Saturday, December 31, 2016

Short Celebration

Good Riddance

Political Cartoon is by Steve Nease at

Which States Have The Worst (Most Dangerous) Drivers?

While the holiday season is a time for joy, it is also a time of grief for many. That's because traffic accidents, many causing death, go up (because of higher travel and more alcohol use). So I thought this might be a good time to let you know about these statistics that I recently found. It is from, and it uses statistics to rank all the states on how bad the drivers are in that state. Here is the methodology used to determine the scores and rankings:

The rankings for this study are based on statistics made available to the public by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Each state is ranked according to the following categories:
  • Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
  • Failure to Obey (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that involved Traffic Signals, Not Wearing Seat Belts, and Driving with an Invalid Driver’s License)
  • Drunk Driving (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that Involved Alcohol)
  • Speeding (Percentage of Driving Fatalities that were Speed-Related)
  • Careless Driving (Pedestrian & Bicyclist Fatalities per 100,000 Population)
We translated all of this information into one Total Score, with the worst states receiving the lowest scores.
The chart above shows the 10 states with the worst (i.e., most dangerous) drivers. This is NOT something to be proud of. If you want to see how your state ranked in each category and scored overall, you can go to the link provided above.

Help Needed

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

A Look At Police Shootings In Texas (2010 thru 2015)

The following 11 images are from The Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

GOP Solution

Political Cartoon is by Tim Eagan at

The United States Has Become An "Illiberal Democracy"

The following op-ed is from the Washington Post column of Fareed Zakaria (pictured):

Two decades ago, I wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs that described an unusual and worrying trend: the rise of illiberal democracy. Around the world, dictators were being deposed and elections were proliferating. But in many of the places where ballots were being counted, the rule of law, respect for minorities, freedom of the press and other such traditions were being ignored or abused. Today, I worry that we might be watching the rise of illiberal democracy in the United States — something that should concern anyone, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump supporter or critic.
What we think of as democracy in the modern world is really the fusing of two different traditions. One is, of course, public participation in selecting leaders. But there is a much older tradition in Western politics that, since the Magna Carta in 1215, has centered on the rights of individuals — against arbitrary arrest, religious conversion, censorship of thought. These individual freedoms (of speech, belief, property ownership and dissent) were eventually protected, not just from the abuse of a tyrant but also from democratic majorities. The Bill of Rights, after all, is a list of things that majorities cannot do.
In the West, these two traditions — liberty and law on the one hand, and popular participation on the other — became intertwined, creating what we call liberal democracy. It was noticeable when I wrote the essay, and even clearer now, that in a number of countries — including Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Iraq and the Philippines — the two strands have come apart. Democracy persists (in many cases), but liberty is under siege. In these countries, the rich and varied inner stuffing of liberal democracy is vanishing, leaving just the outer, democratic shell.
What stunned me as this process unfolded was that laws and rules did little to stop this descent. Many countries had adopted fine constitutions, put in place elaborate checks and balances, and followed best practices from the advanced world. But in the end, liberal democracy was eroded anyway. It turns out that what sustains democracy is not simply legal safeguards and rules, but norms and practices — democratic behavior. This culture of liberal democracy is waning in the United States today.
The Founding Fathers were skeptical of democracy and conceived of America as a republic to mitigate some of the dangers of illiberal democracy. The Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court, state governments and the Senate are all bulwarks against majoritarianism. But the United States also developed a democratic culture, formed in large part by a series of informal buffers that worked in similar ways. Alexis de Tocqueville called them “associations” — meaning nongovernmental groups such as choir societies, rotary clubs and professional groups — and argued that they acted to “weaken the moral empire of the majority.” Alexander Hamilton felt that ministers, lawyers and other professionals would be the “impartial arbiters” of American democracy, ensuring that rather than narrow, special interests, the society and its government would focus on the national interest.
The two prevailing dynamics in U.S. society over the past few decades have been toward greater democratic openness and market efficiency. Congressional decision-making has gone from a closed, hierarchical system to an open and freewheeling one. Political parties have lost their internal strength and are now merely vessels for whoever wins the primaries. Guilds and other professional associations have lost nearly all moral authority and have become highly competitive and insecure organizations, whose members do not — and probably cannot — afford to act in ways that serve the public interest. In the media — the only industry protected explicitly in the Constitution — a tradition of public interest ownership and management aspired to educate the public. Today’s media have drifted from this tradition.
I recognize that this is a romantic view of the role of these elites and hierarchical structures. Parts of the media were partisan and scandal-hungry from the start. Lawyers often acted in their own narrow interests; accountants regularly conspired in frauds. And those smoke-filled rooms with party bosses often made terrible decisions.
But we are now getting to see what American democracy looks like without any real buffers in the way of sheer populism and demagoguery. The parties have collapsed, Congress has caved, professional groups are largely toothless, the media have been rendered irrelevant. When I wrote a book about “illiberal democracy” in 2003, I noted that in polls, Americans showed greatest respect for the three most undemocratic institutions in the country: the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve and the armed forces. Today, the first two have lost much of their luster, and only the latter remains broadly admired.
What we are left with today is an open, meritocratic, competitive society in which everyone is an entrepreneur, from a congressman to an accountant, always hustling for personal advantage. But who and what remain to nourish and preserve the common good, civic life and liberal democracy?

