Friday, July 31, 2020
The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll -- done between July 24th and 26th of a national sample of 1,997 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
In past elections, it has been important that the presidential candidate pick the right running mate. In 1960, John Kennedy needed a Southerner to balance his ticket to get broad support across the country. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed a northern liberal to do the same. The vice-presidential picks in those elections worked well -- and both Kennedy and Johnson scored election victories.
It has also been important that the right choice for veep be competent. In 2008, John McCain chose an unknown to be his veep, and she turned out to be a disaster. It seriously hurt his campaign, and he lost.
2020 is different. As the chart above shows, it probably doesn't matter who Joe Biden chooses. The poll looked at 12 different women (Biden has said he would choose a woman) that are believed to be being considered by Biden. Not that the numbers are very close for every one of them to run with Biden. Some are not as well known as others, but none of them would hurt (or help) Biden.
Why is this?
It is because this election is nothing more than a referendum on Donald Trump. Voters either want to keep Trump in the White House or kick him out of it -- and it really doesn't matter who the Democratic presidential or vice-presidential nominee is.
Trump would like it to be an election of opposing ideologies or cultural values, but it isn't. Voters will either love Trump and want to keep him, or they will consider him to be incompetent and corrupt and want to dump him. And the only way to dump Trump is to vote Democratic.
For political junkies like myself, Biden's choice will be interesting. But it likely doesn't matter to most voters.
From The New York Times:
Economic output fell at its fastest pace on record last spring as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses across the United States to close their doors and kept millions of Americans shut in their homes for weeks.
Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of goods and services produced — fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said Thursday. On an annualized basis, the standard way of reporting quarterly economic data, G.D.P. fell at a rate of 32.9 percent.
The collapse was unprecedented in its speed and breathtaking in its severity. The only possible comparisons in modern American history came during the Great Depression and the demobilization after World War II, both of which occurred before the advent of modern economic statistics.
Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans would like you to believe the economy is ready to bounce back -- even better than before. That is not true!
This is an economy in deep trouble -- more trouble than most Americans have seen in their lifetimes. And it won't be fixed by reopening businesses and schools. That will just help to spread the Coronavirus, and the economy cannot begin to heal until the virus is brought under control -- which the country is not even close to doing.
We cannot expect the GDP numbers to magically bounce back in the third quarter either. We are already one month into the third quarter, and the virus is still raging across the country. It is likely that the third quarter GDP will look as bad as the second quarter does.
This is going to be an extended recession, and anyone expect the economy to quickly bounce back is living in a dream world. Many small businesses will not recover from the recession, and many workers will be left without jobs even after the virus is controlled. The Bush recession took well over a year for the economy to recover, and even longer for many Americans to recover their own financial position. The Trump Recession could last even longer.
We should remember that the Trump recession didn't have to happen. If Trump had acted quickly and competently once notified of the Coronavirus (like Obama did after learning of Ebola), the economy might not have even had to be shut down. But Trump delayed doing anything for far too long, and then did not do enough. That continues to be the case.
The Labor Department released its statistics on new unemployment claims yesterday. It showed that another 1,434,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending 7/25. It marked the 19th week in a row that more than a million people filed for unemployment benefits -- and the second week in a row that the number of filers has increased over the previous week. The economy is not getting better, as Trump would like you to believe -- it's getting worse.
Here is the official statement from the Labor Department:
In the week ending July 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,434,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 6,000 from 1,416,000 to 1,422,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,368,500, an increase of 6,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,750 from 1,360,250 to 1,362,000.
Shortly before his death, John Lewis (American hero and Civil Rights icon) wrote this essay. It was his final words to the people of the country he loved. The New York Times printed it on the day of his funeral, as he had requested. It should be read by every American. I post it below for those of you who may not have access to The New York Times.
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.
Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.
Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
The charts above are from the Kaiser Family Foundation Poll -- done between July 14th and 19th of a national sample of 1,313 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.
Donald Trump and the Republicans want to reopen the schools in the United States, and Trump has even threatened to cut funding for schools that don't reopen. They know that reopening the schools is critical to getting parents back to work -- and they value the economy over the health and lives of American citizens.
But the American public disagrees. They want the virus under control before sending their students back into what could be very dangerous schools. About 60% say we have yet to see the worst from the virus, and 63% say it would be better to delay the school openings. They are worried about the safety of both students and teachers, and they fear students will bring the virus home to their families.
They are right!
The charts above reflect the results of a new CNBC / Change Research Poll -- done between July 24th and 26th of a swing-state sample (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) of 2,565 likely voters, with a 1.9 point margin of error.
