Thursday, June 30, 2016

One Race

A Third Victory For Sanity By The Supreme Court This Week

(Image was found at the Progressive Secular Humanist.)

This has been a good week for progressives regarding Supreme Court decisions. First, we had the 5 to 3 vote killing the odious law in Texas that closed many women's clinics. The cam the 6 to 2 vote that upheld the ban on possessing firearms by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Now we learn of another victory for women's health.

The case involved a pharmacist and two of his employees in the state of Washington. That pharmacy refused to even carry the "morning after pill", or other contraceptives they considered to cause abortions. They claimed they had a religious right to do that.

The state of Washington disagreed. They passed a law mandating that all pharmacies must carry and sell those contraceptives. The pharmacist went to court to protect his "religious rights", and was able to convince a federal judge that he was right. But that verdict was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that the Washington law was constitutional and did not violate religious rights. It simply mandated that pharmacists do their job.

He appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But this week, on a 5 to 3 vote, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. That left the appeals court decision as the law of the land. The five justices voting to refuse the case were Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsberg, and Kennedy. Roberts, Alito, and Thomas wanted to take the case.

The Supreme Court did the right thing. Refusing to sell legal medications to the public is not only a violation of the law, but a breach of ethics for a pharmacist. If they don't want to do their job, then they should quit and find a job they can do properly.

The GOP's Epic Failure

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

Nate Silver Predicts Clinton Will Win In November

In the 2008 election, poll analyst and prognosticator Nate Silver at predicted the correct result in 49 of the 50 states. In 2012, he predicted the correct result in all 50 states. The charts above show his current prediction for the 2016 election.

Republican Sit-In

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

Clinton Looks Strong In 7 Important Battleground States

The samples in each state were drawn from a list of all active registered voters. All respondents are confirmed as registered voters in their states. From June 10 – 22, live interviewers called land lines and cell phones across seven states to survey: 
  • 596 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points; 
  • 601 Iowa voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points; 
  • 612 Michigan voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points; 
  • 603 North Carolina voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points; 
  • 617 Ohio voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points; 
  • 601 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points. 
  • 612 Virginia voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Trump Campaign

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

Family Of Ambassador Stevens Does NOT Blame Clinton

(This photo by Eric Rosberg / AP shows Dr. Anne Stevens speaking at her brother's memorial.)

The congressional Republicans have been playing politics with the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens for many months now -- hoping that they can hurt the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton (who was Secretary of State at the time Stevens died in Benghazi). They finally released their committee report this week, still trying to blame the Obama administration (and Clinton).

But the family of Ambassador Stevens doesn't agree. In an interview with The New Yorker, here's some of what Stevens' sister had to say. Dr. Anne Stevens (pictured above) has been acting as the family's spokesperson since the tragedy.

Whom do you fault for the lack of security that resulted in the death of your brother, in Benghazi?
It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted.
I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.
What did you learn from the two new reports by House Republicans and Democrats?
It doesn’t look like anything new. They concluded that the U.S. compound in Benghazi was not secure. We knew that.
What did you think of Secretary Clinton’s conduct on Benghazi?
She has taken full responsibility, being head of the State Department, for what occurred. She took measures to respond to the review board’s recommendations. She established programs for a better security system. But it is never going to be perfect. Part of being a diplomat is being out in the community. We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize her. It is very unjust.
Are there any questions left in your mind about what happened, why the U.S. didn’t respond faster, why Washington didn’t do more?
The only questions that I have are not answerable by anyone investigated or questioned by the committee. My questions are about why the militiamen attacked the compound in the first place. What were their intentions? It’d be interesting to know that—and to hear what their views are and what they were thinking. It has nothing to do with what the State Department or the Defense Department was supposed to do that night. I think everyone did their very best in response to this event.
Do you think it’s fair to make Benghazi an election issue?
With the many issues in the current election, to use that incident—and to use Chris’s death as a political point—is not appropriate.
How would Chris have felt about this election?
I know he had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton. He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Tennessee Williams

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Poverty Is Violence

Clinton's Statement On The Istanbul Airport Bombings

(Photo of Istanbul Airport bombing is from

This is the statement released by Hillary Clinton in reaction to the bombings in Istanbul:

Feeding Time

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

Another Good Supreme Court Decision To Save Lives

(This graphic image is from

Much was made of the Supreme Court decision on Monday to throw out the odious Texas abortion restriction, and justifiably so. But the Supreme Court also issued another decision on Monday -- one that was overlooked by many, but which will save many lives.

