Saturday, February 29, 2020

Neil Young To Trump


A Surgical Mask Will NOT Protect You From Coronavirus

(The photo above, from Getty Images, was found at wgbh.org.)

Anytime the media does a story about the Coronavirus, they show pictures of people wearing surgical masks (like in the picture above). This is true not in just Asia, but in other parts of the world also. These people evidently believe these masks will keep them from getting the new virus. And this belief is resulting a shortage of those masks.

But there is a bigger problem than that -- It doesn't work! A surgical mask will not protect you from the Coronavirus.

Here's the truth from Laura Geggel at livescience.com:

Can wearing a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus? It's a question many people, including pet owners who are putting canine face masks on their dogs, are asking. 
If it's a regular surgical face mask, the answer is "no," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.  . . .
The surgical mask is intended for surgeons, because these products do a good job of keeping pathogens from the doctor's nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said. 
In some Asian countries, such as Japan and China, it's not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public to protect against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don't help much in the context of a virus, Schaffner said. "They're not designed to keep out viral particles, and they're not nearly as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks," as an N95 respirator, he said.
"Could they be of some use? Yes, but the effect is likely to be modest," Schaffner said.
He noted that some people wear surgical masks because they are sick with a cold or the flu and they don't want to get other people sick. But if you're sick, it's best just not to go to public areas. "That's the time to stay home," Schaffner said.
A better way to avoid getting the coronavirus is to, first and foremost, postpone any travel to China, where the virus originated and has infected more than 11,000 people, according to The Washington Post. You can also thoroughly wash your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported
As for pet owners putting face masks on their dogs, there's no evidence that dogs can even catch the coronavirus, so "you don't need to do that," Schaffner said.

Pence Attacks Coronavirus

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz at pocho.com.

Primary Day In South Carolina - Will Biden Get His 1st Win?


It's primary day in South Carolina, and Joe Biden desperately needs a win. Will South Carolina come through for him?

The chart above is from RealClearPolitics. It shows the most recent six polls for the South Carolina Democratic primary -- and if these polls are correct, it could be a good day for Biden. All of the polls show him leading.

The RealClearPolitics average of those polls shows Biden ahead of Sanders by 12 points (34.3% to 22.3%). Steyer is third with 13.7%. Then comes Buttigieg with 9%, Warren with 8%, and Klobuchar with 4%.

Baggage

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Majority Of Democrats Say Obama Has Endorsed Someone


The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll -- done between February 20th and 23rd of a national sample of 2,754 Democratic primary voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

It shows that about 60% of Democrats are sadly misinformed. They think President Obama has endorsed a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

About 26% think he has endorsed Michael Bloomberg. That's probably because Bloomberg has been running an ad showing Obama saying nice things about him. The problem is that Obama's remarks were from several years ago, and had nothing to do with this year's presidential race.

About 25% think he has endorsed Joe Biden. That's probably because he chose Biden to be his vice-president in 2008 and 2012, and it's obvious that the two men like and respect each other.

Another 10% think Obama has endorsed Bernie Sanders.

They are all wrong. President Obama has stayed out of the 2020 nominating race -- and he has made a point of NOT ENDORSING ANYONE! And it is very unlikely that he will not endorse until the convention chooses the nominee. Then I expect he will campaign hard for that nominee.

The Trump Court

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Coronavirus Could Well Be Donald Trump's "Waterloo"

(Cartoon image is by Bill Day at Cagle.com.)

If there is one thing the Trump administration has displayed during the last three years, it is incompetence. That incompetence is fueled by Trump's own narcissism. He sees everything in terms of how it makes him look, rather than what is good for the country.

So far, Trump has been lucky. He has utterly failed on foreign policy and climate change, but those have not yet significantly affected the daily lives of most Americans. And although the economy is not as great as he claims, he inherited an economy strong enough to withstand his incompetence (so far).

But now we face an issue that could easily become a crisis, and we cannot afford incompetence in dealing with it. It is the Coronavirus. If that virus spreads to the United States (and reaches epidemic status), it will affect the lives and well-being of many Americans -- and it could easily trigger a recession in our fragile economy. That would be disastrous for Trump -- and would end his hopes of a second term.