Foreign Labor

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

Celebrating Narcissism

Friday, December 30, 2016


Winning The "War On Christmas"

The title above is a joke, of course. There is no war on christmas, and never has been. It was a fraudulent premise put forward by right-wingers to keep fundamentalists in the Republican fold. And it has been partially successful, with 34% of the population believing that fake war really exists (along with 57% of Republicans and 60% of Trump voters -- proving a majority of them have low brain function).

Fortunately, most Americans are smarter than that. About 51% of the public doesn't believe in a war on christmas. That gives me a little hope that maybe humanity is not doomed by its own stupidity.

This chart was made from information in a Public Policy Polling survey -- done on December 6th and 7th of a random national sample of 1,224 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 points.

Escaping 2016

Political Cartoon is by Christo Komarnitski at

The 10 Most Significant Historic Events In Our Lifetime

I thought this survey from the Pew Research Center was interesting. It was done between June 16th and July 4th of a random national sample of 2,025 adults, and has a margin of error of 2.3 points. Respondents were asked to name the 10 most significant historic events in the lifetime. The chart above shows the results for the population in general -- and the charts below show the results according to generation, race/ethnicity, political preference, gender, region, education, and income level.

Who Cares ?

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at

U.S. Abstains From Security Council Vote On Israel

The map above (from is of the West Bank -- land that belongs to the Palestinian people. But, through the continued building of illegal settlements and building of a wall, Israel now controls most of the land (brown areas on the map). It is obvious that Israel has no intention of allowing a "two-state solution" which would require them to give this land back to the Palestinians. Instead, they are boldly and illegally attempting to steal this land and increase the size of their country.

The world knows this (with the exception of right-wing Israeli apologists in the United States) and has attempted many times to condemn this in the United Nations. The United States has always vetoed those resolutions (thereby becoming an accessory in Israel's land theft).

That changed a few days ago. A Security Council resolution condemning the illegal building of settlements passed on a 14 to 0 vote. It passed because the United States, for the first time, did not veto it. Instead, they simply abstained. Finally, the United States felt a moral obligation to stop defending the building of the illegal settlements.

After the U.N. vote, Secretary of State John Kerry gave an important speech that laid out U.S. policy. You can read a full transcript of that speech in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, but I have posted some interesting excerpts from it below:

Throughout his administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which I’ve worked on intensely during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. . . .

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the US friendship means the US must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles -- even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect. Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week: “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond that the United States, did in fact vote "in accordance with our values," just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council. They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values -- or even the stated democratic values of Israel -- and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel -- if we allow a viable two state solution to be destroyed before our eyes. And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the UN was about preserving the two state solution. . . .

On this point, I want to be very clear. No American Administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli Prime Minister himself has noted our unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy. Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic 38 billion dollar Memorandum of Understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the U.S. has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting edge missile defense, and sustain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge for years to come. . . .

Despite our best efforts over the years, the two state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground –violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation – are destroying hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want. Today, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both –and it won’t ever really be at peace. . . .

Allies of both sides are content to reinforce this “with us or against us mentality” where too often anyone who questions Palestinian actions is an apologist for the occupation and anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy is cast as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That’s one of the most striking realties about the current situation: This critical decision about the future – one state or two states -- is effectively being made on the ground every day, despite the expressed opinion of the majority of the people. The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation, but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. . . .

Let’s be clear: settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel’s security; many settlements actually increase the security burden on the IDF. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations. Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They are often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed to make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts, and since 2011, nearly one third have been – or are being – legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them. Now, leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of the outposts. . . .

Now you may hear that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers who don’t want to leave can just stay in Palestine, like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point: the Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel’s laws. Does anyone really believe the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine? Likewise, some supporters of the settlements argue that the settlers could just stay in their settlements, and remain as Israeli citizens in their separate enclaves in the middle of Palestine, protected by the IDF. There are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier, many located in places that would make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Does anyone seriously think that if they just stay where they are you could still have a viable Palestinian state? . . .