The case was Voisine vs. United States. It was brought by two men from the state of Maine -- Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong. Both had been convicted of misdemeanor assault (domestic violence). They were caught years later possessing firearms -- a violation of federal law. They argued that their cases involved "reckless conduct" rather than "intentional abuse", and therefore they should not be subject to the federal law that banned them from owning weapons.

The Supreme Court did not buy their silly argument. The court ruled that the government (federal, state, or local) could legally ban those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning a weapon -- and that such a ban does not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court vote was 6 to 2 -- with Kagan, Breyer, Ginsberg, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy upholding the ban. Sotomayor and Thomas dissented.

The ruling makes a lot of sense. These men, and indeed all those convicted of domestic violence (misdemeanor or felony), have shown they either cannot control their temper or have a propensity for violence (or both) -- and people who have shown that should not be allowed to own a firearm. As the graphic above states, allowing them to own a firearm just increases the likelihood that a death will occur.

The NRA leadership and other gun-nuts may not like the idea, but the right to own a gun guaranteed by the Second Amendment is not an absolute right. The Supreme Court has long ruled that government can place reasonable restrictions on that right. This decision by the court just upheld those previous decisions regarding reasonable restrictions.

Texas Stubborn

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

Democrats Are Developing A Very Progressive Platform

The temporary platform committee of the Democratic Party is hard at work developing a party platform to present to convention delegates for approval. And representatives of both Clinton and Sanders have been trying to negotiate a platform that can be accepted by both camps.

The Sanders people are unhappy because they are not getting everything they wanted, although much of what Sanders campaigned on has been included in the platform. The sticking point seems to be the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) -- a free trade agreement supported by President Obama. Opposition to the TPP has been left out of the platform.

The Sanders delegates will probably initiate a floor fight to try and get this in the platform, but I expect they will fail. And they should fail, because the Democratic Party (and the Republican Party) are split over the issue. This is an issue that will have to be settled in a bipartisan fashion after the election.

The Democrats will have a very progressive platform though -- perhaps the most progressive platform in many years. It supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, and goes even further -- supporting the indexing of that wage to the inflation rate. It also supports eliminating the below-minimum wage pay that some workers get (like waiters and waitresses).

That's a very good thing. But it's not all. The platform also has other progressive positions, including:

Calling for urgently needed voting reforms, rejecting the vilification of Muslim-Americans, ending the death penalty, enacting a financial transactions tax to curb excessive speculation, expanding Social Security, banning golden parachutes for taking government jobs, establishing a new surtax on multimillionaires, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, using government contracts to support good jobs, honoring and strengthening our relationships with Tribal Sovereign Nations, passing a modernized Glass-Steagall law, and moving our economy to 100% clean energy by 2050.

It's time for Democrats to unite, and I think this is going to be a platform that they can all unite behind.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Clinton Has A Lead Over Trump In Five Of Six Swing States

These are the latest numbers for six important "swing states" in the 2016 election. This is with Bernie Sanders vainly trying to keep his campaign alive. I expect the Clinton numbers will rise after the national conventions, and Democrats unite (understanding that this race is only between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump).

Public Policy Polling interviewed 691 registered voters in Arizona, 897 in Iowa, 578 in New Hampshire, 708 in Ohio, 980 in Pennsylvania, and 843 in Wisconsin on June 22nd and 23rd. The margins of error for the surveys are +/-3.7%, +/-3.3%, +/-4.1%, +/-3.7%, +/-3.1%, and +/-3.4% respectively. 

Wrong Turn

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

Repeating The Same Old Lie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Make America Great

Supreme Court Says Texas Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional

(From --Wide-shot of courtroom on last day of opinions, 2015-16 Term.-Art Lien)

Back in 2013, Texas Republicans were determined to pass a law to seriously restrict women from being able to access a clinic to have an abortion. The law would have required the clinics to have hospital quality facilities, and their doctors to have privileges at a local hospital. Only about five of the approximately 40 abortion clinics in the state could meet those guidelines.