The Democrats in the House passed a new stimulus plan. It would give citizens another $1200 check, provide monetary relief for state and local governments, continue the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit, and deny legal protection from businesses that bring workers back in a dangerous situation.
The Republicans in the Senate revealed their plan a couple of days ago. They would also give another round of $1200 checks to citizens, but then their plan takes a different path. They would not provide monetary relief for state and local governments, would not continue the $600 enhanced unemployment benefits (cutting it to $200 and quickly reducing that to three-fourths of the worker's pay), and would protect corporations from legal cases from workers who get sick after being called back to work.
A quick look at the charts above shows the voters (at least in the important swing states) prefer the Democratic plan over the Republican plan. It's almost as if the Republicans don't want to win the November election!
Republicans still cling to the idea that if they can just get workers back on the job, the economy will quickly bounce back. That's not going to happen. The economy can't recover until the Coronavirus is under control, and even then it's going to be a long tough recovery -- and it will be even longer if they fail to help workers hurting in this recession.
Donald Trump retweeted a video from Brietbart the other day. The video showed Stella Immanuel (and several other dubious people in doctor coats) claiming that masks are not necessary because hydoxychloroquine, with zinc and Zithromax, are a cure for COVID-19. I'm sure Trump retweeted that video because it says what he wants to believe. The problem is the video (and the claims in it) are NOT true. And the video, and Trump's retweet of it, did nothing but give false hope to those who still believe him -- and could very likely put their lives in danger!
Politifact investigated the claims, and found them to be FALSE. Here is what they had to say:
Millions of people, including the president of the United States, have seen or shared a video in which a doctor falsely claims there is a cure for the coronavirus, and it’s a medley starring hydroxychloroquine.
The video shows several doctors in white coats giving a press conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. It persists on social media despite bans from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and it was published by Breitbart, a conservative news site.
The July 27 event was organized by Tea Party Patriots, a conservative group backed by Republican donors, and attended by U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C.
In the video, members of a new group called America’s Frontline Doctors touch on several unproven conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most inaccurate claims comes from Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Houston-based primary care physician and minister with a track record of making bizarre medical claims, such as believing in alien DNA.
"This virus has a cure. It is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax," Immanuel said. "I know you people want to talk about a mask. Hello? You don’t need a mask. There is a cure."
As of July 27, nearly 150,000 Americans had died because of the coronavirus. Could those deaths have been prevented by a drug that’s used to treat lupus and arthritis?
No. Immanuel’s statement is wrong on several points.
‘This virus has a cure’
There is no known cure for COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific antiviral treatment for the virus. Supportive care, such as rest, fluids and fever relievers, can assuage symptoms.
"There is currently no licensed medication to cure COVID-19," according to the World Health Organization.
The cure is ‘hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax’
In spite of Immanuel’s anecdotal evidence, hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with other drugs is not a proven treatment (or cure) for COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved hydroxychloroquine for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. In mid-June, the FDA revoked its emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine and the related drug chloroquine in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
"It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks," FDA Chief Scientist Denise M. Hinton wrote.
The WHO and the National Institutes of Health have also stopped their hydroxychloroquine studies. Among the safety issues associated with treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine include heart rhythm problems, kidney injuries, and liver problems.
While some studies have found that the drug could help alleviate symptoms associated with COVID-19, the research is not conclusive. Few studies have been accepted into peer-reviewed journals. And large, randomized trials — the gold standard for clinical trials — are still needed to confirm the findings of studies conducted since the pandemic began.
In the video, Immanuel cited a 2005 study that found chloroquine — not hydroxychloroquine — was "effective in inhibiting the infection and spread of SARS CoV," the official name for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. But the drug was not tested on humans, the authors wrote that more research was needed to make any conclusions, and SARS is different from COVID-19.
‘You don’t need a mask’
Health officials advise everyone to wear masks in public.
The reason why has to do with how the coronavirus spreads. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they expel respiratory droplets containing the virus. Those droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.
Since some people infected with the coronavirus may exhibit no symptoms, public health officials say everyone should cover their faces in public — even if they feel well.
"The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces," according to the CDC.
In a viral video, Immanuel said there is a cure for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine can treat it and people don’t need to wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
All of those claims are inaccurate. There is no known cure for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine is not a proven treatment, and public health officials advise everyone to wear face masks in public.
Immanuel’s statement is False.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
This national election is starting to remind me a bit of the Texas election for governor in 1990. That year, the Republicans nominated Clayton Williams as their candidate, and most people thought he would easily sail to victory. But that was before he started talking. He started with a "joke" about how any woman who's being raped should just lay back and enjoy it. Then he made it worse every week with another outrageous pronouncement. He destroyed his own campaign, and the result was that Texas got a great Democratic governor -- Ann Richards.
