Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Helping The Rich Is Not The Path To A Better Economy


 

Republicans Are NOT The Fiscally Responsible Party


The chart above shows the federal government's budget deficit in each year for the last seven presidents -- four Republicans and three Democrats. Note that the budget deficit rose during the presidencies of Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and Trump -- all Republicans. The deficit went down under the presidencies of Clinton, Obama, and Biden -- all Democrats.

The Republicans love to claim they are the fiscally responsible party. This chart shows that is simply not true. The budget deficit (and the economy in general) does better when a Democrat is in the White House. 

Monopoly Man

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day in FloridaPolitics.com.
 

The Updated FBI Hate Crime Statistics For 2020

The FBI has updated its hate crime statistics for 2020, and they released the results on October 25th.

Here is that release:

Today the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program released amended 2020 hate crime statistics about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation. Hate crime statistics for 2020 were originally released in August 2021. Due to a technical issue with submission, only partial Ohio data for 2020 were released. For that reason, modifications were made to Ohio’s hate crime data in the FBI’s database following the release. In turn, these updates affected the national hate crime totals. The updated 2020 data, submitted by 15,138 law enforcement agencies, provide information about the offenses, victims, offenders, and locations of hate crimes.

Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 8,263 criminal incidents and 11,129 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. Highlights of Hate Crime Statistics, 2020, follow. (Due to rounding, percentage breakdowns may not add to 100%.)

Victims of Hate Crime Incidents

  • There were 8,052 single-bias incidents involving 11,126 victims. A percent distribution of victims by bias type shows that 61.8% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 20.0% were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias, 13.3% were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias, 2.7% were targeted because of the offenders’ gender identity bias, 1.4% were victimized because of the offenders’ disability bias, and 0.7% were victimized because of the offenders’ gender bias.
  • There were 211 multiple-bias hate crime incidents that involved 346 victims.

Offenses by Crime Category

  • Of the 7,750 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.1% were for intimidation, 27.9% were for simple assault, and 17.9% were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two (22) murders and 21 rapes were reported as hate crimes. The remaining 32 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of other.
  • Of the 3,147 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, most (74.1%) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 25.9% of crimes against property.
  • Two hundred thirty-two (232) additional offenses were classified as crimes against society. This crime category represents society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity such as gambling, prostitution, and drug violations. These are typically victimless crimes in which property is not the object.

Known Offenders

  • In the UCR Program, the term known offender does not imply that the suspect’s identity is known; rather, the term indicates that some aspect of the suspect was identified, thus distinguishing the suspect from an unknown offender. Law enforcement agencies specify the number of offenders and, when possible, the race of the offender or offenders as a group. Beginning in 2013, law enforcement agencies began reporting whether suspects were juveniles or adults, as well as the suspect’s ethnicity when possible.
    • Of the 6,780 known offenders, 55.1% were white, and 21.2% were Black or African American. Other races accounted for the remaining known offenders: 1.1% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.5% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 5.4% were of a group of multiple races. The race was unknown for 15.7%.
    • Of the 6,169 known offenders for whom ethnicity was reported, 39.3% were Not Hispanic or Latino, 10.2% were Hispanic or Latino, and 2.4% were in a group of multiple ethnicities. Ethnicity was unknown for 48.1% of these offenders.
    • Of the 6,264 known offenders for whom ages were known, 89.1% were 18 years of age or older.

Locations of Hate Crimes

Law enforcement agencies may specify the location of an offense within a hate crime incident as one of 46 location designations. In 2020, most hate crime incidents (28.9%) occurred in or near residences/homes. Nearly 20% (19.9) occurred on highways/roads/alleys/streets/sidewalks, 6.5% happened at parking/drop lots/garages, 4.2% occurred at schools/colleges, 3.6% occurred at parks/playgrounds, and 3.4% took place in churches/synagogues/temples/mosques. The location was reported as other/unknown for 8.6% of hate crime incidents. The remaining 24.8% of hate crime incidents took place at other or multiple locations.

Many Halloweens Ago

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

Texas Gerrymandered To Create 2 New White GOP Districts

When the 2020 census was released, it was announced that the Texas population had grown enough to give the state two new congressional districts.

About 95% of that population growth was among minority populations (Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, etc.). A reasonable person would assume that since the growth was among minorities, the two new districts would be minority districts.

But Texas Republicans are neither rational nor fair. They did some serious gerrymandering, and gave the state two new districts that are predominately white.

That means that of the 38 districts, about 62% are predominately white -- even though whites only make up about 40% of the state population.

