Friday, February 28, 2014

Same Old Hatred

Military Cuts Proposed Are Not Nearly Enough

(The cartoon image above is by Stuart Carlson at

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced some cuts to defense spending. The cuts will include a reduction in the number of standing military forces (from the current 520,000 to about 420,000), and will phase out the A-10 Warthog plane.

These are actually fairly moor cuts in military spending -- cuts that don't affect the areas with the biggest spending (the corporations in the military-industrial complex making duplicative, unneeded military systems or systems that just don't work or are outdated -- and the massive number of military bases around the world, which numbers between 800 and 900). Do we really need that many military bases -- nearly 8 bases on average for every country in the world? Of course we don't.

And we don't need to keep on spending money on things the military has said it doesn't want (or that don't work). A prime example is the engine for the new jet fighter. The military chose the engine it wanted, but Congress overrode them and voted to keep making two different engines for the new fighter. That is just one of many examples of wasteful spending. But Congress doesn't want to stop that spending, because that goes into the pockets of their corporate masters.

The truth is that the United States spends far more than any other nation on its military -- and far more than is needed to adequately defend this country. In fact, the U.S. spends about 45% of the military spending for the entire world, and more than the next fifteen biggest spenders combined. The American military budget could be cut in half, and we would still be spending far more than any other nation (friend or foe). Considering how much we actually spend on our military, the small cuts proposed by Hagel will not affect our ability to defend this country at all.

But you won't be able to find a Republican that will publicly admit that. They, with the help of Fox News, are acting like Hagel's cuts will devastate our ability to defend ourselves and will leave us helpless in the face of our enemies. They know it is not true But they also know that scaring the American people, and painting the Democrats as weak on defense, can get them votes -- especially among the ignorant and ill-informed.

Note that in the past the American people were starting to realize that the military spending was too high in this country. But then we had the first Gulf War, and then the terrorist attack in New York. And the Republicans began to beat the fear drum loudly, telling Americans we must have a strong military to fight terrorism. This is ridiculous for a couple of reasons. First, we could cut our military spending drastically and still have the most powerful military in the world. And second, military power (while superb in a conventional war) is not suited for fighting terrorism (since terrorists have no country or borders, and can easily disappear when confronting military forces). The FBI and the CIA are much better suited for that task.

Currently only 37% of Americans think we spend too much on the military, and amazingly, 28% think we don't spend enough. Obviously the Republican fear propaganda has been pretty effective, and that's sad because it means we will continue to spend far too much on the military -- to the detriment of all other government programs (programs needed to help hurting Americans).

NOTE -- The above charts were made with information from the Gallup Poll -- the latest being done between February 6th and 9th of 1,023 nationwide adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

A Smaller Size

Political Cartoon is by Paresh Nath in the National Herald (India).

Brewer Vetoes Arizona's Religious Bigotry Law

(This caricature of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is by DonkeyHotey.)

I wrote the other day about Arizona's "cover your bigotry with religion" bill. The bill had passed both houses of the Arizona legislature and had been sent to the governor. It would have allowed businesses in that state to refuse service to members of the LGBT community by claiming it violated their religious beliefs. It was nothing more than an attempt to use religion as a justification to discriminate.

Well, that bill is dead now. On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. In issuing the odious bill, Brewer said:

"To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.

"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination."

Brewer's veto has upset right-wing fundamentalists across the nation. They were upset that their attempted end run around anti-discrimination laws had failed (just like their similar attempt to use religion as an excuse to continue discrimination against African-Americans had failed a few decades earlier).

But whether they want to admit it or not, Governor Brewer did the Republican Party a big favor by vetoing the bill. While the bill may have made the GOP's teabagger base happy, most Americans opposed the bill (considering it to be legalized discrimination) -- and the Republicans have enough problems appealing to most voters without another reminder of how out of step they are with the beliefs of most Americans.

