Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ginsburg - Court treats Women As Less Than Equal

Are We Winning The War On Terrorism ?

I believe the question regarding whether we (and our allies) are winning the "war on terrorism" is a valid question to ask. And this chart (made from Rasmussen Polls taken over the last nine years) shows that the American public has had a varying view on that. Currently the attitude that we are winning has been dropping, and for the first time in seven years, more people think the terrorists are winning than think we are winning (with the last time being near the end of the Bush administration, as people started to realize what a mistake invading Afghanistan and Iraq had been).

We have had ground troops in Afghanistan since 2001, but the terrorists are far from being defeated in that country. And even though we have withdrawn most of our troops from Iraq, recent events have shown that we did not defeat terrorists in that country either.

This brings up an even more important question -- if we are not winning the war on terrorism (and we aren't), why aren't we winning it? Don't we have the strongest, best trained, and best equipped military in the world? I believe we do, but the problem is that we refuse to learn from history. Our military is terrific at conventional warfare, and we can easily use it to topple the government of another country (like we quickly dispensed with the governments of Iraq, and Afghanistan). Unfortunately, terrorists (i.e. guerrillas, resistance fighters, etc.) don't fight a conventional war, and toppling a government won't get rid of them.

The fact is that the military is just not that effective against unconventional forces. The Germans couldn't quash the resistance in World War II. The French couldn't do it in Algeria or Vietnam. The Russians couldn't do it in Afghanistan. And we couldn't do it in Vietnam (or Iraq and Afghanistan). Those were some of the best militaries that ever existed, but they couldn't control a force using unconventional tactics (terrorism). Using a conventional military force against an unconventional foe just results in the deaths of many innocent civilians, and creates more enemies instead of eliminating them.

There is a more effective way to deal with the problem of terrorism. It requires a two-pronged effort, using both diplomacy and law enforcement. The diplomacy can encourage the cooperation of other governments and limit the safe places the terrorists have in which to live and train. The law enforcement can then track down the terrorists and either capture or eliminate them (without harming innocent civilians). It's not an easy task, but there is no easy way to deal with terrorism -- and it's the only effective way to deal with the problem.

We are not winning the war on terrorism. But we could, if we learn from history and restrain our urge to use our military to solve all our problems.

Do-Nothing Congress

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

CFPB Gives Consumers A Way To Fight Back

One of the accomplishments of the Obama administration was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Before it was created, consumers were basically at the mercy of the giant financial institutions. And even if the banks were clearly in the wrong, their phalanx of attorneys could make any actions by a consumer (especially one with limited funds) cost prohibitive. In other words, the banks could do what they damn well pleased with impunity.

The CFPB has changed that, because it puts the power of the federal government behind justified consumer complaints -- and considering the number of complaints filed against financial institutions since 2012 (over 265,000), it is easy to see why the big financial institutions (and their GOP allies) fought so hard to keep the CFPB from being established. They now have to answer for playing fast and loose with the financial rules and regulations.

The complaints filed with the CFPB is a public record -- and the chart above shows the banks with the highest number of complaints against them. It looks like this program is a success.

Past-Due Bills

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

New Mexico Senate Race Has Udall With Big Lead

If there is a safe Democratic seat in the Senate in this election, then this is probably it. Senator Udall, the Democratic incumbent, has a whopping 21 point lead over his Republican opponent in New Mexico.

The info in this chart was obtained from a new Rasmussen Poll -- conducted on July 21st and 22nd of 860 likely New Mexico voters, and has a margin of error of 4 points.


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

U.S. Green Party Says Israel Has Gone From Victim To An Aggressive Colonial Power

The following article was posted on July 29th by Green Party Shadow Cabinet member Ajamu Baraka (pictured). It's worth reading.

