Friday, March 22, 2019

Unfair And Unsustainable


Delaney Attempts To Buy His Way Onto The Debate Stage

The man pictured here is Rep. John Delaney (D-Maryland). He is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Don't feel bad if you didn't know that. It seems as if no one else does either. Delaney was one of the first candidates to declare, but most people outside of his home state have still never heard of him. He has yet to top 1% support in any poll, and most polls show him with less support than that.

Those numbers will not get him a position on the debate stage next June. But there are two ways to get on the stage -- show support in the polls, or get a minimum of 65,000 people to donate to your campaign. So far, he has not accomplished either task.

But Delaney is the richest of the Democratic candidates (with a net worth of over $95 million). So he has come up with a scheme to gather 65,000 donors. He is offering to donate $2 to a charity of a donor's choice for every $1 they donate to his campaign.

He told MSNBC news that he's not buying donations, since the money goes to a charity (and not the donor). I'm not so sure. It still smacks of buying support (and reminds me of political corruption of the past when votes were paid for).

I hope he fails in this effort. I'm tired of the rich trying to buy their way into political office -- any office.

He is also using some of his money to run some political ads on TV in early states, but they don't seem to be working. In them, he touts his bi-partisanship, and his ability to work with the Republicans. That makes me think he's not very bright. That's not what most Democrats want to hear after years of Republicans refusing to compromise on anything. Democrats are looking for a candidate to fight for them -- not make nice with the likes of McConnell and his cohorts.

Two Sides Of The Same Card

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

Americans Are Pessimistic About The Country's Future


The chart above is from the Pew Research Center. They questioned 2,524 adults between December 11th and 23rd of 2018, and their survey had a margin of error of 2.5 points.

The poll shows how bothered most people are about what is happening in the United States. They don't see a very bright future for the next three decades.

About 60% say the U.S. will be less important in the world in 2050. About 73% say the gap between the rich and poor will grow even larger. And about 65% say this nation will be more politically divided than it is now.

Those are not good numbers. And the reason is that the nation has no confidence in politicians to solve the nation's problems. About 48% say they are very worried about the ability of politicians to solve our problems, and another 39% say they are fairly worried. Only 10% say they are not worried.

I wish I could say these people are being too pessimistic, but frankly, I think they may be correct.

Exporting

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Electoral College Trends In Each State Since 2000












I thought you might find these charts interesting. They are from the University of Virginia Center for Politics -- and they show the electoral college trend of each state since 2000. You can go to their website for an in-depth discussion of the trends.

Never Speak Ill

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

It's A GOP Lie That Social Security/Medicare Causing Deficit

Republicans have ballooned the federal deficit to about a trillion dollars a year, and they want you to believe it is Social Security and Medicare that is causing that deficit.

That is an outrageous LIE! Social Security has never added a penny to the deficit or national debt, and Medicare has added very little.

The real cause of the ballooning deficit is twofold -- the enormous tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and a huge increase in the military budget (which was already bloated). But Republicans only care about the rich and corporations (including the corporations in the military-industrial complex). They never liked Social Security and Medicare (or Medicaid), even though those programs have been very successful and enormously popular, so they are now trying to use the deficit they created to damage those programs.

Here is how former Labor Secretary Robert Reich describes this GOP malfeasance:

When asked about America’s soaring debt and deficits, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented  “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” and he blames Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Rubbish. It’s not social spending that’s causing the federal deficit to soar. It’s Republican tax cuts, especially on corporations and the wealthy. 
Look at the evidence. Of all 35 advanced economies, America’s spending on social programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid is among the lowest, as you can see.
Also, Americans pay into Social Security and Medicare throughout their entire working lives. 
The biggest reason America has the highest deficit relative to our total economy among all 35 advanced economies is because of a shortage of tax revenue. Of all these countries, we’re bringing in the fifth-lowest total revenue as a share of GDP.
And why is that? Mainly because of Republican tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy. The big Trump Republican tax cut is already breaking the bank. It will cost us 1.9 trillion dollars over the next decade. Let me repeat that: 1.9 trillion dollars. 
Remember, Trump and Republicans in Congress claimed that their tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. It’s the same trickle-down fairy tale they’ve been telling for decades. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, they haven’t paid for themselves, and the deficit continues to balloon. 
If there’s one area where America spends too much, it’s the military. Since taking office, Trump has increased military spending by more than $200 billion a year, straining the federal budget even further. The United States already spends more on the military than the next 10 nations combined. 
Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and other Republicans in Washington want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s been the Republican goal for decades. And they want to use the deficit to justify these cuts.
They also argue that we can’t afford a comprehensive healthcare system that the rest of the advanced world has figured out how to afford. 
Baloney. If the rich and corporations pay their fair share and we rein in defense spending, America can afford what we need. 
Know the truth. Spread the truth about the deficit.

