Wednesday, March 03, 2021
The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll. Each point reflects a 10 day moving average of at least 2,000 registered voters in Texas, with a margin of error of only 2 points.
Note that Cruz's actions following the January 6th riot cost him some support -- from 48% approve to 41% disapprove on the 6th to 45% approve to 44% disapprove ten days later (16th). But his trip to Cancun while his fellow Texans were suffering from the winter storm and no electricity cost him even more. He now has 43% approve to 48% disapprove -- a negative 5 point margin.
He's still popular with Texas Republicans, but even among them his disapproval rose from 17% to 22%.
Conservatives love to say that having more choices is always a good thing. That's not always true, especially if some of those choices are designed to bilk consumers of their hard-earned money. Consider this article from Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman:
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
A few months ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York was a hero to many Americans. They liked the way he was handling the pandemic in New York (one of the earliest states to suffer from the virus). There was even talk among Democrats (including me) of him being the party's presidential candidate in the future.
But that was the past. Things are different now.
The first blip on his record was a charge that he had hidden some nursing home deaths from the virus. I don't know much about the particulars of that charge, but even if somewhat true, it probably wouldn't have ruined his political career.
But now there are charges of sexual harassment -- not from one woman, but from two of his former aides. One says he make inappropriate sexual comments, which she took as asking for a sexual encounter. The other also reported sexual comments, and said he actually kissed her on the mouth (without her assent).
Are the charges true? He has not denied them. He just said his comments were "misunderstood". That smells like bullshit to me! He was their boss, and a boss has too much power over an employee to be making sexual remarks (whether he intended them as a come-on or not). He should have known better!
Republicans don't seem to care if their politicians are sex abusers or sexual harassers. They still claim loyalty to a known sex abuser. But Cuomo is not a Republican. He's a Democrat, and Democrats shouldn't put up with this kind of nonsense.
There needs to be an investigation by an impartial person (like the New York Attorney General). If the charges are true, Cuomo needs to publicly apologize -- and he should resign. At the very least, he should not run for re-election.
UPDATE -- There is now a third woman accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment.
The Numbers in all of these charts is from The COVID Tracking Project.
The charts above show the average number of deaths and cases for each day in February for Texas. Note that the deaths dropped in February, but still averaged more than in October, November, and December.
The average number of cases also dropped, but was still larger than in October or November.
It's good that the numbers are finally beginning to fall, but both cases and deaths are still far too many. Hopefully, as more people get vaccinated, we can finally get control of this pandemic.
In fact, his problems (at least the legal problems) have gotten worse since he can no longer claim immunity from any of them. And there are a lot of them -- both civil and criminal.
Here is a rundown of Trump continuing legal problems from justsecurity.org:
Carroll is suing Trump for defamation after he publicly accused her of fabricating a rape allegation against him. The parties are currently involved in an appeal before the Second Circuit, where Trump (and so far, the Justice Department as well) is arguing that he had official immunity from Carroll’s defamation claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Apprentice, has filed a civil suit against former President Trump for defamation after he claimed her allegations of his inappropriate sexual conduct were lies designed to help the Clinton campaign and improve her fame. The case is currently at the New York Court of Appeals, the highest New York state court.
Mary Trump is suing Donald Trump for defrauding her out of millions of dollars in an inheritance dispute. The suit is pending in New York state court, where the parties are currently battling over former President Trump’s move to dismiss the case.
Ithaca Capital is suing Trump’s hotel management company for fraud in federal court. Primarily, Ithaca claims that Trump representatives exaggerated the value of a Panama hotel during Ithaca’s negotiations to purchase it.
A group of anonymous plaintiffs have filed a class action against the Trump family and their business, alleging that the Trumps used their brand to scam investors into paying for worthless business opportunities. The district court denied the Trumps’ bid to force the case into arbitration, and the Trumps are now appealing.
In a non-criminal suit, the DC Attorney General is suing several Trump-affiliated entities for misusing inauguration funds to enrich Trump’s family business. The suit is currently in discovery before DC’s local court, where the AG’s office is deposing key Trump executives, notably including his children.
