Wednesday, February 28, 2018

NRA - The Enabler Of Death

CNN Poll Shows Dems Have A Healthy Lead Among Voters

These new numbers from the latest CNN / SSRS Poll should encourage Democrats. It shows they have a 16 point lead over Republicans among registered voters (54% to 38%). And their voters are more enthusiastic about voting this year (52% to 40%).

Of course, this means nothing if Democrats think they have it won and don't bother to vote.

The CNN / SSRS Poll was done between February 20th and 23rd of 909 registered voters nationwide, and has a margin of error of 3.9 points.


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

Americans Are Not Happy With Efforts To Protect Elections

Overall, how concerned are you about :

How confident are you that each of the following is doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future U.S. elections:

The charts above are from a new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between February 20th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,016 adults, with a 3.7 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Randy Bush at

Trump Puts Foot In Mouth And Declares Himself A Hero

When he met with some of the nation's governors about gun violence, Donald Trump made an extremely stupid comment. He said if he had been at the high school in Parkland, Florida, he would have entered the school even if he didn't have a weapon.

I don't think much needs to be said about his comment, since I doubt anyone (including most of his supporters) actually believes it is true. But it did produce some rather humorous memes on social media. Here are some of my favorites.

Arm Chair Hero

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

What Kind Of Country Do You Want To Live In ?

Since Donald Trump was sworn in, he has attempted to take America back to what he calls a "great America" -- a return to an unchallengeable gun culture, more misogyny, and more racism. But his moves have also created a backlash by many Americans. They don't want to see less rights, more guns, and more autocracy.

Here is former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's commentary on Trump (and the backlash):

When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?
Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians. 
Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors. 
Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders. 
Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty. 
But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law. 
We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.” 
That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 
It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.” 
That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.
It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work. 
These ideals compelled us to join together for the common good – not pander to bigotry or divisiveness, or fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions. 
The idea of a common good was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the U.S. Constitution was designed for “We the people” seeking to “promote the general welfare” – not for “me the narcissist seeking as much wealth and power as possible.” 
Yet the common good seems to have disappeared. The phrase is rarely uttered today, not even by commencement speakers and politicians. 
There’s growing evidence of its loss – in CEOs who gouge their customers and loot their corporations; Wall Street bankers who defraud their investors; athletes involved in doping scandals; doctors who do unnecessary procedures to collect fatter fees; and film producers and publicists who choose not to see that a powerful movie mogul they depend on is sexually harassing and abusing women. 
We see its loss in politicians who take donations from wealthy donors and corporations and then enact laws their patrons want, or shutter the government when they don’t get the partisan results they seek.
And in a president of the United States who has repeatedly lied about important issues, refuses to put his financial holdings into a blind trust and personally profits from his office, and foments racial and ethnic conflict.
This unbridled selfishness, this contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality, is eroding America.
Without binding notions about right and wrong, only the most unscrupulous get ahead. When it’s all about winning, only the most unprincipled succeed. This is not a society. It’s not even a civilization, because there’s no civility at its core. 
If we’re losing our national identity it’s not because we now come in more colors, practice more religions, and speak more languages than we once did. 
It is because we are forgetting the real meaning of America – the ideals on which our nation was built. We are losing our sense of the common good. 

Trump/NRA Dream Schools

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at

Since When ?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Not Hard To Understand

Texas Early Voting Numbers After 6 Days of Voting

The chart above shows the results by party (and combined) of Texas early voting after 6 days in the 15 largest counties (which have about 66% of the states registered voters). The numbers are from the office of the Texas Secretary of State.

It shows that voters are enthused about the 2018 election. After six days in 2014 (the last off-year election), 256,982 people had voted. In 2018, that total is 363,962 -- a difference of 106,980. The Republicans have increased their vote by 21,435, but most of the increase in early voting is due to more Democrats voting The Democratic vote has increased by 85,545.