“… To be committed to justice we must believe that ethics matter, that it is vital to have a system of shared morality.” - Bell Hooks
“Out of nowhere many soldiers jumped out and ambushed Samir. They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away towards the village. But how far can an injured child run? Twenty, maybe 30, meters? They could have easily arrested him, especially when he was injured, but instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition... To me this is premeditated murder.”
Palestinian life is cheap – something Samir already understood from his short 16 years of living under occupation. For the friends and family of Samir and the thousands of other Samirs murdered by the Israeli military and settlers over the last four decades, Palestinian life will still be cheap when the shooting stops, the Israeli military withdraws its ground forces from Gaza, and daily life under occupation returns to the norm of low-intensity systematic state terror.
The killings, breaking of bones, firing of tear gas canisters into enclosed spaces, and the daily humiliation of checkpoints, separate roads and separating walls will continue and will continue to be daily reminders to Palestinians that they are different; lesser; expendable.
From these experiences, Palestinians understand – like many of us on the receiving end of the Western world’s “civilizing mission” – that the West’s claim to moral superiority by championing universal human rights and the rule of law is a grotesque lie.
Over the years, Palestinians have seen how they can be murdered in the hundreds and thousands with impunity and in the full glare of the mass media. And while most of the non-Western world is stunned by the indiscriminate viciousness of the Israeli attack, headlines in Western media outlets proclaim “Hamas lays siege on Israel” and “Hamas terrorizes Israel”—as though the over one thousand lives of murdered Palestinians are completely irrelevant and devoid of value.
The devaluing of Palestinian life is in stark contrast to the concern for the dignity of the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight M17, recently shot down over Ukraine. It is also reflected in the arguments of the Israeli propagandists, who imply that Western news media should stop covering the deaths of Palestinian civilians because it satisfies the strategic objective of the “Hamas terrorists.”  
The scenes of carnage – Palestinian bodies littering the streets of Shujaiya; whole families packed into cars, desperately trying to flee the onslaught of Israeli rockets and naval bombardments; and a vicious scorched-earth ground operation in which whole communities are free-fire zones for Israelis, have still not been enough to generate much empathy  for the lives of Palestinians for many in the U.S. A recent Gallop poll of opinion in the U.S. suggests that 71% of the respondents who claim to follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict closely say that Israeli actions in Gaza are justified.
And in Western capitals, the defenders of “universal” human rights proudly proclaim their unwavering support for Israel’s right of “defense” against a captured and largely defenseless people who are supposed to have special protections under international law.  
The moral positions taken by many people in the West, especially in the U.S., confirms the existence of an ethical double-standard – one in which the actions of the Israeli state are framed as legitimate, reasonable and deserving of support, and one in which all acts of resistance on the part of the captured and oppressed Palestinians are seen as criminal, immoral and terroristic.
The ethical double-standards for non-Europeans versus Europeans – or those who are associated with white power and European civilization, like the Israeli state – are grounded in a generalized acceptance of the civilizational superiority of the West and the division of humanity between those “like us” and “others” who have different standards of human behavior.
This division has always been a fundamental component of white supremacist thought that justified the conquest, pillage and exploitation of most of the non-Western world. The violence of slavery, genocide of Native Americans and colonialism found its defenders among liberals and within the contradictory framework of Eurocentric, male-centered liberalism that divided humanity between those eligible for the full enjoyment of human rights – European male, capitalist property owners and eventually most people categorized as “white” irrespective of class and gender – and everyone else.  
The “white man’s burden” “manifest destiny,” the “doctrine of discovery,” “American exceptionalism” – and their 21st century expression in humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect – these are all expressions of the arrogant pathology of the white supremacist worldview.
It is this sublimated framework that Israeli propagandists skillfully appeal to, in order to generate the continued moral and political support for their policies with large segments of the populations of Europe and especially within the white supremacist settler-state of the U.S.
Constructed as an uncivilized, barbarous, terrorist organization, Hamas has been effectively de-humanized – along with all of the Palestinian people of Gaza, since they voted for Hamas in the elections of 2006.  In contrast, Israel is juxtaposed as innocent, civilized and humane.
Projecting itself as a superior civilization, Israel attempts to immunize itself from human rights charges, since as a “civilized” (read “Western”), humane and rational society, Israel by definition cannot be accused of engaging in massive human rights violations.
Instead it is the actions of the Palestinian resistance fighters that are highlighted, because that resistance provides a convenient weapon in the narrative created by Israel of Palestinian “otherness” where their legitimate resistance is instead twisted into being further evidence of their sub-human status.
According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natahuyu, the value of human life is different for Palestinians and their leadership who want more dead Palestinians so that they can use “telegenically dead Palestinians” for their cause. The logical corollary to this position is that it is perfectly understandable and justifiable that Israel is forced to kill hundreds of “them” in order to ensure Israeli security from these “barbarous” people who have a natural propensity towards violence, if they are not contained and periodically terrorized into submission.
For activists in solidarity with Palestinian desires for national self-determination, undermining the hegemony of the “innocent settler” narrative is imperative in order to counter the propaganda that justifies Israeli state and settler violence. To do so means centering colonialism and white supremacy as the grounding analytical categories and conceptual framework.
This is not necessarily a new argument or one that has not been embraced by some, but for various reasons, including bogus charges of anti-Semitism, many in the U.S. progressive and radical communities have eschewed this approach over the years.
The other challenge is that the “white supremacist” term has been domesticated and reduced to a crude and relatively simple notion of “racism.” In this context, white supremacists and white supremacy is represented by easy targets like Donald Sterling and Tea Party members, while racialized imperialism is overlooked.   
In order to re-position Israel in the public imagination, activists must overcome both of these issues if movements for solidarity and justice such as the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement have any chance of being effective solidarity mechanisms.  
Liberated from the racist bias of the colonial/imperialist lens that casts Israelis as victims, Israeli state actions and policies in Gaza are then stripped of the obfuscating claims of self-defense and concerns for Palestinian civilians. And ending ethical double standards by applying one standard informed by the principles of human equality and the rejection of all forms of dehumanizing oppression would clearly identify the real victims in the ongoing drama of the Israel/Palestinian conflict – and it would not be the state of Israel.


