Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Worth Repeating (Often)

Wisconsin Governor Delays The Primary Until June

I had thought Wisconsin would be having their primary today, but at the last minute Governor Tony Evers (pictured) delayed the primary until June 9th. Evers had been saying for weeks that he did not have the authority to delay the primary, but after the legislature refused to delay it, he changed his mind and did it.

About 1.2 million residents of the state had already requested absentee (mail-in) ballots, and Governor Evers said voters could continue to request those ballots until the new primary date.

People Who Should Stay Home

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Poll Shows Public Doesn't Believe Trump About The Virus

This chart is from the latest NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist Poll -- done on April 3rd and 4th of a national sample of 835 adults, with a 4.8 point margin of error.

It shows Donald Trump is simply not trusted when he makes his pronouncements about the Coronavirus pandemic in this country. Trump has tried hard to salvage his reputation by holding daily press briefings on the subject. But he damages himself during those briefings by continuing to tell lies and changing his opinion from day to day.

Only 37% of adults say they have a great deal / good amount of trust in the information Trump is giving. By comparison, 50% say they trust the news media, 72% say they trust state and local government officials, and 84% say they trust public health experts.

The "Prophet" Changes His Mind

Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at marian@humor-kamensky.sk.

Donald Trump Is The Worst President In U.S. History

The United States has had some great presidents and some good presidents (of both political parties). Sadly, it has also had some poor presidents and some bad presidents.

But Donald Trump is in a class by himself. He is undoubtably the absolutely WORST president in the history of the United States. His handling of the Coronavirus pandemic puts that beyond any question.

I am not alone in that assessment. Consider these words from Max Boot in The Washington Post:

Until now, I have generally been reluctant to label Donald Trump the worst president in U.S. history. As a historian, I know how important it is to allow the passage of time to gain a sense of perspective. Some presidents who seemed awful to contemporaries (Harry S. Truman) or simply lackluster (Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush) look much better in retrospect. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, don’t look as good as they once did.

So I have written, as I did on March 12, that Trump is the worst president in modern times — not of all time. That left open the possibility that James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding or some other nonentity would be judged more harshly. But in the past month, we have seen enough to take away the qualifier “in modern times.” With his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus, Trump has established himself as the worst president in U.S. history.

His one major competitor for that dubious distinction remains Buchanan, whose dithering helped lead us into the Civil War — the deadliest conflictin U.S. history. Buchanan may still be the biggest loser. But there is good reason to think that the Civil War would have broken out no matter what. By contrast, there is nothing inevitable about the scale of the disaster we now confront.

The situation is so dire, it is hard to wrap your mind around it. The Atlantic notes: “During the Great Recession of 2007–2009, the economy suffered a net loss of approximately 9 million jobs. The pandemic recession has seen nearly 10 million unemployment claims in just two weeks.” The New York Times estimates that the unemployment rate is now about 13 percent, the highest since the Great Depression ended 80 years ago.

Far worse is the human carnage. We already have more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the outbreak would soon be “down to close to zero.” Now he argues that if the death toll is 100,000 to 200,000 — higher than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945 — it will be proof that he’s done “a very good job.”

No, it will be a sign that he’s a miserable failure, because the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history. The warnings about the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were obvious only in retrospect. This time, it didn’t require any top-secret intelligence to see what was coming. The alarm was sounded in January by experts in the media and by leading Democrats including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Government officials were delivering similar warnings directly to Trump. A team of Post reporters wrote on Saturday: “The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus —the first of many—in the President’s Daily Brief.” But Trump wasn’t listening.

The Post article is the most thorough dissection of Trump’s failure to prepare for the gathering storm. Trump was first briefed on the coronavirus by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 18. But, The Post writes, “Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue.” When Trump was first asked publicly about the virus, on Jan. 22, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

In the days and weeks after Azar alerted him about the virus, Trump spoke at eight rallies and golfed six times as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Trump’s failure to focus, The Post notes, “sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.” It also allowed bureaucratic snafus to go unaddressed — including critical failures to roll out enough tests or to stockpile enough protective equipment and ventilators. . . .

This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.

