Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Most Don't Expect To Know Winner On Election Night
The charts above reflect the results of the recent Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between September 25th and 27th of a national sample of 1,986 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
It shows that a plurality of voters (47%) don't expect to know the winner of the presidential election on election night.
A majority (65%) does expect to know within a week though (20% on election night, 19% on the next day, and 26% within a week).
Our Tax System Is Broken - Trump's Returns Prove It
Our tax system is broken, and has been since the Republicans gained enough power to institute their economic policy a few decades ago. They believe the rich should not have to pay as much in taxes as the rest of us.
They tell us that by allowing the rich to keep most of their money, through an unfair tax system, they will share that extra money with the rest of us. Of course that has never happened. The rich just fatten their own bank accounts, and nothing "trickles" down.
Our income tax system was originally designed to be progressive. It was intended to be that those who made the most should pay the most -- and that worked well for many years, creating a vibrant and growing middle class. That system benefitted everyone, including the poor and disadvantaged (who benefitted from government programs paid for through those taxes).
Sadly, that is no longer true (as Trump's tax returns have shown us). We must fix our broken system.
Here is a part of what the editorial board of The New York Times has to say about this:
The portrait of a man who earned hundreds of millions of dollars, lived a life of comic excess and yet, in many years, paid nothing in federal income taxes is an indictment of the federal income tax system. It illustrates the profound inequities of the tax code and the shambolic state of enforcement.
The government has sharply reduced the share of income that it collects in taxes from the wealthiest Americans. One recent study found that the 400 wealthiest households paid 70 percent of their total income in federal, state and local taxes in 1950, 47 percent in 1980 and 23 percent in 2018. The cuts in tax rates have come mostly at the federal level.
The government allows income to be sheltered from taxation for hundreds of different reasons, but real estate investors have long enjoyed a particularly sweet set of loopholes. A homeowner can write off the interest payments on a mortgage loan, but the owners of commercial buildings get a host of other benefits, too. It’s relatively easy for real estate investors to use past losses to offset income, to defer income and to avoid reporting some kinds of income. Best of all, the law lets investors claim a building is depreciating in value — a theoretical loss of money — even as the actual value increases. . . .
Moreover, the formidable complexity of the tax code makes it difficult to tell when wealthy taxpayers have crossed legal lines. For the rich, taxation often becomes a kind of structured negotiation between the taxpayer’s experts and the government’s experts.
It’s not a fair fight: The rich keep getting richer, while the Internal Revenue Service keeps getting smaller. Republicans in Congress have slashed funding for the I.R.S., stripping the agency of expertise, resources and authority. The number of I.R.S. auditors has fallen by one-third since 2010. The government employs fewer people to chase deadbeats than at any time since the 1950s.
The share of all tax returns subject to an audit declined by 46 percent from 2010 to 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Astonishingly, the decline was even steeper for millionaires — the audit rate fell 61 percent over the same period. . . .
On current trends, the federal government will fail to collect $7.5 trillion in taxes over the next decade — about 15 percent of the total amount owed.
Cracking down on rich tax cheats is law enforcement. It is a basic function of government to ensure that people are playing by the rules. Tax cheating is not a victimless crime. Every dollar hidden from the government is that much less money to spend on education, roads and research. The rich are benefiting at the expense of everyone else. . . .
Congress should restore every penny of funding stripped from the I.R.S. since 2010 — plus whatever is necessary for the agency to perform its critical work.
Paying taxes is a civic duty, and the government needs the money. Most Americans try to pay what they owe, even if they wish they owed less, and they take comfort in the assumption that most of their neighbors are conducting themselves in the same way.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Americans Are Opposed To Political Ads On Social Media
The charts above are from the Pew Research Center. They questioned 10,093 respondents between September 8th and 13th, and their survey has a 1.6 point margin of error.
It shows that a clear majority of Americans don't want political ads on their social media sites. In fact, only 26% believes those sites should run political ads while 54% believe they should not. And that extends across all age groups, party labels, and political ideologies.
They also don't like those social media sites using their data and online activity to target them for political ads.
Ignore The Little Man Behind The Curtain
Biden Is Leading In All The National Polls
The chart above is from RealClearPolitics. It shows the 14 most recent national polls on the presidential race. Note that Joe Biden is leading in all of them. The average of all those polls has Biden with a 6.8 point advantage (49.9% Biden to 43.1% Trump).
Paid More Than Trump
Trump Is A Tax Cheat Or A Terrible Businessman (Or Both)
The Tax Cheater
Political Cartoon is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post.
Monday, September 28, 2020
Biden Leads By 10 Points Thanks To Women Voters
The charts above reflect the results of the ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between September 21st and 24th of a national sample of 889 registered voters, with a 3.5 point margin of error.