Congressman Bennie Thompson, represented by the NAACP, is suing Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and two right wing militia groups for conspiring to forcibly prevent Congress from counting the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The district court is currently waiting for Trump and his co-defendants to respond to Thompson’s complaint.
The LDF is suing Trump, the Trump Campaign, and the RNC for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act. While the litigation is still at its early stages, Trump faces damages and a declaratory judgment that he did indeed violate these provisions of the law.
Since Mar. 2019, New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating allegations that the Trump Organization altered property values to avoid tax liabilities. The investigation began after Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen provided congressional testimony that Trump engaged in fraud. In Oct. 2020, James’s office deposed Eric Trump, and in Jan. 2021 a state court judge ruled that Trump’s tax attorneys must turn over thousands of documents.
During his presidency, the Manhattan District Attorney investigated Trump’s finances. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance recently gained access to Trump’s tax information in the course of a criminal investigation into potential tax crimes, insurance fraud, and other financial crimes under state law. Criminal charges have not been filed.
The DC Attorney General, Karl Racine, has announced a criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged role in provoking the Jan. 6th riots. No charges have been filed, though Racine’s office is reportedly looking into a local DC code that makes it a misdemeanor to incite violence.
The Fulton County DA’s Office has opened a criminal investigation into attempted election interference by Trump. The DA’s Office has requested that all official and unofficial emails concerning the election be preserved and has reportedly also planned to look into a call between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of the investigation as well as Rudy Giuliani’s potential false statements to Georgia officials.
Monday, March 01, 2021
When the relief bill passed the House of Representatives, every single Republican voted against it. Now it is in the Senate, and once again, it looks like every Republican will vote against it. When asked, most Republicans say they don't think their opposition will hurt their electoral chances in 2022.
I think they are wrong! The American public overwhelmingly supports President Biden's relief bill. And you can bet that Democrats are going to repeatedly remind voters that Republicans voted against the bill when the next election rolls around.
The Republicans didn't mind adding over a trillion dollars to the debt when it came to cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations, but now they claim we can't afford to help ordinary Americans get through the pandemic. This clearly shows who they care about, and who they don't care about. They care only for the rich, and don't care about the bottom 90% of Americans.
The chart above shows the overwhelming support for the relief bill. It shows the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 19th and 22nd of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,201 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 2.7 point, and for registered voters is 3.0 points.
One by one, states are legalizing the possession of recreational marijuana. On Saturday, the Virginia legislature voted to legalize up to one ounce of Marijuana for recreational use. The measure now goes to the governor (who has said he would sign the bill).
This make Virginia the 16th state to legalize the possession of marijuana. The District of Columbia has also legalized it. The measure in Virginia will take effect on January 1, 2024 -- because they want the time to set up legal distribution (to prevent a black market of the gentle drug).
Here is how AP News is covering the story:
Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Saturday to a bill that will legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, but not until 2024, when retail sales of the drug would also begin.
With a compromise bill clearing the House and Senate, Virginia becomes the first Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana, joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The legislation now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization. . . .
Under the legislation, possession of up to an ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana will become legal beginning Jan. 1, 2024, at the same time sales will begin and regulations will go into effect to control the marijuana marketplace in Virginia.
Under a provision Senate Democrats insisted on, the legislation will include a reenactment clause that will require a second vote from the General Assembly next year, but only on the regulatory framework and criminal penalties for several offenses, including underage use and public consumption of marijuana. A second vote will not be required on legalization.
The Senate had sought to legalize simple possession this year to immediately end punishments for people with small amounts of marijuana, but House Democrats argued that legalization without a legal market for marijuana could promote the growth of the black market.
They lost the last presidential election by more than 7 million votes. A party that believes in democracy would alter their policies to reflect those the voters want. But the GOP is not doing that.
Instead they are trying to rig future elections so they can return to power. They don't care what the voters want. They only care about seizing and remaining in power -- and for them that means changing the rules to keep millions of people from exercising their right to vote. And that have a whole bag of dirty tricks to accomplish that.