How would Israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from Palestinians demanding a right to vote, or widespread protests and unrest across the West Bank? How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals? Nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions because there aren’t any. . . .

Common interests in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities and fighting extremists as well as diversifying their economies have created real possibilities. I have spent a great deal of time with key Arab leaders exploring this, and there is no doubt that they are prepared to have a fundamentally different relationship with Israel. That was stated n the Arab Peace Initiative, and all my recent conversations have confirmed their readiness, in the context of Israeli-Palestinian peace, not just to normalize relations -- but to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. Many have shown a willingness to support serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to take steps on the path to normalization of relations – including public meetings -- providing there is meaningful progress towards a two state solution. That is a real opportunity that should not be missed. . . .

In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interests to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. We may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. And it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies. . . .

We must not lose hope in the possibility of peace. We must not give in to those who say what is now must always be, that there is no chance for a better future. Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to make the difficult choices for peace – and if they are, we can all help. And for the sake of future generations of Israelis and Palestinians, for all the people of the region, and for the United States, let’s hope they are prepared to make those choices now.

2017 Is Born

Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at

Willfull Ignorance

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rumors / Facts

5 Charts Showing The Failure Of "Trickle-Down" Economics

These charts are from the Economic Policy Institute. They published their 13 best charts of 2016, and all of them are interesting. I picked these five charts to show you because they illustrate how disastrous the Republican "trickle-down" economic policy (initiated about 1980 and carried forth by Republicans since then) has been for most Americans.

The GOP's economic policies have been great for the top 1%, and even better for the top 0.1% -- but they have not been good for the rest of the American population. And while the wage growth has been very poor for most workers, it has been disastrous for minimum wage workers.

The policy needs to be changed, but that is not going to happen. Donald Trump is a big believer in the GOP's trickle-down economic policy, and he wants to put that policy on steroids (with much bigger giveaways to the rich than either Reagan or Bush II was able to do).

The workers who voted for Trump, believing he had their interests at heart, are in for a rude awakening. The rich will get much richer, while the workers will continue to struggle to keep up with inflation -- and the wage and income gap between the rich and the rest of America will continue to grow wider.


Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

Obama And Clinton Are "Most Admired" By U.S. Public

The Gallup Poll has done its annual survey on which living man and woman is most admired by the general public in the United States. This year there was no change in the man and woman most admired. It was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump's supporters were able to get him into second place -- 7 points behind President Obama. Michelle Obama finished second among women -- 4 points behind Hillary Clinton. I have included on these charts every person that was able to gather at least 1%.

The survey was done between December 7th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,028 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Elizabeth Warren Promises "To Keep Fighting My Heart Out"

(Photo of Senator Elizabeth Warren is from

This is Senator Elizabeth Warren's latest message to her supporters:

Donald Trump isn’t fighting for working people. He’s just handing over the keys to government to the same corporate insiders who took care of themselves, then crashed the economy for everyone else.

Yes, Trump will take the White House, but a majority of Americans voted against Donald Trump and his reckless policies. Even huge numbers of people who did vote for Trump don’t support dismantling the Affordable Care Act, privatizing Medicare and Social Security, or gutting Wall Street regulations.

Our agenda is still America’s agenda – and fighting for that agenda is more important than ever.

We know what it’s like to go into a big fight when the odds are stacked against us. When I came up with the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to get the tricks and traps out of mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products, a lot of good people told me we would never be able to beat the Wall Street lobbyists.

The financial industry spent more than a million dollars a day to defeat Wall Street reform and the new consumer agency. But we got organized, we made every nickel we had count, and we fought like there was no tomorrow. The American people made their voices heard – and today, the CFPB has already forced the big financial institutions to return nearly $12 billion directly to the people they cheated. 

We know what we are fighting for:
  • We will NOT let them gut the rules on Wall Street or weaken the CFPB.
  • We will NOT let them privatize Social Security and Medicare.
  • We will NOT let them completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
  • We will NOT let them weaken workers’ rights to good pay, decent benefits and the right to organize for better conditions.
  • We will NOT let them cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations.
  • We will NOT let them cut investments in education, infrastructure, or medical research.
  • We will NOT let them poison our air and water and destroy our planet.
  • We will NOT let them rip apart families or build Trump’s stupid wall.
  • And we will NOT them legalize hate and bigotry against African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, women, or LGBT Americans.   
We will fight them whenever and wherever we need to fight them. We will fight them with more energy, more passion and more determination than ever before because the fights to come are going to decide who we are as a people, and what kind of country we will be.

I’m going to keep fighting my heart out – but I can’t do it alone. You make all of our fights – and all of our victories – possible because this is your fight, too.