This was nothing less than an attack on racial and ethnic voters -- trying to minimize their electoral power in the state.

Here is part of how Dean Obeidallah describes this racist gerrymandering at MSNBC.com:

Texas has seen first-hand the connection between the state’s changing demographics and voting results. In 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the Lone Star state by nearly 16 pointsover Barack Obama. In 2016, Donald Trump won, but only by 9 points. Come the 2020 election, Trump’s victory in Texas was barely over 5 percent. You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in mathematics to get that these numbers put Texas Democrats closer to winning statewide elections for the first time since 1994. (The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976.)

The brutal truth is that the reason Texas and other GOP statesenacted 33 laws in 19 states since January to make it harder to vote was never about Trump’s “big lie.” It was about Trump’s “big loss.” Republicans are freaking out that people who don’t look like most of them could soon be in charge. Consequently, they're apparently using any means to preserve that power. 

The Texas GOP drafted the new voting districts to “shrink the number of districts in which eligible Hispanic and Black voters can realistically sway election outcomes,” as The Texas Tribune noted. By way of “elaborately manipulated lines to create district boundaries,” they reduced from eight to seven the districts that are majority Latino and reduced the districts where Black residents make up the majority of voters from one to zero.

In a central Texas House district in Bell County that had been trending blue (Black and Hispanic populations were nearly equal to the white population there), the district was redesigned into a doughnut-like configuration that effectively “segregated” the Black and Hispanic communities to dilute their political strength.

In the suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which also has been trending blue in recent years, the party redesigned two congressional districts, creating two new majority white districts designed to more easily elect Republicans to both congressional seats. . . .

The reason the party can be so brazen in its efforts to suppress the vote of people of color is because this is the state's first redistricting since the Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013 by the Republican-controlled Supreme Court in the infamous Shelby County v. Holderdecision. Ten years ago, the Texas GOP would’ve needed “pre-clearance” before these new voting maps could go into effect — same for its voter suppression measures. But with that key part of the VRA gutted — and with a 6-to-3 Republican majority on the Supreme Court — the GOP is going full throttle in its efforts to maintain white supremacy.

You Can't Have Both

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

Facebook Let Right-Wingers Break Rules In 2020 Election


 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Republicans Only Care About The Rich And Corporations

 

The View Of Americans On Halloween

These charts are from the YouGov Poll done between October 8th and 12th of a national sample of 1,000 adults, with a 4 point margin of error. It shows what American adults think about the unofficial holiday of Halloween. Nearly a quarter of them say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays.






Urban Tumbleweed

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

GOP Is No Longer Interested In Legislating Or Governing


We used to have two political parties. They disagreed on many issues, but they negotiated and came up with solutions that were good for the country. That is not true today. Now there is only one political party interested in legislating or governing -- the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has devolved in a cult of fealty to their orange demagogue that is not interested in either legislating, negotiating, or governing.

The following is a tiny part of an op-ed by Michael A. Cohen at MSNBC.com:

As Congress gets closer to an agreement on a multitrillion-dollar budget package, there is one actor notably missing from the negotiations: the Republican Party.

While Democrats are fighting over the details of policy proposals that could create the nation’s first paid family and medical leave program, make pre-K universal, lower the cost of child care, expand Medicare and prepare the nation for the effects of climate change, the GOP is contentedly sitting on the sidelines, throwing spitballs and complaining that the whole thing is going to cost too much money.

Republican campaigns are increasingly defined by a laser-like focus on cultural issues, such as "critical race theory" or nonexistent voter fraud, with barely a mention of serious substantive policies. None of this is even considered unusual or surprising anymore. It’s just the way things are in politics today.

Ironically, it wasn’t that long ago that Republicans boasted about being the party of ideas. Conservative think tanks proudly rolled out policy proposals and encouraged Republican officials to embrace them. Today, other than venerating former President Donald Trump or accusing Democrats of being socialists or communists, it’s hard to find a single policy issue that defines the modern Republican Party. . . .

All of this is simply taken for granted. The national news media simply accepts that the default Republican position on any and all policy issues is steadfast opposition with no alternative proposals. To evoke a phrase by a former Republican president, the modern GOP is profiting from the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”. . .

The result is that voters are being given two options: the policy ideas Democrats want to implement or not implementing those policy ideas. To put it mildly, this is not a healthy situation for American democracy, particularly one in which the tools of obstructionism are so numerous. America doesn’t just need a Republican Party that isn’t beholden to Trump and his authoritarian politics. They need one that actually thinks governing matters.