So far, Trump has survived his own incompetence -- but dealing with the Coronavirus demands competence. Trump has demonstrated that is something he doesn't have.

Here is part of what Paul Krugman had to say about this in The New York Times:

The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began several years ago. Almost as soon as he took office, Trump began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading in turn to an 80 percent cut in the resources the agency devotes to global disease outbreaks. Trump also shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council.
Experts warned that these moves were exposing America to severe risks. “We’ll leave the field open to microbes,” declared Tom Frieden, a much-admired former head of the C.D.C., more than two years ago. But the Trump administration has a preconceived notion about where national security threats come from — basically, scary brown people — and is hostile to science in general. So we entered the current crisis in an already weakened condition.

And the microbes came.
The first reaction of the Trumpers was to see the coronavirus as a Chinese problem — and to see whatever is bad for China as being good for us. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, cheered it on as a development that would “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”
The story changed once it became clear that the virus was spreading well beyond China. At that point it became a hoax perpetrated by the news media. Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. … The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”. . .
Financial markets evidently don’t agree that the virus is a hoax; by Thursday afternoon the Dow was off more than 3,000 points since last week. Falling markets appear to worry the administration more than the prospect of, you know, people dying. So Larry Kudlow, the administration’s top economist, made a point of declaring that the virus was “contained” — contradicting the C.D.C. — and suggested that Americans buy stocks. The market continued to drop. . . .
On Wednesday Trump held a news conference on the virus, much of it devoted to incoherent jabs at Democrats and the media. He did, however, announce the leader of the government response to the threat. Instead of putting a health care professional in charge, however, he handed the job to Vice President Mike Pence, who has an interesting relationship with both health policy and science.
Early in his political career, Pence staked out a distinctive position on public health, declaring that smoking doesn’t kill people. He has also repeatedly insisted that evolution is just a theory. As governor of Indiana, he blocked a needle exchange program that could have prevented a significant H.I.V. outbreak, calling for prayer instead.
And now, according to The Times, government scientists will need to get Pence’s approval before making public statements about the coronavirus.
So the Trumpian response to crisis is completely self-centered, entirely focused on making Trump look good rather than protecting America. If the facts don’t make Trump look good, he and his allies attack the messengers, blaming the news media and the Democrats — while trying to prevent scientists from keeping us informed. And in choosing people to deal with a real crisis, Trump prizes loyalty rather than competence.
Maybe Trump — and America — will be lucky, and this won’t be as bad as it might be. But anyone feeling confident right now isn’t paying attention.

The Worst Virus

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.

Maxine Nails It


Friday, February 28, 2020

Trump Didn't Change The GOP


Chance Of A Brokered (Contested) Convention Is Growing


It has been a long time since the Democratic Party had a "brokered" convention. That's a convention where no candidate arrives with a majority of delegates (assuring them of the nomination). The last time it happened was in 1952. In that year, Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee entered to convention with the most delegates, but the convention chose Adlai Stevenson (who lost the general election to World War II hero Dwight Eisenhower). Stevenson won on the third round of voting.

Even though it has been 68 years since the last brokered Democratic convention, the possibility of one happening in 2020 is growing. The chart above is from respected political prognosticator Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com. Last week he had the chance of a brokered convention at 39%. He now has it at 50%.

The chart below shows his prediction for the amount of pledged delegates that each candidate will enter the convention with. To receive the nomination on the first ballot, a candidate must get the votes of 1,991 pledged delegates (out of a total of 3,979 pledged delegates). He predicts that Sanders will enter the convention with the most delegates (1,628), but several hundred short of a majority.

It's still early in the primary process, and anything could still happen. It will be interesting to see how Silver's predictions might change after Super Tuesday. But right now a brokered convention is looking like a real possibility.


Stock Market Scream

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

Early Voting Still Up In Texas (And New Texas Poll)


The chart above uses official figures from the office of the Texas Secretary of State. It shows the early voting totals (both in-person and mail-in) for the first 9 days of early voting in 15 of the state's largest counties. These counties have slightly over 63% of the state's registered voters.