The Republicans said they weren't trying to restrict abortion clinic access, but just trying to protect the health of Texas women. That was a lie. It was a blatant attempt to do an end run around Roe vs Wade, which gave women the right to control their own bodies (and decide for themselves whether to have an abortion or not).

The Democrats were outnumbered in the Texas legislature, but fought valiantly to kill the odious bill. State Senator Wendy Davis, with help from other Democrats, staged a filibuster and was able to keep talking until the legal time for the legislative session ran out. But the Republicans were not deterred. The governor called a special session of the legislature, and after changing the rules, they were able to get the law passed.

Pro-choice groups went to court to get the law overturned, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law. It was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was expected by many that the court would probably split 4 to 4, and the appeals court decision would be upheld. That did NOT happen!

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued their decision -- a 5 to 3 decision that ruled the Texas law unconstitutional. The justices in the majority were Breyer, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Kennedy. Roberts, Thomas, and Alito voted in the minority.

The Texas law is now dead -- and this opinion will surely be used to kill similar laws in some other states. Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion, saying: --------

We have found nothing in Texas' record evidence that shows that, compared to prior law…the new law advanced Texas’ legitimate interest in protecting women's health.

More fundamentally, in the face of no threat to women's health, Texas seeks to force women to travel long distances to get abortions in crammed-to-capacity superfacilities. Patients seeking these services are less likely to get the kind of individualized attention, serious conversation, and emotional support that doctors at less taxed facilities may have offered.

Justice Ginsberg wrote a concurring opinion, saying:

It is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law "would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions."

When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.


Here is what Hillary Clinton had to say about the decision:

"The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a victory for women across America. By striking down politically motivated restrictions that made it nearly impossible for Texans to exercise their full reproductive rights, the Court upheld every woman’s right to safe, legal abortion, no matter where she lives. 
"I applaud everyone who flooded the Texas Capitol to speak out against these attacks on women’s health, the brave women and men across the country who shared their stories, and the health care providers who fought for their patients and refused to give up.

"Our fight is far from over. In Texas and across the country, a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health decisions is under attack. In the first three months of 2016, states introduced more than 400 measures restricting access to abortion. We’ve seen a concerted, persistent attack on women’s health and rights at the federal level. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has said women should be punished for having abortions.  He also pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Today’s decision is a reminder of how much is at stake in this election. We need a President who will defend women’s health and rights and appoint Supreme Court justices who recognize Roe v. Wade as settled law. We must continue to protect access to safe and legal abortion – not just on paper, but in reality."


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

Presidential Race Could Be Closer Than You Think In Texas

The University Of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll has been released, and it shows that Texas may not be as red in the 2016 presidential election as many might think. The poll was done between June 10th and 20th of a random sample of 1,310 Texas voters, and has a margin of error of 3.5 points.

In a normal election year, after the Republicans and Democrats had chosen their nominees, the GOP nominee would be polling between 55% and 60% while the Democratic nominee would be about 35%. But this is not a normal election year. This is the year where television personality Donald Trump was nominated to be the GOP's nominee, and that has shook things up.

This poll shows Trump is only polling about 39%, while Hillary Clinton has 32% -- a 7 point deficit. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has 7% while 14% say they support "someone else" and 8% say they are currently unsure who they'll vote for (if they vote at all). That's a very poor showing for the Republican candidate -- and shows many are reluctant to climb on board his faltering bandwagon.

It's also possible that the 14% who say they support someone else are mostly Sanders supporters, who still cling to the vain hope that a miracle will happen and Sanders will be nominated. A few of them will vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, but most of them will ultimately fall in behind the Clinton bandwagon -- and that could put Clinton even closer to Trump.

It is still unlikely, and it will take a lot of hard work by the Democrats, but this election is the best chance in many years for Democrats to win the electoral votes of Texas. It just might happen!

Climate Denial

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

The Best Comment On "Brexit" That I've Seen

(Image was found on Facebook.)

