Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Helpful Chart

Many Of GOP Are Unconnected To Reality

If you've wondered how those in the Republican base, especially those who don't have much, can continue to support the Republican Party, then let me enlighten you. It's because they don't have a connection to the real world. They have decided what they want to believe, and cling to those beliefs in spite of facts to the contrary. Facts don't really matter to these people.

The two charts above illustrate this perfectly. They made up their minds years ago that President Obama was not born in the United States, and many still claim to believe that -- in spite of both the short and long-form birth certificates being released, all the newspaper accounts of the birth, and the repeated assurances of officials in Hawaii. About 44% of all Republicans, 61% of Trump supporters, and 64% of teabaggers swear that the president was not born in this country.

And when it comes to a presidential candidate in their own party, Ted Cruz, they still want to deny reality. Cruz was born in Canada, but significant pluralities of all GOP groups believe he was born in the United States (and 55% of teabaggers believe that).

This should tell you all you need to know. A significant portion of the Republican base have no use for reason or logic.

These charts were made from a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done between August 28th and 30th of a random national sample of 572 Republicans, with a 4.1 point margin of error.

Regulating Breasts

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Clinton And Trump Still Have Large Leads Nationally

These figures are from the latest national poll of Democrats and Republicans on their presidential preference. It was done by Public Policy Polling between August 28th and 30th. They queried 545 Democrats (4.2 point margin of error) and 572 Republicans (4.1 point margin of error).

Hillary Clinton still has a large lead of about 35 points (55% to 20%) over Bernie Sanders, who is in second place. Sanders continues to draw large crowds, but that has not yet translated into national support that should trouble Clinton. The second chart above shows the support of each candidate among the various groups. Suffice it to say that Clinton has large leads among all the groups.

Among the Republicans, Donald Trump still has a significant lead. He leads Ben Carson by 14 points (29% to 15%). That's not nearly enough to assure Trump will win, but Carson seems to be his only competition right now. No other GOP candidate could even make it into double-digits. The question on my mind is what's going to happen when some of these candidates start dropping out. Will Trump get their support, or will others get it (causing them to rise and challenge Trump)?

Trump On Twitter

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

Most American Think Another Financial Crisis Is Coming

(Photo image is from Generational Dynamics.)

Back in February, the stock market's Dow Jones Industrial average was about 18,244. Yesterday that average had fallen to 16,058. That's a drop of 2,186 points (or about 12% of market value). That's not the financial disaster of 2008, but it is enough to worry people. And they are worried. A significant majority of Americans say they believe that another financial crisis will hit this country (see chart below) within the next 12 months (something similar to what happened in 2008).

About 58% of the public believes that, while only 21% say it won't happen (and another 21% don't know). They also know that our government has done nothing to protect this country from another financial crisis. About 65% believe that -- and they are right. A Wall Street reform package was passed, but it was a very weak law, and did not contain the regulations needed to prevent the same kind of financial crisis that happened in 2008.

I agree with those who fear another financial crisis. I don't know if we are witnessing the start of it, or even if it will happen within the next 12 months -- but it is going to happen. It's going to happen because our government has done nothing to stop it. The giant financial institutions are still playing fast and loose with consumers money, and trading the same kind of junk they got in trouble for trading in 2008. Also, the vast gap in wealth and income (another of the causes of the 2008 crisis) between the richest Americans and the rest of America continues to grow even larger.

Greed still trumps common sense, as this nation continues to use the utterly failed "trickle-down" economic policies of the Republicans. It seems as though our political leaders, especially the Republican-controlled Congress, learned nothing from the financial crisis of 2008.

The charts below were made from information in a recent YouGov Poll -- done between August 24th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, and has a 4.4 point margin of error.


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

Harris Co. Sheriff Misses The Point Of "Black Lives Matter"

The chart above is from The Washington Post, and so is the article below (written by Janelle Ross). I agree with every word she has written.