Note that the early voting numbers for 2020 (blue bars) remains significantly up from the numbers for 2016 (green bars). There are two more days of early voting, and then the primary on March 3rd. It now looks like Texas Democrats could set a record for turnout.

The chart below is from Public Policy Polling. It is a poll taken on February 24th and 25th of 1,045 likely Democratic primary voters in Texas. According to these figures, only four candidates could reach the 15% level to qualify for delegates -- Biden, Sanders, Bloomberg, and Warren.


The Trump Response

Political Cartoons is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

2020 Election Spending Is Breaking Records



These charts shows the election spending between January 1st and February 23rd on the presidential race. The top chart shows the spending done by the candidates' campaigns ($601,413,670.00). The second chart shows the spending done by outside groups ($15,727,860.00). That's just the spending on broadcast and cable TV advertising. There has also been about $250,000,000.00 spent on Facebook and Google.

This doesn't count print advertisements or other social media.

By Super Tuesday, spending is expected to be over $1,000,000,000.00 -- and the primary season has really just begun. Records are already being broken, and we are months away from the start of the general election.

By November, the spending will be astronomical.

Is it time to start considering a new way to finance political campaigns?

The Pence Treatment

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Atmospheric CO2 At Highest Level In Last 3 Million Years

(This image was found at slideshare.net.)

A few days ago, I told you about the fact that January of 2020 was the hottest month since records have been kept (about 141 years). Now we learn of an even more frightening statistic. A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report says there is now more CO2 in the atmosphere than in the last 3,000,000 years.

We simply cannot afford to keep the climate-denying Republicans in control of the White House or Congress any longer. We are running out of time, and more delay in addressing global climate change (global warming) will be disastrous. We are already past the point where we could have prevented significant climate change. But we can still mitigate the damage if we act quickly.

Here is part of what Jordan Davidson at EcoWatch reports about the NOAA report:


According to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report, the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was 3 million years ago "when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today."

That period, the Pilocene Era, is unrecognizable from today. Giant camels walked around on the ice-free land above the Arctic Circle, as NBC News reported.

Earth first passed the 400 million parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2013. Rather than take it as a dire warning, we have become inured to that level of concentration and have seen it rise slightly in subsequent years. In 2018, the concentration was 407.4 parts per million (ppm), according to NOAA. This year, CO2 concentrations are predicted to peak at 417 ppm, according to NBC News.


That level will put humans in new, unfamiliar territory. "For millions of years, we haven't had an atmosphere with a chemical composition as it is right now," said Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, to NBC News.

In fact, just two weeks ago, on Feb. 10, NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory, an atmospheric baseline station in Hawaii, recorded the daily average of CO2 levels on as 416.08 parts per million, according to Common Dreams.

Carbon Dioxide concentrations are an effective measure of how many fossil fuels we are burning. Coal and crude oil contain carbon that plants have pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over million of years. However, in short order, human activity has returned that trapped carbon back into the atmosphere, as NOAA reported. . . .

Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide are a hallmark of the climate crisis since they are associated with higher temperatures, melting ice and sea level rise, among other effects. . . .

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also notable for its contribution to ocean acidification. According to NOAA, when CO2 reacts with water molecules, it produces carbonic acid and lowers the ocean's pH. Already, the ocean's surface pH has dropped from 8.21 in pre-industrial times to 8.10.

"The rate of rise in the last decade has been faster than previous decades," said Betts, as NBC Newsreported. "We're just tracking ever onwards, and 400 ppm is now a distant memory."

Protecting Their Cronies

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

In Trump's World


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gasping For Breath


Sanders Leads In The New YouGov Poll By 10 Points


The chart above reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 23rd and 25th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,184 registered voters). The margin of error is 2.8 points for adults and 3 points for registered voters.

Nothing To Worry About?

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at Cagle.com.

Public Says Russia Interfered In 2016 & Are Doing It Again


Donald Trump still denies that the Russians interfered in our presidential election in 2016. He's afraid that detracts from his electoral college victory. But the American people aren't buying his ridiculous denials. About 52% of all adults (and 59% of registered voters) believe Russia did interfere.

