teachers, even though most don’t want to be armed. Personally, I can’t imagine any of my elementary-school teachers with a gun in the classroom trying to fend off a gunman. That’s not what they signed up for.


And so Republicans keep the country trapped in a state of intransigence, ricocheting from one tragedy to another. This is not normal, nor is it necessary and inevitable.

No other country has the level of American carnage, but no other country has American Republicans.

The mass shootings are only the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45,000 people died from gun-related episodes in 2020, the most recorded in this country and a 15 percent increase from the year before. Slightly more than half, 54 percent, were the result of suicide, and 43 percent were the result of homicide.

And still, we do nothing to restrict gun access, or more precisely, Republicans agree to no new restrictions. This is not a both-sides-equally issue. The lion’s share of the resistance to passing federal gun safety laws falls squarely on Republican shoulders. We have to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough.

Beginning to pass gun safety wouldn’t immediately end all gun violence in this country, but it could begin to lower the body count, to lessen the amount of blood flowing in the streets.

Republicans have no intention of helping in that regard. Too often, they seem to see the carnage as collateral — as if they could use the constancy and repetition of these killings to scuttle efforts to stop future killings. Some Republicans may even count on Americans getting used to inaction, getting inured to the killing of children, getting numb to the relentless taking of life and no taking of action.

So we go through the cycle yet again — the wailing of loved ones, the sadness of a country. We call the victims’ names and learn a little about their lives before they were cut down. Maybe this one liked ice cream or that one liked to dress up like a princess. We ask: If not now, when? If not for this, then for what? We listen to Democrats condemn and Republicans deflect.


And before we can fully mourn one massacre, another one happens. It was just over a week ago that a white supremacist terrorist gunned down 13 people in a Buffalo grocery store. In fact, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 611 mass shootings in the United States in 2020. That’s not only more than one a day; it’s approaching two a day. (The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people were shot or killed, not including the shooter.)

There is no great mystery about why we are where we are in this country when it comes to gun violence. We shouldn’t — and must not — pretend that this issue is complicated. It’s not.

We are not addressing our insane gun culture and the havoc it is wreaking because the Republican Party refuses to cooperate. There is death all around us, but for too many Republicans, it is a sad inconvenience rather than impetus for action.

The Republican View

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

Three Of The Ten Deadliest School Shootings Were In Texas


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Everyone Deserves It

 

Most Republicans Believe In The Racist Replacement Theory


The chart above reflects the results of a new Yahoo News / YouGov Poll -- done between May 19th and 22nd of a nationwide sample of 1,573 adults, with a 2.8 point margin of error. 

MAGA Monkeys

Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.
 

Again And Again And Again

Following are the remarks of journalist Dan Rather:

Again.
Again.
Again.

The tears flow. Anger, a deep and pervasive anger, wracks the body, and the soul. 

We knew there would be an “again,” but the pain is never lessened by the foreboding. 

There is so much to say. And nothing left to say. 

There is so much heartbreak and loss. So much loss. And trauma. And emptiness. And rage. And a knot of mixed emotions that propel us to a sadness that defies our attempts to rationalize these horrors. As they come, once again, in quick succession. 

We like to think of ourselves as a “can-do” country. But we can’t do anything about this plague on our children? The fabric of communities torn apart? 

We like to think we are a special country, and when it comes to gun violence, we are — for all the wrong reasons. For reasons that can be measured in graves, and empty desks in classrooms, and lives that will not reach their promise. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of children who have witnessed school shootings. And the millions who have had to imagine and prepare for horrors like these. No other country that matches us in wealth or privilege has this problem. Not even close. 

How can this be acceptable? How can we do nothing? How can we choose to make this horrific pain part of our national birthright? 

There are answers to all of these questions. But they don’t add up to any semblance of sense. 

This is senseless. And all who condone it, all who offer meaningless “thoughts and prayers,” all who say the answer is more guns and fewer restrictions, are complicit in the carnage. 

I do not think that is a majority of Americans. Not by a long shot. There is a lot more common sense and empathy in the population at large than in the elected leaders who offer fealty to the most extreme interpretations of the Second Amendment. There are measures that can make us safer. There are steps we can take. 

There are no perfect answers, but to accept the unacceptable must never be acceptable.  

America's Groundhog Day

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com

President Biden's Remarks On The Uvalde Shooting

The following is the speech President Biden gave on the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas:

I had hoped, when I became President, I would not have to do this again. 

