Friday, May 31, 2013

No Gun Problem ?

It's Time To Eliminate "Capital Gains" Tax

(The image above is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

Did you ever wonder how it is that Mitt Romney could pay only a 13% tax when he made over $20 million in income? The reason is something called a "capital gains" tax. If Romney had worked for his income, it would have been classified as earned income and he would have had to pay about 36% minus his personal deductions (which was the top tax rate at the time). But since it was investment income (classified as a capital gain), he only owed a 15% tax rate (which was lowered to 13% due to personal deductions).

This is one of the most unfair parts of our tax system -- that the rich get to pay a much smaller tax rate of their income (which is mostly capital gains, or investment income) than the middle class (who actually have to work for their income). It hasn't always been like that, and conservatives haven't always touted the value of a special capital gains tax rate. In fact, conservative icon Ronald Reagan didn't support giving the rich a special and lower tax rate than ordinary Americans. He thought the rich should pay more because they made so much more.

It was only after George Bush became president that the special capital gains tax came into being. Bush fell for the ridiculous Wall Street argument that a lower capital gains tax would spur investment and create jobs, so he lowered the capital gains tax to only 15% (less than half of what that income was being taxed at). Of course it didn't spur investment or create new jobs. The money just went into the bank accounts of the very rich, while the Bush administration presided over one of the worst periods of job creation in our history.

When President Obama raised the top tax rate from about 36% to nearly 39%, he also raised the capital gains tax rate for the very rich from 15% to 20%. That is still only about half of what they should be paying (if their income was taxed as earned income, like it has been in the past, and like the bottom 90% of all Americans have to pay). What should have been done is to eliminate the capital gains tax altogether, and return to taxing all income at the earned income rate.

The Republicans (creators and protectors of the special capital gains tax rate) have been whining that our deficit (and national debt) is too large. But one of the most significant things that could be done to lower the budget deficit (outside of cutting the bloated military budget) would be to raise the capital gains tax rate to equal the earned income rate. This special tax rate for the rich is going to cost our government about $161 billion in revenue this year (and could pour nearly $2 trillion into the government coffers over the next 10 years). That's not pocket change.

This special tax rate for the rich is both unfair to other Americans (who work for their money and pay a higher rate) and is costing the government hundreds of billions in revenue every year. It should never have been created, and it needs to be done away with as quickly as possible. There is simply no legitimate reason for the rich to be taxed at a lower rate than hard-working middle class Americans.


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

Red State Voters Also Support Background Checks For Gun Purchases

Recently the Congress had an opportunity to close the massive loopholes in the federal law requiring background checks for gun purchasers. And I'm not exaggerating when I call the loopholes "massive", since about 40% of all gun purchasers in this country are able to buy a gun without any kind of background check (through purchases at gun shows, from friends and acquaintances, and off the internet). Unfortunately, the Republicans (and a few red state Democrats) killed the bill in the Senate.

The thinking was that although voters nationwide supported the bill by a huge margin (about 90%), the voters in the red states did not -- and senators in those states would have a hard time getting re-elected if they voted for the bill to make background checks more effective. But there is now evidence that kind of thinking was faulty, and that voting for the bill would not have hurt senators of either party.

A new Public Policy Polling survey (conducted on May 22nd and 23rd) tested the waters in three Southern, and very red, states -- Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee. The survey questioned 522 Arkansas voters, 576 Georgia voters, and 500 Tennessee voters (giving a margin of error of 4.3 points in Arkansas, 4.1 points in Georgia, and 4.4 points in Tennessee). The found the support for closing the background checks had a strong majority in all three of those red states, easily eclipsing the margin of error -- 60% in Arkansas, 71% in Georgia, and 67% in Tennessee (see the chart above).