The poll has Joe Biden with a 10 point lead over Donald Trump (53% to 43%). The lead is primarily due to gender. While Trump has a 13 point lead over Biden among men, Biden has a whopping 31 point lead over Trump among women.
Quid Pro Quo?
The Washington Post.
Barrett On The Court Will Undo Decades Of Progress
Thurgood Marshall was a giant, who had fought to increase the rights of American citizens his entire life. Clarence Thomas had tried to curb those same rights in his time on the court. While both men were Black, Clarence Thomas has never been, and never will be, the equal of Thurgood Marshall.
Now history seems to be repeating itself. Donald Trump says he is replacing one of the great female justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court with a woman. He seems to think that will placate the public. He is wrong. Justice Ginsburg, like Thurgood Marshall, was a warrior for citizen rights throughout her life. Amy Coney Barrett, if her past is to be believed, will work to undo all the accomplishments of Ginsburg. She will destroy decades of progress.
Here's just part of the excellent op-ed by Lara Bazelon in The New York Times on this subject:
President Trump’s promise to name a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18 at 87, was cynical and insulting to the millions of women who view the late Supreme Court justice as a feminist icon. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, praised the decision as a “powerful positive statement” to young women, who would embrace the president’s nominee as a “role model.” The message to women is clear: Nothing to see here, ladies! One of you is as good as any other.
But Mr. Trump’s pick, Amy Coney Barrett, is no Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Women aren’t gym socks, purchased in bulk so that a replacement can be seamlessly substituted into the rotation when one goes missing in the washing machine. The next Supreme Court justice will cast crucial votes that affect women’s fundamental rights, including the right to control their own bodies and to gain access to affordable health care for themselves and their families. The fact that President Trump’s nominee is a woman matters less if she does not support the causes at the heart of the long, continuing march for gender equality that Justice Ginsburg championed. . . .
Judge Barrett, who is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has impeccable intellectual credentials — and a record that stands in stark contrast to Justice Ginsburg’s. She has written that abortion is “always immoral,” and joined two dissents against decisions supporting the right to choose. One decision stopped the enforcement of a state law that would have required a minor — regardless of her maturity or family situation — to notify her parents of her decision to have an abortion, giving them veto power, unless a judge found this was not in her best interests.
The other decision struck down a state law banning abortions at any stage of pregnancy based on fetal disabilities, including those that were life-threatening. (The law also banned abortions based on race, ethnicity and gender.) Judge Barrett dissented from a ruling banning people with felony convictions from possessing firearms, and publicly criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for voting with the high court’s liberal bloc to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying he pushed the statute “beyond its plausible meaning” to save it.
Make no mistake: Judge Barrett’s confirmation will be the wrecking ball that finally smashes Roe v. Wade and undoes the Affordable Care Act. Her crucial vote on these cases and so many others will undo decades of the progress that Justice Ginsburg worked her whole life to achieve. . . .
Republicans would have us believe that ramming through Justice Ginsburg’s replacement less than two months before the election — and after denying President Obama, who had 11 months left in his second term, the chance to replace Justice Antonin Scalia — is fine and dandy because, well, the new justice is a woman. . . .
On her deathbed, Justice Ginsburg wrote that her “most fervent wish” was that a new justice would not be installed until after the election. It is a cold calculation by the president, a master misogynist, that the nomination of a woman, in and of itself, would be enough to soften any opposition to the ugliness of a rushed, hypocritical and nakedly political charade. Think again Mr. President: We aren’t stupid.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
COVID-19 Growth In Each State In The Last Week
These numbers are from The COVID Tracking Project.
The first number for each state is the number of cases they had on 9/19/20. The second number is the number of cases on 9/26/20 (one week later).