And this bill was out of step with the general public. A new Rasmussen Poll (taken on February 25th and 26th of 1,000 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 3 points) showed that about 66% of the public (or two out of every three Americans) opposed the bill, while only about 20% (or one out of every five Americans) supported it. Another 14% weren't sure what to think of it.

No Sinners Served

Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Kinky Asks For Your Vote

Dear Fellow Texan,

I’m not usually one to keep things brief, but I know you’re busy and already getting too many political emails. So I’m going to keep this short. 

I understand that I’m not a typical politician, and quite frankly, I don’t want to be. Typical politicians have had their chance and they haven’t gotten it done. Texas has had too many do-nothing Republicans lead us to the middle of nowhere, and we all deserve better.
The time for excuses has long past, and sitting on your rear, hoping for something to change makes about as much sense as jumping into a lake and hoping you won’t get wet. If you want change, then the only solution is to vote. My platform offers new ideas to move Texas forward. I’m talking about real solutions to funding education, lowering property taxes, conserving water, and so much more. But those things won’t happen if you don’t vote in this Primary Election.

Yours in Texas,
Kinky Friedman

Obamacare Victim

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

Free Trade ?

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Same-Sex Marriage Ban In Texas Ruled Unconstitutional

Back in 2005, the voters in Texas approved an amendment to the state's constitution that defined marriage as only being between a man and a woman. This amendment, which passed by a huge majority, had the effect of banning marriage between same-sex couples -- and the religious right was sure this amendment would settle the question of same-sex marriage in Texas for good. They were wrong.

While the voters do have the right to alter marriage rules through a constitutional amendment, any changes they approve must apply equally to all citizens. Neither voters nor state officials have the right to deny rights to any group -- rights that are given to other groups. That's because the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (which trumps all state constitutions) says:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

And that's just what a judge said on Wednesday in San Antonio. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the Texas constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage "violates plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution". The judge also wrote these powerful words:

"Equal treatment of all individuals under the law is not merely an aspiration — it is a constitutional mandate. Consequently, equal protection is at the heart of our legal system and is essential for the existence of a free society."

This makes Texas the third state to have its same-sex marriage ban overturned recently by a federal judge. The other states are Utah and Oklahoma. All three states have had those decisions stayed until they can be reviewed by a federal appeals court. Utah has appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Oklahoma is waiting to see the outcome of that appeal (since they are also covered by that appeals court). If the Texas decision is appealed (and it undoubtably will be), it will go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

So far, the United States Supreme Court has been able to avoid making a decision on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. But if the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals don't make the same decisions, then the U.S. Supreme Court will finally be forced to make a decision for the country as a whole. And that is a distinct possibility. Preliminary indications are that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals might uphold the decision of the federal judge in Utah (that declared Utah's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional), but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is a more conservative court and could overturn the Texas jude's decision.

Regardless of what these two appeals courts decide, it is time for the United States Supreme Court to stop avoiding this issue. The Fourteenth Amendment is very clear, and these same-sex marriage bans clearly violate that amendment. Opponents are going to try to claim these decisions violate their religious rights, but that is a ridiculous assertion. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does nothing to impinge on the religious rights of any person or church, and they can continue to practice their religious bigotry to their hearts content -- they will just no longer be able to force their own bigotry on others.

The majority of Americans support the equal right of the LGBT community to marry the person they love, and it is time for this issue to be put to rest once and for all.

Gay Marriage

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Republicans Are Still The Minority Party

The chart above is made from information in a New York Times / CBS News Poll -- the last one being done between February 19th and 23rd of 1,644 nationwide adults (519 Republicans, 515 Democrats, and 550 Independents).

Note that the Republican Party has been the minority party for more than a decade now. Only one time has it risen to a popularity of 30% during that decade (31% in 2005). On the other hand, the Democratic Party has consistently had more citizens willing to identify with it during that time period -- and at no time has it dropped below 30%. Currently party identification stands at:


Of particular importance is the recent rise of people claiming to be Independents. This shows the people are angry with both national parties. The question is -- will those Independents vote in the upcoming mid-term election, and if they do, which party will they take their anger out on?