It seems obvious that the Democrats didn't win any new support by joining the GOP in killing the background checks bill. But did the Republicans cover themselves in a primary in their own party? Probably not. The polls had the breakdown of political demographics showing that the majority support pretty much cut across party lines (although the majority among Independents in Arkansas was within the margin of error). Here are the numbers for political groups in each state (with the first number being those who support closing the loopholes, and the number in parentheses being the those opposed):

Republicans...............48% (43%)
Independents...............45% (43%)
Democrats...............85% (10%)

Republicans...............63% (30%)
Independents...............67% (27%)
Democrats...............82% (10%)

Republicans...............53% (38%)
Independents...............61% (29%)
Democrats...............88% (8%)

While the majorities in red states may have been slightly smaller than in some other states (to close the background check loopholes), they are still significant majorities. It doesn't look like those of either party who voted against the bill have won themselves any new friends. In fact, they may lose some support because of it. But they kept the NRA leadership happy, and that was probably all they cared about.

Hanging Up Her Hat

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

Words Matter In Poll Results

The two charts from a recent Gallup Poll show a real problem with some polls. If questions are not asked in a neutral way, without using words that have negative (or positive) connotations, the results of the poll can be seriously affected. And some political polls contain this error, as they attempt to put a candidate in a better light than is real (in the hope that a good poll will convince some voters to come on board).

Note that the two polls shown above are asking the same question. But while the first one couches the question in a more appealing way, the second uses the word "suicide" -- a word that has some negative connotations in this society (especially among many religious people). And the use of that word in the question lowers the percentage of people approving of a doctor ending a person's life by request by about 19 points. That's a huge difference. And that huge difference is not caused by different attitudes but by the different ways the question was asked.

The poll, done by the folks at the Gallup Poll, questioned 1,535 people between May 2nd and 7th. Those people were divided into two groups -- and one group was asked the question including the word "suicide", while the other group was asked the question avoiding use of that word. The margin of error was 3 points for the poll, and if the words used in each question didn't matter, the two groups should have numbers within that margin of error.

Before we get into another political season (with numerous polls being released), I just wanted to let you know that all polls are not the same. And you cannot know a poll's reliability until you know exactly what was asked and how it was asked. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I found this interesting and just thought I'd pass it along.

Modern Sisyphus ?

Political Cartoon is by Eric Semelroth at the AAEC website.

Student Loans Are Cost-Effective

This is ridiculous. I could understand a tiny percentage being charged, just to take care of the expense of making and keeping track of the student loans. But the government should not be trying to make a profit. The truth is that the government would come out ahead even if no interest was charged -- because these college graduates will pay much more in taxes over their lifetime than if they didn't go to college. And that increase in taxes paid will far exceed the amount of the loans. The government needs to stop charging the exorbitant interest. It just makes the loans harder to repay, and discourages some from applying for them and getting a degree.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


The Explosion Of "Bread-Winner" Mothers

The chart above (from the Pew Research Center) shows just how much our society has changed in the last 50 years. Back in 1960, less than 11% of households with children under the age of 18 had women as the primary income provider (3.5% had women who were married and earned more than their husband, while 7.3% were households with single mothers). Today those households comprise more than 40% of all households with children under age 18 -- about four times the percentage 50 years ago.

The households with married women who make more than their husbands has grown to about 15% (this includes about 5.1 million women, or 37% of women breadwinner households). These households are far better off than most households with children. In fact, they make an average of about $2000 more than households where both parents work and the husband is the primary breadwinner -- and an average of about $10,000 more than a household where both parents make roughly an equal salary. This is because the husband will make a better salary than most women, even when his wife's income is more than his.

The real problem is in the huge number of households headed by single mothers, who comprise about 25%, or 1 out of every 4 households with children. These households total about 8.6 million, and make up about 63% of the households where women are the primary breadwinners. This is the group that is in trouble these days. They make less than half of the national median income for households with children, and only about a quarter of the income for households where married women are the primary bread-winners. And it is the children in these households who suffer because the family doesn't have enough income.

The average median income for single mother households is $23,000 (and even lower for never married single mothers, whose median income is about $17,400). That is a very small income to try and raise a family on (especially when you consider that a big chunk must go to child care before the normal bills every family has can be paid). And note, since this is a median income figure, it means that in half of those 8.6 million households the single mother makes less than $23,000 (or less than $17,400 for never married mothers) -- sometimes far less. Those families are living in poverty.