A lot has been said about Britain's vote to leave the European Union by supporters of both sides. But the best comment and analysis I've read about the politics of the situation came from a commenter in The Guardian. That comment is posted below:


Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at

Hourly Wages

Monday, June 27, 2016

We Must Talk About Poverty

New Poll Shows Clinton With A Double-Digit Lead

The charts above were made using results from a new ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between June 20th and 24th of a random national sample of 1,001 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

Moment Of Silence

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

Same-Sex Marriage Has Risen Sharply Since Court Decision

(Graphic above is from the Facebook page of Hillary Clinton.)

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision (Obergefell vs. Hodges) that gave all Americans the right to marry the person they love -- including same-sex couples. And many in the LGBT community have taken advantage of that right.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that the number of married same-sex couples has climbed from 38% before the decision to 49% after the decision. That's a rise of 11 points. And the rise in same-sex marriages isn't just happening in states where it was illegal before the court decision.

The decision removed the stigma attached to those marriages, and while same-sex marriages rose by 13 points in states where it had been illegal (from 26% to 39%), it also rose by 10 points in the states where it was already legal (from 42% to 52%).

These percentages apply to same-sex couples who are living together.

To get these percentages, Gallup questioned 4,752 members of the LGBT community before the court decision (with a 2 point margin of error) and 11,588 members of the LGBT community after the court decision (with a 1 point margin of error).

Hostage Situation

Political Cartoon is by Keith Knight at

Obamacare Is Saving Even More Money Than Expected

When Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) was passed, Democrats said it would save money. Republicans disagree, saying it would cost much more than doing nothing. It turns out that, once again, the Republicans were wrong. Obamacare is not just saving money -- it is saving much more than even the Democrats expected it would save. And it's not just saving a little bit. It's saving $2.6 billion more than it was expected to save (according to researchers at the Urban Institute).

Add to this the fact that over 20 million more people are now covered by health insurance, and any rational person would have to admit that Obamacare has been a huge success.

That does not mean it is perfect. We still have about 11% of the population without health insurance coverage -- and that is unacceptable. But we are in a lot better position than if the Republicans had gotten their way -- to do nothing.

Now we need to get busy making Obamacare even better by finding a way to cover ALL Americans with health insurance. That won't happen if the Republicans win the White House, or retain control over Congress. The only way our health system can be improved is to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next president, and control of Congress is flipped to the Democrats.


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

A New (And Larger) Move Toward An Independent Scotland

In September of 2014, a referendum was held in Scotland on whether they should be an independent country or remain a part of the United Kingdom. They voted to stay in the United Kingdom by a fairly substantial margin (55.3% to 44.7%).

One of the compelling arguments made for remaining a part of the U.K. was that if they left they might not be able to be a part of the European Union. And as the recent Brexit vote showed, Scotland wants to remain in the European Union. But now that English and Welsh voters carried the day last week in voting to leave the E.U., Scots are now reconsidering their decision to stay in the United Kingdom.

After the victorious Brexit vote, two newspapers (the Sunday Post and the Sunday Times) did a poll of Scottish feelings -- and both found that many Scots have now changed their minds about Scottish independence. The Sunday Post queried 1600 residents across Scotland, and found that 59% now favor independence. The Sunday Times queried 620 adults across Scotland, and found 52% now favor independence.

Will this desire for independence last? It well could, and might even grow, since the move to leave the E.U. has trashed the U.K. economy -- and that damage is unlikely to go away for quite a while.

I think the English voters have made a serious mistake -- one that could result in the break-up of their country.

Rule Britannia ?

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

Steinbeck On Socialism

Sunday, June 26, 2016

False Religions

Clinton Maintains A Significant Lead Over Trump

The chart above is from a newly-released Reuters / Ipsos Poll -- done between June 20th and 24th of a random national sample of 1,201 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.3 points.

It shows that Hillary Clinton has a lead over Donald Trump of 13.3 points in the presidential race. That's one of the largest leads so far, and it comes before Bernie Sanders has officially dropped out of the race.

The chart below is from The Huffington Post. They have averaged all the polls over the last few months, and update their average every time a new poll is released. They currently have Clinton with a 6.6 point lead.

Why ?

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