Meanwhile, that same poll surveyed its respondents on their preferences for president in 2016 -- asking them if they wanted certain candidates to run. As expected, Hillary is the huge favorite of Democrats, with 82% of them wanting her to run.

Also as expected, the Republicans still don't have a real favorite -- with no candidate having a majority of party member wanting him to run.

But the really interesting part was what the Independents want. More than half of the Independents wanted Hillary Clinton to run for president, 20 points more than for any other possible candidate. I can't remember any candidate that wasn't a sitting president being this much of a prohibitive favorite this long before an election.

Tyrant ?

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

Social Commentary From A Great Comedian

Comedian Bill Hicks passed away a couple of decades ago at a very early age, but his words live on. And like Molly Ivins, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce, his humor doubled as social commentary. He didn't just make people laugh -- he made them think. Here are some of his immortal words (the way he usually closed his act):

Is there a point to my act? I would say there is. I have to.

The world is like a ride, in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real, because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down, and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud and it's fun. For a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: "Is this real, or is this just a ride?"

And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, "Hey, don't worry. Don't be afraid, ever. Because this is just a ride."

And we . . . kill those people. Ha-ha!

"Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real."

It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And we let the demons run amok.

But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money.

[It's] a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride: Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world - which it would do many times over, not one human being excluded. And we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.

War On Poverty (Programs)

Political Cartoon is by John Branch in the San Antonio Express-News.

Handouts ?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Obama Ignores His Own Deadline On Afghanistan

(The image above is from the website of the National Guard.)

President Obama originally told Americans that he would be pulling American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year. He didn't really mean that though, and wanted to leave thousands of American troops in that country (as trainers and to fight terrorism) -- possibly as long as another 10 years (the end of 2024). But to do that he needs the Afghan government to sign an agreement asking U.S. troops to stay. That agreement would be necessary to protect American troops from being tried by an Afghan court for any crime they might commit against the Afghan people.

The United States says it will not leave any troops in Afghanistan after December of 2014 without that signed agreement. Near the end of 2013, President Obama warned the Afghan president (who had been refusing to sign the agreement) that the agreement must be signed by the end of 2013 or all troops would be withdrawn -- thinking that deadline would push President Karzai to sign the agreement.

Now we are nearly two months into 2014, and President Obama is still trying to pressure the Afghans into signing the agreement -- ignoring his own deadline. Just a few days ago, President Obama once again issued that same threat in a phone call to President Karzai, and the White House issued the following statement:

"President Obama told President Karzai that because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA (Bilateral Security Agreement), the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning.
"Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
"Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 US mission will be smaller in scale and ambition."
It is becoming very obvious that President Obama does not want to honor his promise to the American people, or his threat to the Afghan government. He (and the Pentagon generals) want to continue indefinitely this ridiculous and ineffective occupation of Afghanistan -- a war which is already in its thirteenth year. And it now looks like the refusal of President Karzai to sign the agreement is all that is preventing this endless war from continuing for many more years.

It should be noted that American troops would probably still be in Iraq too, if the Iraqis hadn't refused to sign the same kind of agreement. We can only hope that President Karzai has that same kind of guts, and refuses to sign the agreement. That seems to be the only way to get American troops out of Afghanistan.

Poll after poll has shown that a majority of the American people think the Afghan war was a mistake, and they want all of the troops to be withdrawn. It's just sad that President Obama won't honor his own promise and deadline, and that we must depend on a foreign president to get us out of Afghanistan.


Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Only 30% of Americans Trust Scientists To Tell The Truth

No nation has benefitted more from the advances of science than the United States -- and those benefits are evident in all aspects of the society, from farming to industry, from technology to warfare, from health to space exploration, from safety to communication. Science has made the lives of all Americans better.