Another massacre.  Uvalde, Texas.  An elementary school.  Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders.  And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake.  They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet, but there’s a lot we do know.

There are parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them.  Parents who will never be the same.

To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.  There’s a hollowness in your chest, and you feel like you’re being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out.  It’s suffocating.  And it’s never quite the same.

And it’s a feeling shared by the siblings, and the grandparents, and their family members, and the community that’s left behind.

Scripture says — Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  So many crushed spirits.

So, tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them, to give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.

As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?  When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?

It’s been 340- — 3,448 days — 10 years since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut — a grade school in Connecticut, where another gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Since then, there have been over 900 incidents of gunfires reported on school grounds.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Santa Fe High School in Texas.  Oxford High School in Michigan.  The list goes on and on.

And the list grows when it includes mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship, and, as we saw just 10 days ago, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

I am sick and tired of it.  We have to act.  And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.

I spent my career as a senator and as Vice President working to pass commonsense gun laws.  We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy.  But we know they work and have a positive impact.  When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down.  When the law expired, mass shootings tripled.

The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.

What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?

Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake.  It’s just sick.

And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit.

For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.

Here’s what else I know: Most Americans support commonsense laws — commonsense gun laws. 

I just got off my trip from Asia, meeting with Asian leaders, and I learned of this while I was on the aircraft.  And what struck me on that 17-hour flight — what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. 

Why?  They have mental health problems.  They have domestic disputes in other countries.  They have people who are lost.  But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America.  Why?

Why are we willing to live with this carnage?  Why do we keep letting this happen?  Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies? 

It’s time to turn this pain into action.

For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act.

It’s time — for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget.

We can do so much more.  We have to do more.

Our prayer tonight is for those parents, lying in bed and trying to figure out, “Will I be able to sleep again?  What do I say to my other children?  What happens tomorrow?”

May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day.  And may the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit, because they’re going to need a lot of help and a lot of our prayers.

Sheltering Evil

 Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Republicans Love Guns More Than They Love Children!

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

More Children Are Dead - And GOP Politicians Don't Care


The death count has risen to 18 children and 3 adults. Does anyone believe the Congress will pass some reasonable (and constitutional) gun laws?

Biden's Job Approval Is Low - But Not As Low As Congress



The charts above are from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between May 2nd and 22nd of a nationwide sample of 1,007 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

It shows that President Biden's job approval has leveled out at about 41%. That may seem low, but it is much higher than the job approval of Congress -- which is only about 18%.

Congress Does't Care

 Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

Public Views Inflation As The Country's Biggest Problem


The chart is from the Pew Research Center survey done between April 25th and May 1st of a nationwide sample of 5,074 adults, with a 2.0 point margin of error. 

Prices Hurting Dems

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.
 

Workers Are Starting To Realize Unions Give Them Power


The following is most of a posting by Robert Reich:

Yesterday, the Game Workers Alliance (a union of quality assurance workers at Activism subsidiary studio Raven Software) won their vote to form a union. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is. The games industry is large and growing. Quality assurance testers do the grunt work of rooting out bugs and potential problems in the weeks and months before games are released publicly. These jobs are typically among the lowest in the game industry, with demanding workloads finding and cataloging issues within a project’s timeframe. That these workers are unionizing marks a major turning point in worker organizing of the new economy. 

Meanwhile, Starbucks Workers United has now unionized more than 80 Starbucks stores across the United States, and filed over 100 cases of unfair labor practices against the Seattle-based coffee giant. Howard Schultz, who returned to head the company in April, has a union busting record that goes back to the origins of the company, and is vowing to stop the drive toward unionization. But he can’t stop it. 

Workers at a Trader Joe’s branch in Hadley, Massachusetts have begun organizing at the upscale supermarket chain. It would be the first unionized Trader Joe’s store out ofmore than 530 locations in the US. “We organized ourselves. With the same instinctive teamwork we use every day to break pallets, work the load, bag groceries, and care for our customers, we joined together to look out for each other and improve our workplace together,” workers wrote in an announcement letter to Trader Joe’s CEO, Dan Bane.

Workers at Amazon warehouses continue to organize, against fierce anti-union headwinds coming from Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives. 

Unions are coming to the new economy of grunt jobs in high-end corporations. 

Between October 1, 2021 and March 30, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board recorded a 57 percent increase in workers filing for the petitions to allow union elections. 

What’s going on?

1. Part of the reason for the upsurge is the so-called “labor shortage” which — as I’ve stressed — is actually a shortage of jobs paying living wages. At least for now, workers have bargaining leverage to demand better pay. 