The following is part of an article by Michael Wines in The New York Times on the nasty GOP efforts:
Led by loyalists who embrace former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election, Republicans in state legislatures nationwide are mounting extraordinary efforts to change the rules of voting and representation — and enhance their own political clout.
At the top of those efforts is a slew of bills raising new barriers to casting votes, particularly the mail ballots that Democrats flocked to in the 2020 election. But other measures go well beyond that, including tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules for the benefit of Republicans; clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives; and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections, which were crucial to the smooth November vote.
And although the decennial redrawing of political maps has been pushed to the fall because of delays in delivering 2020 census totals, there are already signs of an aggressive drive to further gerrymander political districts, particularly in states under complete Republican control.
The national Republican Party joined the movement this past week by setting up a Committee on Election Integrity to scrutinize state election laws, echoing similar moves by Republicans in a number of state legislatures.
Republicans have long thought — sometimes quietly, occasionally out loud — that large turnouts, particularly in urban areas, favor Democrats, and that Republicans benefit when fewer people vote. But politicians and scholars alike say that this moment feels like a dangerous plunge into uncharted waters.
The avalanche of legislation also raises fundamental questions about the ability of a minority of voters to exert majority control in American politics, with Republicans winning the popular vote in just one of the last eight presidential elections but filling six of the nine seats on the Supreme Court.
The party’s battle in the past decade to raise barriers to voting, principally among minorities, young people and other Democrat-leaning groups, has been waged under the banner of stopping voter fraud that multiple studies have shown barely exists.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
They were not enemies, even though they pursued different economic goals. They talked to each other, and debated the important issues facing the country. And then they negotiated to find compromises that moved the country forward.
This is the way it must be in a democracy. At least two parties are needed to prevent either party from making a mistake in their passion for their beliefs. Throughout our history this has worked well to preserve our democracy and solve our problems.
Unfortunately, that is no longer true. The Republican Party has died -- or at least is critically ill and unable to act like a true political party. It has been taken over by racists, white supremacists, religious bigots, and conspiracy theorists. And those people have only one true belief -- supporting Donald Trump and his lies.
They even said as much in their 2020 political convention. Instead of writing a party platform, they simply stated that their party believed whatever Donald Trump wanted to do was what they want.
They are no longer a Conservative party. Trump has tossed many conservative values under the bus, and that is OK with the members. They no longer believe in free trade, but have accepted Trump trade war tariffs. They no longer believe in democracy, but are willing to overturn the results of a democratic election. In fact, they only have one value -- loyalty to Trump. They have truly become the Cult of Trump.
This is bad, because Trump sees the country (and world) as peopled only by friends and enemies. The friends are those who praise him and show loyalty (regardless of what he might do). The enemies are those who dare to speak the truth. And he will not negotiate with those he considers an enemy.
That means the elected officials in his cult cannot negotiate either. Whatever Democrats want, or try to do, they must oppose it. They call for bipartisanship, but for them that means surrender to whatever they want.
I have never voted for a Republican, and disagree with the policies they used to have. But they performed a valuable function in our democratic form of government. We need them. Sadly, I don't know if the party can survive its current illness. I hope it can. Our democracy cannot survive without two viable parties.
There are about 29,349,300 people in the United States that do not have any kind of health insurance. That is inexcusable. The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not cover all its citizens with health insurance or government provided medical care. The charts above use numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation. They show the number of uninsured citizens in each state.
The House bill contains everything President Biden wanted, but is likely to not include a minimum wage raise after it goes through the Senate. It will still have the $1400 checks for citizens, money to help state and local governments, money to help schools safely open, money for unemployment, money to help small businesses survive, and money to pay for COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
But the bill also contains something most Americans don't know about. It will contain some improvements for Obamacare. It won't solve our health insurance problem completely, but it will make it a little better.
It doesn't do enough though. Biden, and other Democrats, campaigned on providing a public option that will help all Americans get health insurance. They still need to follow through on that promise.
Here's part of how The New York Times is covering the bill's improvements to Obamacare:
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Our economy was already in trouble before the pandemic hit this country. While the rich were getting richer, the working and middle classes were struggling to stay up with inflation. And the gap between the wealth and income of the top 1% and the bottom 90% was larger than before the Great Depression, and it was continuing to grow.
