Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Result Is Tyranny And Oppression


If The Election Was Now, Biden Would Beat Trump Again

The charts above are from the recent USA Today / Suffolk University Poll -- done between July 22nd and 25th of a nationwide sample of 1,000 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at

Profits More Important Than Lives For Gun Manufacturers

The following editorial is from the editorial board of The Washington Post:

Over the past week, a Florida jury has listened as medical examinerstestified in excruciating detail about the autopsies they performed on the 14 students and three staff members murdered in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Jurors heard how bullets fired from the AR-15-style rifle hit the victims with such force that they caused extensive and devastating damage, while the weapon’s rapid fire action magnified the carnage. Alaina Petty, 14, was shot four times; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, was shot eight times; Carmen Schentrup, 16, was shot five times; Meadow Pollack, 16, was shot nine times.

That gruesome account — and the pain of parents who sobbed or fled the courtroom — resonated as we listened to the indifferent testimony of executives of companies that market assault weapons such as the one used in the Parkland school slaughter. Appearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, leading manufacturers of assault weapons that have been used in the country’s deadliest mass shootings said they bear absolutely no responsibility for the violence.

“I believe that these murders are a local problem that have to be solved locally,” said Marty Daniel of Daniel Defense, which manufactured the AR-15-style rifle that an 18-year-old used in May to murder 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex. “I don’t consider what my company produces to be ‘weapons of war,’ ” said Christopher Killoy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., which produced the weapons used by mass shooters in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017 and Boulder, Colo., in 2021.

There is no question, as the gun manufacturers argued, that the individuals who pull the trigger are culpable for their terrible crimes. The gunman in the Parkland shooting has pleaded guilty; the jury hearing the penalty phase of his trial will determine whether he is to be sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole. But gun companies can’t wash their hands of responsibility for the damage caused by their products — particularly when their marketing strategies are designed to appeal to angry, insecure, young males — the very demographic that is increasingly the profile of mass shooters. “Consider your man card reissued,” read one advertisement. Another: “Your status at the top of the testosterone food chain is now irrevocable.” To make it easier to obtain the weapons, the companies offer generous credit plans.

report released by the House committee found that the country’s top five gun manufacturers have collected more than $1 billion in revenue over the past decade, much of it from the sales of assault-style weapons. At the same time, they have failed to take even basic steps to monitor the violence associated with their products. None of the companies have systems to track injuries and deaths caused by AR-15-style rifles, whether from accidental discharge, product malfunction or deliberate use. Nor do they monitor crimes committed with the products. 

It’s no surprise that the gun manufacturers fail to collect data that might make their products safer. Congress has provided them unique protection from legal liability. As a consequence, there is no disincentive to their irresponsible business practices when it nets them record-breaking profits. One would have hoped that Petty, Anguiano, Schentrup, Pollack and the other children lost to gun violence might give the gun industry some pause. Since that is clearly not the case, it is up to Congress to crack down.

Not Helping Veterans

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

What Has God Got To Do With Anything?


Saturday, July 30, 2022

GOP Is Pushing The Anti-Democratic Christian Nationalism


The Yang / Whitman Third Party Is Destined To Fail


The United States is basically a two party system -- currently the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Other parties have been established (like the current Green and Libertarian Parties), but have not been able to effectively compete with the two major parties. The last new party that succeeded was the Republican Party, which replaced the Whig Party which was already dying.

Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman -- a former Democrat and former Republican -- think it's time for a new party, and they think they can succeed where countless others have failed. They call their new organization the Forward Party, and they hope to tap into the large group of moderates in this country. 

I think their party will be a spectacular failure. Jamelle Bouie does also. Here is part of what he wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times:

Let’s not mince words. The new Forward Party announced by the former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Representative David Jolly is doomed to failure. The odds that it will attract any more than a token amount of support from the public, not to mention political elites, are slim to none. It will wither on the vine as the latest in a long history of vanity political parties.

Why am I so confident that the Forward Party will amount to nothing? Because there is a recipe for third-party success in the United States, but neither Yang nor his allies have the right ingredients.

First, let’s talk about the program of the Forward Party. Writing for The Washington Post, Yang, Whitman and Jolly say that their party is a response to “divisiveness” and “extremism.”

“In a system torn apart by two increasingly divided extremes,” they write, “you must reintroduce choice and competition.”

The Forward Party, they say, will “reflect the moderate, common-sense majority.” If, they argue, most third parties in U.S. history failed to take off because they were “ideologically too narrow,” then theirs is primed to reach deep into the disgruntled masses, especially since, they say, “voters are calling for a new party now more than ever.”