These women don't want the stigma that comes with government support (no matter how many right-wingers may think they do). Like other Americans, they want to work and bring home a decent salary -- so they can be proud of supporting their families. The problem is that many of them can't get anything better than a low-wage and no benefit job (many times only a bare minimum wage job).

There is a cure for this. It would be to raise the minimum wage to a livable level (at least $10 an hour) like it was back in the late 1960's. This would allow these single mothers to earn enough to support their families through their hard work, and would take many of them off the government roles. The Republicans say they want poor people to work instead of being on government roles, but they oppose this simple solution (raising the minimum wage). They oppose it because they care more for the rich and the corporations (who would pay the higher wage) than they do for the women and children who are stuck in poverty.

It is time to raise the minimum wage to where it has the buying power it did in 1968 (slightly more than $10 an hour). There is absolutely no reason why a person (single mother or not) who is willing to work hard should make a salary that keeps them in poverty. Workers deserve at least a minimally decent standard of living. And while we're at it, it is time to insure that men and women are paid equally for equal work. We live in a different kind of society than we did 50 years ago -- a society where many more women are working (and many more have to work to support their families). Paying women 70% of a man's salary simply cannot be justified.

New Defense Dept. Logo

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

3 Reasons For Democrats To Celebrate

Democrats can rejoice over several things in the news lately. In fact, I don't think the Democrats have had so much to celebrate since the election last November.

The first, and probably the biggest story, is the decision by Michele Bachmann to retire from the House of Representatives after this term. She left a video for her followers saying she would not run for re-election in 2014. She said it was not because she didn't think she could win, but only that she thought 8 years was enough time to serve in the House. If you believe that, I have some ocean-front property here in Amarillo that'll I'll sell you real cheap.

The truth is that it was getting more unlikely by the minute that she could be re-elected in 2014. She only won by a single percentage point (in a district that gave Romney 56.5% of their votes) in 2012. And that was before all of the investigations began surrounding her ill-fated presidential bid. She is currently being investigated by the FBI, the Federal election Commission, and the Office of Congressional Ethics. She could see that her 15 minutes of fame was over, and decided to get out while she could still get a job lobbying for some right-wing organization.

The question is how this will affect the House race in her district. Will it give the Democrat (who nearly beat her in 2012) a better chance, or will it insure that a Republican can be elected there. We'll just have to wait and see.

The second bit of good news comes out of Alaska. Joe Miller has tossed his hat in the ring for the 2014 senate race there. He is hoping to unseat Senator Mark Begich, the Democratic incumbent. You may remember that Miller is the teabagger who beat Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2010 -- only to lose to her in the general election when she won with only write-in votes.

The chances are good that Miller can again win the Republican primary, since that state party is controlled by teabaggers, but it is highly unlikely he can win the general election. A survey by Public Policy Polling shows him trailing Begich by a 58% to 30% margin. This was a seat the Republicans might have won with a good candidate, but I don't see Miller winning. He's just not well liked outside the teabagger element of the GOP in that state.

The final bit of good news comes from the commonwealth of Kentucky, where Democrats have been trying to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for ages. If a new poll is to be believed, they may have their best chance in 2014. A Public Policy Polling survey of 556 Kentucky voters (done on May 23rd and 24th -- with a 4.2 point margin of error) shows McConnell tied with Secretary of State Alison L. Grimes. Each of those possible candidates has 45%, with 10% saying they are not sure.

Back in December, he had a 7 point lead over Grimes. That lead was down to 4 points in April, and is now dead even. And this is with McConnell running some early ads in the state, while Grimes hasn't even officially announced her candidacy. With a little financial backing from the national party, Grimes could make this a very interesting race. It's still very early, but this could be the Democrats best chance of unseating McConnell yet.

Defying Gravity

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

Big Surprise - Republicans Are Biggest Liars

(The above image was found at the website Workplace Psychology.)

If you've read this blog for very long, then you know that I've referred to prominent Republicans as liars many times. I believe that they have no regard for the truth at all -- and simply say what they think people want to hear (especially their teabagger base). I don't believe it has always been this way, but the Republican Party of today is far different than the GOP of the past (when they had honest ideological differences with the Democratic Party).