2. Another part is related to the pandemic and its psychological effect on many workers who have begun asking themselves why they’ve settled for lousy jobs and often unsafe working conditions, especially when corporations are scoring record profits and CEOs of big firms are taking home record multiples of the typical workers’ wages. More than at any other time in the last three decades, workers are telling employers “you can take this job and shove it.” 

3. A third part of the revival of unions relates to America’s retreat from globalization. Four decades ago, when corporations began to move (or threaten to move) their operations offshore to hire lower-wage workers, American blue-collar workers lost their bargaining clout. Unions went into retreat. But starting with Trump and continuing with Biden — along with global supply bottlenecks that are now convincing corporations to bring suppliers home — outsourcing is in sharp decline. (Yesterday, Biden announced an agreement that he hopes represents the future of trade policy, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which focuses on increased cooperation in areas like clean energy and internet policy rather than opening markets.)

4. A fourth reason: More college graduates are now in blue-collar jobs, many leading unionizing efforts.

5. A fifth reason is a new appreciation of the importance of power in driving wages, and the fraudulence of the economic idea that “you’re paid what you’re worth.”

The old economic mainstay that people are paid what they are “worth” is finally revealing itself to be an ideology grounded in nothing but power. 

Let me pause here to spend a bit of time on this one, because it’s important. 

According to this old mythology, minimum wage workers aren’t “worth” more than the $7.25 an hour federal minimum many now receive. If they were worth more, they’d earn more. Any attempt to force employers to pay them more will only kill jobs. According to this same ideology, CEOs of big companies are “worth” their giant compensation packages, now averaging 350 times pay of the typical American worker. They must be worth it or they wouldn’t be paid so much. Any attempt to limit their pay is fruitless because their pay will only take some other form. 

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in America. The typical GM worker then received over $35 an hour (in today’s dollars) — which came to over $70,000 a year (in today’s dollars). By contrast, America’s largest employers are now Walmart (whose typical worker earns about $15 an hour, or $30,000 a year for a full-time employee) and Amazon ($17 an hour, or $35,000 a year).

Does this mean GM employees a half-century ago were “worth” more than twice what today’s Walmart and Amazon employees are worth? Hardly. Those GM workers weren’t better educated or more productive than Walmart or Amazon workers are today. Fifty years ago, most GM workers hadn’t graduated from high school, and they worked on slow-moving assembly lines. Most of today’s Walmart and Amazon workers have graduated from high school; many have attended one or two years of college. And they’re surrounded by digital gadgets – mobile inventory controls, warehouse search engines, instant checkout devices – that make them enormously productive. 

The real difference is GM workers a half-century ago had a strong union behind them that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers, enabling them to command a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America then belonged to a labor union, the bargains unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. (Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.)

Most of today’s Walmart and Amazon workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own. And because only 6 percent of America’s private-sector workers today are unionized, non-union employers across America don’t have to match union contracts. This puts unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage. The result has been a race to the bottom. 

By the same token, today’s CEOs don’t rake in a record 350 times the pay of average workers because they’re “worth” 350 times the pay of average workers. CEOs are getting these giant pay packages (and top executives just behind them raking in almost as much) because they appoint the compensation committees on their boards that decide executive pay. Their boards also want investors to see that their company pays their CEO more than the average CEO at their major competitors, showing that their CEO is worth more. It’s the Lake Wobegon effect, where all CEO pay is above average. The result has been a CEO race to the top. 

If you still believe people are paid what they’re “worth,” take a gander at Wall Street. Last year’s average bonus was up 20 percent over the year before, to more than $257,500 — the largest average Wall Street bonus since the 2008 financial crisis. (Remember, we’re talking bonuses, above and beyond salaries.) . . .

America’s low-wage workers don’t have privileged positions. They work hard – many holding down two or more jobs. They can’t afford to make major campaign contributions, and they have zero political clout. 

Unions built the American middle class. Their demise almost exactly tracks the demise of America’s middle class and the growing share of total income going to the richest 10 percent. This graph makes this clear:


The “paid-what-your-worth” mythology ignores power, which means it ignores the single most important reason why hourly workers today are earning so little while corporate top brass are earning so much. For years, this ideology has lured the unsuspecting into thinking nothing should be done to change what people are paid because, they assumed, nothing could be done. 

That’s finally changing. The revival of union activism across America suggests that workers are getting the message: If they want higher wages and better working conditions, they need the power to get them. To have power, they need a union.