For the first time in years, Texas Democrats are enthused. They are voting in numbers that suggest they now believe they can win. After 6 days, 186,796 Democrats have voted and 177,166 Republicans have voted -- a difference of 9,630 voters.

Brick By Brick

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

Poll Shows Nation Identifies More With The Democratic Party

These charts were made with numbers from the Gallup Poll. The top chart shows the people who identify as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents between 2004 and 2018. The second chart includes those who lean toward one party or the other in the same time period. The third chart shows just the last 13 months (since Trump was sworn in). Note that recently there has been a sharp move toward the Democratic Party and away from the Republican Party -- and Democrats enjoy a 15 point advantage (50% to 35%) when leaners are included.

Russian "Doll"

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

Study Shows Trump's Claim Of Criminal Immigrants Is A LIE

Donald Trump campaigned on an allegation that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, were a danger to the American society. He claimed that Mexico was "sending" us their worst people -- criminals, murderers, and rapists.

That is simply not true. First, Mexico is not sending anyone. Those who come do so on their own, and do it to better themselves and their families. And those who do come commit far fewer crimes than American citizens do. That latter thing is verified by a new study of crime and immigrants in Texas (a state with one of the largest undocumented immigrant population).

You can access the study on the website of the Cato Institute. This organization is certainly no liberal mouthpiece. It is a far right (libertarian) organization. The study uses data compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The charts above illustrate the findings of the study. Note that undocumented immigrants trail citizens (on a per capita basis) in arrests for all crimes, convictions for all crimes, convictions for murders, convictions for sexual assaults, and convictions for larceny.

The truth is that immigrants (documented or undocumented) do NOT commit more crimes than citizens. They commit far less crimes. Even the far right knows that.

Fake Hero

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson.

Silencing Opposition Creates Fear

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Abusers

Donald Trump Continues His Failed North Korea Policy

(This photo of Ivanka Trump, from Wikipedia, is by Michael Vadon.)

The words in the photo here are from Ivanka Trump, as she met with South Korean officials after arriving to attend the Olympic closing ceremony.  Even though North Korea has expressed a desire for face-to-face negotiations with the United States, it seems that the Trump administration is interested only in continuing its failed policy of sanctions and threats.

A few days ago, Trump announced new sanctions had been applied against North Korea -- this time against 27 entities and 28 vessels that he believes have been helping North Korea avoid previous sanctions.

Trump still seems to think that if he can levy enough sanctions (coupled with threats) against North Korea, they will finally be desperate enough to abandon their nuclear weapons program. In other words, he thinks he can starve them into compliance.

What he doesn't seem to realize is that surrender is not the only option available to a desperate North Korea. They could (and probably would) choose to attack South Korea to get the needed resources. Chinese and Russian leaders are smarter than Trump. That's why they are helping North Korea to avoid the sanctions just enough to stave off such desperation, and they will continue to do that.

Trump though seems to relish the idea of war with North Korea. He said on Friday that if his new sanctions didn't work, he might have to go to "plan 2" (which he described as being very bad for the world). Does he think he could get away with a military strike against North Korea? If so, then he's very stupid. North Korea would retaliate -- most likely against South Korea. Hundreds of thousands would die and a new war would be started.

And he shouldn't even dream of forcing a regime change in North Korea. China would never allow that. They don't want a Western-style and Western-oriented government on their border -- and they will once again send troops into Korea to prevent it.

North Korea has nuclear weapons. That is just a fact. And they are not going to give them up -- regardless of threats and sanctions. No nation that has developed nuclear weapons has ever given them up, especially since their enemies still have them -- and North Korea is not going to be the first. North Korean leaders believe they must have those nuclear weapons to protect themselves. They have seen what happens to non-nuclear countries when the U.S. is unhappy with them (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), and they think they can avoid that same fate by having nuclear weapons.

If North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons, does that mean nothing can be done? No. They have indicated a willingness to negotiate, and we should take them up on that. At the very least, we could hopefully work out a "no first use" of nuclear weapons treaty with them -- and that would be better than the current situation.