It is not clear that we can make a conclusion about the public’s appetite for a specific third party on the basis of its general appetite for a third party. But that’s a minor issue. The bigger problem for Yang, Whitman and Jolly is their assessment of the history of American third parties. It’s wrong.

The most successful third parties in American history have been precisely those that galvanized a narrow slice of the public over a specific set of issues. They further polarized the electorate, changed the political landscape and forced the established parties to reckon with their influence.

Take the Free Soil Party.

During the presidential election of 1848, following the annexation of Texas, the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a coalition of antislavery politicians from the Democratic, Liberty and Whig Parties formed the Free Soil Party to oppose the expansion of slavery into the new Western territories. At their national convention in Buffalo, the Free Soilers summed up their platform with the slogan “Free soil, free speech, free labor, free men!”

The Free Soil Party, notes the historian Frederick J. Blue in “The Free Soilers: Third Party Politics, 1848-1854,” “endorsed the Wilmot Proviso by declaring that Congress had no power to extend slavery and must in fact prohibit its extension, thus returning to the principle of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.” It is the duty of the federal government, declared its platform, “to relieve itself from all responsibility for the existence of slavery wherever that government possesses constitutional power to legislate on that subject and is thus responsible for its existence.”

This was controversial, to put it mildly. The entire “second” party system (the first being the roughly 30-year competition between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans) had been built to sidestep the conflict over the expansion of slavery. The Free Soil Party — which in an ironic twist nominated Martin Van Buren, the architect of that system, for president in the 1848 election — fought to put that conflict at the center of American politics.

It succeeded. In many respects, the emergence of the Free Soil Party marks the beginning of mass antislavery politics in the United States. They elected several members to Congress, helped fracture the Whig Party along sectional lines and pushed antislavery “Free” Democrats to abandon their party. The Free Soilers never elected a president, but in just a few short years they transformed American party politics. And when the Whig Party finally collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions, after General Winfield Scott’s defeat in the 1852 presidential election, the Free Soil Party would become, in 1854, the nucleus of the new Republican Party, which brought an even larger coalition of former Whigs and ex-Democrats together with Free Soil radicals under the umbrella of a sectional, antislavery party.

There are a few other examples of third-party success. The Populist Party failed to win high office after endorsing the Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan, for president in 1896, but went on to shape the next two decades of American political life. “In the wake of the defeat of the People’s party, a wave of reform soon swept the country,” the historian Charles Postel writes in “The Populist Vision”: “Populism provided an impetus for this modernizing process, with many of their demands co-opted and refashioned by progressive Democrats and Republicans.”. . .

This is all to say that there’s nothing about the Forward Party that, as announced, would have this kind of impact on American politics. It doesn’t speak to anything that matters other than a vague sense that the system should have more choices and that there’s a center out there that rejects the extremes. . . .

The biggest problem with the Forward Party, however, is that its leaders — like so many failed reformers — seem to think that you can take the conflict out of politics. “On every issue facing this nation,” they write, “we can find a reasonable approach most Americans agree on.”

No, we can’t. When an issue becomes live — when it becomes salient, as political scientists put it — people disagree. The question is how to handle and structure that disagreement within the political system. Will it fuel the process of government or will it paralyze it? Something tells me that neither Yang nor his allies have the answer.

History Is A Bitch

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at

Futile To Talk To Those With An Ignorant Moral Superiority


Friday, July 29, 2022

Red States Don't Care About Women And Children


Democrats Have A 4 Point Lead In The Latest Poll

The chart above reflects the results of the newest USA Today / Suffolk University Poll -- done between July 22nd and 25th of a nationwide sample of 1,000 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error.

Hotter Than Hell

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

A Portrait Of Guns In Texas In 5 Charts

From The Texas Tribune 


Political Cartoon is by Randall Enos at

We Would Need Less Police If Our Economy Was Fairer

There is no doubt that the United States has a problem with policing. Proposed solutions range from better training to defunding. But perhaps there is a better solution -- one that will work without putting anyone in danger or disrespecting the police. Perhaps the solution is as simple as creating a fairer economy -- one that allows everyone to share in the nation's wealth.

The following is part of a thought-provoking op-ed by Charles M. Blow in The New York Times:

Civilizations require rules because they require order.

These rules must be accepted and obeyed. But, invariably, as humans do, some people will break the rules. Civilizations, therefore, need some mechanism to deal with the rule breakers so that the society doesn’t descend into chaos and rule breaking isn’t rewarded.

In a system of accountability and consequences, there must be first points of contact, people who are charged with preventing and stopping the rule breaking.