Trump is characteristically working hardest at blaming others — China, the media, governors, President Barack Obama, the Democratic impeachment managers, everyone but his golf caddie — for his blunders. His mantra is: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” It remains to be seen whether voters will buy his excuses. But whatever happens in November, Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.

Somewhere, a relieved James Buchanan must be smiling.

Invisible Enemy

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

Why Would He Change Now?

Monday, April 06, 2020


Wisconsin Primary Is Today - Will Democrats Show Up?

The chart above reflects the results of the Marquette Law School Poll -- done between March 24th and 29th of about 380 likely Democratic primary voters.

As you can see, Joe Biden enjoys a 28 point lead over Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's governor wanted to delay the election and institute a vote-by-mail system. The Republicans in the state legislature seem to have killed that idea, so it looks like Wisconsin Democrats will vote on Tuesday.

In a normal time, there is little doubt that Biden would easily cruise to victory, even though Sanders won the state in 2016. But these are not normal times, and the Coronavirus epidemic could affect the primary. Will Democrats turn out in large numbers? Or will they stay at hone -- figuring the election is over and opt to protect themselves from the virus?

If it is the latter, the primary could be much closer. It will be interesting to see what the Wisconsin voters choose to do.

That Guest That Won't Leave

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

Why Does The United States Have Such A Large Percentage Of Coronavirus Cases And Deaths?

According to the CDC website, about 170 nations now have cases of the Coronavirus within their borders. It truly is a worldwide pandemic. Since the United States has approximately 4.4% of the world's population, one might expect it would have about that same percentage of Coronavirus cases and deaths. Unfortunately, that is not true.

The United States has a much larger share of both cases and deaths than it should have. It has about 26% of the cases worldwide, and 13%-14% of the deaths worldwide. The percentage of deaths is lower than the percentage of cases primarily because of the heroic work of public health workers (doctors, nurses, etc.). But both cases and deaths are much higher than they should be. Why?

I believe it is due to a lack of federal leadership. Our government failed to act in a timely way, and that allowed the virus to spread faster and further than it should have.

Donald Trump likes to brag about his banning people entering this country from China. He seemed to think that was all he needed to do to stop the spread of the virus. But look at the chart above. By the time Trump imposed the ban on January 31st, 381,000 people had flown from China to the United States during the month of January. In other words, Trump locked the barn door after the animals had already escaped. The virus was already in the United States and spreading.

Since the ban another 40,000 have entered the United States from China. Some might think that 40,000 were tested for the virus before being allowed to enter. That is NOT the case. They were all asked to answer a short series of questions about where they had been and how they felt, and some had their temperature taken at the airport -- but they were not tested for the virus.

But even though the ban was too late and ineffective, the virus still could have been contained -- if Trump had acted at the end of January. During the latter part of the Obama administration, a plan was developed by public health officials on how the nation should deal with the start of a pandemic. Trump refused to put that plan into action. In fact, he delayed doing anything else until well into March.

He refused the tests offered by the World Health Organization, and that resulted in a delay in widespread testing for the virus. Trump now brags that "anyone who wants a test can get one", but that is not true. Most parts of the country barely have enough tests for doctors to test only those with symptoms of Coronavirus.

Trump also could have invoked the Defense Production Act much earlier, and demanded that industry produce the tests, the protective gear for medical workers, and the ventilators needed to save the sickest patients. He didn't, and still is depending on corporations doing this on their own. That has resulted in severe shortages that did not have to happen.

Because of Trump's ignorant and incompetent inaction, the United States has not been able to get ahead of the pandemic. It is struggling to catch up. Trump has failed the leadership test in his first real crisis. Because of that, many more Americans will get sick, and too many will die unnecessarily.

A Job For A Superhero

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

Trump Again Shows He Doesn't Care About U.S. Workers

When Trump (and his Republican friends) passed the huge tax cut of 2017, most of the benefits of that tax cut went to the corporations and the richest Americans. Almost none of it went to American workers -- the people who needed it the most. It was a prime example of who Trump cares about (rich people), and who he doesn't (workers).

Sadly, the same seems to be true about the $2.2 trillion package to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus epidemic on the economy.

The bill as written originally by Republicans (with Trump's approval) was mainly a $500 billion giveaway to corporations, a loan program for small businesses, and a token $1000 to workers.