The pandemic just made things even worse. The rich kept on getting richer, while millions lost their jobs.
The biggest thing to correct the economy, and make it fairer for everyone, would be to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The relief bill proposed by President Biden included that minimum wage. The bill would not only provide money necessary to fight the Coronavirus, but would start putting the U.S. economy back on track. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen now.
The Democrats were trying to pass that relief bill by using the reconciliation process. A Senate rule says that process can only be used for items that involve taxing and spending. And on Thursday, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the provision to raise the minimum wage did not meet that criteria -- and therefore could not be included in the bill.
Frankly, I don't understand that ruling at all. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would affect both taxing and spending. Many of those receiving the raise would start paying taxes (which they don't do now because they live in poverty), and many (perhaps millions) would no longer qualify for government benefit programs (food stamps, etc.) which would affect government spending in a positive way.
Republicans are celebrating the decision. They only care about the rich, and have always opposed raising the minimum wage. In fact, some of them have proposed doing away with the minimum wage and letting businesses pay even less than $7.25 and hour (the current minimum wage). They are still trying to claim that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. That's not true, and has been disproved in all the states and cities that have raised the wage.
This means there will be no minimum wage raise for the next two years. That's because the Republicans, while they don't control the Senate, have enough votes to kill any attempt by filibustering it to death. It would take 60 votes to pass a minimum wage bill in the Senate, which means at least 10 Republicans would have to support it. That is simply not going to happen, because there are 10 Republican senators that give a damn about workers.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has provided its first disappointment. It is going to wimp out and accept defeat. Senate experts say Vice-President Kamala Harris could overrule the Senate Parliamentarian and keep the minimum wage proposal in the bill -- but the administration has signaled that it will accept the ruling. They are afraid the relief bill would not pass the Senate with the minimum wage proposal in it.
President Biden says he still supports the $15 an hour minimum wage and will continue to fight for it.
Sadly, those just sound like empty and meaningless words now.
Even sadder is that the American public supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Note the chart below, which reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 19th and 22nd of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,201 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 2.7 points, and for registered voters is 3.0 points.
The charts above are from the Pew Research Center. They questioned 2,596 Americans between February 1st and 7th, and their survey had a 2.7 point margin of error.
The tool they are going to use to block anything proposed by President Biden (or congressional Democrats) is the filibuster. It is time to eliminate that archaic filibuster rule in the Senate. If we don't, we are looking at another two years of gridlock.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) knows this, and she is calling for an end to the Senate filibuster.
Here is what she wrote to her supporters:
It's hard to imagine two-thirds of Americans agreeing on much of anything. But two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.It's a broadly popular, badly needed policy to help families who are struggling through this pandemic and lift people out of poverty.
That's why President Biden included this plan in his COVID relief package. That's why the House of Representatives put it in their bill, too. That's why the Senate needs to take action.
But right now, raising the minimum wage is getting bogged down in the Senate. Why? Because of the filibuster — a procedural loophole that lets an extreme minority of senators block the majority from passing bills that have the broad support of the American people.
Understand this: The filibuster is giving a veto to Mitch McConnell. A veto to the gun industry. A veto to the oil industry. For generations, racist senators took advantage of the filibuster to block anti-lynching laws and civil rights bills. And it's still blocking progress today.
Unless we get rid of the filibuster, the Republican Senate minority will be able to keep using their favorite word — "no" — to block so many things we need to get done. "No" to protecting the right to vote. "No" to rooting corruption out of Washington. "No" to commonsense gun safety reform. "No" to raising the minimum wage for the first time in over a decade.
Raising the minimum wage would increase income for about thirty million and lift nearly a million families out of poverty. It would help boost income for people of color, who make up a disproportionate share of low-wage earners. It would give workers more money in their pockets to put back into the economy — lifting all boats. It would help our country build back better, stronger, and more resilient.
The American people elected a Democratic House majority, a Democratic Senate majority, and a Democratic president with a mandate to take bold action. Now, we need to deliver results — and that means getting rid of the filibuster.