More Than The Next Ten Combined

 Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Thinking Is Dangerous To The Status Quo


 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Belief And Facts Are Not The Same

 

Crowd Sizes Mean Nothing In Electoral Politics


A pro-Trump rally in Salt Lake City drew only one-tenth of the crowd it was expected to draw a few days ago -- even though Trump favorite, Michael Flynn, was the keynote speaker. 

I must admit that, like many of my Democratic friends, I was amused by this. But it would be a mistake to read too much into it.

It probably does mean that Micheal Flynn is not the draw that Trump conservatives would hope for. But I have no doubt that if Trump had been there, they would likely have filled the arena. But even then, that means little in electoral politics.

You may remember that Bernie Sanders was drawing phenomenally large crowds in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries. The large crowds had leftists thinking that Sanders would win the nomination. But he didn't. He lost in both 2016 and 2020.

And in the 2020 campaign, Donald Trump was drawing huge crowds at every campaign stop. It had right-wingers sure that he would win re-election. He didn't. He lost by more than 7 million votes.

The truth is that only a tiny part of the electorate goes to rallies and campaign stops. Most voters will never go to either, but they will make their choices known on Election Day.

I know that people on both sides of the political divide (and the media also) like to think that crowd sizes matter, but they don't. They actually mean nothing in electoral politics.

Disenfranchisement

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.
 

The States Most And Least Unwilling To Be Vaccinated

 



From the Morning Consult Poll.

The New GOP Threat

 Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Voting Is Too Important To Be Filibustered


There are two things necessary to sustain a democracy - the rule of law and citizen voting. Of those two, the one most important is the ability of every citizen to be able to exercise their right to vote. Without the right to vote, even the rule of law would soon disappear. Because this is true, one would expect Congress to make voting easier for all citizens.

But that is not happening. Republican legislatures across the country are doing just the opposite. They are making it harder to vote, using the excuse of preventing election fraud. The ignore the fact that there is virtually no fraud in U.S. elections. The real reason is to minimize the number of people who can vote (especially minorities and younger voters) in the hope that with a smaller voting population, they think they'll be able to achieve and retain power.

To combat these efforts at voter suppression, a bill is in Congress (the Freedom To Vote Act). This bill would make it easier for every citizens to exercise his/her right to vote while protecting against voter fraud. But sadly, the Republicans in Congress don't want to make it easier for citizens to vote. The Senate Republicans just voted unanimously to keep a filibuster against the voting rights bill. It is just one more example of why the filibuster (which is not in the Constitution) must be eliminated.

The following is part of an op-ed at MSNBC.com by Jessica Levinson on this issue:

Our democracy is based on the fundamental principle that all eligible citizens must have access to the ballot box and that each of those votes be given equal weight. A representative system of government lacks legitimacy if it fails to allow its citizens to pick who represents them. Why should we give any credence to the decisions of a president, a senator or a member of the House who got the job through a farcical election that blocked some from voting? Or, to put it another way: If our elected officials rigged the system and suppressed our votes to get or keep their gigs, why should we give them any authority?

This is why we must all turn to Wednesday’s failed attempt to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and make its eventual passage our first, second, third and fourth priorities. You don’t build a house until you have the blueprints. You don’t build a democracy without ensuring the right to vote.

Every single Republican in the Senate voted against even having a debate about the Freedom to Vote Act, which is already a compromised and whittled-down version of its former self. Again for the folks in back: Every single member of the Republican Party who serves in our nation’s top legislative chamber is a big “no” on even discussing ways to protect the right to vote. This is partisanship at its absolute worst. This is the epitome of party before country. . . .

We don’t need new restrictive state laws to protect our right to vote. We need new federal legislation to protect us from the restrictive voting laws.

Enter the Freedom to Vote Act.

It would push back against some state efforts to make voting less accessible. The bill tackles the twin problems of voter suppression and the influence of money in politics. With respect to voting rights, the bill would, among other things, implement automatic and same-day voter registration (allowing people to opt out, instead of making them opt in), make it easier to vote by mail, increase early voting, lessen the impact of some restrictive voter identification laws, make Election Day a federal holiday, increase punishments for those who engage in voting intimidation, and attempt to reduce partisan gerrymandering. As to the issue of money in politics, the bill would create a voluntary system of public campaign financing, increase campaign finance disclosure and reorganize the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission. . . .

It is time for voters to demand that their elected officials explain why we shouldn’t even proceed with a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act. We must ask our elected officials which provisions, specifically, they oppose and why. Why, for instance, should we not make it easier for people to register to vote and then give them more options for how and when to vote? We know these reforms don’t threaten the safety and integrity of our elections. Could it simply be that these reforms threaten the continued viability of Republicans?