And the public (45% of all adults and 52% of registered voters) say Russia is doing it again, even though Trump also denies that. And they believe the Russians are doing it to help Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders (who they think Trump could beat easier).

These charts reflect the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 23rd and 25th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,184 registered voters), with a 2.8 point margin of error for adults and 3 point margin for registered voters.



Law & Odor

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

Have Bloomberg & Steyer Been Totally Honest About Taxes?


W e know Donald Trump has been dishonest about his taxes. During the 2016 campaign, he promised to release his tax returns. He has still not done that over three years later.

The two billionaires running for the Democratic presidential nomination have excoriated Trump for that, and bragged about releasing their own tax returns. Is that true? Well, partially.

Here is what the fact-checkers for The Washington Post have to say about that:

The two billionaires in the Democratic primary were not as transparent with their tax returns as they let on in these remarks.

Bloomberg, who is ranked as the 10th-richest person in the world by Forbes, never “released” his tax returns while he was mayor in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, he allowed reporters to view redacted versions of his returns for a few hours every year.

Traditionally, candidates for high office in New York and throughout the country release full, unredacted versions of their tax returns for public consumption, so there’s a big difference between what Bloomberg did and the norm. “One year when a reporter rolled in a photo-copy machine to the viewing room, the photo-copy machine got the heave-ho,” a Wall Street Journal editor who covered Bloomberg as mayor tweeted.

Steyer has released tax returns showing he earned more than $1 billion over nine years, but “he withheld nearly every page that showed where all his money came from,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Riding The Deficit

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Conservatives - Always On The Wrong Side


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

He Would NOT Have Done It


Are Democrats Poised To Throw Away A Golden Opportunity?

Like Rep. Clyburn, I am an older American -- and I vividly remember the election of 1972. Democrats nominated a good, smart, progressive candidate. But his stance on the Vietnam War and some other progressive ideas put him far to the left of the voting public at that time. The result was that voters chose a criminal to be their president.

It was decades after that terrible defeat before any progressive ideas were seriously considered again. Are Democrats headed for a repeat of that in 2020?

I don't think the total disaster of 1972 will be repeated, but I do think Democrats may be in the process of throwing away a golden opportunity to take back the White House and Congress. And considering that would leave Trump in the White House (and Republicans in charge of the Senate), that could be an even greater disaster for the country than 1972 turned out to be.

Currently, I see two ways the Democrats could blow the 2020 election.

First, they could nominate Bernie Sanders to be their presidential candidate. Bernie is not a bad person, and many of his ideas are good (and would be good for the country). But he has more baggage than any other president (more even than Hillary Clinton had entering the 2016 election).

Bernie is a socialist, and he's proud of that. He has been bragging about that for decades. Unfortunately, socialism still scares far too many Americans -- especially the moderate Independents that would be need to win a national election.

Some of you are probably saying that Republicans are going to try and brand any Democrat with the socialist label. You are right. They will try that, just as they have done in the past. But it won't stick to most Democrats. It will stick with Bernie. The Republicans have access to years of Bernie (in his own words) extolling socialism and defending some left-wingers in other countries (Castro, the Sandinistas, etc.). Republicans will use Bernie's own words to brand a red hammer and sickle on his forehead, and scare the hell out of moderate voters. It could scare away enough voters to create another electoral college win for Trump.

Second, if Bernie gets to the convention with a plurality of Democratic delegates, but is denied the nomination then that could be trouble. Undoubtably, many of the Bernie supporters will once again cry that the nomination was denied them because the DNC cheated. It won't be any truer than it was in 2016, but it could easily be believed by enough of them that they either sit out the election (or vote for a third party). And that could again result in an electoral college win for Trump.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm starting to get worried. Bernie would be a disaster as the Democratic nominee -- but he has to be beaten before the convention (with someone else entering the convention with a plurality of delegates).

Frontrunner

Political Cartoon is by Randall Enos at Cagle.com.

Two New (And Very Different) South Carolina Polls


The chart above is from the Public Policy Polling survey -- done on February 23rd and 24th of 866 likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, with a 3.3 point margin of error.


