Tuesday, July 07, 2015

GOP Platform

Iowa Voters Show Huge Difference Between The Parties

These charts are made from a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between June 20th and 29th of 666 likely Republican caucus-goers and 761 likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa. The margin of error for Republicans is 3.8 points, and for Democrats is 3.6 points.

We talk all the time about the differences between Republican and Democratic candidates in the policies they support. This poll shows us why they are so different -- because the base voters in their parties believe very different things from the voters in the other party.

The poll queried respondents of both parties on four issues facing this country right now -- the huge income gap between the rich and the rest of us, the fight against ISIS in the Middle East, whether business or government experience is best for a presidential candidate, and what to do about undocumented immigrants in this country.

To say the voters in the two parties disagree is an understatement. Their views are vastly different. Almost all Democrats want the government to institute polices that will lessen the income gap, while most Republicans oppose that. Most Republicans want to send ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIS, while most Democrats are opposed to that. Most Democrats want undocumented immigrants to be allowed to stay and given a path to citizenship, while a significant plurality of Republicans just want them deported. And Republicans want a person with business experience to be president, while most Democrats want a person with experience in government.

It turns out that not only do the party politicians have a vastly different picture of the America they want to see, but so do the voters in each party.

From The Bird

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

The combination of a huge crash of cyclists, and several climbs (including a difficult climb at the finish of the 159.5 kilometers) kept the sprinters from vying for the win in stage 3 of the Tour. This was a day for the climbers and stronger riders -- and Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver of Spain won the stage. Christopher Froome of Great Britain finished second and Alexis Viullermoz of France finished third.

Stage 4 will take the race back to France on a much less mountainous course. There is one category 4 climb, but most of the course is just hilly.

Here are the standings after stage 3:

YELLOW JERSEY (Overall Leaders)
1. Christopher Froome, Great Britain (Team Sky)
2. Tony Martin, Germany (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........01"
3. Tejay Van Garderen, United States (BMC Racing)..........13"
4. Tony Gallopin, France (Lotto-Soudal)..........26"
5. Greg Van Avermaet, Belgium (BMC Racing)..........28"
6. Peter Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........31"
7. Rigaberto Uran Uran, Colombia (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........34"
8. Alberto Contador, Spain (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........36"
9. Geraint Thomas, Great Britain (Team Sky)..........1' 03"
10. Zdenek Stybar, Czech Republic (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........1' 04"

GREEN JERSEY (Best Sprinter)
1. Andre Greipel, Germany (Lotto-Soudal)..........75 pts
2. Peter Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........48 pts
3. Christopher Froome, Great Britain (Team Sky)..........40 puts
4. Mark Cavendish, Great Britain (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........37 puts
5. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland (Trek Factory Racing)..........35 puts

1. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver, Spain (Team Katusha)..........2 pts
2. Rafal Majka, Poland (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........1 pt
3. Michael Schar, Switzerland (BMC Racing)..........1 pt
4. Christopher Froome, Great Britain (Team Sky)..........1 pt

WHITE JERSEY (Best Young Rider)
1. Peter Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)
2. Warren Baguil, France (Giant-Alpecin)..........36"
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas, Colombia (Movistar)..........1' 25"

1. BMC Racing (United States)
2. ETIXX-Quick Step (Belgium)..........27"
3. Team Sky (Great Britain)..........1' 43"
4. Tinkoff-Saxo (Russia)..........1' 44"
5. Movistar (Spain)..........4' 34"

Can't Have Everything

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

Why The States Can't Do It

Monday, July 06, 2015


2015 U.S. Women's Soccer Team -- WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!

Obamacare Saves Money

Could A Democrat Other Than Clinton Win General Election?

A friend recently wrote a post about what Bernie Sanders must do to break through and win the Democratic nomination. His thesis was that Sanders must do a better job of appealing to minority voters, and be able to peel off substantial support among party insiders/super delegates/elected officials. He made a good case, and his post is well worth reading.