One would think that in a society that has benefitted so much from the advances of science, a significant majority of the public would have a lot of trust in scientists -- but that is not the case. Only about 30% of the American people (less than one out of every three Americans) say they have a lot of trust in scientists to tell them the truth, while 31% say they have no trust or very little trust in scientists. About 40% say they have only a moderate trust in scientists.

The groups that trust scientists the most are college grads (42%/15%), those with some college (32%/28%), ages 18 to 29 (38%/23%), Whites (33%/28%), Democrats (38%/27%), Midwesterners (32%/27%), Westerners (33%/24%), those making $40k to $100k (36%/23%), and those making above $100k(39%/16%). Sadly though, none of these groups even approaches a majority having complete or a lot of trust in scientists.

Three groups are evenly split on the question -- men (33%/33%), those in the Northeast (27%/27%), and political Independents (31%/31%). All other demographic groups show more distrust than trust of scientists -- with the worst being those with a HS education or less (20%/42%), Republicans (21%/31%), Southerners (27%/39%), Blacks (24%/39%), Hispanics (18%/35%), those making less than $40k (21%/42%), and those between 30 and 44 years old (27%/35%).

These are rather shocking numbers for all groups -- especially considering scientific pronouncements are peer-reviewed, and are subject to repeated experimentation for verification. I would love to be able to say this distrust of science is just because of attacks on science from the right-wing, but that would not be true. Science has been attacked from both the right and the left. The right has attacked science over evolution and global warming, while the left has attacked science over genetically-modified foods -- and both groups have been somewhat successful in their efforts, causing a deterioration in the trust of scientists.

These results are from a recent YouGov Poll (conducted between February 15th and 17th of 1,000 randomly selected nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 4.2 points).

Military Cuts

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

A Message From Chairman Hinojosa To Texas Democrats

With the primary election only a few days away, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa sends the following message to all Texas Democrats:

Kesha Rogers is one of the candidates on the ballot for U.S. Senator in the Democratic primary -- but do not be fooled. Kesha Rogers is not a Democrat.
Ms. Rogers is part of the “LaRouche Movement,” which has a history of violent rhetoric. The focus of her campaign is impeaching President Obama. Rogers has even paraded around Texas with a poster of the President with a Hitler mustache.
Rogers believes that the U.S. economy is secretly controlled by London financial institutions and she has advocated for colonizing Mars.  That’s not what real Democrats stand for.
The Texas Democratic Party does not support the candidacy of Kesha Rogers or anyone that aligns themselves with the LaRouche Movement. Our State Democratic Executive Committee even issued a resolution against her campaign. Do not vote for Kesha Rogers in the primary.
Rogers’ candidacy is a insult to our Party, our President, our state, our Democratic values, and to all the work you are doing to move our state forward.
Do not vote for Kesha Rogers.
All my best --
Gilberto Hinojosa
Chair, Texas Democratic Primary
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Hinojosa. Nominating Rogers would be disastrous for Democratic hopes in the 2014 election. There are four other candidates running for the Democratic senate nomination (Maxey Scherr, Harry Kim, Michael Fjetland, David Alameel), and all are true Democrats. Pick the one you like -- but please don't vote for Kesha Rogers (a LaRouchie posing as a Democrat).

NOTE -- My choice is Maxey Scherr (a true progressive).


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

GOP Dictionary

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Opposition To The Individual Mandate Is Decreasing & Support For A Single-Payer System Is Growing

When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) first became law, there was a lot of opposition to it. But that opposition wasn't to the entire law. Most people liked a lot of the changes mandated by Obamacare. The part of the law most disliked was the individual requirement to buy health insurance (without which Obamacare could not succeed). I think there was a great fear among many Americans (fueled by Republican lies) that they would be forced to buy insurance that they could not afford.