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

A Polarized Court

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Has Israel Gone Too Far With Latest Attack On Gaza ?

Israel is still continuing its war on Gaza, and so far, more than a thousand inhabitants of Gaza have been killed -- at least a third of them have been children. Israel's excuse for the invasion and killings were to locate and destroy tunnels built by Hamas to allow them to get into Israel. It's hard to understand though how the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza civilians is helping to accomplish that -- including the bombing of a hospital, a U.N. refugee camp, and a group of children playing on the beach.

The American people have always been solidly behind Israel, but I have to wonder if the Israelis haven't gone too far this time -- far enough to start eroding some of that American support. The Pew Research Center also wondered about that, and that did a survey asking Americans whether the Israelis had gone too far with these latest attacks on Gaza. The survey was taken between July 24th and 27th of a random nationwide sample of 1,005 adults, and has a 3.6 point margin of error.

As the chart above shows, the support for this latest Israeli aggression is not absolute. Note that pluralities of Democrats, Blacks, and Hispanics all say that Israel has gone too far this time -- and those between 18 and 29 are split on the matter. About one out of every four Americans (25%) agree with that. Meanwhile 35% say the Israeli action was appropriate.

But the most troubling aspect of the survey is that 15% of Americans (and more of some groups) say the Israelis haven't been harsh enough. Evidently killing nearly 400 children and hundreds of innocent civilians is Ok with them. Keeping Gaza as a giant concentration camp, and depriving its citizens of adequate food and medical supplies is not enough for these folks. They want blood, and they don't care if it's the blood of children or innocents.

