Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving


I wish all my readers a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. May your holiday be filled with fun, food, family, and friends. 

Not Posting

I will not be posting anything for today or tomorrow. I'm taking the time to spend the holiday with family. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Supreme Court Says House Comm. Can Have Trump's Taxes

 

Victims Of Hate

 

100 Policies Democrats And Republicans Agree About

Listening to the talking heads on cable TV, one would think that Democrats and Republicans are so divided that they are unable to agree about anything. That is not true. The YouGov Poll found 100 policies that a majority of both parties support. 










This Is Not What We Ordered

 Political Cartoon is by Ann Telnaes in The Washington Post.

It Was Not Mental Illness - It Was Right-Wing Hate


The following is just part of an excellent op-ed by Brian Broome in The Washington Post:

You know who will get the blame for Colorado Springs, right? Each time these things happen, the right-wing go-to is to blame “mental illness.” That’s what some thought drove Robert Bowers to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to kill 11 human beings. That’s what others believed made Dylann Roof stroll into a Black church in Charleston, S.C., to murder nine human beings. And, sooner or later, conservatives will say it was “mental illness” that drove this newest killer of the marginalized to commit the latest atrocity.

But are we ever going to ask why so many supposedly mentally ill people seem to carry right-wing talking points along with their AR-15s?

It’s right-wing rhetoric that sparks these nightmares. And here’s the bonus for the instigators: The bottomless list of homophobes and transphobes on the right don’t need to throw the rock and then hide their hands. Instead, they use someone else’s hands entirely. After ginning up hatred for a particular community through fear, lies and conspiracies, all they have to do is sit back and wait for someone to do their work for them. . . .

Already, queer people feel less safe in the United States now. I guarantee that those spaces where we feel at home in the world, the bars, the coffee shops, the clubs, will be emptier this weekend. The writer bell hooks once described queerness as “being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and that has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” Hostility to that experience was on full display in Colorado, but it originates with people who have large platforms and loud microphones.

Nothing in politics is as effective as fear. And conservatives know exactly how to weaponize it. The conservative mind is more concerned that a drag queen is entering a classroom to read a story to children than a gunman is entering a classroom to shoot them. And I will never understand that.

Hate And Violence Came To The Dance

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

Fool Or Criminal?


 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Texas Legislature Is Promoting Hate


 

Most In The U.S. Still Want Stricter Gun Laws



The charts above are from the Gallup Poll -- done between October 3rd and 20th of a nationwide sample of 1,009 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Turkeys

Political Cartoon is by Ed Wexler at Cagle.com.
 

Elon Musk's Biggest Mistake After Buying Twitter


The following is from Robert Reich:

When Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, he clearly didn’t know that the key assets he was buying lay in Twitter’s 7,500 workers’ heads.

On corporate balance sheets, the assets of a corporation are its factories, equipment, patents, and brand name.

Workers aren’t considered assets. They appear as costs. In fact, payrolls are typically two-thirds of a corporation’s total costs. Which is why companies often cut payrolls to increase profits. 

 

The reason for this is simple. Corporations have traditionally been viewed as production systems. Assets are things that corporations own, which turn inputs — labor, raw materials, and components — into marketable products.


Reduce the costs of these inputs, and — presto — each product generates more profit. Or that’s been the traditional view.


Yet today, increasingly, corporations aren’t just production systems. They’re systems for directing the know-howknow-whatknow-where, and know-why of the people who work within them. 

 

A large and growing part of the value of a corporation now lies in the heads of its workers — heads that know how to innovate, know what needs improvement, know where the company’s strengths and vulnerabilities are found, and know why the corporation succeeds (or doesn’t).


These human assets are becoming the key assets of today’s corporations. But they can’t be owned, as are factories, equipment, patents, and brands. They must be motivated. 

  

When Musk fired half of Twitter’s workforce, then threatened to fire any remaining dissenters and demanded that the rest pledge to accept “long hours at high intensity” — leading to the resignations last week of an estimated 1,200 more Twitter employees — he began to destroy what he bought.


Now he’s panicking. Last week he tried to hire back some of the people he fired. On Friday he sent emails to Twitter employees asking that “anyone who actually writes software” report in, and stating that he wanted to learn about Twitter’s “tech stack” (its software and related systems).


But even if Musk gets this information, he probably won’t be able to save Twitter.

Most of Twitter’s employees are now gone, which means most of its know-how to prevent outages and failures during high-traffic events is also gone, most of its know-what is necessary to maintain and enhance computing architecture is gone, most of its know-where to guard against cyberattacks is gone, and most of its know-why hate speech (and other awful stuff advertisers want to avoid) is getting through its filters and what to do about it, is also now gone.

 

Without this knowledge and talent, Twitter is a shell — an office building, some patents, and a brand — without the capacity to improve or even sustain its service.

Twitter is unlikely to fail all at once. But bugs and glitches will mount, the quality of what’s offered will deteriorate, hateful tweets will burgeon, and customers and advertisers will flee.


As Richard Forno, assistant director of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County told the New York Times, “it’s like putting a car on the road, hitting the accelerator, and then the driver jumps out. How far is it going to go before it crashes?”