And I'm far from the only one believing current Republican officials have only a distant and very tenuous relationship with the truth. And now there is a study verifying this fact. The study was done by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University (a non-profit non-partisan research organization). They studied 46 claims by Democrats and 54 claims by Republicans that were made between January 20th and May 22nd of 2013. Politifact was used as the arbiter of truth and falsehood. Here's what they found:

11% -- entirely true
18% -- entirely or mostly true
52% -- entirely or mostly false
32% -- entirely false

22% -- entirely true
54% -- entirely or mostly true
24% -- entirely or mostly false
11% -- entirely false

To be truthful, those numbers are not great for either the Republicans or Democrats. I personally believe a 100% should be rated as true for both parties, and the fact that it isn't shows there are politicians in both parties willing to stretch the truth (or outright lie). But when you compare the two, it is obvious that the GOP politicians are far less truthful than the Democrats. They had only 18% of their statements rated entirely or mostly true, while the Democrats had 54% rated as entirely or mostly true. Conversely, the Democrats had 24% rated as entirely or mostly false, while the Republicans had 52% rated as entirely or mostly false.

Why do these politicians get away with lying so much? Probably because the media, in a misguided attempt to be "fair", refuses to call these politicians to task for their lies. And that may be the worst part of this whole mess -- that the mainstream media has abandoned its primary task (to report the truth).

Blame Obama

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

A Terrible Idea

Prisons for profit may be one of the worst ideas that conservatives have come up with. Right-wingers would like to think that the private sector can always do everything better than the government. That is simply not true, and prisons are one area where government does much better. As the picture above implies, when you build a private for-profit prison you must fill it with prisoners (so the private owners can maximize their profit -- which can easily lead to people being sent to prison, when they could have been dealt with in a less restrictive and more effective way.

Private prisons are also just lawsuits waiting to happen (which the government would be liable for, since they send the prisoners there and pay for their keep). They pay their guards less, and therefore get an inferior quality employee (who is probably not properly trained, since training costs money). The owners also have the desire to cut corners on food, medical care, and other things to squeeze out a little bit more profit -- most of which could easily result in other lawsuits, since the Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners have a right to decent food, good medical care, and proper shelter.

The government sends people to prison, and that means the government is responsible for those people while they are in custody. Putting them in the care of a for-profit penal institution is just asking for trouble (which will surely come). And in the long run, it will be more expensive.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Progress Without Change

In U.S. Unions Do What Government Won't

I have posted about this in the past, but it deserves to be repeated. Note the reality contained in the chart above. Their is only one rich developed country in the entire world that doesn't guarantee that all workers are entitled to paid holidays and/or paid vacations -- the United States. The next least generous government is Japan -- and it still mandates that employers must give their workers a minimum of 10 paid vacation days each year.

Why is this true? It is because the corporate powers don't want the government to mandate paid holidays or paid vacations, and they have bought enough politicians to prevent it from happening. You may be thinking that many workers in this country do get some paid holidays and vacations, and that is true. But it is not because the government mandates it, and it is not because of corporate generosity.

Corporations don't have a heart -- only a bottom line. And they will do whatever they can to produce another penny of profit on that bottom line -- and that includes keeping wages low and denying benefits to their workers. So why do some offer paid holidays and paid vacations? There is only one reason -- because they have been forced into doing that by unions. And even non-union firms have had to go along so they won't lose workers to union firms. If you get paid holidays and/or a paid vacation, then you should thank the worker's unions in this country -- not government or corporations.

And don't think that employers, especially the corporations, wouldn't love to eliminate the benefits they now offer (including paid holidays and vacations) because those benefits cost money. And they are trying very hard (with the help of their congressional Republican colleagues) to destroy unions. Once the unions are gone, the corporations will be free to reduce wages and eliminate benefits, which they could easily accomplish in a poor economy like the present, where millions of people are out of work and desperate for a job -- even a low-wage job with no benefits.

We must fight to protect the right to unionize, and to protect the unions that currently exist. This is important because the government has abdicated its responsibility to protect workers, and create a fair environment where workers share in the benefits of a rising productivity. Unions are the only protection that workers have, and they have been left to do the job that government won't do.