Frankly, I'm shocked at the attitude of these people. There is a line beyond which it is just immoral to cross -- and that applies to all countries, even Israel. As horrible as the holocaust against the Jews in World War II was, it doesn't give them the right to slaughter innocents and children in Gaza.

All Hat

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

A Second Appeals Court Supports Same-Sex Marriage

Numerous states have had their bans on same-sex marriages overturned by federal judges in the last few months. Those decisions were appealed to various Circuit Courts of Appeal, and we have been waiting for those appeals court decisions. A few days ago, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the Utah decision -- and they upheld the lower court decision, declaring the state ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional (violating the Fourteenth Amendment), and the state had not shown a compelling reason to ban those marriages.

Now a second appeals court has ruled on this matter. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court decision that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Appeals court Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote:

“Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support and security.” 
“The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the 14th Amendment cannot countenance.”
The decision was stayed for 21 days to give the state time to appeal -- either to the full court, or the U.S. Supreme Court (more likely). Now the Supreme Court is looking at decisions from both the 10th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeal, both of which they are likely to be asked to consider.

I expect the Supreme Court to wait for a while before deciding whether to accept any of these cases or not, to see what happens in some of the other Circuit Courts of Appeal. If the other appeals courts decide the same way (that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional), they could just let those decisions stand and become law. But if even one appeals court decides to uphold the bans, then the Supreme Court will have to accept at least one case and finally make a decision on this matter.

I am hopeful, considering the court's decision about DOMA and Prop 8, that at least five votes can be attained to support equal rights and toss out all state bans on same-sex marriage. And by this time next year, that could be a reality.

No Leadership ?

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

Hagan's Lead Growing In North Carolina Senate Race

A few months ago it looked like Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan might be in trouble in North Carolina. In May, Hagan led by only 2 points -- which is a dead heat since the margin of error was more than that. By June, she had posted a lead of 5 points (which exceeded that margin of error) -- and in the latest poll taken in North Caroline, she has extended her lead to 7 points (41% to 34%). It's starting to look like North Carolina may not be the opportunity that Republicans once thought it was.

Hagan leads among women, Blacks, other races, and all age groups under 66. Independents and those over 66 are within the margin of error. The only groups giving Tillis a significant advantage are Whites (by 10 points) and men (by 4 points).

These charts were made from a recent survey done by Public Policy Polling. The survey was done between July 17th and 20th of a random sample of 1,062 North Carolina voters, and has a 3 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

Why Isn't The Corporate Media Reporting This Story ?

This image is of the mushroom cloud produced by the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki at the end of World War II. It is also the image that Republican neo-cons are using to drum up support for a war with Iran.

For a couple of years now, they have been trying to scare Americans with the image of Iran with nuclear weapons. They want us to believe that Iran is in the process of building nuclear weapons, and when they succeed, they will pose a danger to the United States -- even though they have no way of delivering such a weapon that far.

They have used this fear of a nuclear weapon- possessing Iran to build up the military budget even more (although we were already spending 45% of the total money spent on military budgets worldwide, and more than the next 15 biggest spenders combined). They want us to believe we have to spend this money and attack Iran, or we will face nuclear devastation.

But if Iran was really such a threat in the recent past, enough to make many Republicans (and some deluded Democrats) call for a new war, then I have to wonder why the following story hasn't been widely reported by the U.S. media. The BBC considered it important enough to be front page news. Here is what they reported:

Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms, the UN nuclear agency says.
The conversion of its stock of 20%-enriched uranium was part of a deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme.
The US said last week it would unblock $2.8bn in frozen Iranian funds in return for Iran's compliance.
A four-month extension to talks on Iran's nuclear ambitions was agreed on Friday between Iran and world powers.
The talks are aimed at persuading Iran to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
The six world powers involved in the talks - the US, France, China, Russia, Germany and the UK - suspect Iran seeks atomic weapons, which Iran denies.
The country insists that it is enriching uranium for use in nuclear power stations and for medical purposes.
Correspondents say Iran's completion of eliminating its most worrying uranium stockpile is a promising sign that its leaders do not want to derail the diplomatic process.
A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is observing all of its other commitments as well.
Iran had more than 200kg of 20%-enriched uranium when the preliminary agreement to convert it was reached last November.
At 20%, enriched uranium can be converted quickly to arm a nuclear weapon and experts said 200kg was enough to make one nuclear warhead.
But while the story was widely reported in Europe and Australia, it has been ignored by the corporate media in the United States. Why? Doesn't it seem like the prospect of peace, of avoiding a costly war with Iran, should be big news -- especially considering all the coverage of the possible nuclear weapons program in Iran?

Could it be that the corporations in the military-industrial complex don't want the story reported (because Americans might come to their senses and demand the bloated military budget be cut)? Could it be because it doesn't fit the narrative being proposed by the Republicans (and their corporate backers), and might hurt their chances in the upcoming election?

This is a prime example of what's wrong with our major media outlets. They only give us the stories approved by their corporate owners. Truth in reporting and good investigative reporting are things of the past -- things that are not tolerated in a media owned by only a few giant corporations (who are only interested in protecting their own interests (and the politicians they have bought).


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Arrogant And Ignorant Hypocrties

Gun Ownership In The United States

The NRA and right-wing gun-nuts have been saying that gun ownership is necessary to be free and for protection from criminal elements in this country. If those arguments were even remotely true, then it would be safe to say that most Americans either currently keep a gun in their home, or would like to do that. But that is simply not true.

The truth is that we live in one of the safest countries in the world, and keeping a gun in the home heightens the chance that someone in that home will die from use of a firearm (either by accident, suicide, or a domestic murder) -- and most Americans know that. There was a time in the past when most households owned a gun, but that time is long-passed.

As both the General Social Survey and the Pew Research Center survey (done in January and February of this year) show, only about a third of American households have a gun (34%). Gun ownership has dropped in each of the last several decades, and while there are about enough guns in our society for every citizen to have one, the truth is that that more than 300 million guns are owned by only a third of the population -- which means a lot of gun owners own several guns, while two-thirds of all Americans do not own or keep a gun in their home.

The chart above shows the demographic breakdown of gun ownership in the United States. Note that men, Whites, Republicans, Independents, those over age 50, those living in suburban and rural areas, and those living in the South and Midwest, and those with a child in the home, exceed the national average in gun ownership. While women, Blacks, Hispanics, those under age 50, Democrats, those living in an urban area, and those living in the Northeast and West, have an ownership percentage at or below the national average.

Wrecking Ball

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

Race For Governor In Georgia Is Currently A Dead Heat

Now that the primaries are over in Georgia, it is starting to look like Georgia might not be as red a state as in the past. It seems to be becoming a nice shade of purple (meaning that both parties are now competitive in that state).

A few days ago I posted about a recent poll in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Michelle Nunn (D) and David Perdue (R). That survey showed the Democrat leading that race right now, and has a real chance to snatch this senate seat away from the Republicans.

Now there is a new poll out on the governor's race in Georgia. It shows Democrat Jason Carter with a one point lead over incumbent Republican Nathan Deal. That 1 point lead is within the poll's margin of error, meaning the race is currently a dead heat. But it also means the Democrat has a chance to win this race -- something that no one would have predicted a few months ago.

This information is from a new Rasmussen Poll -- taken on July 23rd and 24th of 750 likely Georgia voters. It has a margin of error of 4 points.

Lethal Injections

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

New York Times Supports The Legalization Of Marijuana

This is big news. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults, but the media has been very reticent to either report or support that idea. That has now changed. The nation's largest newspaper, the New York Times, has published an editorial supporting the legalization of marijuana in this country. Here is what the NY Times editorial board published:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.
But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.
The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.
In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.
We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

This chart was made with information from the Pew Research Center.