Democrats did their best to make the bill better. They forced oversight on the corporate slush fund, turned the small business loans into grants for those who kept workers on their payroll, beefed up unemployment insurance and extended it to workers who didn't previously qualify, and upped the token giveaway to people to $1200. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better than the original Republican bill.

But then Trump began to change it after signing it. The first thing he did was say he didn't have to abide by the oversight provision in the bill for the corporate slush fund. Now his Labor Department has instituted a rule that would let small businesses refuse to let workers have paid time off to take care of their families. In essence, he has fixed it so about 75% of workers won't get paid time off. These are the people who most needed help. But Trump doesn't care about workers. He only cares about himself and his rich friends.

Consider this part of an article on Alternet by Igor Deysh:

The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.
Democrats already agreed to exclude workers at large companies with more than 500 employees from being eligible for sick leave during negotiations with Republicans. As a result, more than 75% of American workers are employed by companies not required to provide them with sick leave during the pandemic.
The bill passed by Congress said businesses with fewer than 50 employees could be eligible for exemptions if they prevent the business from being able to function, The New York Times reported. The Trump administration’s guidance has effectively exempted these businesses entirely from having to provide paid leave to workers who have to take care of their families, though it still requires them to provide paid leave if employees themselves get sick.
These companies can refuse to provide paid leave if doing so would “cause the small business to cease operating,” if the worker’s absence would create a “substantial risk” or if there were not enough workers “able, willing and qualified” to fill in for them.
The Times noted that health care providers, first responders and some federal government employees can also be denied paid leave under the bill.

Can't Complain

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

Incompetent, Dishonest And Profoundly Indecent

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Science Fights The Battle & Religion Claims Credit

Growth Of Coronavirus In The Last Two Weeks In The States

These numbers are from The COVID Tracking Project. It shows the growth of the number of Coronavirus cases in each state in just the last two weeks. The first number shows the cases on 3/21/30. The second number (in parentheses) shows the number on 4/4/20 -- two weeks later.

Alabama..........138 (1535)
Alaska..........14 (157)
Arizona..........154 (1769)
Arkansas..........118  (738)
California.........1531 (10701)
Colorado..........475 (4173)
Connecticut.........223 (4915)
Delaware..........47 (450)
District of Columbia..........98 (757)
Florida..........830 (10268)
Georgia..........600 (5967)
Hawaii..........48 (319)
Idaho..........42 (1013)
Illinois..........759 (8904)
Indiana..........201 (3437)
Iowa..........90 (699)
Kansas..........55 (620)
Kentucky..........99 (831)
Louisiana..........837 (10297)
Maine..........89 (432)
Maryland..........244 (2758)
Massachusetts..........525 (10402)
Michigan..........807 (12744)
Minnesota..........169 (789)
Mississippi..........207 (1358)
Missouri..........90 (2113)
Montana..........31 (262)
Nebraska..........48 (285)
Nevada..........190 (1514)
New Hampshire..........65 (540)
New Jersey..........1327 (29895)
New Mexico..........57 (495)
New York..........15168 (102863)
North Carolina..........255 (2093)
North Dakota..........28 (173)
Ohio..........247 (3312)
Oklahoma..........67 (988)
Oregon..........141 (899)
Pennsylvania..........479 (8420)
Rhode Island..........66 (711)
South Carolina..........173 (1700)
South Dakota..........21 (187)
Tennessee..........371 (3067)
Texas..........334 (5330)
Utah..........136 (1246)
Vermont..........49 (389)
Virginia..........219 (2012)
Washington..........1793 (6966)
West Virginia..........12 (237)
Wisconsin..........281 (1912)
Wyoming..........24 (166)

Virgin Islands..........6 (38)
Puerto Rico..........23 (378)
Guam..........27 (84)

NOTE -- There are still eight states where the governor has refused to issue a "stay at home" order statewide. All of them are Republicans. They are -- Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), Pete Ricketts (Nebraska), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Doug Burgum (North Dakota), Henry McMaster (South Carolina), Gary Herbert (Utah), and Mark Gordon (Wyoming).