But I think there is something more important than any other consideration -- not just for Sanders, but for any candidate that hopes to beat Clinton for the nomination. They must convince Democratic voters that they could beat the GOP nominee in the November general election.

Most Democrats see the 2016 election as very important, and they believe it would be disastrous to allow a Republican to win the White House (both for domestic and foreign policy). The Republicans still have not shed their failed policies of "trickle-down" economics at home and advancing American interests through military power abroad. That, combined with the possibility of several Supreme Court nominations, makes the 2016 presidential race a critical one.

Democrats have faith that Hillary Clinton could win the 2016 election. They aren't at all sure that any other candidate could do that. And there's some evidence for that belief. When polls put Clinton against the top Republicans, she comes out on top -- but the same cannot be said of any of the other candidates.

If a candidate, Sanders or anyone else, is to have any hope of winning the Democratic nomination, they are going to have to first convince Democrats they can beat the GOP nominee in November. So far, none of them have done that.

The chart above was made from a recent CNN / ORC Poll -- done between June 26th and 28th of 428 Democratic voters, with a 4.5 point margin of error.

Signature Collection

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Marijuana Doesn't Pose A Danger To Drivers

The last time marijuana legalization was voted on in California, the anti-legalization forces were able to defeat it with a campaign that claimed legal marijuana would make the roads much less safe -- as drivers high on marijuana would pose a danger to others. Making this campaign very hypocritical was the fact that much of the funding for it came from alcohol producers and sellers -- a drug that has been long recognized as a danger to divers.

It was a lie, of course. Several studies in other countries, and a study done by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have shown that drivers on marijuana pose no more risk on our streets and highways than drivers on no drugs at all. This has been verified by the Colorado Department of Transportation, whose figures showed that traffic fatalities actually fell in 2014 (the first year that marijuana was legal in that state.

Fortunately, it looks like the American public is starting to realize this fact. A recent Gallup Poll (done on June 24th and 25th of a random national sample of 1,007 adults, with a 4 point margin of error) shows than only 29% of Americans now believe marijuana poses a serious driving risk (or only about 3 out of every 10 people).

That's still too high, and it's obvious that more education efforts must be made -- but at least the numbers are moving in the right direction (down). Marijuana does not pose any kind of danger to Americans -- not to drivers and not to users.


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

German Rider Wins Stage 2 Of The Tour In Holland

Stage 2 of the Tour de France was a flat stage in the Netherlands, but it certainly didn't turn out to be an easy stage. Rain and wind gave the riders problems, and the peloton was not able to stay together -- with the lead group gaining nearly a minute and a half over the riders who could not stay in it. That's an almost unheard of difference for a flat stage. Andre Greipel of Germany won the sprint finish, with Peter Sagan of Slovakia finishing second and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland coming in third.

Monday's ride will go to Belgium, and the race will go see it's fist climbing points awarded. The course has three level 4 climbs and a level 3 climb in the second half of the 159.5 kilometer course.

Here are the standings after stage 2:

YELLOW JERSEY (Overall Leaders)
1. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland (Trek Factory Racing)
2. Tony Martin, Germany (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........03"
3. Tom Dumoulin, Netherlands (Giant-Alpecin)..........06"
4. Peter Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........33"
5. Geraint Thomas, Great Britain (Team Sky)..........35"
6. Daniel Oss, Italy (BMC Racing)..........42"
7. Rigerberto Uran Uran, Colombia (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........42"
8. Tejay Van Garderen, United States (BMC Racing)..........44"
9. Greg Van Avermaet, Belgium (BMC Racing)..........48"
10. Christopher Froome, Great Britain (Team Sky)..........48"

GREEN JERSEY (Best Sprinter)
1. Andre Greipel, Germany (Lotto-Soudal)..........55 pts
2. Pater Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........39 pts
3. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland (Trek Factory Racing)..........35 puts
4. Mark Cavendish, Great Britain (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........26 puts
5. Tony Martin, Germany (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........25 pts