A Tragedy (For Right-Wingers)

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

A Living Wage Is A Right


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Rights Are For Everyone


Trump's Job Approval Remains Very Low



These charts reflect the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between March 17th and 19th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,045 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3 points, and for registered voters is 3.1 points.

Trump has been unable to significantly improve his job approval numbers. In fact, they seem to be falling again. Currently there is a 14 point negative gap among adults, and a 13 point negative gap among registered voters.

Hero Vs. Zero

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at artizans.com.

Biden Still Has Significant Lead Among Dems And Leaners


The chart above reflects the results of the latest CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between March 14th and 17th of a national sample of 456 Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents, and has a margin of error of 5.7 points.

Joe Biden hasn't officially entered the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, but he maintains a significant lead over the other candidates. I think this is because he is seen as the most likely candidate to beat Trump in the general election. Four other candidates also have significant support -- Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren.

None of the other candidates reach the 5% mark.

The chart below is the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between March 17th and 19th of 1,287 registered voters, with a 2.8 point margin of error.

They asked a different question -- Do you have a favorable opinion of the Democratic candidates? Only six candidates had a majority of Democrats with a favorable opinion of them -- Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, O'Rourke, and Booker. No one else did better than 39%. And only one candidate had a majority of registered voters viewing him favorably -- Joe Biden.

There is still plenty of time for candidates to improve these numbers.


A Very Small Person

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

The Republican Party Is Now Morally Bankrupt

I have never voted for anyone running on the Republican ticket, but I do believe in a vibrant two-party system. When countries have only one political party (on either the right or the left), it inevitably leads to tyranny and corruption -- and the death of democracy and human rights.

A "loyal opposition" is needed to check the power of a ruling party. It prevents excesses and promotes compromise (which is a good thing in a democracy).

That's why I am sad to see what has happened to the Republican Party. The once proud party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt has devolved into a cult of personality worshipping the greediest, most narcissistic, and most amoral man in this country. And it has given up its values to do so.

Here is part of an excellent article on this subject by Max Boot in The Washington Post:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
That famous exchange from Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” comes to mind when contemplating the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party.
You can debate when the GOP’s road to ruin began. I believe it was more than a half century ago, when Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon showed their willingness to pander to racists to wrest the segregationist South from the Democrats. The party’s descent accelerated with the emergence of Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Fox News in the 1990s, of Sarah Palin in the 2000s, and of Ted Cruz and the tea party in the 2010s. There were still figures of integrity and decency such as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. But the GOP evinced no more enthusiasm for any of them than it had for George H.W. Bush. With the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the party’s plunge into purgatory picked up momentum.
Republicans now found themselves making excuses for a boorish, ignorant demagogue who had no respect for the fundamental norms of democracy and no adherence to conservative principles. The party of fiscal conservatism excused a profligate president who added $2 trillion in debt and counting. The party of family values became cheerleaders for what Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has witheringly and accurately called the “porn star presidency.” The party of law and order became accomplices to the president’s obstruction of justice. The party of free trade did nothing to stop the president from launching trade wars. The party of moral clarity barely uttered a peep at the president’s sickening sycophancy toward the worst dictators on the planet — or his equally nauseating attacks on America’s closest allies. The party that once championed immigration eagerly joined in the president’s xenophobic attacks on refugee caravans. And the party that long castigated Democrats for dividing Americans by race pretended not to notice — or even cheered — when the president made openly racist appeals to white voters.
Faster and faster went the GOP’s descent into oblivion. Now its bankruptcy is complete. It has no more moral capital left. The Republican Party as we once knew it — as a party of limited government — officially ended on March 14.
That was the day that 41 of 53 Republican senators voted to ratify President Trump’s blatantly unconstitutional and transparently cynical declaration of a national emergency so that he can spend money for a border wall that Congress refuses to appropriate. This comes 16 days after 182 out of 195 House Republicans voted the same way. Only 13 Republicans in the House and 12 in the Senate dared to block this flagrant assault on the Constitution. So only 10 percent of Republicans in Congress have any — any — principles left. By an interesting coincidence, that’s also the percentage of Republican voters who disapprove of Trump. The party of Lincoln — the party that freed the slaves and helped to win the Cold War — is now devoted exclusively to feeding Trump’s insatiable ego and pandering to his endless lust for power. . . .
Trump won’t be president forever — he could be gone in less than two years. The GOP can always find a new leader. But where will it find new principles? Because it has none of the old ones left.