CV Thanks Trump

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Over Half Of The Public Will Be Hurt By This Recession

The charts above are from the Morning Consult Poll -- done between March 27th and 29th of a national sample of 2,200 adults, with a 2 point margin of error.

It shows that 49% of American adults believe we are currently in a recession, while 23% say we are not and another 28% say they don't know. That 51% who deny the recession or don't know are in for an unpleasant shock, because we are in a serious recession that will not end soon.

About 51% say the current economic situation will be worse than the 2008 Bush recession, and another 11% believe it will be just as bad.

The third chart is the most troubling one though. It shows 42% say they would deplete their savings if the recession lasted 6 months (and 29% would deplete savings in less than 3 months). Another 12% don't have any savings to deplete. That's over half of the population (54%) that would be in economic trouble if the recession lasted only about 6 months -- which is a real possibility. Another 10% would deplete their savings in less than 12 months.

We were already living living in an unfair economy. Far too many Americans (about 44%) make less than $18,000 a year, and most live paycheck to paycheck. That's because most of rising productivity has gone to the top 10% in our economy since the 1980's (thanks to Republican trickle-down policies which favor the rich).

This recession has just made things worse for the Americans who can least afford it. The rich can ride the epidemic out and then recover quickly, but most Americans can't. They will be suffering economically long after the epidemic is over.

The Republicans won't fix this. They are the ones that caused it, and they still cling to their failed economic policies. That's why they must be voted out of power in November.

They Have Jesus?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Robert Reich: "The System Is Rigged. But We Can Fix It"

The post below is by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured) -- at his excellent blog. I think it's important, and should be read by all Americans who believe our economic system (and health and education systems) should work for the benefit of all the citizens. He writes:

The coronavirus has starkly revealed what most of us already knew: The concentration of wealth in America has created a a health care system in which the wealthy can buy care others can’t. 
It’s also created an education system in which the super-rich can buy admission to college for their children, a political system in which they can buy Congress and the presidency,  and a justice system in which they can buy their way out of jail. 
Almost everyone else has been hurled into a dystopia of bureaucratic arbitrariness, corporate indifference, and the legal and financial sinkholes that have become hallmarks of modern American life.

The system is rigged. But we can fix it.

Today, the great divide in American politics isn’t between right and left. The underlying contest is between a small minority who have gained power over the system, and the vast majority who have little or none. 
Forget politics as you’ve come to see it – as contests between Democrats and Republicans. The real divide is between democracy and oligarchy.
The market has been organized to serve the wealthy. Since 1980, the percentage of the nation’s wealth owned by the richest four hundred Americans has quadrupled (from less than 1 percent to 3.5 percent) while the share owned by the entire bottom half of America has dropped to 1.3 percent.
The three wealthiest Americans own as much as the entire bottom half of the population. Big corporations, CEOs, and a handful of extremely rich people have vastly more influence on public policy than the average American. Wealth and power have become one and the same.

As the oligarchs tighten their hold over our system, they have lambasted efforts to rein in their greed as “socialism”, which, to them, means getting something for doing nothing.
But “getting something for doing nothing” seems to better describe the handouts being given to large corporations and their CEOs. 
General Motors, for example, has received $600 million in federal contracts and $500 million in tax breaks since Donald Trump took office. Much of this “corporate welfare” has gone to executives, including CEO Mary Barra, who raked in almost $22 million in compensation in 2018 alone. GM employees, on the other hand, have faced over 14,000 layoffs and the closing of three assembly plants and two component factories.
And now, in the midst of a pandemic, big corporations are getting $500 billion from taxpayers. 
Our system, it turns out, does practice one form of socialism – socialism for the rich. Everyone else is subject to harsh capitalism.
Socialism for the rich means people at the top are not held accountable. Harsh capitalism for the many, means most Americans are at risk for events over which they have no control, and have no safety nets to catch them if they fall.
Among those who are particularly complicit in rigging the system are the CEOs of America’s corporate behemoths. 
Take Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, whose net worth is $1.4 billion. He comes as close as anyone to embodying the American system as it functions today.
Dimon describes himself as “a patriot before I’m the CEO of JPMorgan.”