No Results Yet

WHITE JERSEY (Best Young Rider)
1. Tom Dumoulin, Netherlands (Giant-Alpecin)
2. Peter Sagan, Slovakia (Tinkoff-Saxo)..........27"
3. Michal Kwiatkowski, Poland (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........1' 13"

1. BMC Racing (United States)
2. ETIXX-Quick Step (Belgium)..........04"
3. Team Sky (Great Britain)..........51"
4. Tinkoff-Saxo (Russia)..........1' 04"
5. Giant-Alpecin (Germany)..........1' 50"


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

It's Not Our First Battle With Corporatism

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Bertrand Russell

Sanders Has Gained Some Ground In Iowa

The new Quinnipiac University Poll (done between June 20th and 29th of 761 likely Democratic caucus-goers, with a 3.6 point margin of error) has some good news for supporters of Bernie Sanders. While Clinton still has majority support of 52%, Sanders has picked up some ground and now stands at 33% support. He seems to be making inroads with liberals in the state, and has a 4 point lead among them.

But he still doesn't seem to be picking up more national support. The bottom chart is from RealClearPolitics, and shows the last six national polls taken among Democrats. All of those polls (which were all released in June) show Clinton with a huge lead, and Sanders struggling to get beyond 15%.

I still think Sanders only chance to break through nationally is to do exceptionally well in the debates with Clinton. We'll just have to see if he can pick up ground there. Hillary is a pretty good debater.

GOP Sings

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Court Says Oklahoma's 10 Commandments Is Illegal

In 2012, a monument containing the 10 Commandments (pictured) was placed on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds. It had been approved by the legislature in 2009, and paid for with private money.

The legislature thought they could get away with placing the monument on government property by declaring it to be a historical monument instead of a religious one -- claiming that Western law had it roots in the 10 Commandments. They figured that would get by U.S. Supreme Court restrictions on religious monuments.

It was a laughable assertion, since the 10 Commandments is obviously a religious symbol -- and calling it something else doesn't change that. But it doesn't matter, because the case won't get to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawmakers overlooked a provision in their own state constitution.

On June 30th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 that the monument violated Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. That provision reads:

“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

The Attorney General and several lawmakers are furious over the court's decision, and the Attorney General has filed for a rehearing (which will delay the removal, but is unlikely to change the decision). Now, some are calling for the removal of the provision from the state constitution. But even if they do that, it is unlikely that the United States Supreme Court will allow the monument, which is obviously religious, to remain.

They should be thankful for the decision. The Satanic Temple was planning to put up a monument of its own on the capitol grounds -- and that could not have been prevented as long as the christian monument remained there. Now that can be prevented because ALL religious monuments are prohibited.


Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlene in the Pensacola News-Journal.

2015 Tour de France Opens With 13.8 Km Time Trial

It's time for the Tour de France again. Regular readers will know that I love the Tour, so for the next few weeks I will be posting Tour updates. If you don't appreciate it, then ignore these posts. I will also be making my regular political and economic posts.

This year's Tour opened with a flat 13.8 kilometer time trial (which means each rider rode alone against the clock). The stage 1 winner was Australian Rohan Dennis, who rides for the American BMC Racing team. Tony Martin of Germany finished second, and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland finished second. Tomorrow's stage will be one for the sprinters. It a a 166 kilometer stage that is very flat.

Here are the standings after stage one:

YELLOW JERSEY (Overall leaders)
1. Rohan Dennis, Australia (BMC Racing)
2. Tony Martin, Germany (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........05"
3. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland (Trek Factory Racing)..........06"
4. Tom Dumoulin, Netherlands (Giant-Alpecin)..........08"
5. Jos Van Emden, Netherlands (Lotto NL-Jumbo)..........15"

GREEN JERSEY (Best Sprinter)
1. Rohan Dennis, Australia (BMC Racing)..........20 pts
2. Tony Martin, Germany (ETIXX-Quick Step)..........17 pts
3. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland (Trek Factory Racing)..........15 puts
4. Tom Dumoulin, Netherlands (Giant-Alpecin)..........13 pts
5. Jos Van Emden, Netherlands (Lotto NL-Jumbo)..........11 pts

No points awarded yet.