Donald Trump is doing the same thing on a national level. All the Democrats had to do was nominate a decent candidate (Joe Biden), and then watch as Trump self-destructs -- and take many other Republicans down with him.
Donald Trump was already very unpopular with the public. His job approval ratings have been upside-down since he was sworn into office. Now he is just making things worse with his lying, incompetence, and outrageous actions -- especially his gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charts above are from a New York Times article by Lynn Vavreck and Christopher Warshaw. They did a study of polling, and they found that in the counties with the most Coronavirus deaths Donald Trump is losing support fast -- and the GOP senators are also losing support. The top chart shows the decline in support of Donald Trump in those counties, and the second chart shows the decline in support for Republican senators.
Trump can't blame Democrats (or China or anyone else) for this. It is wholly his doing -- and the American voters know it. Trump delayed reacting to the virus, allowing it to get a foothold in this country. Then he failed to provide enough testing. Compounding those terrible mistakes, he then urged states to reopen their economies -- even though the virus had not been controlled. The result has been the virus has infected over 4 million Americans and killed over 150,000 of them -- and there's no reason to believe that either will slow anytime soon.
Trump poor job approval was always going to make it tough for him to be re-elected. But his mishandling of COVID-19 is a classic example of self-destruction. Voters want a competent president who can control the virus and get the economy back on track. Every week, Trump shows them that he's not the person who can do that.
Biden and Democratic senate candidates don't have to look great to win -- just competent.
The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. They questioned 36,463 adults in the U.S. between June 23rd and July 6th, and the survey has a 1.4 point margin of error.
Donald Trump, and his Republican cohorts, have been trying to demonize the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. They want Americans to believe it is nothing by "Antifa" terrorists who are just trying to destroy the country. That is a lie and the public knows it.
As the charts show, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the public supports the protests. And a majority of 53% believe those protests will help the country to achieve racial justice.
The chart above reflects the results of the Morning Consult Poll for May, June, and July. It shows a three day average of national polling for those months of about 12,000 voters for each three days. The margin of error is only 1 point.
The chart shows that the Biden lead over Trump has been remarkably consistent over the three month period.
It does not! Trump just read the polls and got scared, so he's trying to show a bit softer view. But he hasn't changed. He's incapable of change. That would require he admit he was wrong, and he would never do that. He's just telling more lies to try and make himself look good, and some in the media fell for it (again).
Here's part of how Jennifer Rubin puts it in The Washington Post:
It has happened so many times that one wonders how reporters — like Charlie Brown running up to the football that Lucy snatches away every time — can keep trying to spot President Trump’s “change in tone.” They drag out the nonsensical analysis whenever Trump sounds slightly less paranoid, incoherent and narcissistic than usual.
Last Tuesday, many in the media charged up to the football once more, straining to perceive a change in tone when Trump admitted the coronavirus pandemic will get worse before it gets better and cheering mask-wearing, which he had assiduously mocked for months. (This was the same news conference in which he sent well wishes to accused child-sex-ring conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell.)
A week later, Trump said as he departed for North Carolina that he wouldn’t pay his respects to the late civil rights icon John Lewis. (We hope this finally puts to bed the hogwash about his outreach to African American voters, another trite media trope.) Once in North Carolina, Trump declared: "I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they are not opening. And we’ll see what happens with them.” Back to square one — the same deadly advice he has been doling out that contributed to the deaths of 145,000 Americans. . . .
Trump never changes because, as his niece and best-selling author Mary L.Trump has told one interviewer after another, he is incapable of self-reflection, admitting fault and growing as a person. The media’s fetish with “tone” seems to tell us more about the media than Trump. It is part of the mainstream media’s collective determination to avoid spelling out how irrational and impulsive he actually is. (If someone can change tone, he is capable of deliberate reflection and self-control, right?)
Trump never really shifts or changes; he never “grows into the job,” because he is emotionally damaged, his niece — a psychologist — says in her book. “Fred [Trump] destroyed Donald. ... [H]e short-circuited Donald’s ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotion," she writes. "By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”
We have routinely observed Trump and his Republican enablers trying to gaslight the country by asking us to disregard what is in front of our noses. But the mainstream media engages in its own gaslighting by disingenuously presenting Trump as a rational president. If the media were to let go of the “tone” change routine, it might have to eschew phony balance (“Trump said ‘X.’ Everyone outside the cult said, ‘Not X’”) for a stark and inarguably accurate portrait of a president whose temperament, intellect and character make him entirely unfit for his office and a threat to the republic. The media’s acknowledgment of the frightening reality we have lived with for four years will come, I suspect, only after Trump leaves office.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
The chart above reflects the results of the Gallup Poll. The poll asked 3,079 adults in May and June what they considered themselves to be politically, and their survey had a 2 point margin of error. They then compared the answers to those they got back in January and February.