No Decency

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Chaining Democracy


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

JFK On Bigotry


Net Worth Of The Democratic Candidates For President


Donald Trump claims to be a billionaire. That is unlikely, but he likely does have several hundred million dollars. He claimed in 2016 that he would finance his own campaign for president. He did not do that, but he probably could have.

That got me to thinking -- how rich are the Democratic candidates for president in 2020? The chart above shows the net worth of the 12 most likely to succeed candidates. None of them are anywhere near Trump's wealth. Four of them have a net worth of less than a million dollars -- Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee.

There are 8 that have more than a million dollars in net worth -- Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

You might note that I left three candidates off the chart. That's because I consider them to just be vanity candidates, with no chance of actually winning the nomination. They are Andrew Yang ($2 million), Marianne Williamson ($1.1 million), and Rep. John Delaney ($92.6 million).

The Symbol

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Trump Is Still Upside-Down By 9 Points In Job Approval



The charts above reflect the results of the latest CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between March 14th and 17th of a national sample of 1,003 adults, with a margin of error of 3.8 points.

Donald Trump's job approval showed a small gain in this poll. But he is still upside-down. His 42% approval rating is the best he's shown since August of 2018, but it is still nothing to brag about. He has never reach 45% approval, and he has never been below 50% disapproval.

The second chart shows the demographic breakdown of his approval disapproval. Perhaps most important is the gender gap. Men approve of the job Trump is doing by 11 points. But that pales in comparison to women -- who disapprove by a 27 point margin. Trump needs to turn that around by November of next year, or he's going to be a one-term resident of the White House.

Broadcasting Hate

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

Trump's Tweets Show He's A Sick Man And Getting Worse


The following is part of an article by Peter Wehner in The Atlantic:

I’m sympathetic to those who worry that too many Americans spend too much time paying too much attention to what Trump tweets. The danger is that we allow Trump to succeed in keeping us in a state of constant agitation and moral consternation, in ways that are unhealthy and even play to Trump’s advantage, allowing him to control the nation’s conversation.

But that view, which might apply in some circumstances, shouldn’t apply in all circumstances. The real danger in so desensitizing ourselves to Trump’s tweets is that we normalize deviant behavior and begin to accept what is unacceptable.

A culture lives or dies based on its allegiance to unwritten rules of conduct and unstated norms, on the signals sent about what kind of conduct constitutes good character and honor and what kind of conduct constitutes dishonor and corruption. Like each of us, our leaders are all too human, flawed and imperfect. But that reality can’t make us indifferent or cynical when it comes to holding those in authority to reasonable moral standards. After all, cultures are shaped by the words and deeds that leaders, including political leaders, validate or invalidate. . . .

But the other reason we should pay attention to the tweets and other comments by the president is that they are shafts of light that illuminate not only his damaged soul, but his disordered personality.

It doesn’t take a person with an advanced degree in psychology to see Trump’s narcissism and lack of empathy, his vindictiveness and pathological lying, his impulsivity and callousness, his inability to be guided by norms, or his shamelessness and dehumanization of those who do not abide his wishes. His condition is getting worse, not better—and there are now fewer people in the administration able to contain the president and act as a check on his worst impulses.

This constellation of characteristics would be worrisome in a banker or a high-school teacher, in an aircraft machinist or a warehouse manager, in a gas-station attendant or a truck driver. To have them define the personality of an American president is downright alarming.

Whether the worst scenarios come to pass or not is right now unknowable. But what we do know is that the president is a person who seems to draw energy and purpose from maliciousness and transgressive acts, from creating enmity among people of different races, religions, and backgrounds, and from attacking the weak, the honorable, and even the dead.

Donald Trump is not well, and as long as he is president, our nation is not safe.