If you doubt what I have said above, and still believe in the myth of corporate generosity, then just look at the rise in income for 2009-2011. From 2009 to 2011, income grew by 1.7% in the United States, but it was not shared among all income groups. The top 1% got 121% of that income increase. How could they get more than 100% of the income increase? Because the income for the 99% actually shrunk by 0.4%. In other words, the richest 1% not only hogged the entire income gain in those years, they also stole a little more from their workers.

I repeat -- corporations do not have a heart, and generosity is a foreign concept for them. They care about nothing but profits, and will happily abuse their workers to turn a good profit into an exorbitant profit. That may sound harsh, but it is the truth.

Take A Number

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

Jobs - Obama Vs. Bush

The Republicans have been telling us for quite a while that the key to a booming economy is the creation of jobs in the private sector, and the elimination of jobs in the public sector. If they really believed that, then they should think Barack Obama is a much better president that George Bush.

As the charts above show (from the website Calculated Risk), President Obama has overseen the creation of far more private sector jobs than Bush did (during his entire 8-year term). In addition, public sector jobs have decreased during the term of President Obama, while they climbed significantly during the Bush administration. Here are the numbers:

Bush administration...............-665,000
Obama administration...............+2,282,000

Bush administration...............+1,748,000
Obama administration...............-718,000

Using the congressional Republican logic (and I use that term very loosely), President Obama must be far superior to President Bush. But that's not all. They have also told us that the way to create private sector jobs is to lower taxes on corporations and rich people. President Bush did that more than once, while President Obama has raised the taxes on the rich (while leaving taxes on working and middle class Americans the same).

How then can it be that the Bush administration actually lost jobs after lowering taxes -- and the Obama administration continues to have job growth even after raising taxes on the rich? Obviously, the level of taxation has nothing to do with job creation. And President Obama could have created more jobs if the Republicans hadn't killed his bill to repair and rebuild this country's infrastructure.

Which makes me wonder -- are the Republicans really that dumb, or have they just been lying to us all this time? Either way, it is time to vote them out of office so we can get this economy moving again by returning to a sane economic policy.

Not Political ?

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

Bernie Says We Can Learn From Denmark

This month, Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen spent a weekend in Vermont, talking and traveling around that state with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). After that visit, Senator Sanders wrote the following article for The Huffington Post. It is well worth reading:

Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen spent a weekend in Vermont this month traveling with me to town meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. Large crowds came out to learn about a social system very different from our own which provides extraordinary security and opportunity for the people of Denmark.

Today in the United States there is a massive amount of economic anxiety. Unemployment is much too high, wages and income are too low, millions of Americans are struggling to find affordable health care and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider.

While young working families search desperately for affordable child care, older Americans worry about how they can retire with dignity. Many of our people are physically exhausted as they work the longest hours of any industrialized country and have far less paid vacation time than other major countries.

Denmark is a small, homogenous nation of about 5.5 million people. The United States is a melting pot of more than 315 million people. No question about it, Denmark and the United States are very different countries. Nonetheless, are there lessons that we can learn from Denmark?

In Denmark, social policy in areas like health care, child care, education and protecting the unemployed are part of a “solidarity system” that makes sure that almost no one falls into economic despair. Danes pay very high taxes, but in return enjoy a quality of life that many Americans would find hard to believe. As the ambassador mentioned, while it is difficult to become very rich in Denmark no one is allowed to be poor. The minimum wage in Denmark is about twice that of the United States and people who are totally out of the labor market or unable to care for themselves have a basic income guarantee of about $100 per day.

Health care in Denmark is universal, free of charge and high quality. Everybody is covered as a right of citizenship. The Danish health care system is popular, with patient satisfaction much higher than in our country. In Denmark, every citizen can choose a doctor in their area. Prescription drugs are inexpensive and free for those under 18 years of age. Interestingly, despite their universal coverage, the Danish health care system is far more cost-effective than ours. They spend about 11 percent of their GDP on health care. We spend almost 18 percent.