Alabama..........144164 -- 151591
Alaska..........7674 -- 8315
Arizona..........213551 -- 216826
Arkansas..........74082 -- 80755
California.........774135 -- 798237
Colorado..........63750 -- 67926
Connecticut.........55527 -- 56587
Delaware..........19449 -- 20156
District of Columbia..........14902 -- 15215
Florida..........681233 -- 698682
Georgia..........305021 -- 313873
Hawaii..........11217 -- 11891
Idaho..........36959 -- 39757
Illinois..........275054 -- 288815
Indiana..........110759 -- 116549
Iowa..........77058 -- 82944
Kansas..........52285 -- 56592
Kentucky..........61106 -- 66036
Louisiana..........161322 -- 165152
Maine..........5035 -- 5260
Maryland..........119744 -- 122972
Massachusetts..........127181 -- 130050
Michigan..........128087 -- 134373
Minnesota..........88721 -- 95659
Mississippi..........93087 -- 96677
Missouri..........111516 -- 122014
Montana..........10163 -- 11907
Nebraska..........40387 -- 43162
Nevada..........75419 -- 78355
New Hampshire..........7920 -- 8121
New Jersey..........199309 -- 202850
New Mexico..........27350 -- 28487
New York..........449038 -- 454760
North Carolina..........192248 -- 206090
North Dakota..........17607 -- 20380
Ohio..........143547 -- 150009
Oklahoma..........76804 -- 83510
Oregon..........30599 -- 32581
Pennsylvania..........149845 -- 155232
Rhode Island..........23620 -- 24181
South Carolina..........137240 -- 145273
South Dakota..........18444 -- 21133
Tennessee..........181439 -- 190891
Texas..........686068 -- 733438
Utah..........62852 -- 69547
Vermont..........1710 -- 1739
Virginia..........139655 -- 145408
Washington..........81602 -- 85226
West Virginia..........13874 -- 15158
Wisconsin..........105557 -- 120231
Wyoming..........4780 -- 5465
Virgin Islands..........1242 -- 1296
Puerto Rico..........40993 -- 45413
Guam..........2117 -- 2354
Peaceful Transfer Of Power?
A Majority Of Voters Think Trump Is A "Wimp"
The charts above reflect the results of the latest Emerson College Poll -- done on September 22nd and 23rd of a national sample of 1,000 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.
"I Am Ruth"
Ginsburg Was Motivated By Principle - McConnell By Power
on his blog. Once again, he hits the nail right on its head!
People in public life tend to fall into one of two broad categories – those who are motivated by principle, and those motivated by power.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday night at the age of 87, exemplified the first.
When he nominated her in 1993, Bill Clinton called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law,” comparing her advocacy and lower-court rulings in pursuit of equal rights for women with the work of the great jurist who advanced the cause of equal rights for Black people. Ginsburg persuaded the Supreme Court that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied not only to racial discrimination but to sex discrimination as well.
For Ginsburg, principle was everything – not only equal rights, but also the integrity of democracy. Always concerned about the consequences of her actions for the system as a whole, she advised young people “to fight for the things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, exemplifies the second category. He couldn’t care less about principle. He is motivated entirely by the pursuit of power.
McConnell refused to allow the Senate to vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, in March, 2016 – almost a year before the end of Obama’s term of office – on the dubious grounds that the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
McConnell’s move was a pure power grab. No Senate leader had ever before asserted the right to block a vote on a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
McConnell’s “principle” of waiting for a new president disappeared Friday evening, after Ginsburg’s death was announced.
Just weeks before one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history, when absentee voting has already begun in many states (and will start in McConnell’s own state of Kentucky in 25 days), McConnell announced: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
This is, after all, the same Mitch McConnell who, soon after Trump was elected, ended the age-old requirement that Supreme Court nominees receive 60 votes to end debate and allow for a confirmation vote, and then, days later, pushed through Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Ginsburg and McConnell represent the opposite poles of public service today. The distinction doesn’t depend on whether someone is a jurist or legislator – I’ve known many lawmakers who cared more about principle than power, such as the late congressman John Lewis. It depends on values.
Ginsburg refused to play power politics. As she passed her 80th birthday, near the start of Obama’s second term, she dismissed calls for her to retire in order to give Obama plenty of time to name her replacement, saying she planned to stay “as long as I can do the job full steam,” adding “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.”
She hoped others would also live by principle, including McConnell and Trump. Just days before her death she said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Her wish will not be honored.
If McConnell cannot muster the senate votes needed to confirm Trump’s nominee before the election, he’ll probably try to fill the vacancy in the lame-duck session after the election. He’s that shameless.
Not even with Joe Biden president and control over both the House and Senate can Democrats do anything about this – except by playing power politics themselves: expanding the size of the court or restructuring it so justices on any given case are drawn from a pool of appellate judges.
The deeper question is which will prevail in public life: McConnell’s power politics or Ginsburg’s dedication to principle?
The problem for America, as for many other democracies at this point in history, is this is not an even match. Those who fight for power will bend or break rules to give themselves every advantage. Those who fight for principle are at an inherent disadvantage because bending or breaking rules undermines the very ideals they seek to uphold.
Over time, the unbridled pursuit of power wears down democratic institutions, erodes public trust, and breeds the sort of cynicism that invites despotism.
The only bulwark is a public that holds power accountable – demanding stronger guardrails against its abuses and voting power-mongers out of office.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg often referred to Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous quote, that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.” Indeed.
Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Quinnipiac Poll Has Biden With A 10 Point Lead Over Trump
The charts above reflects the results of the newest Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between September 17th and 21st of a national sample of 1,302 likely voters, with a 2.7 point margin of error.