In our society, those people are police officers. Their role, in the abstract, is essential. However, the way that we have constructed it is problematic.

We have created a civilization that is essentially unfair and unbalanced, and asked police officers to manage the negative behaviors that the imbalance produces and exacerbates. We want to oppress the little people — poor people, people without privileges — and have them peacefully accept it. We want to punish people from rebelling against the discomfort and disillusionment.

I am by no means saying that we should accept and excuse violent crime. I’m simply observing that there is far less violent crime among people who feel physically safe, financially comfortable, culturally appreciated and justifiably hopeful.

In this way, policing is about controlling populations under stress and protecting more well-off citizens and their property.

There are, of course, crimes where the police are involved that don’t fit that model. There are the white-collar crimes, and the murders in mansions, and such.

But don’t be fooled, the number of people prosecuted for white-collar crimes is only a sliver of all federal prosecutions, and even that small number has been declining.

The criminal justice system — including law enforcement — is not meant to regulate the wealthy, it is meant to regulate the poor. In this way, the police are a tool of control wielded by the powerful rather than a means of controlling the powerful. . . .

We could, as a country, deal with the underlying drivers of this violence, but we would rather take the easier route of punishing supposed pathologies. This absolves us of societal guilt.

We divorce the criminal “choice” from the context of society, and we use police forces as tools to control the rebels and rule breakers.

It is all cynical and shortsighted, but in a society suckled on the control of other’s bodies, in which criminalization is racialized, in which poverty is criminalized, this strategy has, sadly, proven time and again to be a winner.

(Poison) Ivy League

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

U.S. Stupidity Is Starting To Worry Other Countries


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Norman Lear At 100


79% Say Trump Has Acted Illegally Or Unethically

This chart is from the CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between July 22nd and 24th of a nationwide sample of 1,002 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Congressional Creep

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

In The Last 45 Years Trust In U.S. Institutions Has Plummeted

The chart above is from It use Gallup Poll numbers from 1977 and 2022.

It shows that trust in U.S. institutions has dropped drastically in the last 45 years (from 1977 to 2022).

Only one institution has gained in trust -- the military. It is also the only one with over 50% of Americans trusting it.

All of the other institutions have dropped sharply in the percentage trusting them -- even religion. None of them have more than 30% of the population trusting them, and some (like Congress) have a far worse trust percentage.

A couple of days ago, I showed you a poll that said 28% of Americans thought soon that citizens would need to take up arms against the government. I hope that never happens, but seeing the poor trust in U.S. institutions, I can understand how some might feel that way.

Most people don't trust that these institutions are acting in their best interests, and many don't think it will get better in the future.

We must fix this, and we can only do that by voting for people who will fix it.

The Wolf Among Sheep

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at

At Age 100, Norman Lear Talks About Archie Bunker


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

If You Don't Want This Future - VOTE


28% Say It May Be Necessary To Take Arms Against Gov

This chart reflects the results of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics Poll -- done between May 19th and 23rd of a nationwide sample of 1,000 registered voters, with a 3.53 point margin of error. It shows that over a quarter of Americans think it may soon be necessary for citizens to take up arms against the U.S. government. That's a frightening percentage, and shows how much trouble our democracy is in.

Republicans Gone MAD

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

The Republicans Have It Backwards On Wealth And Rights

Two things that make a huge difference in a country are wealth and human rights. The Republican Party has it backwards on both.

Republicans want you to believe that human rights is like a pie. They say that when one group earns a right they never had before, another group will lose some degree of that right. Of course, that is not now, and never has been true. 

This lie is done by those who want to maintain the white patriarchy in this country. When minorities achieve a right that white men have always had, no one loses anything. It just means that rights are equally recognized under the law. White men don't have less rights when nonwhites and women get more rights.

What they have less of is white male privilege -- an unfair advantage that they never should have had.

Republicans also have it backwards on wealth. They want you to believe that when the rich get richer, it benefits everyone in society, because much of that increased wealth will "trickle down" to those on lower economic levels -- the middle class, working class, and the poor.

This has always been a lie also. Wealth is like a pie, because there is a finite amount of wealth in a country at any given time. When one group gets a larger percentage of that wealth, all other groups must share a smaller percentage.

Note the chart at the top of this page. It shows the percentage of wealth that certain groups have had in the United States between 1990 and 2019. Note that as wealth has grown for the top 10% (and especially the top 1%0, the percentage has shrunk for the bottom 90% (and especially the bottom 50%).

They want you to believe that as the wealth of a country grows, that new wealth benefits everyone. That also is not true. Thanks to the GOP laws benefitting the rich, they currently get almost all of that growth in wealth, while the rest of the country must share only a tiny percentage (and most see no growth at all in their wealth).