There are so many deeply and immediately pressing issues facing our country. But for this moment, we must focus on the foundational one. By definition, the seed of our democracy is the right to vote. The right to vote is the right that leads to everything else we care about: a strong economy, an end to the pandemic, accessible health care and superior education.

Democrats control the White House, the House and the Senate. This is a once-in-a-generation moment. Democrats, abolish the filibuster. Pass true voting rights protections. Ensure that our grand experiment in self-governance continues. It is not a foregone conclusion that it will.

Ghosts / Racists

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

Some Racists Hide Behind Their Religion

 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Key To Change

 

70% In U.S. Say Religion Should Stay Out Of Politics

 

These charts are from the Pew Research Center. Their survey was conducted between September 20th and 26th of 6,485 adults, and has a 1.9 point margin of error.



Badge Of Honor

 Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

The Ways Biden's BBB Plan Could Be Paid For


It now looks like President Biden's Build Back Better plan will cost about $1.9 to $2.0 trillion dollars. But the president doesn't want to do what the Republicans did with their tax cuts for corporations and the rich -- add trillions to the national debt. He want the program to be paid for. It hasn't been decided how that will happen. That is still being negotiated. But Hayes Brown at MSNBC.com tells us the ways that are being discussed:

Tax rate changes for the wealthy and corporations

The House Ways and Means Committee in September passed its budget reconciliation recommendations, which featured a series of tax increases to help pay the package. That included increasing the top marginal tax rate for earners over $400,000 to 39.6 percent; raising the corporate tax rate from 21 to 26.5 percent; and boosting taxes on capital gains from 20 percent to 25 percent. The corporate tax hike alone would bring in $540 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. The income and capital gains tax changes would add another $300 billion or so.

Minimum corporate tax

Because of some last-minute opposition (which I’ll get into later), the tax hikes that passed Ways and Means might not be available in the final bill. An alternative option under consideration sets a 15 percent minimum tax that corporations have to pay. “Because this minimum tax would be tied to the amount of revenue reported, corporations could not use tax deductions to zero out their obligations to the IRS,” the Washington Post reported.

Global Minimum Tax

Relatedly, multinational corporations can currently dodge many U.S. taxes through holding onto its profits in countries with lower taxes. But more than 130 nations recently agreed to set a minimum tax rate of 15 percent on all corporations’ profits. That includes the United States, which has already included the provision in the Build Back Better Act. The new minimum will both stop the “race to the bottom” between countries slashing corporate rates and disincentivize American corporations from seeking out tax havens.

Increase IRS enforcement

Wealthy Americans tend to have more complicated taxes — which makes it easier for them to avoid paying them. In the Ways and Means Committee’s legislation, the IRS would get $78.9 billion over the next 10 years for “strengthening tax enforcement activities and increasing voluntary compliance, expanding audits and other enforcement activities.” The bill’s language makes clear who’s being targeted here: “no use of these funds is intended to increase taxes on any taxpayer with taxable income below $400,000.”

The Billionaires’ Income Tax

The newest option in play in the Senate is a less intense version of the wealth tax that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has long championed:

Under the “Billionaire Income Tax” proposal, a summary of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the federal government would require billionaires to pay taxes on the increased value of their assets such as stocks on an annual basis, regardless of whether they sell those assets. Billionaires would also be able to take deductions for the annual loss in value of those assets.

It would also set up a system for taxing assets that are not easily tradable, like real estate. The tax would apply to billionaires and people earning over $100 million in income three years in a row.

Mix And Match Boosters

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

Capitalism


 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

5 Veterans Resign From Sinema's Advisory Council

 

Most Americans Support Roe Vs. Wade






 These charts are from a Future Majority / Change Research Poll done between September 10th and 14th.

This Is So Wrong!

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

81% Say It Will Be A Year Or More To Return To Normal

 

The Quinnipiac University Poll asked 1,342 nationwide adults (between October 15th and 18th) how long it would take for life to return to normal in the United States. The poll has a 2.7 point margin of error.

About 81% said it would take a year or more. And 58% said it would take over a year (including 26% who said life would never return to normal).

Trick Or Treat?

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

Trump's Social Media Site Is Just A Crude Rip-Off Of Twitter


Trump's new social media platform has not officially started, but there is a test version of it on the internet. MSNBC's Zeeshan Aleem visited the site. Here's what he had to say about it: 

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the launch of a media company and a social media platform designed, in his words, to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.” And so far the platform, called Truth Social (of course!), has been as true to form as one could’ve imagined: a ramshackle, derivative project that expresses Trump’s desperate thirst for power and profit.