WHITE JERSEY (Best Young Rider)
1. Rohan Dennis, Australia (BMC Racing)
2. Tom Dumoulin, Netherlands (Giant-Alpecin)..........08"
3. Wilco Kelderman, Netherlands (Lotto NL-Jumbo)..........30"

1. Lotto NL-Jumbo (Netherlands)
2. Trek Factory Racing (United States)..........03"
3. BMC Racing (United States)..........08"
4. Movistar (Spain)..........10"
5. ETIXX-Quick Step (Belgium)..........12"

Greek Tragedians

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

Evidence ?

Saturday, July 04, 2015

No Mention Of God

33% Of Public Are Willing To Trash The Constitution

For me, this was a very troubling poll -- and I think it should be troubling to everyone who believes in the sanctity of the Constitution. It shows that 33% of Americans now think that the individual states should be able to ignore Supreme Court decisions -- and for Republicans and conservatives that percentage rises to 50%.

I'm sure this comes from recent decisions that some people disagree with (like the same-sex marriage decision for evangelicals, the Obamacare subsidy decision for teabaggers, and the Citizens United decision for liberals and Democrats). But they're obviously not thinking through what they're saying.

They Supreme Court is the governmental body that defines the Constitution. That is their primary purpose. If a state is able to pick and choose what decisions they will follow, then that means they are able to pick the parts of the Constitution they will follow and the parts they won't follow. It would make the Constitution a useless piece of paper, and it would rip this country apart -- because the law and citizen's rights would be different from state to state.

We tried something like this before -- the Articles of Confederation. And it didn't work. We found very quickly that we needed a strong Constitution, and every state must be required to abide by that Constitution.

Their will always be decisions of the Supreme Court that people don't like. But those decisions must be the law of the land. If they are wrong, then we have a method to change them -- amend the Constitution. That's not an easy process, and it shouldn't be -- but it works. And until the Constitution is amended, all states must obey Supreme Court decisions.

The chart above was made from a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on June 30th and July 1st of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

Burning Churches

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Clinton Raises Record Amount In Campaign's 1st Quarter

In the first quarter of her candidacy, Hillary Clinton raised a whopping $45 million. That's a new record for American politics, breaking the record set by President Obama after announcing his re-election plans in 2011. Obama had raised $41.9 million in the first quarter.

Bernie Sanders was able to raise $15 million in the first quarter of his candidacy. That's a very credible amount, considering that most voters know very little about him, and most consider him a long-shot at best for the nomination.

The Clinton campaign said 91% of their donations were amounts less than $100, while the Sanders campaign said 99% of their donations were in amounts less than $250.


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

Texas Attorney General To Be Charged With Stock Fraud

It looks like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's legal troubles may be much more serious than previously thought. Paxton (pictured in photo by WFAA) had admitted during the campaign that he broke the law by selling securities with registering as a broker -- and the voters elected him anyway (showing the iron grip the GOP has on this state currently).

But Texas Rangers have uncovered evidence that Paxton's crimes were much more serious than just failing to register. He seems to have committed securities fraud -- a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison.

Here is how Tanya Eiserer of WFAA describes Paxton's new legal problem:

The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned.
Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.
"The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else," Schaffer told News 8. "It's turned into something different than when they started."
Schaffer, a Houston criminal defense attorney, said the securities fraud allegations involve amounts well in excess of $100,000. He declined to comment specifics of the fraud allegations.
A first-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to life in prison.

Social Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.


Friday, July 03, 2015

Be Kind

Unemployment Rate Fall To 5.3% For June

The Labor Department has released its labor statistics for the month of June. It shows that 223,000 jobs were created in June, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.2% -- to 5.3%. The number of unemployed workers dropped by 375,000, but that was due mainly to people leaving the workforce, as the civilian workforce decreased by 432,000. In other words, most of the drop in the unemployment rate is due to people leaving the workforce than finding a job.