In Harris County, Tex., Sheriff Ron Hickman is in the midst of a difficult time. He's lost one of his deputies to a shooting at a suburban Houston gas station. And while the man arrested in connection with the shooting death of Deputy Darren H. Goforth has yet to provide law enforcement with a motive for his alleged actions, Hickman has provided one for him.
"Our assumption is that he [Goforth] was a target because he wore a uniform," Hickman told reporters at a news conference last week."We've heard 'Black Lives Matter,' 'All Lives Matter.' Well, Cops' lives matter, too."
The implication -- and it's not a new one -- is this: All this talk about the value of black lives and public questions about the way in which law enforcement officers do their work denigrate the merit of policing and fundamentally imperil or splinter public concern about officers' health and safety.
It's an idea that is not only inconsistent with the evidence that we can gather from American political culture, but one that essentially affirms one of the core ideas advanced by Black Lives Matter activists.
To Hickman and more than a few law enforcement union leaders and public spokesmen around the country, it seems that in a world in which Black Lives Matter, police lives accordingly do not. That sounds a lot like saying that effective policing and law enforcement where officers feel and remain safe cannot happen unless those same public officials are free to do their work without regard for the civil rights and liberties of people of color in the communities they police.
If we follow that logic, then public and prosecutorial questions about the conduct of police -- as well as the still-rare occasions when those inquiries lead to charges and, even more rarely, criminal convictions -- interfere with public and police safety. In Hickman's world, police lives cannot matter if the particular and disproportionate peril that black Americans face when they come in contact with police matters to the rest of us at all.
It is a kind of logic that says safety and civil rights sit at opposite poles or are part of a zero-sum equation -- if x matters, then y does not. That not only has never been an idea that Black Lives Matter activists have publicly espoused; it's pretty antithetical to the movement's general push for greater regard for the experiences, injuries and deaths suffered at the hands of police. Existing patterns, these activists argue, suggest that black lives do not matter at all. So they must be spoken for and spoken about with particular fervor.
Yes, Hickman used the controversial -- to some, dismissive -- phrase "all lives matter." It is a phrase that other elected officials, candidates and political activists of very different ideological veins have sometimes deployed as verbal irritant. The phrase can be aimed at those who would dare to speak publicly for and about these incidents, failed prosecutions and many, many decisions not to charge or indict the officers involved in questionable injuries and deaths. It is that very pattern that Black Lives Matter activists believe exemplifies the limited and particularly diminished value of black lives.
Sometimes, an "all lives matter" declaration is a conscious or unconscious attempt to avoid the ugly truth about the country's ongoing challenges around race and equality. The fact that this is an argument almost exclusively exercised by white Americans should, perhaps, give some of these people pause. For the parents of most children and teens of color, having a conversation about how to try to avoid injury or death when in contact with police feels as necessary as the chats other parents have about wearing one's seat belt and avoiding conversations with strangers.
And sometimes, "all lives matter" might come from a principled place that just does not include much regard for the statistics depicted in the police shooting graphic above. And that reality is: Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately killed by police. 
Certainly, Hickman might at this moment be in a deeply emotional state. But his is a comment closely connected with the sentiments of officers and in particular law enforcement union representatives in Baltimore and New York. At points this year, they engaged in informal work slowdowns and other types of unofficial work refusal on the grounds that attention to alleged police misconduct made it impossible to do their jobs.
Still, calling for equal and legal treatment for all Americans is not equivalent to sanctioning the ambush murder of police. Requiring officers to abide by the laws they help to enforce should not really be regarded as an extra and unnecessary layer of responsibility for public servants.
And perhaps most notably, there is little to no evidence that suggests that news coverage of alleged police misconduct is making police work more dangerous. In May, the FBI released preliminary data showing that 51 police officers were killed in the commission of felonies in 2014. That's a marked increase over the previous year, when just 27 officers died the same way. But police killings also hit a 35-year low in 2013.
In fact, between 1980 and 2014, an average of 64 officers were killed each year, making that 2014 increase in crimes that led to an officer's death no less sad or monumental for the officers and their families but well within the range of a sad normal in the United States that certainly predates the Black Lives Matter movement. You can look at the FBI data summary here and glean some of the details about the circumstances under which those 51 officers were killed last year.
One major takeaway from the preliminary 2014 data: Six officers were killed in premeditated situations where they were ambushed and two during unprovoked attacks that are similar to what officers say happened at that suburban Houston gas station. The previous year, five officers were ambushed and killed, according to the FBI.
These aren't the signs of some growing pattern or problem. They are almost singular and certainly terrible events.
What we do know is that those who are arrested in connection with officer injuries or deaths are often convicted, face lengthy sentences and even capital punishment when caught. In at least one state, New Hampshire, causing a police officer's death is specifically identified as a death-penalty-eligible crime.
The fact that the man who is allegedly responsible for Goforth's death was brought to court to face capital murder charges Monday morning, two days after Goforth's death, would also seem to affirm that officer killings not only matter, but remain a very big deal.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Silence Is Consent

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Senator Elizabeth Warren Defends Planned Parenthood

Public Is More Disappointed In Republicans Than Democrats

Polls have been consistent for a couple of years now. They show that while the president's approval numbers are slightly upside-down, they are hugely better than the approval numbers of Congress. It is Congress that the country holds responsible for the mess the country is in.