The janky and rushed nature of Truth Social was immediately apparent. While in his announcement Trump said a beta version is meant to be available to invited guests in November and a national rollout is expected in early 2022, pranksters and curious journalists found what appeared to be an unreleased test version of the site within hours and proceeded to flood it.

Immediately people snatched up VIP handles like “donaldtrump” and “mikepence.” The person who grabbed “donaldjtrump” swiftly pinned a photo of a pig defecating on their profile. That site has been pulled offline, but at least one other test version has been circulating, as well, suggesting striking technical vulnerabilities.

As Washington Post tech reporter Drew Harwell notes in his analysis, the website is a crude, uncreative knockoff of Trump’s favorite social media platform — and it is also somehow already violating licensing codes:

"The site looks almost entirely like a Twitter clone: A user can post Truths, which are like tweets, or Re-Truths, which are retweets. There’s also a news feed, called the Truth Feed, a notification system so users can know “who’s interacting with your TRUTH’s,” the social network’s App Store profile states.

The site’s code shows it runs a mostly unmodified version of Mastodon, the free, open-source software launched in 2016 that anyone can use to run a self-made social networking site.

Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko told The Post Thursday that Trump’s site may violate Mastodon’s licensing rules, which require developers to share any modifications and link to the original source code. Rochko said he has contacted the company’s legal counsel to make a determination."

Using a link to what appeared to be another test site that hasn’t been taken down, I was easily able to create a profile. Given its extreme similarity to Twitter (although with a strikingly drab color scheme) it wasn't hard to navigate. But when you publish posts you don't hit "Tweet" — you hit a button that says “TRUTH!”

In addition to the vapid design, it was easy to sense the next step in Trump’s project to lay waste to the idea of shared reality. Every post from every user is a “Truth,” not because of the substance of what someone is saying, but by virtue of where they are saying it: Trump’s social media space. This principle is key to Trump's authoritarian paradigm, in which truth is not tethered to reality or reason, but instead to the will to power and tribalism — something is true because my tribe and I want it to be true.

The site's technical woes and uninspired design might not deter new users, because Trump isn't trying to win over the market by creating a unique experience. Instead he's looking to create a unique ideological space. Trump’s media group claims it wants to create a “non-cancellable global community,” by which it means a social media platform that is populated solely by people on the right, and establishes little to no regulation surrounding abuse, disinformation, calls to violence and bigotry.

The crux of the matter, however, is to create a forum where Trumphas free rein to speak as he wishes to and be adulated for it. "We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced," he wrote in his announcement. "This is unacceptable."

Trump’s new media venture ticks all the classic Trump boxes: money, power, ego. If it's successful, it could be an asset in keeping his potential 2024 aspirations alive. But whether his base finds the site to be a tolerable experience remains an open question.

Must Repeat The Horrible Past

 Political Cartoon is by John Deering in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Republican Jesus


 

Friday, October 22, 2021

"White Replacement" Is Racism


 

"America First" Is A Dangerous Idea In A Global Pandemic


Why does the United States give aid to other countries? Is it altruism? That would be nice, but that has never been the reason. U.S. politicians dole out aid to other countries because it is in the interests of this country. A country that is getting money (or other aid) from the United States is far more likely to go along with U.S. wishes and policy that a country not getting that aid.

We should consider helping the world to get vaccinated in the same way. It is in our own self-interest.

Even if we could vaccinate 100% of our population (which seems to be impossible), it would not insure we are protected against the COVID-19 virus.

As long as there are other countries with significant portions of their population that are unvaccinated, the virus will continue. And as the virus continues to rage, it will mutate -- very possibly into more easily transmissible and more lethal forms. And it is possible that a mutation could occur that would be immune to the currently available vaccines. That would open up even highly vaccinated countries to a resurgence of the disease.

And anyone who thinks we could keep those mutated viruses out of this country is living in a dream world. In this globally-interconnected world, that would be impossible.

I understand, and support, the desire to get our own population vaccinated, but that would not end the pandemic. We must not only continue to send vaccines to other countries, but also support giving those other countries the knowledge and tools to produce their own vaccines. 

The global pandemic will not end until their is global herd immunity, and that can only be achieved by making sure most people get vaccinated in every country.

In a global pandemic, "America First" is a stupid and dangerous idea.

Changing The Name Won't Fix The Problems

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.