He brags about the corporate philanthropy of his bank, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to his company’s net income, which in 2018 was $30.7 billion – roughly one hundred times the size of his company’s investment program for America’s poor cities. 
Much of JP Morgan’s income gain in 2018 came from savings from the giant Republican tax cut enacted at the end of 2017 – a tax cut that Dimon intensively lobbied Congress for. 
Dimon doesn’t acknowledge the inconsistencies between his self-image as “patriot first” and his role as CEO of America’s largest bank. He doesn’t understand how he has hijacked the system.
Perhaps he should read my new book.
To understand how the system has been hijacked, we must understand how it went from being accountable to all stakeholders – not just stockholders but also workers, consumers, and citizens in the communities where companies are headquartered and do business – to intensely shareholder-focused capitalism.
In the post-WWII era, American capitalism assumed that large corporations had responsibilities to all their stakeholders. CEOs of that era saw themselves as “corporate statesmen” responsible for the common good.
But by the 1980s, shareholder capitalism (which focuses on maximizing profits) replaced stakeholder capitalism. That was largely due to the corporate raiders – ultra-rich investors who hollowed-out once-thriving companies and left workers to fend for themselves.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, for example, targeted major companies like Texaco and Nabisco by acquiring enough shares of their stock to force major changes that increased their stock value – such as suppressing wages, fighting unions, laying off workers, abandoning communities for cheaper labor elsewhere, and taking on debt – and then selling his shares for a fat profit. In 1985, after winning control of Trans World Airlines, he loaded the airline with more than $500 million in debt, stripped it of its assets, and pocketed nearly $500 million in profits.
As a result of the hostile takeovers mounted by Icahn and other raiders, a wholly different understanding about the purpose of the corporation emerged.
Even the threat of hostile takeovers forced CEOs to fall in line by maximizing shareholder profits over all else. The corporate statesmen of previous decades became the corporate butchers of the 1980s and 1990s, whose nearly exclusive focus was to “cut out the fat” and make their companies “lean and mean.”
As power increased for the wealthy and large corporations at the top, it shifted in exactly the opposite direction for workers. In the mid-1950s, 35 percent of all private-sector workers in the United States were unionized. Today, 6.4 percent of them are.
The wave of hostile takeovers pushed employers to raise profits and share prices by cutting payroll costs and crushing unions, which led to a redistribution of income and wealth from workers to the richest 1 percent. Corporations have fired workers who try to organize and have mounted campaigns against union votes. All the while, corporations have been relocating to states with few labor protections and so-called “right-to-work” laws that weaken workers’ ability to join unions.
Power is a zero-sum game. People gain it only when others lose it. The connection between the economy and power is critical. As power has concentrated in the hands of a few, those few have grabbed nearly all the economic gains for themselves.
The oligarchy has triumphed because no one has paid attention to the system as a whole – to the shifts from stakeholder to shareholder capitalism, from strong unions to giant corporations with few labor protections, and from regulated to unchecked finance.
As power has shifted to large corporations, workers have been left to fend for themselves. Most Americans developed 3 key coping mechanisms to keep afloat.
The first mechanism was women entering the paid workforce. Starting in the late 1970s, women went into paid work in record numbers, in large part to prop up family incomes, as the wages of male workers stagnated or declined. 
Then, by the late 1990s, even two incomes wasn’t enough to keep many families above water, causing them to turn to the next coping mechanism: working longer hours. By the mid-2000s a growing number of people took on two or three jobs, often demanding 50 hours or more per week.
Once the second coping mechanism was exhausted, workers turned to their last option: drawing down savings and borrowing to the hilt. The only way Americans could keep consuming was to go deeper into debt. By 2007, household debt had exploded, with the typical American household owing 138 percent of its after-tax income. Home mortgage debt soared as housing values continued to rise. Consumers refinanced their homes with even larger mortgages and used their homes as collateral for additional loans.
This last coping mechanism came to an abrupt end in 2008 when the debt bubbles burst, causing the financial crisis. Only then did Americans begin to realize what had happened to them, and to the system as a whole. That’s when our politics began to turn ugly.  
So what do we do about it? The answer is found in politics and rooted in power.
The way to overcome oligarchy is for the rest of us to join together and form a multiracial, multiethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans fighting for democracy.
This agenda is neither “right” nor “left.” It is the bedrock for everything America must do.
The oligarchy understands that a “divide-and-conquer” strategy gives them more room to get what they want without opposition. Lucky for them, Trump is a pro at pitting native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, white people against people of color. His goal is cynicism, disruption, and division. Trump and the oligarchy behind him have been able to rig the system and then whip around to complain loudly that the system is rigged.
But history shows that oligarchies cannot hold on to power forever. They are inherently unstable. When a vast majority of people come to view an oligarchy as illegitimate and an obstacle to their wellbeing, oligarchies become vulnerable.
As bad as it looks right now, the great strength of this country is our resilience. We bounce back. We have before. We will again.
In order for real change to occur – in order to reverse the vicious cycle in which we now find ourselves – the locus of power in the system will have to change.
The challenge we face is large and complex, but we are well suited for the fight ahead. Together, we will dismantle the oligarchy. Together, we will fix the system.