When it comes to raising families, Danes understand that the first few years of a person’s life are the most important in terms of intellectual and emotional development. In order to give strong support to expecting parents, mothers get four weeks of paid leave before giving birth. They get another 14 weeks afterward. Expecting fathers get two paid weeks off, and both parents have the right to 32 more weeks of leave during the first nine years of a child’s life. The state covers three-quarters of the cost of child care, more for lower-income workers.

At a time when college education in the United States is increasingly unaffordable and the average college graduate leaves school more than $25,000 in debt, virtually all higher education in Denmark is free. That includes not just college but graduate schools as well, including medical school.

In a volatile global economy, the Danish government recognizes that it must invest heavily in training programs so workers can learn new skills to meet changing workforce demands. It also understands that when people lose their jobs they must have adequate income while they search for new jobs. If a worker loses his or her job in Denmark, unemployment insurance covers up to 90 percent of earnings for as long as two years. Here benefits can be cut off after as few as 26 weeks.

In Denmark, adequate leisure and family time are considered an important part of having a good life. Every worker in Denmark is entitled to five weeks of paid vacation plus 11 paid holidays. The United States is the only major country that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation time. The result is that fewer than half of lower-paid hourly wage workers in our country receive any paid vacation days.

Recently the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the Danish people rank among the happiest in the world among some 40 countries that were studied. America did not crack the top 10.

As Ambassador Taksoe-Jensen explained, the Danish social model did not develop overnight. It has evolved over many decades and, in general, has the political support of all parties across the political spectrum. One of the reasons for that may be that the Danes are, politically and economically, a very engaged and informed people. In their last election, which lasted all of three weeks and had no TV ads, 89 percent of Danes voted.

In Denmark, more than 75 percent of the people are members of trade unions. In America today, as a result of the political and economic power of corporate America and the billionaire class, we are seeing a sustained and brutal attack against the economic well-being of the American worker. As the middle class disappears, benefits and guarantees that workers have secured over the last century are now on the chopping block. Republicans, and too many Democrats, are supporting cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition, education, and other basic needs — at the same time as the very rich become much richer. Workers’ rights, the ability to organize unions, and the very existence of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are now under massive assault.

In the U.S. Senate today, my right-wing colleagues talk a lot about “freedom” and limiting the size of government. Here’s what they really mean.

They want ordinary Americans to have the freedom NOT to have health care in a country where 45,000 of our people die each year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should. They want young people in our country to have the freedom NOT to go to college, and join the 400,000 young Americans unable to afford a higher education and the millions struggling with huge college debts. They want children and seniors in our country to have the freedom NOT to have enough food to eat, and join the many millions who are already hungry. And on and on it goes!

In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what “freedom” means. In that country, they have gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity. Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all — including the children, the elderly and the disabled.

The United States, in size, culture, and the diversity of our population, is a very different country from Denmark. Can we, however, learn some important lessons from them? You bet we can.

Politician's Toy

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

Low-Wage Slavery

This great hero of labor and workers' rights is correct. Corporations don't have a heart. They only care about their bottom line, and they are perfectly willing to pay slave wages to make that bottom line look better. The powerful have never willingly given up any of their power or wealth for the good of the nation (or their workers). Any rights that workers have were won by blood and resistance in the forming of unions (which are the only protection the working people have) -- and those unions have even made wages and working conditions better for those who are not in unions.

Unfortunately, too many working Americans have swallowed the propaganda put out by the rich and the corporations -- propaganda that has convinced them that unions are bad things. And because of this, wages are stagnant (and losing their buying power as inflation grows) and the middle class is shrinking (as many are dropping into poverty). We need a renewed effort to establish more unions, and strengthen the ones that exist. Economic justice demands it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Does Public Want Obamacare Repealed ?

The congressional Republicans in the House of Representatives have now voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) at least 37 times. They believe the American public doesn't want the law, and voting against it will win them favor with the majority of voters. And a superficial look at a recent poll might make a person think that was true, and that a majority of Americans would like to see Obamacare repealed.

The chart above shows the result of a recent CNN/ORC Poll (conducted on May 17th and 18th of 923 nationwide adults -- with a 3 point margin of error). The poll determined that 43% of the public approved of Obamacare, while 54% disapproved. So that means 54% of Americans would like to see Obamacare repealed, right? WRONG!