As long as the Republicans stay in power (or at least retain enough power to block any changes in economic policy), it will stay this way. The rich will get richer, while the bottom 90% does not (and actually loses ground when inflation is considered).

It does not have to be that way. Before the Republicans re-instituted their Trickle-Down Economic Theory about 1980, rising wealth was fairly equally shared among the sectors of U.S. society. As productivity rose, it benefitted everyone. It could be that way again. But fairer economic policies cannot be achieved while the GOP has veto power. They only care about the rich.

The same is true about human rights. Equal rights will not be achieved as long as Republicans have a veto power over them. In fact, they are currently engaged in trying to take rights away from many (like women, LGBT community, and nonwhite voters).

We could have a country where equality in rights and fairness in economics was a fact. But it will only happen when Republicans are voted out of power (and Democrats feet are held to the fire). We have the power to fix this, but only if we vote!


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in Reform Austin News

Our Democracy Is Still In Danger From The Right

This op-ed is by Max Boot in The Washington Post:

Near the end of last week’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing, former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, a perpetually cheerful former Marine, said the attack on the Capitol “emboldened our enemies by helping give them ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn’t work, that the United States is in decline. China, the Putin regime in Russia, Tehran, they’re fond of pushing those kinds of narratives — and by the way, they’re wrong.”

But are they wrong? They certainly have been to date; the United States has been defying predictions of doom for more than two centuries. But, as the ads for mutual funds say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We need to take seriously the possibility that the United States could become a failed democracy, if only to avert that dire fate. There’s a good reason that 85 percent of respondents in a recent surveysaid the country is headed in the wrong direction. 

A lot of the gloom and doom is due, of course, to the high rate of inflation, which will subside in time. But there are more intractable problems, too, such as the persistence of racism and income inequality. That we have far more gun violence than other advanced democracies and yet can’t implement common-sense gun-safety regulations (such as a ban on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines) is a damning indictment of our democracy. So, too, is our failure to do more to address climate change even as temperatures spike. When we do act, it often makes the situation worse, not better.

Unleashed by a right-wing Supreme Court, Republican legislatures around the country are repealing or restricting abortion rights. This is producing horror stories that I never thought I would see in the United States. A woman in Texas had to carry a dead fetus for two weeks because removing it would have required a procedure that is also used in abortions. A woman in Wisconsin bled for more than 10 days after an incomplete miscarriage because medical staff would not remove fetal tissue. A 10-year-old girl was raped in Ohio and had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion.

These are the kinds of human rights violations we would be protesting if they occurred in other countries. That they are happening in the United States is an ominous sign of what lies ahead, because other countries in recent years that have taken away abortion rights — Poland and Nicaragua — have also taken away political rights.

We already live in a “backsliding” democracy, where voting rights are being restricted and freedom is under siege. The most severe threat comes from an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party whose maximum leader is an unindicted and unrepentant coup plotter.

Despite the yeoman work of the Jan. 6 committee, former president Donald Trump remains the leading contender for the 2024 GOP nomination — and on the current trajectory he could defeat President Biden, whose unpopularity continues to plumb new depths. We need to be clear about what another Trump term would mean: It could be the death knell for our democracy.

Jonathan Swan of Axios has an alarming report on the preparations in Trump World for returning to power: “Sources close to the former president said that he will — as a matter of top priority – go after the national security apparatus, ‘clean house’ in the intelligence community and the State Department, target the ‘woke generals’ at the Defense Department, and remove the top layers of the Justice Department and FBI.”

One of the instruments of Trumpian purges would be Schedule F, a new category of federal employment that Trump created in 2020 (and Biden rescinded), which would have removed tens of thousands of federal employees from civil service protections. By reviving Schedule F, Trump could fire career officials and replace them with ultra-MAGA loyalists. “F” might as well stand for “fascism,” because that is what we will get if Trump were to appoint his most fanatical acolytes to the most powerful positions in government.

I wish I could say that such a scenario is implausible, but it is all too realistic. I used to be an optimist about America’s future. Not anymore. There’s a good reason that so many people I know are acquiring foreign passports and talking about moving somewhere else: The prognosis is grim.

As political scientist Brian Klaas just wrote in the Atlantic, given that the GOP has become “authoritarian to its core,” there are two main ways to save America: Either reform the Republican Party or ensure that it never wields power again. But a MAGA-fied GOP is likely to gain control of at least one chamber of Congress in the fall and could win complete power in 2024.