Last Words

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.


Saturday, April 04, 2020

A Reasonable Voice

Trump's Coronavirus Approval Numbers Are Dropping Now

The charts above are from the latest Morning Consult Poll -- done on March 31st and April 1st of a national sample of 1,997 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

In mid-March, when it looked like Donald Trump may finally have been convinced of the seriousness of the Coronavirus epidemic and was ready to take action and provide real leadership, voters gave him 53% approval to only 39% disprovable -- a net approval rating of 14 points.

Sadly though, he has failed to take appropriate action or demonstrated true leadership, and the voters are starting to realize that. In the latest poll, his approval is only 49% and disapproval has risen to 47%. That's a net approval of only 2 point -- 12 points below mid-March.

Republicans still show strong support for Trump, but disapproval has risen among both Independents (from 38% to 49%) and Democrats (from 64% to 78%).

He's Number One

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Unemployment Climbs By 0.9% (& That's An Undercount)

The Labor Department has released it statistics for the month of March. They say the U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs during the month, and now has 7,140,000 unemployed workers (compared to 5,787,000 for February). That is a huge undercount. That's because the figures for a month are figured through surveys done in the first 2 or 3 weeks of the month -- and that didn't detect the nearly 10 million who applied for unemployment in the last two weeks.

A jump of 0.9% to 4.4% unemployment (the official statistic for March) is a huge jump, but it's going to look like a tiny jump when the figures for April (and May) are released. I would expect those figures to be in double digits. This is going to get ugly. Trump says the economy will bounce back strongly once the virus is contained. Don't bet on that. The Congressional Budget Office is currently predicting the unemployment rate will be about 9% at the end of 2021!

Here are the official statistics for March:








Adult men...............4.0%
Adult women...............4.0%
Teenagers (16-19)...............14.3%
Less than HS diploma...............6.8%
HS graduate...............4.4%
Some college...............3.7%
Bachelor's deg. or more...............2.5%

They're Called Facts

Political Cartoon is by Mike Smith in the Las Vegas Sun.

Texas Is Growing Fast - And It's Turning Purple Politically

Texas is growing fast. It was one of the fastest growing states when the 2010 census was done, and it looks like it will be once the 2020 census is taken.

if the census turns out as predicted, Texas could get an additional three representatives to the U.S. Congress.

But it is not just growing. It is also changing. While some of its growth is from people moving to Texas from other states, the largest group contributing to Texas' growth is Hispanics.

Texas has had a majority in its school system that was composed of minority students for several years now. It won't be long before minorities make up a majority of the voting population (especially since most of that Hispanic growth comes from babies born in the U.S.).