At the beginning of this year, about 40% of the public said they were conservative. Currently, only 34% claim to be conservative. That's a drop of six points in the last six months. Those are people who no longer want to identify with Trump and the Republican officials (all of whom claim the conservative label).
Every demographic group showed a decline in people identifying as conservative -- including Republicans.
This is not good for the GOP only 100 days until the next election.
NOTE -- Moderates have gained in numbers over the same period -- from 34% to 36%. They now are a larger group than conservatives. Liberals also grew in numbers -- from 22% to 26%.
The chart above reflects the results of the latest CBS News / YouGov Poll -- done July 21st and 24th of a national sample of 2008 voters, with a 2.5 point margin of error.
The chart above reflects the results of the latest AP / NORC Poll -- done between July 16th and 20th of a national sample of 1,057 voters, with a 4.3 point margin of error.
The chart above reflects the results of the Echelon Insights Poll -- done between July 17th and 22nd of a national sample of 1,000 likely voters (no margin of error given).
The following is from the editorial board of The Washington Post. It is a sad, but true, commentary on the current government of this country.
NOT SO long ago, asylum seekers turned to the United States, seeking refuge from repressive states. Now the United States is one of those repressive states.
That’s the gist of a Canadian federal court ruling, which would scrap a 16-year-old bilateral treaty called the Safe Third Country Agreement, under which Canada and the United States each recognize the other as a safe place to seek refuge. Justice Ann Marie McDonald ruled that Canada’s practice of turning back third-country refugees who try to cross at official points of entry along the U.S.-Canada frontier — on the theory that they have already reached a safe harbor in the United States — no longer makes sense given the atrocious treatment to which they are subjected south of the border. Canada, she wrote, can no longer turn a blind eye to the reality that the United States denies decent and dignified treatment to asylum seekers.
Justice McDonald based her ruling partly on testimony from asylum seekers who described harrowing conditions of confinement in U.S. detention, to which they are automatically taken when turned back by Canada. One of them, a refugee from Ethiopia named Nedira Jemal Mustefa, recounted what she called a “terrifying, isolating and psychologically traumatic” experience at a “freezing” facility where she was held in upstate New York. Other testimony in the Canadian court provided evidence that detainees in U.S. facilities were denied access to counsel, phone calls and translators, and some were subjected to solitary confinement.
The judge found that the “accounts of the detainees demonstrate both physical and psychological suffering because of detention, and a real risk that they will not be able to assert asylum claims” in the United States.
None of this is surprising to advocates and others who have monitored the travails of asylum seekers, especially since President Trump took office. In the past two years, his anti-immigration policies have prompted more than 50,000 asylum seekers to cross into Canada outside official ports of entry, thereby skirting the treaty’s automatic-return provision — until the pandemic forced the border’s closing this spring. After arriving in Canada and undergoing security and medical screening, they have been allowed to work and receive basic benefits such as medical care as they await adjudication of their asylum claims.
Canada is among the United States’s closest allies; gratuitous America-bashing is not the norm there. That a Canadian judge would give a failing grade to this country’s commitment to human rights where they concern refugees is a damning rebuke.
Before her ruling takes effect, the judge gave the Canadian government six months to appeal, should it choose to do so. Until now, the treaty’s supporters have justified it on the grounds that it bars “asylum shopping” by refugees. The question facing the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is whether its neighbor to the south still adheres to what Western democracies regard as the basic standards of dignity and decency on which the original treaty was based.
The evidence suggests it does not.
Monday, July 27, 2020
This chart shows the percentage of Americans approving of how Trump is handling the Coronavirus epidemic in this country. In March, about 44% approved, but that has been declining steadily. Currently, only 32% of the public approves -- a huge drop of 12 points!
These numbers are from the AP / NORC Poll -- the latest being done on July 19th and 20th of a national sample of 1,057 adults, with a 4.3 point margin of error.
The charts above reflect the results of the new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between July 18th and 24th of 873 registered voters in Arizona, with a 3.8 point margin of error.
The charts above reflect the results of the new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between July 18th and 24th of 880 registered voters in Florida, with a 3.8 point margin of error.
The charts above reflect the results of the new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between July 18th and 24th of 927 registered voters in Michigan, with a 3.8 point margin of error.