Action Vs. Thoughts/Prayers

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

A Good Drug Of Choice


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Proverb


Presidential Approval Ratings After 788 Days In Office


This chart is from fivethirtyeight.com. It shows the approval rating of every president since World War II after 788 days in office.

Sending A Signal

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

Trump Won't Criticize White Nationalists Because He Is One


Yes, there is a pattern. White nationalists, white supremacists, KKK members, and other racists and bigots love Donald Trump. They love him because he won't criticize them.

Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, he couldn't afford to do that. His approval numbers have been upside-down since he was sworn into office. He can't afford to anger any of his base -- and a large portion of his base are the racists.

But perhaps the most important reason he won't criticize them is because he is a racist and white nationalist himself. He has a long history of this. It started back in the 1970's, when the federal government admonished him repeatedly for refusing to rent to Blacks. And it has continued to this day as he tried to ban muslims from entering this country, and wants to build a wall to keep Hispanics from entering. His only reliable policy is his racism and xenophobia.

And he's not going to change. After the murders in New Zealand by a white nationalist, Trump was asked if he thought white nationalism was a growing danger in the world. He said he didn't think so. That was demonstrably false. And the FBI would be happy to set him straight, if he would listen to them.

The following is just part of an excellent article by Judd Legum at Popular Information:

Donald Trump says white nationalism is not a growing threat. He's wrong. 
Over the last ten years, according to data analyzed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), "73.3% of all domestic extremist-related killings have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, compared to 23.4% perpetrated by terrorists motivated by Salafi-jihadism and 3.2% by left-wing extremism."
Last year, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the United States and "every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement," and "[w]hite supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings." These attacks are on the rise. "The number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017," according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI jointly produced a report in 2017 entitled "White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence." That report proved prescient when a white nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic man murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue last October. 
In addition to violence, white supremacists have also rapidly increased their recruitment and visibility. ADL data "shows white supremacists’ propaganda efforts increased 182 percent, with 1,187 distributions across the U.S. in 2018, up from 421 total incidents reported in 2017."
It is a global phenomenon. In Europe, "far-right attacks" jumped "43% between 2016 and 2017." While "deaths resulting from terrorism decreased 27% worldwide" the "the threat of far-right political terrorism is on the rise."

Tower Of Hate

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

A Truth


Monday, March 18, 2019

Only ONE Race


The Effort To Neutralize The Electoral College Is Growing


The United States has prided itself on being a pattern for democracy for the world to follow. Unfortunately, it has a very flawed system. In fact, the United States is the only democracy in the world in which a president can be selected without winning a majority of the votes cast by citizens. In all other democracies, the person who wins the most votes is elected.

The United States has an archaic system in which the popular vote doesn't count as much as the Electoral College (which assigns votes by state according to the number of senators and representatives in that state). This system has resulted in two presidents being selected since 2000 that did not win the most votes -- George W. Bush in 2000 (who got about a half-million less votes than Al Gore), and Donald Trump in 2016 (who got about 3 million less votes than Hillary Clinton). The chart above shows the Electoral College votes in 2016.

To be blunt, our system of electing a president is broken. Like in every other democracy, the candidate with the most votes should be the winner. Unfortunately, our Electoral College system was written into the Constitution. And to change the Constitution requires the approval of three-fourths of the states (38 states). That is very unlikely to happen, so there is a movement called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).

The NPVIC takes a different tactic. Instead of abolishing the Electoral College, it changes how those votes are distributed. A state's Electoral College votes would be awarded to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide (instead of who won a particular state). This has a better chance of success since it would not require three-fourths of the states to approve. It would only require enough states to approve to equal 270 electoral votes.

Prior to this last week, eleven states (and the District of Columbia) had passed NPVIC laws, which would start as soon as enough states do the same that equal 270 votes. They are California (55), D.C. (3), Hawaii (4), Washington (12), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), Connecticut (7), Rhode Island (4), Massachusetts (11), Vermont (3), and New York (29). They have a total of 177 electoral votes.

Last week, two new states joined that group -- Colorado (9) and Delaware (3). That brings the total to 189 electoral votes. And it looks like New Mexico (5) will soon join, bringing the total to 194. That means only states with 76 more electoral votes will be needed.

This could happen, and it needs to. It is ridiculous for the United States to preach democracy and one-man, one-vote -- and then not follow that themselves. If we are really a representative democracy, the the person who gets the most votes should be the winner.

An Old Evil

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.