Not even Donald Trump seems particularly eager to take up Musk’s offer to have him back on the platform.


Safe to say, Twitter is no longer worth the nearly $44 billion Musk paid for it. It’s now probably worth only a fraction of that sum — a fact that should be of no small concern to the bankers who lent Musk $30 billion to purchase Twitter on condition he pay $1 billion a year in interest.


Two lessons here.


First, corporations that regard employees only as costs to be cut rather than as assets to be nourished can make humongous mistakes. Elon Musk is Exhibit #1.


Second, where corporations view employees as costs, the traditional way for employees to flex their muscle is to strike, thereby temporarily closing factories and stopping the machines.

But where employees are a corporation’s key assets, workers’ greater power comes in threatening to — or actually — walking out the door. Elon Musk is Exhibit #2. 

Thoroughly Cooked

Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in the Columbia Missourian.
 

Republicans Want To Steal Your Pension


 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Should Billionaires Be Allowed To Even Exist?


 

There Have Been Over 600 Mass Shootings In U.S. This Year


Another mass shooting is making national news. This time it's a shooting in a Colorado LGBTQ club. A 22-year-old man entered the club with a long gun and started shooting. Five people were killed and 18 wounded before some of the club's customers disarmed and apprehended him.

There have been at least 601 mass shootings in the United States this year. Most of them never make the national news, but that doesn't make them any less serious. And there are about six weeks to go in this year. Averaging nearly two mass shootings a day, it looks like the country is on track to set another record -- and it's not a record to be proud of.

Congress passed a gun law earlier in the year, but it was not an effective law, and it has not slowed the number of mass shootings or gun deaths. The only thing it accomplished was to allow legislators to pat themselves on the back. They still refuse (especially the Republican legislators) to pass any laws that would have a real effect on gun violence in the country.

The crazy part is that there is something supported by 80-90% of the population (including most gun owners) that would have an effect -- closing the loopholes in the background check law. Sadly, too many legislators don't care what the public wants. They have decided that allowing criminals easy access to buying a gun is more important than saving American lives.

Republicans want to blame things other than guns for the problem -- mental illness, video games, etc.

But other developed nations have the same problems they are listing, and none of them have the same gun violence problem. It's time to admit that the problem is the easy access to guns by anyone in the country is the real problem. There are dangerous people who should not be allowed to legally buy a gun.

How much longer are we going to put up with the problem of unnecessary gun violence?

A Positive Example

Political Cartoon is by John Deering in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
 

The World's Population Has Topped 8 Billion People

 

From the editorial board of The Washington Post:

On Nov. 15, Planet Earth welcomed its eight-billionth living inhabitant, according to an authoritative projection from the United Nations. The figure represents an increase of 1 billion in global population since 2010 and 2 billion since 1998; in 1950, the world’s population was less than a third of what it is now. The U.N.-declared “Day of Eight Billion,” said Secretary General António Guterres, “is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet.”

We agree. Of course, a growing population creates more pressure on the natural environment and man-made infrastructure alike. It is one factor in accelerating climate change. Accentuating the challenges associated with contemporary population growth is the fact that the bulk of it is taking place in economically less-developed countries in Africa and Asia. The United Nations projects that more than half of the 1.7 billion global population increase between now and 2050 will occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania, all of which the World Bank deems low- or lower-middle income.

Mr. Guterres’s use of “celebrate” is appropriate nevertheless; his word choice represents a milestone of sorts itself. Too often in the past, conventional wisdom about population growth has tended to be pessimistic — even apocalyptic. In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus forecast that an increasing population would soon outstrip, disastrously, nature’s capacity to feed so many people; in 1968, the title of an influential tract spoke of a “population bomb.” And yet here we are: The world’s population has octupled since Malthus’s day, more than doubled since 1968, and living standards around the world have vastly, though unevenly, improved during that time.

For most of human history, the world’s population remained essentially stagnant for the unhappy reason that high death rates offset high birthrates. Demographic expansion occurred once humankind figured out how to raise the productivity of all the new farmers and workers being born and to produce better, more abundant food, health and education — driving death rates down. Pessimists such as Malthus failed to comprehend this process, which has come to be known as the “demographic transition.” It turned out that a scramble for resources among increasing numbers of people would create not only scarcities and conflicts — but also incentives to overcome them through innovation. Britain was one of the first countries to make this transition, followed by many others over the past two centuries. In the ultimate phase, which is now underway in most highly urban, industrialized countries, both birthrates and death rates reach low levels and population stabilizes — or even shrinks.

These are the “achievements” to which the secretary general rightly alluded. There is every reason to hope Africa and South Asia can experience the same demographic transition; another formerly poor and predominantly rural region, Latin America is on its way toward doing so. Richer countries can help through job-creating foreign investment and trade, though, to be sure, governments in the developing world will have to do their part by maintaining transparent governance and the rule of law. Another lesson of demographic history is that, even if South Asian and African economies do develop rapidly, labor-force growth might outstrip employment opportunities. As British demographer Paul Morland has shown, this is the main reason for history’s migrations, and contemporary movements of people suggest it still holds true. Countries such as the United States, whose own birthrates have fallen, should revise and stabilize immigration policy to channel migration to their advantage.