Here's a recent article by Chris Cillizza at CNN.com on the growth and change in Texas:

While the world was fixated on the coronavirus, the US Census Bureau released its latest county-by-county population estimates.
And their findings make one thing abundantly clear: Texas is going to become the most important political state over the next decade.
Here's why: Growth in Texas is absolutely off the charts.
Of the 10 counties with the largest population growth in the country between 2010 and 2019, six of them are in Texas. 
Harris County (Houston) had the second largest population increase over the first nine years of the decade, adding more than 620,000 people. (Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, took the top spot with more than 668,000 new people.)
The other five Texas counties in the Top 10 in terms of population increase are: Tarrant (Fort Worth), Bexar (San Antonio), Dallas (Dallas), Collin (Plano, McKinney) and Travis (Austin).
But it's not just that these big Texas counties are adding lots of people. It's that even smaller counties in Texas are growing faster -- as a percentage of their 2010 population -- than many places in the country.
Of the 10 counties in terms of percentage population growth between 2010 and 2019, four are in Texas: Hays (southwest of Austin), Comal (northeast of San Antonio), Kendall (west of Austin) and Williamson (north of Austin).
What all that bonkers growth means is that Texas' congressional delegation -- and, by extension, its number of electoral votes -- are going to soar after the 2020 Census and reapportionment
Texas is projected to gain three seats in 2021, and could gain more depending on how its growth numbers match up with the rest of the country. Three more congressional seats would bring Texas' total to 39 House seats -- and 41 total electoral votes, behind only California's 53 seats and 55 electoral votes.
    But -- and this is really important -- unlike solidly Democratic California, Texas is emerging as a swing state thanks to huge growth in the Hispanic community and their movement toward Democrats, particularly in the Trump era.
    The Point: Combine Texas' growth with its expected increase in swingy-ness as the state and federal level and you see why it looks like the most important political state of the next decade.

    Snake Oil Salesman

    Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

    No Responsibility?

    Friday, April 03, 2020

    It's Character - Not Color

    Deaths From Coronavirus Continue To Grow Across Nation

    Death from the Coronavirus pandemic continue to grow around the world. But out of over 150 countries where the virus has gone, the United States has about 10% of the worldwide deaths.

    Why is that? Our doctors and nurses are as good as any in the world. The truth is that the United States federal government waited far too long to take the pandemic seriously.

    The first person to get sick with the Coronavirus was on January 16th. He was diagnosed on January 20th. Trump did not issue his travel ban until January 31st -- 11 days later. By then, the virus was already in the U.S. and spreading.

    The Trump administration did not take the virus seriously and begin to take action until deep in March -- far too late to stem the tide of the virus. Now we are still trying to play catch-up, and the virus continues to spread -- and people continue to die.

    The chart below shows how the deaths have increased in just three days. The first number is the number of deaths on March 30th. The second number (in parentheses) 
    is the number of deaths just three days later (April 2nd).

    The numbers are from The COVID Tracking Project.

    United States..........2945 (5784)

    Alabama..........10 (32)
    Alaska..........2 (3)
    Arizona..........20 (32)
    Arkansas..........8 (12)
    California.........135 (203)
    Colorado..........47 (80)
    Connecticut.........34 (112)
    Delaware..........6 (12)
    District of Columbia..........9 (12)
    Florida..........63 (128)
    Georgia..........87 (163)
    Hawaii..........0 (1)
    Idaho..........6 (9)
    Illinois..........73 (157)
    Indiana..........35 (78)
    Iowa..........6 (11)
    Kansas..........8 (13)
    Kentucky..........9 (20)
    Louisiana..........185 (310)
    Maine..........3 (7)
    Maryland..........15 (36)
    Massachusetts..........48 (154)
    Michigan..........184 (417)
    Minnesota..........10 (18)
    Mississippi..........16 (26)
    Missouri..........13 (19)
    Montana..........5 (5)
    Nebraska..........2 (5)
    Nevada..........15 (38)
    New Hampshire..........3 (4)
    New Jersey..........198 (537)
    New Mexico..........2 (6)
    New York..........1218 (2373)
    North Carolina..........7 (16)
    North Dakota..........2 (3)
    Ohio..........39 (81)
    Oklahoma..........16 (34)
    Oregon..........13 (19)
    Pennsylvania..........50 (90)
    Rhode Island..........3 (12)
    South Carolina..........16 (31)
    South Dakota..........1 (2)
    Tennessee..........14 (32)
    Texas..........42 (70)
    Utah..........4 (7)
    Vermont..........12 (17)
    Virginia..........15 (41)
    Washington..........205 (247)
    West Virginia..........1 (2)
    Wisconsin..........19 (31)
    Wyoming..........0 (0)