The chart above is from the NBC News / Marist Poll -- done between February 18th and 21st of 539 likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, with a 6.0 point margin of error.

These two polls, both respected, are very different. Public Policy Polling has Joe Biden with a 15 point lead over Bernie Sanders. The NBC News poll has Biden leading by only 4 points over Sanders. That a huge difference.

Which poll is right? We won't know that until Saturday night when the voters have their say in South Carolina. I suspect the reality lies somewhere between the two polls.

Barrnacle Bill

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

American Hero Katherine Johnson Dies At Age 101

(This photo of Katherine Johnson in 1962 is from NASA.)

Most Americans probably don't know who Katherine Johnson is -- but they should. She is as responsible as anyone for the success of the American space program. She was a brilliant mathematician, and NASA depended on her computations before going ahead with any launches.

Katherine Johnson passed away on Monday (February 24th) at the age of 101. She was truly an American Hero.

Here is just a small part of Harrison Smith's excellent obituary for her in The Washington Post:

When Katherine Johnson ­began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953, she was classified as “subprofessional,” not far outranking a secretary or janitor.
Hers was a labor not of scheduling or cleaning but rather of mathematics: using a slide rule or mechanical calculator in complex calculations to check the work of her superiors — engineers who, unlike her, were white and male.
Her title, poached by the technology that would soon make the services of many of her colleagues obsolete, was “computer.”
Mrs. Johnson, who died Feb. 24 at 101, went on to develop equations that helped the NACA and its successor, NASA, send astronauts into orbit and, later, to the moon. In 26 signed reports for the space agency, and in many more papers that bore others’ signatures on her work, she codified mathematical principles that remain at the core of human space travel.
She was not the first black woman to work as a NASA mathematician, nor the first to write a research report for the agency, but Mrs. Johnson was eventually recognized as a pathbreaker for women and African Americans in the newly created field of spaceflight.
Like most backstage members of the space program, Mrs. Johnson was overshadowed in the popular imagination by the life-risking astronauts whose flights she calculated, and to a lesser extent by the department heads under whom she served.
She did not command mainstream attention until President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the country’s highest civilian honor — in 2015. The next year, her research was celebrated in the best-selling book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly and the Oscar-nominated film adaptation starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle MonĂ¡e.
Mrs. Johnson was “critical to the success of the early U.S. space programs,” Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian, said in a 2017 interview for this obituary. “She had a singular intellect, curiosity and skill set in mathematics that allowed her to make many contributions, each of which might be considered worthy of a single lifetime.”

She Built A Path To The Moon

Political Cartoon is by Steve Green in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

DeNiro Nails It


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

It Is Better


Biden / Sanders / Warren Lead In A New Poll In Texas



These charts are from a new University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs Poll -- done between February 6th and 18th of 1,352 likely Democratic primary voters in Texas.

It has Biden with 22.5%, Sanders with 22.1%, and Warren with 18.3%. If the poll is right, then these three will split the delegates up for grabs in Texas (since it requires 15% to qualify for delegates).

She's A Fighter

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Klobuchar Leads In Her Home State Of Minnesota


The chart above is from the Mason-Dixon / MPR News / Star-Tribune Poll done between February 17th and 20th of 500 likely Democratic primary voters in Minnesota, with a 4.5 point margin of error.

The poll shows Amy Klobuchar leading in Minnesota -- her home state. Minnesota is a Super Tuesday state, and will vote on March 3rd. It is critical that Klobuchar hold this state, or she will no longer be a viable candidate.

Bought

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at Cagle.com.

Texas Dems Still Voting In Large Numbers In Early Voting


The chart above shows the early voting for Texas Democrats in the first six days of the early voting period. It uses the official numbers from the office of the Texas Secretary of State.

The chart just includes the numbers for 15 of the largest counties in the state. These counties have 63.15% (10,237,425) of the total registered voters in the state (16,211,198).

The blue bars on the chart shows the early voting totals for these counties in 2020. The green bars show the early voting totals for the same time period in 2016. Note that early voting in 2020 is still significantly larger for Democrats than it was in 2016.

Hypocritical

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.