We seem to be sleepwalking to disaster. If we don’t wake up in time, we could lose our democracy. Just because we’ve avoided a breakdown in the past doesn’t mean we will stave it off in the future.

The Summer Hit

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

There Is Only Humanity


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

If Texans Want To Fix Problems . . .


The $7.25 Minimum Wage Is Truly A Poverty Wage

The minimum wage remains at $7.25 and hour, and while some states have raised it a bit, nearly half of the states have continued to keep the minimum wage at the $7.25 level -- and show no signs of raising it anytime soon.

It needs to be raised at the federal level, so it would apply to all states -- even the red states that don't seem to care about their workers.

How bad is the current minimum wage? It hasn't been raised since 2009. And while it would buy $7.25 worth of goods in 2009, it now will only buy $5.27 worth of goods. That's a drop of 27% in buying power in the last 13 years.

At $5.27 an hour, the minimum wage is truly a poverty wage. A minimum wage worker with a full-time job (40 hours a week) would only bring home enough weekly to buy about $210.80 worth of goods. The monthly wage would buy only about $843.20 worth of goods.

Could you live on $843.20 a month (before deductions)? No one can!

The minimum wage must be raised to a livable level -- at least $15.00 an hour. Anything less is a poverty wage. And it's not right to force a full-time worker to accept a poverty wage!

Sadly though, as long as the Republicans hold veto power in Congress, the minimum wage will not be raised. They must be voted out of power so low-wage workers (between 20% and 25% of the national work force) can make a living. The $15.00 wage is not going to make anyone rich (or even middle class), but it will allow them to buy the necessities they and their families need.

It will also help other workers by putting an upward pressure on all wages.

Our government doesn't hesitate to give more to the rich (the people who don't need it). It's time they helped workers -- the people who need a bit of help.

Sanctity Of Life?

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at

67% Say SC Justices Should Not Have Lifetime Terms

 This chart reflects the results of a new AP-NORC Poll -- done between July 14th and 17th of a nationwide sample of 1,085 adults, with a 3.9 point margin of error. It shows that two-thirds of Americans want Supreme Court Justices to serve a specific number of years rather than the current lifetime appointment.

Don't Drop The Soap!

 Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

We Deserve Answers About Missing Secret Service Texts


The following editorial is by the editorial board of The Washington Post:

Maybe the Secret Service is incompetent, or maybe there’s something even fouler afoot. Either way, the scandal over the disappearance of text messages around the Jan. 6 insurrection demands answers.

A strange story has unspooled this month about the apparent deletion of communications sent by agents around the time of the attack on the U.S. Capitol — and each new detail seems to lead us further from a resolution. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General says the Secret Service erased messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after it requested them; the Secret Service says the messages were permanently purged as part of an agencywide phone reset and replacement planned months earlier. The Secret Service is now under criminal investigation by the OIG. The OIG, in turn, is itself under investigation by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency for undisclosed allegations of misconduct.

These events raise a mess of questions. Most important, how on earth did the Secret Service lose track of these texts? IT migrations are easy enough in 2022 that most small businesses can do them without a snag. It boggles the mind that a supposedly advanced cyber-actor like the Secret Service, required by law to preserve this sort of data, would fail to back up information as a matter of course. That the agency would lose information so obviously important to the historical record is even more perplexing. And why did DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, an appointee of the previous administration, choose to alert Congress to the texts’ deletion only now, months after his office discovered they were gone? Finally, there’s the worry that the jurisdictional snarl created by the OIG’s investigation of the Secret Service will complicate efforts by the Jan. 6 House select committee to find answers of its own.

That the facts of this mysterious matter do eventually make their way to the public is essential. Congress was looking for these communications for a reason: The discussions among Secret Service agents before, during and after rioters stormed the chambers of Congress surely weren’t restricted to the radio conversations of which we heard snippets during Thursday night’s hearing. The real-time actions and reactions of those so close to President Donald Trump as he planned whether to go to the Capitol, and what to do there, can speak to his intentions and his state of mind — proving crucial to any possible case against him.

It’s encouraging that the DHS inspector general seems to want to get to the bottom of this matter now, at this bizarrely belated stage. But Congress, the Justice Department and anyone else paying attention should also keep watch, including over the watchdog.

Choosing Not To Act

 Political Cartoon is by Ann Telnaes in The Washington Post.

To Diminish The Love Of Money


Monday, July 25, 2022

Why Do Republicans Hate American Workers?


Most In Developed Nations Have Confidence In V.P. Harris


The Pew Research Center did a survey of at least 1,000 adults in 18 developed nations. They found that a majority overall (and in most countries) say they have confidence in Vice President Kamala Harris to do the right thing about world affairs.