Back In Business
2 New Polls Say Nov 3rd Winner Should Pick New Justice
A few days ago, I showed you a Reuters / Ipsos Poll that showed most Americans want the winner of the November 3rd presidential election to choose the new Supreme Court justice -- the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now there are two new polls verifying that.
The ABC News / Washington Post Poll was done between September 21st and 24th of a national sample of 1,008 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.
The CNN / SSRS Poll was done on September 21st and 22nd of a national sample of 901 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.
Alone In The Wilderness
Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Public Views Democrats More Favorably Than Republicans
The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. They interviewed 1,019 adults between August 31st and September 13th, and the survey has a 4 point margin of error.
It shows the public views Democrats more favorably than Republicans by a 5 point margin (47% to 42%).
They also view Republicans as more extreme by that same 5 point margin.
Trump Threatens Election Process But Is Powerless To Do it
He wants to outlaw mail-in ballots, and if he can't do that, will claim the election was fraudulent. He has even suggested that he would refuse to peacefully transfer power if he loses the vote, and has suggested that GOP state legislatures ignore the wishes of voters in their state and pick a slate of Trump electoral college voters.
He has one problem. It's all bluster, because he doesn't have to power to alter voting (which is run by the separate states) or change electoral college slates (which are set by state law).
Here's part of what Teri Kanefield has to say about Trump's efforts in The Washington Post:
If you are Donald Trump, and your image is based on the claim that you are a winner, what do you do when every recent national poll has you losing and you’re heading for a likely electoral defeat? How do you energize your base and get them excited about voting if the media narrative is that you are losing? How do you stop people from talking about your failed pandemic policies, tapes showing that you lied to the American people, an economy in trouble and polls showing the Republicans are likely to lose their Senate majority?
You create a fiction: You tell the world that you are not losing, and that you have no intention of being defeated.
And so, on Wednesday, when a journalist asked President Trump if he would commit to making sure there’s a peaceful transfer of power after the election, Trump responded by saying, “We're going to have to see what happens. As you know I’ve been complaining about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.” (The ballots are not, in fact, a “disaster.”) He went on to say: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, there will be a continuation.” Not surprisingly, the spectacle of the U.S. president announcing to the world that he plans to get rid of ballots so that there won’t be a transfer of power triggered massive outrage.
But Trump doesn’t have the power to get rid of the ballots. Trump doesn’t control state elections. While he can certainly try to bring legal challenges, those challenges would need a legal basis. He probably won’t succeed in trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden if he loses. Trump is still doing what he always does: attempting to make his imaginary world — where he’s all-powerful and could only lose if his opponents cheat — into reality, in hopes of rallying his voters and panicking the rest of us.
The Trump campaign is already musing about finding ways for the president to steal the election. An anonymous legal adviser to Trump’s camp told the Atlantic’s Barton Gellman that Republican-controlled state legislatures are contemplating sending Trump-supporting slates of electors in for the electoral college vote count, even if Biden wins their states.
That isn’t as easy as it might sound. While the Constitution gives states the authority to allocate their electoral votes as they wish, every state has laws giving that power to the voters. For that matter, each state has laws for how their elections will be monitored and certified, and how the electoral votes will be cast. The legislature cannot suddenly reallocate that power without amending their laws. If they want to amend the laws, they have to follow their states’ procedures — which includes the possibility that governors could veto such legislation, which would certainly happen in a state such as Pennsylvania, which has a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor. Republicans there don’t have enough statehouse votes to override a veto. Similar problems would arise in other states. . . .
But Trump’s campaign wants Americans to think that Trump can, with the snap of his fingers, order state legislatures to defy their own laws — and that they’ll do it. . . .
Thus Trump creates a fantasy world in which he is an unstoppable winner, and his critics inadvertently lend credence to the fantasy by acting as if it is true.
This is not to say Trump is not dangerous. He is. This is not to say Trump would not willingly lie, cheat, steal, and even let more than 200,000 Americans die if he thought it would get him reelected. He would.
But he does not control elections in 50 states and the District of Columbia. He cannot get rid of ballots. He does not decide who won the election. He does not choose when he leaves the White House. And on top of that, he loses constantly. Did Mexico ever build that wall? Did Democrats not win the 2018 elections? If Trump could fix elections, Nancy Pelosi would not be speaker of the House. In Wisconsin’s special election just this past April, Trump threw his support behind Dan Kelly while the GOP did all it could to suppress the Democratic vote. Kelly still lost.
If we play into Trump’s hands and act as if he has the power to throw out votes and declare himself the winner of the election, we help give credence to the lie that he is all-powerful, and thus help create a reality based on Trump’s wishful thinking. The way to keep his fantasy from coming true is to avoid panicking and contributing to the hysteria — and to vote him out.
Over 200,000 Dead