Political Cartoon is by Dan Piraro at

Common Sense Produces Results

Monday, July 28, 2014

Santana On Peace

Exposing The Republicans' National Debt Lie

I recently saw a comment from a Republican on Facebook that said President Obama had added more to the national debt than all presidents combined from George Washington through George W. Bush. This is a common Republican misrepresentation, and it is time it was exposed as the lie that it really is.

The best way to look at this is to consider the percentage of rise in the national debt each president was responsible for after taking office. And when you look at it that way, President Obama has presided over less growth in debt than any of the last four Republican presidents. The growth in national debt under Obama is 44% -- while the growth under the GOP presidents are Ford (47%), Reagan (186%), Bush I (54%), and Bush II (101%). The other presidents during that stretch were Carter (43%) and Clinton (32%).

Conservatives like to paint themselves as fiscally responsible, but the two most conservative presidents since World War II have been the presidents who were responsible for the largest percentage growth in national debt -- Ronald Reagan raised the national debt by 186% and George W. Bush raised it by 101%. They were the only two presidents who raised the debt by more than 54%.

And even if you just consider the dollar growth of the national debt, President Obama is still not the president with the largest growth. That dubious honor goes to George W. Bush, who increased the national debt by 5.849 trillion dollars. President Obama is second, with 5.081 trillion dollars in growth. However, the Republicans must take much of the blame for that since they have blocked any attempt the president has made to change the disastrous spending policies of George W. Bush.

Obama inherited a nation in recession -- with government revenues sharply off because of the Bush tax cuts and millions of people out of work. The spending was also out of control with two unnecessary wars being waged and poverty rising because of the recession and loss of jobs (including the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.

Obama has tried to do away with the tax breaks for outsourcing, but has been blocked by the Republicans. He has also tried to restore the tax revenue, but was only able to restore a part of it (which has brought down the budget deficit). The rich are still able to pay a smaller percentage by taking advantage of special lower capital gains tax rates, instead of the higher earned income tax rates (the rates paid by the middle and working classes). And the Republicans have also blocked efforts to create jobs (which would have stimulated the economy and increased revenues).

In short, the Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage the economy by continuing the terrible Bush economic policies -- and now they want to blame that on President Obama. It is not just a lie -- it is a mean-spirited lie that tries to shift the blame off of their own poor policies and mismanagement.

The truth is that the Republicans are not fiscally responsible. They are the biggest spenders. They just use that spending to help the rich instead of those hurting Americans who really need it. I agree that we need more fiscal responsibility in Washington -- but we won't get that by putting another Republican in the White House, or by letting the Republicans continue to control either house of Congress.

Dream Candidate (For Comedians)

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

Which Countries Like Us - And Which Ones Don't ?

The charts above were made from the Spring Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Survey. They surveyed 1,000 or more people in 43 different countries about their attitudes toward the United States (either favorable or unfavorable). The margin of error for the survey is about 3.5 points. The charts show the percentage of each countries population that holds a favorable view of the United States -- and include the 15 countries with the highest and lowest percentages.

There were some surprises for me. Most notably was the absence of the United Kingdom from the chart showing the highest favorable percentage. We normally think of them as being our best ally and closest friend, but evidently they don't see us the same way. Only 66% in the United Kingdom had a favorable opinion of the United States -- significantly lower than Italy (78%) and France (75%). Spain also failed to make the top 15 list -- coming in at only about 60%.

Three other nations were also surprises. Most Americans consider Germany, Greece, and India to be friends -- but all three nations were among the 15 nations with the lowest opinion of the United States. Only slightly more than half of those in Germany (51%) and India (55%) had a favorable opinion, and only about a third of those in Greece (34%) had a favorable opinion.Other nation's with a surprisingly low percentage were Mexico (63%), Japan (66%), Brazil (65%), Colombia (64%), and Argentina (36%).