When you delve a bit deeper into the poll, you find out that around 25% of those who said they disapproved of Obamacare said that because they didn't think the law went far enough. These people, around 16% of the entire poll number, wanted more change than Obamacare offered (with many of them, like me, wanting to see a government-run single-payer health insurance system). But they do NOT want Obamacare repealed -- just improved. They recognize that Obamacare represents a positive change from what we had before.

So what are the real numbers? Here they are:

43% -- like Obamacare as it is.
16% -- would like to see it made stronger.
35% -- would like to see it repealed

So, while slightly more than half of Americans do not approve of Obamacare as it is, only about a third of Americans want to see it repealed. When you add those who want it made stronger to those who like it as it is, you find that 59% of Americans would oppose its repeal. The Republicans are not winning any new friends with their repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare. They are just playing to their teabagger base. Their position will play well in the GOP primary, but it won't help them in the general election.


Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

Unsung Heroes

At first glance, this may look like a rogues gallery. It is not. This is a gallery of American heroes. These men and women are "Freedom Riders". On May 24, 1961, they entered a "whites only" waiting room at the bus station in Jackson (Mississippi), and refused to leave. They knew they would be arrested, probably beaten, and maybe even killed for their actions -- but they did it anyway. And their bravery helped to make America a better country.

I stand in awe of the magnificent courage and unwavering belief in the equality of all Americans that these young (at that time) Americans displayed. We should always honor them (and the other young Americans who rode with them that summer).

The Real IRS Scandal

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

The Real Danger Is From Within

As always, the greatest danger to our democracy, rights, and freedoms doesnt come from other countries, or even foreign or homegrown terrorists. Those things can be dealt with. The far greater danger lies in our government being co-opted by corporate powers and Wall Street (the aristocracy of the United States). This takeover is a silent one, done behind closed doors -- and those who are trying to do it carry the flag in one hand and the Bible in the other.

They lie and say what they are doing is for the good of all Americans, but it is not. It is only for the rich, and to insure that they do not have to share their great wealth -- even though they earned it on the backs of many others. The rich want to control the government for their own benefit, and to the detriment of all other Americans. This would mean the end of democracy, and the birth of plutocracy -- and we are already well down that path.

Don't be fooled. Democracy and plutocracy are not the same thing -- not even close. Democracy is rule by the masses, while plutocracy is tyranny by the rich. The current Republican Party will not save this country, for they have bought into the trickle-down lies of the rich and have been pushing their agenda for them for decades now. The Democrats are our only hope right now to restore our democracy, but we must raise and voices and act to force them into doing it (for the plutocrats have bought some of them, too).

Do you want your democracy back? Or are you happy letting the rich rob you, steal your labor, and then tell you its for your own good? If you want to live in a democracy, then you must vote the GOP out of power -- at least until they come to their senses. And you must pressure Democrats to work for the good of all, not just the few. Those is the only choice we have (for no third party is going to ride in on a white horse and save us).


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

Prohibition Doesn't Work

Will Rogers had a great talent for exposing the truth in a humorous way. Sadly, we are still making the same mistakes. The prohibition against marijuana is even stupider the the prohibition against alcohol was, because marijuana doesn't cause the medical or social problems associated with alcohol. When is this country going to realize that prohibition simply doesn't work?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day


Dole Believes The GOP Has Lost Its Way

I have posted several times about how far to the right the Republican Party has moved recently. It is now so far to the right that it wouldn't be recognizable to many famous Republicans -- and very likely wouldn't accept those men as being "good" Republicans. Presidents Lincoln and T. Roosevelt would be considered liberals by today's party, and totally unacceptable. Eisenhower and Nixon were moderates -- also unacceptable. Even such conservative icons as Reagan and Goldwater held views that would make them unacceptable to todays teabaggers.

Goldwater believed in equal rights, even for the LGBT community -- and he was opposed to the party giving in to the religious views of the fundamentalists. Reagan supported a ban on assault weapons, raised taxes when it was needed, and believed the rich should pay more in taxes than the middle class. The party still reveres the memory of Reagan, but they have to ignore many of his views to do so.