Unfortunately, Trump is unlikely to use diplomacy to make the situation better. Diplomacy and negotiating are not his strong suits. He prefers threats and heavy-handed actions (probably because he's not really very bright). North Korea is just one reason why we must vote in a Democratic Congress this year to rein in Trump -- and then vote him out of office in 2020.


Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

New Poll Has Trump Job Approval At Only 35%

The charts reflect the job approval numbers of Donald Trump in the latest CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between February 20th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,016 adults, with a margin of error of 3.7 points.

Trump remains an extremely unpopular president -- posing a dilemma for Republicans running for re-election in November. Do they run away from him and face possible punishment from their base in the primaries, or embrace him and face punishment from the general public in November?

Russian Doping

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Supreme Court Will Hear Case Attacking Unions This Week

This week, the Supreme Court will hear a very important case on unions, and their right to collect fees from all workers that benefit from the union's collective bargaining. It is Janus vs. AFCME.

The case has been brought and is being funded by several organizations that claim to protect worker rights. But make no mistake -- these organizations were created, and are being funded, by billionaire corporatists (like the Koch brothers). Their main purpose is not to protect workers, but to weaken and eventually destroy unions.

A previous case, Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, upheld the right of public-sector unions to collect a fee from non-union employees, because those employees enjoy all the rights and benefits that the union's collective bargaining has achieved -- and it is only fair that they should pay for some of the expense of achieving those benefits.

Janus is an effort by corporations to overturn Abood, and to damage unions. It is one more step in the decades-long war on labor unions.

Here is a small part of an excellent article from the Economic Policy Institute about the case. I hope it helps you understand the importance of it:

Janus v. AFSCME District Council 31

On February 9, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive orderinstructing all state agencies to stop enforcing fair share union contract provisions and required that all such deductions be placed into an escrow account instead of being turned over to unions representing those workers. That same day, Governor Rauner filed suit in district court challenging the constitutionality of public-sector unions’ collection of fair share fees from nonmembers. The unions moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing. While those motions were pending, Mark Janus and two other state employees filed a motion to intervene in the case. On May 19, 2015, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing to file suit and granted Janus permission to intervene.
The plaintiffs in Janus are attempting to pick up where Friedrichs left off, and are making the same argument that was addressed over 40 years ago in Abood. As in other cases challenging the collection of fair share fees, the plaintiffs in Janus have acknowledged that they could not prevail in the district or appellate court, which are bound by the Supreme Court precedent in Abood. As a result, the case has been rushed through the courts. On June 6, 2017, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the case (a document filed by the losing party in a case asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court). The Supreme Court granted the petition on September, 28, 2017, and will hear oral arguments in the case on February 26, 2018.

How fair share fees work

Just like in any democratic institution, when a majority of employees in a bargaining unit choose to be represented by a union, the union then becomes the exclusive bargaining representative of all workers in the unit. The union has a responsibility to represent all workers in the unit, union members and employees who decide not to join the union alike, and the employer has a duty to bargain with the union over employees’ wages and working conditions. Unions may bargain to include union security agreements, which allow them to collect fair share fees (also known as “agency” fees) from employees who do not join the union but are part of the bargaining unit (employees in a bargaining unit but not union members are referred to as nonmembers). Nonmembers’ fair share fees cover the union’s expenses related to collective bargaining and contract administration, but not expenses for political or ideological advocacy. These fair share or agency fees ensure that every employee represented by the union simply pays her fair share of the cost of representation. The fees are calculated as a percentage of union dues. Fair share fees can only fund activities related to collective bargaining and contract administration and are expressly prohibited from funding the union’s political advocacy.