China, considered to be an enemy by many Americans, was a pleasant surprise. About half of the Chinese (51%) have a favorable opinion of the United States. But the biggest surprise of all was Vietnam, where slightly more than three out of every four citizens (76%) viewed the U.S. favorably. Evidently, many of them have forgiven us for the Vietnam War.

For Your Enjoyment

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

The 2014 Tour de France Is Over

The final stage of the Tour de France each year is largely a celebration ride -- until it reaches the streets of Paris, when it turns into a final chance for the sprinters to earn points for the Green Jersey. The winner of the final sprint in stage 21 was Marcel Kittel of Germany. Alexander Kristoff of Norway finished second, and Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania was third across the line.

Here are the winners in each category (the podium finishers):


YELLOW JERSEY (Overall Race Leader)
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Astana Pro Team
2. Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) AG2R La Mondiale
3. Thibaud Pinot (France) FDJ.FR


GREEN JERSEY (Best Sprinter)
1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Cannondale
2. Alexander Kristoff (Norway) Team Katusha
3. Bryan Coquard (France) Team Europcar


1. Rafal Majka (Poland) Tinkoff-Saxo
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Astana Pro Team
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) Team Katusha


WHITE JERSEY (Best Young Rider)
1. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ.FR
2. Romain Bardet (France) AG2R La Mondiale
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) Omega Pharma-Quick Step


1. AG2R La Mondiale (France)
2. Belkin Pro Cycling (Belgium)
3. Movistar Team (Spain)

Sign Of Violence

Political Cartoon is by Gary Varvel in the Indianapolis Star.

Capitalism Won't Work Without Rules

Sunday, July 27, 2014


(This cartoon is from the website

The Election Of President Obama Exposed The Racist Extremism Of The Republican Party Base (And Officials)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has always had a knack for getting to the heart of a matter, and exposing the truth. This is what he had to say in an interview with Larry King:

"I would say my main criticism of Barack Obama is that he seemed to think when he came in, and in the ensuing years, that he could negotiate with right-wing extremists who really had no intention of ever negotiating. When you’re in politics, Larry -- and I’ve been in politics a while -- negotiation is part of what politics is about. But you cannot negotiate with people who refuse to negotiate, who really want to politically destroy you."

Sanders is exactly right. The right-wing in this country, driven by a lot of racism, has tried to label President Obama as some kind of socialistic tyrant. That is ridiculous. President Obama is now, and always has been, a moderate (in the tradition of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter). He is also a nice person. But he was more than a little naive when he took office.

President Obama actually thought that that if he reached out in a friendly way to Republicans, and promoted moderate policies, then common ground could be found and compromises reached that would be good for the country. After all, that is what has happened in the past. Take President Clinton for example. He had to deal with a Republican Congress, but by pursuing moderate policies and reaching across the aisle to cooperate with Republicans, compromises were found that benefitted the country and kept the economy going (creating over 20 million jobs).

But President Obama underestimated the depth of racial hatred in the GOP's base -- an irrational fear of having an African-American president. And that racism filtered up and affected the congressional Republicans. Those on the extreme right immediately made the decision to oppose everything the president tried to do -- even if it was a moderate idea originally created by members of their own party, like the Affordable Care Act (which was created by Republican senators as an alternative to Hillary Clinton's health care reform plan). Even those few moderates in the party found they could not compromise with the president without angering their base, and capitulated.

I wish the president had realized earlier, as many progressives did, the true depth of hatred that the GOP racists had for him. If he had, maybe he could have pushed harder, and gotten more done, in the first couple of years of his administration, when he had a Democratic majority. But he didn't. He was just too nice and too decent, and still believed that rational people could find compromises. He did not understand at the time that rationality no longer existed in the Republican Party, but had been replaced by racial hatred.

When the president was elected, there were those who said it indicated the nation was entering a post-racial period. They were wrong. What it did was expose the large amount of racism that still plagues this country.

(The image above was found at Mother Jones.)

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