Here are the relevant statistics for June:


Adult men...............4.8%
Adult women...............4.8%
Teenagers (16-19)...............18.1%







NUMBER OF WORKERS MARGINALLY-ATTACHED TO WORKFORCE (and no longer counted since they didn't look for work in the last 4 weeks)






NUMBER OF UNDEREMPLOYED WORKERS (working part-time because they can't find full-time work)







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

First Same-Sex Marriage License Issued In Amarillo

Yesterday, I informed you that Amarillo clerks (Julie Smith of Potter County and Renee Calhoun of Randall County) had loaded the new marriage license forms in their computer, and were ready to follow the Supreme Court decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Now the ice has been broken.

On Wednesday afternoon at about 12:30pm, Potter County issued the first same-sex license. The recipients (pictured) were Jimmy Healy (47) and David Miller (55). The couple said they were surprised that they were the first, figuring some others had already done it. They have been a couple for about six years.

I congratulate the happy couple -- and I hope they have a long and very happy marriage.


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Fold It Up

Cuba And U.S. To Re-Establish Embassies

A few weeks ago, President Obama announced that Cuba and the United States would be engaging in talks designed to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries. It looks like those talks have been successful, because yesterday President Obama announced the two countries would open embassies in each country this month. A simultaneous announcement was made on Cuban television, as an announcer read a letter from Raul Castro.

The two embassies are scheduled to open on July 20th, and Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cuba to open the U.S. embassy. This is long past due. There is absolutely no reason why the United States and Cuba shouldn't have normal diplomatic relations.

Now Congress needs to do its part, and end the silly and ineffective trade embargo that has been in effect for more than 50 years. Cuba poses no danger to the United States, and all other nations ended there part in this embargo long ago. If we can trade with nations like China, then there is no reason why we shouldn't trade with our neighbor to the South.

The Mouth

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Trump Moves Into Second Place In New National Poll

A new national CNN / ORC Poll has been released, and it shows the volatility of the Republican race. They queried 407 Republican (with a 5 point margin of error) and 490 Democrats (with a 4.5 point margin of error). Several Republicans who had polled well in previous polls have dropped back into single digits -- Huckabee (8), Paul (7), Rubio (6), Walker (6), and Cruz (3). Meanwhile Trump has raced up to second place with 12 points, and Bush leads with 19 points.

Trump seems to have struck a chord with the xenophobic teabagger in the GOP base. They like his attacks on Mexico and immigrants, because they like to blame immigrants for the economic problems caused by their own party leaders (lack of jobs, low wages, sluggish economy, etc.).

I'm still not sold on Trump being a credible candidate though. Can he appeal to elements in the party other than the xenophobes? I don't think so. His favorable/unfavorable rating is upside down among Republicans. But we'll see as this race progresses.

Hillary Clinton is the clear leader, and this poll has Joe Biden in second place (four points ahead of Bernie Sanders), even though Biden has not indicated whether he is a candidate or not. The Democratic numbers are below, along with a breakdown of support for Clinton and Sanders.


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

Amarillo Is Ready To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

There's been a lot of talk in the last few days about whether County Clerks in Texas counties will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Attorney General caused some consternation with his rather muddied opinion saying individuals could refuse to issue licenses if it violated their religious beliefs, but most clerks now understand that someone in each office must issue those licenses (or the office will be subject to legal action and fines).

And that includes the clerks serving the city of Amarillo. Amarillo is in two separate counties. The northern half is in Potter County and the southern half is in Randall County. The clerks of both counties say they took Monday to download the new license forms from the state, and had worked out any glitches by late Tuesday. Both Potter County Clerk Julie Smith and Randall County Clerk Renee Calhoun say they have not yet had any licenses requested, but they stand ready to issue the licenses when asked to do so.

Amarillo is in one of the reddest areas of Texas -- an area that votes overwhelmingly Republican. So, many of us wondered how these clerks would react to the court decision. It is gratifying to see that they were not willing to waste taxpayer money by getting the counties engaged in silly lawsuits.