And this is not just my view -- the view of a progressive leftist. It is also the view of some respected life-long Republicans. One of those is former senator and Republican nominee for president, Bob Dole. This is what he told Chris Wallace on a Fox News Sunday interview this week:

WALLACE: What do you think of your party, the Republicans today?
DOLE: I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says “closed for repairs” until New Year’s Day next year — and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.
WALLACE: You describe the GOP of your generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans. Could people like you, even Ronald Reagan — could you make it in today’s Republican Party.
DOLE: I doubt it. Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Franken Has Won Over Minnesota Voters

Back in 2008, there was no closer election than the Minnesota senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and his Democratic opponent All Franken. It was finally won by Al Franken -- but only by a few hundred votes out of several million votes cast. It took a recount and a court case, but Franken was finally declared the winner. This made the Republicans think that Franken could be targeted and unseated in 2014.

But it hasn't worked out that way. Franken has turned out to be a very good senator -- a progressive who has puts the best interests and the rights of ordinary citizens above the profits of Wall Street. And that seems to have played well in Minnesota. A new survey by Public Policy Polling (conducted between May 17th and 19th of 712 Minnesota voters -- with a 3.7 point margin of error) is showing it is going to be very difficult for the GOP to unseat Senator Franken.

The poll shows that 51% of voters approve of Franken's job performance, while only 42% disapprove. Compare that to his most well-known possible opponent, Michele Bachmann. Bachmann has an approval rating of only 34%, and her disapproval has reached a whopping 60%. Here are the poll numbers pitting Franken against his possible opponents:

Al Franken...............55%
Michele Bachmann...............38%

Al Franken...............54%
Jason Lewis...............37%

Al Franken...............51%
Mike McFadden...............36%

Al Franken...............52%
Julianne Ortman...............35%

Al Franken...............52%
Julie Rosen...............36%

Al Franken...............51%
Rich Stanek...............36%

Those are some great numbers, which I'm sure any politician would love to have. There's still more than a year until the 2014 election takes place, and a lot could happen between now and then, but it looks like the Republicans have a very difficult task ahead if they plan to defeat Senator Franken.


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

Senate GOP Is Breaking Its Promise

At the start of this 113th Congress, the Democrats had a chance to change Senate rules and insure that the filibuster would not continue to be abused -- making it necessary to get 60 votes to pass any bill, instead of the 51 votes it is supposed to take. But the Republicans, as they did in the 112th Congress, promised not to filibuster everything as they had done in the past -- and the Democrats fell for that promise once again.

One of the things they had promised not to filibuster was sending a bill to a conference committee with the House of Representatives -- where the two legislative bodies hammer out differences in the bills they have passed, and come up with a compromise bill that both bodies can pass. Several teabagger senators are now breaking that promise (namely Cruz, Lee, and Rubio).

Both the Senate and the House have come up with budgets for the coming year -- but neither budget could pass the other legislative body. It is necessary that a committee be formed to negotiate a budget acceptable to both the House and Senate. But the above-named senators (and some others supporting them) are now saying they will filibuster the forming of this committee unless the Senate Democrats agree to provisions they have already defeated when the bill was passed in the Senate.

This is a clear violation of the promise the GOP senators made to keep the filibuster rules from being changed back in January. I don't blame them though. I blame the Democratic senators who were stupid enough to believe the Republicans -- who have time and time again proven they cannot be trusted. This same thing happened in the last Congress. When are the Democrats going to learn? How many times must they be conned by the Republicans before they do something?

Fantasy ?

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

We Can't Be Both !

It's nice to see someone pointing out this truth. The United States seems to have a split personality. We love to claim to be the world's guardian of peace and justice. But at the same time, we are the world's largest suppliers of guns and other weapons of war. But it gets even worse. We will start a war (police action?) at the drop of a hat, not for humanitarian purposes, but to maximize corporate profits and protect corporate possessions.

The truth is that we are not the world's protecters of peace and justice. We don't even follow our own tradition of "rule of law" anymore. We are actually the world's biggest and most active bully.