Another reason not to worry about impending population growth: It’s mostly inevitable anyway. As the United Nations’ World Population Prospects report explains: “Two-thirds of the projected increase in global population through 2050 will be driven by the momentum of past growth that is embedded in the youthful age structure of the current population.” Policies directly aimed at reducing fertility could not affect this, the report argues. This analysis comes with an asterisk, though. The United Nations does not formally include education as a factor influencing population growth, but not all demographers agree. Wolfgang Lutz of the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital at the University of Vienna has argued that education — especially of women and girls — can speed the demographic transition to lower fertility rates, by empowering people to pursue careers, make informed use of contraception and delay childbearing. Whereas the United Nations foresees world population hitting 10.4 billion people sometime in the 2080s before plateauing, Mr. Lutz has projected that it could peak just below 10 billion in 2070. In his optimal “rapid development” scenario, the maximum would be 8.7 billion in 2050.

Whoever is right, the end of population expansion is now foreseeable — a moment well within the potential lifespan of the eight-billionth person born on Nov. 15. Instead of population growth and growing birthrates, the fast-approaching new demographic challenge is societal aging. Japan, South Korea and several European countries are already shrinking in population; they will struggle to find enough workers to take care of the elderly and pay into their pension systems. Nowhere will this phenomenon be more consequential than China, whose population of 1.4 billion is on track to cease growing in 2023 and will be surpassed by India’s.

Having boomed economically for four decades thanks in part to an enormous cohort of working-age people, China faces demographic stagnation and, as a result, more difficulty sustaining economic growth. This is traceable in large part to its Communist government’s “one-child” policy, in force between 1980 and 2016, which was an especially simplistic — and, with its coerced abortions and sterilizations, harsh — application of Malthusian thinking. The United Nations expects China to have 100 million fewer people by 2050, a much higher percentage of whom will be elderly than at present. A team from China’s own Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences has predicted that China’s population will be less than half of what it is today by the end of the century.

The hope is that the massive challenge of global aging will spur innovation just as the challenges of rising population did in the past. In that sense, it’s a good thing that millions of new people — with their new ideas and fresh energy — are on the way.

Twitter Bird Plucked

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

Forces That Rule The World


 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Republicans "Solutions"


 

Trust & Favorability Of Twitter Has Dropped - Except GOP

 From the Morning Consult Poll.

Setting The Standard

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.
 

Message To Garland - It's Time To Indict Donald Trump


Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a Special Counsel to supervise the cases against Donald Trump. Hopefully, this won't result in more delays to indict him.

Here is what the editorial board of The Washington Post thinks:

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday named a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigation into former president Donald Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club, as well as aspects of the investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection. Mr. Garland explained that Mr. Trump’s now-official presidential campaign presented “extraordinary circumstances” for which the Justice Department’s regulations prescribe the appointment of a special counsel. In other words, he had no choice but to proceed.

So be it. But this means that there is more work ahead for the attorney general. Appointing a special counsel carries risks, not least the possibility that the investigation could drag out or lose focus, potentially letting Mr. Trump off the hook. It will take tremendous focus to prevent that from happening.

Mr. Garland’s decision to appoint longtime federal prosecutor Jack Smith to lead this politically fraught probe comes as Republicans have attacked it as corrupt, arguing that an attorney general appointed by President Biden cannot be trusted to make a fair call on investigating Mr. Trump. These attacks have always been unfair. The Biden administration has studiously respected the Justice Department’s independence. By contrast, Mr. Trump flouted time after time the norms of separation between the White House and law enforcement, even pressuring then-FBI Director James B. Comey to pledge his loyalty.

Though it is unrealistic to think that Mr. Garland’s move will ever quiet the right-wing conspiracy mill, that’s not where the biggest dangers lie. The first danger is mission creep. Special counsels past and present, from Kenneth Starr in his investigation into the Clintons in the 1990s to John Durham in his probe into the FBI’s 2016 Russia inquiry, have tended to allow their probes to get out of control, spending vast amounts of time and public resources on minor legal issues. Such investigations often leave the unhappy impression that they must find something.Combined with a lack of supervision, special counsel probes are prone to overreach.

The second is politics. Unless Mr. Smith acts with dispatch, this case could run up against the 2024 election — or even outlast it. If Mr. Trump returned to the White House, Justice Department rules on prosecuting sitting presidents could enable Mr. Trump to duck whatever accountability he might deserve.

Responsibility for avoiding these pitfalls still falls to Mr. Garland, whose judgment in one of the most potentially explosive investigations in Justice Department history will continue to be tested. Mr. Smith will be in charge of the probe’s day-to-day activities, but the attorney general still oversees the special counsel’s work, accepting or rejecting any recommendations. Mr. Garland should guide the investigation so that it is fair, focused and, within reason, fast. Accountability should remain the priority — delivered, as he has taken pains to ensure, according to the rule of law. 

He Doesn't Measure Up

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

House GOP's First Act Is To Protect Rich Criminals