But it was never a part of Obamacare to force people into a financial hardship by making them buy insurance. The law contained some fairly generous subsidies for consumers to prevent exposing them to a financial hardship. Now, as millions of people sign up for that insurance (over 3 million at the end of January have bought private insurance and millions more are now receiving Medicaid), people are beginning to realize there was nothing to fear. They are getting better insurance for a cheaper price, and those who need it are getting government help to pay for the insurance.

And as the Obamacare insurance sign-ups continue to grow, the people are starting to realize that the Republicans were lying to them (and the president was telling them the truth) -- and their opposition to the individual mandate is falling. Back in November of 2011that opposition was a whopping 69%. And even as late as December of 2013 a clear majority (58%) opposed the individual mandate. But now that number has fallen to only 46%. For the first time, less than half of the public opposes the individual mandate -- and that number will continue to fall as the number of insurance purchasers grows. What the Republicans feared the most is actually happening -- the public is starting to accept Obamacare (all of it) as a good improvement over the old system.

But while Obamacare is being accepted and people see it has made some needed changes, something else is also happening. More people are starting to realize that Obamacare didn't solve all of the nation's health care problems, and that more change is needed. The support for a government-run single-payer health care system is growing -- something like a Medicare for everyone system. People are realizing that Medicare has been a huge success in covering all American seniors, and they are starting to wonder why that same kind of system wouldn't work to cover all Americans with decent insurance.

When Obamacare was being debated and discussed in Congress, only about 25% to 30% of the public supported a government-run single-payer health care system. That has now grown to about 40% (and the opposition to it has shrunk to less than half of the public). More Americans are starting to realize that kind of program has advantages (more coverage, less overhead, less of a billing nightmare for doctors and hospitals, and less cost for the nation -- as can be seen by other nations who use it), and fewer now see it as the "socialist nightmare" the Republicans have tried to paint it as.

These charts were drawn from a recent Rasmussen Poll (conducted on February 22nd and 23rd of 1,000 likely voters nationwide, with a 3 point margin of error).

Minimum Wage

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

Why Texas Republicans Pander To The Teabaggers

If you've been paying attention to politics, then you probably know that there are no moderates among Texas Republican elected officials. Whether they represent a rural, suburban, or urban district, all of them campaign to and vote to please the state's ultra-right-wingers. Why is this true? In such a large state (both in size and population) one might expect there would be an elected moderate somewhere, but there isn't.

The chart above gives us a big clue as to why it is true. That chart was made from information in the latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll (conducted between February 7th and 17th of 1200 randomly chosen Texas residents -- with a margin of error between 2.83 and 3.28 points). The poll asked Texans who they would vote for in their House District if the teabaggers formed a political party of their own.

The outcome of the teabaggers forming their own political party scares the hell out of Texas Republicans. As the chart shows, Republicans would lose as many as half of their members -- and that would be disastrous for them. The Democrats would keep their 37%, and the Independents would still be unsure of who to vote for (since they usually wait to see who is running) -- but the Republicans would drop down to only about 21%, and an equal number of 21% would go to the new teabagger party.

This makes it clear why the Republican Party (and elected officials) in Texas cater so much to the teabaggers -- because they make up around half of all Texas Republicans, and no Republican could get elected with teabagger support. And with the demographic changes coming to Texas, this puts the state's Republican Party between a rock and a hard place.

It may not come in time for this election (and maybe not even the next), but there is a demographic change happening in Texas -- a change that will present a huge challenge for the "white's only" state Republican Party. The white segment of the state's voting population is shrinking, while the minority segment is growing (especially Hispanics, who are by far the fastest growing segment of the state's population). The school's already have a minority population of over 50%, and a few year's down the road  the same will be true of the state's general population (and voting population).

The Republican Party needs to be starting now to moderate their policies toward immigrants and minorities -- policies that have them losing 90% of the Black vote, and about 75% of the Hispanic and Asian vote. If those policies are not moderated and those percentages persist, Texas Republicans will be in serious trouble. But they can't moderate those policies without angering the teabaggers (and chasing those bigots into a new party of their own) -- which could be equally as devastating for the Republicans.