Thank you for being a part of this,


(NOTE -- Any of you wishing to donate to Elizabeth Warren can go here.)

Swamp Critters

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at

A Laughing Stock

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Please Don't Go!

Biden Leads The Pack Of Possible 2020 Candidates

Most of you will probably think it's far to early to even be asking this question. I disagree. With Trump about to be sworn in as president, it can never be too early to start thinking about who can get him out of the White House in 2020. One Trump term will be disastrous for working Americans, and a second term is unthinkable.

Out of the top Democrats, Joe Biden leads the field with 31%, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 16%. The other Democrats are all currently in low single-digits.

Bernie Sanders is in second place with 24% (seven points behind Biden), but he still refuses to even call himself a Democrat -- and personally, I don't think anyone ashamed to proudly wear the Democratic label should run. If he runs as a Democrat in the 2018 Vermont Senate race, I could change my mind -- but I doubt he'll do that.

The chart above is from a recent survey by Public Policy Polling -- done on December 6th and 7th of a random national sample of 400 Democratic primary voters, and has a margin of error of 4.9 points.

Change ?

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

The 2016 Election "By The Numbers"

(This graphic image is by DonkeyHotey.)

From the Center for Public Integrity:

304: Number of Electoral College Votes won by Republican President-elect Donald Trump
2.8 million: Number of votes by which Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the national popular vote
$2.17 billion: Estimated amount spent by the presidential candidates and groups supporting them in the 2016 White House race
$242 million: Amount by which Clinton's campaign out-raised that of Trump
$66.1 million: Amount Trump contributed to his 2016 presidential campaign from his own personal funds
$600 million: Amount Trump, in 2011, said he would personally spend on a presidential campaign
$30 million: Amount the National Rifle Association spent on ads aiding Trump in the presidential race
$1 million: Price of top-tier sponsorship package for a "sporting, shooting, fishing and conservation" charity event that promised access to Trump and his adult sons immediately after Trump's inauguration
2: Number of days it took for Trump and his sons to disavow the event after widespread criticism
$20.4 million: Amount billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, combined to give to pro-Trump super PACs and other groups backing Trump
$6.2 million: Amount former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon, who Trump picked to serve in his Cabinet as the Small Business Administration administrator, donated to pro-Trump political groups ahead of the election
33: Number of states that will be led by a Republican governor in 2017
3-to-1: Factor by which Team Clinton outgunned Team Trump on the TV airwaves during the general election
11: Percentage of TV ads sponsored by Team Clinton in Nevada during the general election that were in Spanish
Oct. 29: Date on which Clinton first aired general election campaign ads in Wisconsin, a state she ultimately lost to Trump by about 22,000 votes
$769,500: Top amount a single individual donor contributed to the Hillary Victory Fund, a committee that benefited Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and a host of state Democratic party committees
$47,300: Amount "James Bond" actor Daniel Craig donated in 2015 to a purportedly pro-Bernie Sanders super PAC founded by a man who was arrested by the FBI in 2016 for securities fraud
$250,000: Minimum contribution amount to Trump’s inaugural committeeneeded to secure tickets to an “elegant,” “candlelight dinner” in Washington, D.C., at which Donald and Melania Trump, as well as Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Karen Pence, are slated to make special appearances
$3.3 million: Combined amount that oil giant Chevron, the 14th-largest publicly traded company in America, donated during the 2015-2016 election cycle to two super PACs focused on helping Republicans maintain control of Congress
$3.1 trillion: Estimated market capitalization of companies represented at tech company meeting in December with Trump
$2,403,082: Amount Google, Facebook and Amazon employees together gave to Clinton’s presidential campaign
$36,511: Amount they gave to Trump’s campaign
8,000: Approximate square footage of space Trump's organization rented during the late 1990s and early 2000s to an Iranian bank linked to terrorism financing
96: Percentage of campaign donations made by identifiable journalists that went to Clinton (versus Trump) through August
30: Number of days Clinton said it would take her, as president, to propose a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision
$450,000: Combined amount of money two pro-Clinton super PACs were forced to return because of questions about the legality of the contributions
49: Number of donors to a pro-Trump super PAC that had their credit card information erroneously published by the group in a federal document
$14.7 million: Estimated amount pot proponents spent on state ballot measure TV ads to boost legal marijuana
$60: Price of ceramic marijuana pipes made by a Bernie Sanders supporter in Oregon, which featured his campaign’s logo
6: Minimum number of current U.S. Supreme Court justices who are millionaires
1: Minimum number of Democratic U.S. Senate candidates to whom Trump campaign finance chairman and Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin donated to this year