How fair share fees prevent “free riding”

A union is required to represent a nonmember worker who is mistreated by the employer as the nonmember pursues a costly grievance process, even if it costs the union tens of thousands of dollars. Fair share fees enable the union to charge nonmember workers for the right to access that service if they need it. Without the ability to collect fair share fees, the nonmember worker could access these expensive representation services without having paid a dime.
Workers who choose not to pay union dues also receive the higher wages and benefits that the union negotiates on behalf of its members. Eliminating fair share fees encourages “free riding”: workers paying union dues see coworkers who are paying nothing but getting the same benefits, and they decide to leave the union and stop paying union dues. Public-sector unions have worked for decades to protect the rights of the teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants that communities depend on. Taking away unions’ ability to collect fair share fees—while they are nonetheless required to provide services and representation to nonmembers—would threaten the very existence of unions by weakening their financial stability.
The possibility that workers could decide not to pay for the union benefits they receive if fair share fees are outlawed does not mean that they do not value these benefits. This proposition was explained in an amici curiae brief to assist the Supreme Court in understanding the free-rider problem at issue in Janus v. AFSCME, which was signed by 36 distinguished economists and professors of economics and law, including three Nobel laureates. The scholars explained that the free-rider problem is a well-established concept in economics. In particular, the brief shows it is widely accepted that if an individual chooses not to pay for a resource provided to him or her for free, it does not mean the individual does not value the resource, and that when individuals who benefit from a resource do not pay for it, the resource will be underprovided.

Greed Over Lives

Political Cartoon is by Arcadio Esquivel in La Prensa.

20 Lies The Trumpistas Believed

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Stage Is Too Big

Interesting Financial Numbers In Texas U.S. Senate Race

Here's a little more evidence that the Texas race for the U.S. Senate could be closer than some people think. We already know that Texas Democrats are enthused about voting this year, and that Ted Cruz is not very popular in Texas (running on GOP ticket is what's saving him so far). Now we see the campaign finance results for the first six weeks of 2018.

From January 1st through February 14th, Democrat Beto O'Rourke received $2.3 million in campaign donations -- far more than Republican Ted Cruz, who only raised $800,000. During that same period, O'Rourke spent $2 million and Cruz spent $1.2 million.

But perhaps most interesting is that the Democrat is not that far behind Cruz in cash on hand, even though Cruz started with a fat campaign chest. O'Rourke has $4.9 million and Cruz has $6 million.

If the campaign giving for O'Rourke continues to exceed expectations (and there's no reason why it wouldn't), then he will be in better position financially than any other Democratic senate candidate in quite a while. Combine that with his personality and his being a great campaigner, and O'Rourke could run Cruz a close race -- and maybe even win (if Democrats turn out their vote in November).

I'm getting cautiously excited about this race.

Dirty And Greedy

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Trump Orders His Military Parade Be Held On Veterans Day

(Cartoon image is by Dicky Neely at Laguna Madre Blues.)

Donald Trump is jealous of the world's autocrats. They get to have a military parade to show off their power and control, while American presidents have not done that (and that offends Trump's narcissism). He asked the military to arrange a parade in Washington (DC) to allow him to review our military power.

The problem Trump has is that the American public doesn't want his military parade (see chart below). Majorities of all voters, both genders, all ages, and all races/ethnicities all are opposed to the parade. They don't want to copy tyrants like Kim Jong-Un, and think such a parade doesn't display strength (but weakness). Everyone knows the U.S. has the strongest military in the world, and showing it off in a parade doesn't enhance that view.

Trump doesn't care what Americans want though. He has ordered his military to have one anyway. But to disguise his narcissistic desire, he has set the date for the parade as November 11th -- Veterans Day. He will try to pass of his vulgar display of narcissistic power as a tribute to veterans.

Americans don't oppose parades honoring our veterans (and neither do I). But those parades should actually be made up mainly of veterans and tributes to veterans -- not missiles, tanks, and other weapons of war.

Trump has already shown us he doesn't like diplomacy, and indeed, doesn't have the intelligence and sensitivity to effectively engage in it. Trump is a bully, and his military parade is just another of his efforts to bully the world into cooperating with what he wants. It won't work. It'll just make this country look petty and ridiculous.

The chart below is from a recent Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 16th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,249 voters, with a 3.4 point margin of error.