What will the Republicans do? Probably nothing -- at least they'll do nothing until the demographic tide and the progressive tide (with the younger generation being more tolerant of progressive change) become so overwhelming that it threatens their very existence as a party.


Control of the Texas Republican Party by the teabaggers can also be seen in the preferences Texas Republicans have for a presidential candidate in 2016. That same UT/TT Poll showed:

Apology ?

Political Cartoon is by Mark Streeter in the Savannah Morning News.

Poll Numbers As The Texas Senate Primary Approaches

Last week the ultra-right-wing Human Events publication released a poll on the senate race in the Texas Republican Primary. That poll showed incumbent John Cornyn with 43%, Steve Stockman with 28%, and unsure voters at 29%. They concluded that the poll showed Stockman was gaining on Cornyn -- and since Cornyn didn't have 50%, there was a chance he could lose.

I said at the time that it sounded like a Stockman supporter trying to put the best spin possible on a bad poll, and I went on to say I thought Cornyn would easily win the Republican Primary. Now a new poll (and a much more bipartisan poll) has been released. It is the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll (taken between February 7th and 17th of 543 Republicans (with a margin of error between 4.21 and 5.37 points) and 381 Democrats (with a margin of error of between 5.02 and 6.06 points).

The UT/TT Poll shows Cornyn is in a much more commanding position, garnering about 60% support to only 16% for Stockman. I believe that is probably what will happen on primary day (March 4th). The Texas Republican Party is ruled by teabagger elements, but they are not really that unhappy with Cornyn. They know he has one of the most right-wing voting records of anyone in the U.S. Senate.

I would like to see Cornyn defeated next November, and that would be a lot easier to do if Stockman somehow became the candidate because he's a total nut-job (and would scare the hell out of a lot of Independents). But Cornyn will win his primary, and that makes it much more important that the Democrats nominate a good candidate -- a progressive that offers a real alternative to the voters. And that's why the poll of the Democratic candidates worries me quite a bit.

Why does this worry me? because the UT/TT Poll shows Kesha Rogers leading by a fairly significant margin. There are four true Democrats in the race (ranging from progressive to blue dog) -- but Kesha Rogers is not one of them. She is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, who believes President Obama should be impeached and the Queen of England is the head of an international drug cartel (among other nutty beliefs). She is even nuttier than Steve Stockman.

I sincerely hope this poll is wrong, and just shows an ignorance of who the candidates are. Even if Rogers were to win the primary, I could never support or vote for her -- and I don't believe the state party apparatus would provide any support for her either. She would just be a real embarrassment for the Democratic ticket. I urge all Democrats to vote for the candidate of your choice -- any of the other four candidates (my personal choice is Maxey Scherr). But please don't vote for Kesha Rogers. It will be difficult enough for Democrats to win in November without this albatross around their necks.

Bear Hug

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at


Monday, February 24, 2014

Banning Abortion Won't Stop it

Arizona Legislators Try Again To Legalize Bigotry

There was a time in this country when signs like the one to the left were commonplace, even in many states outside of the Deep South. It was a blatant bigotry, and fortunately it was finally outlawed across the country by the Civil Rights Act.

But bigots are a persistent lot, and they feel the need to have some group to discriminate against, and this is particularly true of Arizona fundamentalist Republicans. The Republican-dominated government in that state has already passed a law discriminating against Hispanics -- the infamous SB-1070. Most of that law was declared unconstitutional, but that hasn't stopped the GOP legislators from trying to legalize bigotry in their state (to satisfy the teabagger fundamentalist bigots in their party base). Only this time, they shifted their focus from Hispanics to the LGBT community -- and they tried to cover that bigotry with religion in an attempt to survive any court challenge.

This time the bill is SB-1062, and it gives "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, or other business organization" the right to refuse to serve any customer on religious grounds. The law is aimed at lesbians and gays, and would protect businesses that refuse to serve the LGBT community a legal defense if they are sued for denying that service. The new bill would protect the business owners from being sued (even by the government) as long as they could establish the following:

1. That the person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief.
2. That the person's religious belief is sincerely held.
3. That the state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs.

In short, this bill is an attempt to give bigots a way to get around anti-discrimination laws by giving them the right to claim such laws violate their right to freedom of religion -- the idea being that having to serve everyone would violate some of the person's religious principles.

The bill is supposedly aimed at letting businesses refuse service to the LGBT community, and that is the way it is being reported by the media. But as it is written, the bill could open the door to other kinds of discrimination. I have read the bill (and you can do so at this link), and it does not restrict itself to businesses wishing to deny service to the LGBT community.

The bill would undoubtably be used to let businesses discriminate against the LGBT community (and that by itself would be wrong), but it also would let businesses use religion as an excuse for other kinds of discrimination. It is possible that signs like the one above would again appear in our communities (since racism is still a problem in this country, along with many other kinds of bigotry).

It hasn't been very long at all in this country since people tried to use religion as an excuse to refuse service to Blacks (or other racial and ethnic minorities). Once the right to discriminate against the LGBT community has been established by this new bill, who is to say it won't be used by bigots to cover other kinds of bigotry. After all, it's not hard to find a biblical verse to justify nearly anything.

This is a bad bill, and it should never become law -- and if it does it should be declared unconstitutional by federal courts. The United States is based on the principle of equality under the law -- and writing discrimination into the legal code (even on a state level) is anti-democratic and anti-American.

I support the First Amendment right of freedom of religion (which includes the right to be free from religion). But anti-discrimination laws do not violate anyone's right to freely follow their religion. They can still believe, worship, and live as they please while not discriminating against anyone in a commercial business setting. Bigotry is just wrong -- even when it comes wrapped in a Bible (or Koran, or any other religious text).

Progress ?

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

Wall Street Is Betting Obamacare Will Succeed

The Republicans are still talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and they are still telling Americans that Obamacare can't succeed -- that it is guaranteed to fail. But while some teabaggers are believing those GOP claims, Wall Street is not (which is rather strange since the only constituency the GOP cares about are the financial institutions and corporations on Wall Street). This is clearly shown in the chart above (from Bloomberg Businessweek).

Online broker Motif Investing decided to test the market on Obamacare. They put together two packages of investments -- one that would benefit from the success of Obamacare, and another that would benefit from the repeal or failure of Obamacare. Here is how Bloomberg Businessweek describes the opposing funds:

The Obamacare motif is made up of hospitals, generic-drug makers, pharmacy-benefit managers, and companies specializing in electronic medical records, all of which stand to gain from the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on cost control and its guarantee of payment. “Before the law, 30 percent of hospitals’ revenue was unbilled because you could walk into an ER and not pay,” Walia says. “They’re now paid by the U.S. government.” The Obamacare motif is up 46.9 percent in the past year, doubling the performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (up 22.8 percent).
Repeal Obamacare is composed of companies that would benefit from the law’s demise, mainly medical device manufacturers, which the ACA saddles with a 2.3 percent excise tax; assisted-living and home health-care providers, which will suffer from reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates; and medical diagnostics equipment and services providers, which may encounter reduced demand as a result of the law’s efforts to curb unnecessary testing. The repeal Obamacare motif has risen just 13.8 percent in the past year.
Note that the investors on Wall Street are investing in the fund that would benefit from Obamacare's success by a large margin. In fact, the fund betting on the success of Obamacare not only outperforms the fund betting against Obamacare, it also outperformed the return of the S&P 500. Obviously, most of the Wall Street investors are not listening to the Republican rhetoric. They know Obamacare can't be repealed for at least two more years, and after seeing the millions that are signing up for insurance under Obamacare, they also know that by then Obamacare will be a fait accompli.

Obamacare is here to stay, and the Republicans know it. They are just sounding off now to play to their teabagger base.

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