This survey from the Quinnipiac University Poll (done between August 20th and 25th of a random national sample of 1,563 registered voters, with a 2.5 point margin of error) verifies this once again. But they take it a bit further, by separating the congressional Republican from the congressional Democrats.

The numbers show that the general public is unhappy with both parties in Congress -- but they are significantly more unhappy with Republicans than Democrats. Congressional Democrats have a 15 point lower disapproval rating than congressional Republicans, and a 15 point higher approval rating. Those are significant numbers (well beyond the survey margin of error). Republicans would do well to consider this before trying to shut down the government again (as many of them want to do to defund Planned Parenthood).

The survey also questioned respondents on their approval of the two major political parties -- and the Republicans didn't do much better there. They had an 8 point higher disapproval rating than Democrats, and a 9 point lower approval rating.

For All Occasions ?

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

Martin O'Malley Whines That Six Debates Are Not Enough

(This photo of Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley is from his Facebook page.)

Martin O'Malley has been in the presidential race for a few weeks now, but he's been unable to garner any support beyond low single-digits. In other words, either no one knows he's running, or more likely, no one cares. And frankly, I don't know where he's going to find any support. Clinton and Sanders are splitting the liberal vote, and Clinton seems to have a lock on the moderate and conservative votes (with a few conservative votes going to Jim Webb).

O'Malley knows he is currently dead in the water (and likely to stay that way), so he's decided to stir up some controversy by accusing the Democratic leadership of "rigging" the election for Clinton -- and his "proof" of that is the fact that only six Democratic debates have been scheduled. Here is some of what he had to say to the DNC at their summer meeting in Minneapolis:

"We need debate! What are we afraid of?"

"While the Republicans put their backwards ideas forward before an audience of more than 20 million Americans. We put our forward-thinking ideas on the backburner...and try to hide them from the airwaves."

"How does this help us tell the story of the last eight years of Democratic progress? How does this promote our Democratic ideas for making wages and household incomes go up again and not down? How does this help us make our case to the people? One debate in Iowa. That’s it? One debate in New Hampshire. That's all we can afford?"

"Is this how the Democratic Party selects its nominee?"

"Will we let the circus run unchallenged on every channel, as we cower in the shadows under a decree of silence in the ranks? Or will we demand equal time to showcase our ideas, our solutions to the nation's problems, and our leadership for the better America we carry in hearts?"

I say that's a load of crap (that stuff that comes out of the south end of a north-bound bull). Having six debates is not "a decree of silence" -- and whether his few supporters (or the supporters of Bernie Sanders) want to admit it or not, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is neutral in the nominating race and have NOT rigged the race to favor anyone.

I realize that O'Malley is just trying to stir up some controversy so he can get someone -- anyone -- to pay attention to his campaign. But his charge is absurd. He will be allowed to debate on an equal footing with all the Democratic candidates, and if he can't drum up enough support to be competitive in six debates it will be his own fault.

I don't have a problem with holding six debates, but personally I doubt that even that many are needed. I doubt that anyone who can't decide which candidate they want to support after three debates is unlikely to be able to do so after six debates, or ten debates, or even thirty debates. Democrats are not stupid, and I imagine they will watch the first two or three debates in large numbers. But after that, most of those watching will be there just to cheer on a candidate they have already decided to support.

Sic debates are plenty -- and anyone who can't convince Democrats of his/her candidacy after six debates should realize that it is not the process that is at fault -- it is their own campaign.

Living By The Sword

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

Is Carson The New GOP "Flavor Of The Month" ?

In the last few months, there have been several "leaders" in the GOP race for their party's nomination to be president (although none of them have been able to get anywhere near a majority). The current leader is Donald Trump. But is he about to give way to a new leader? If the results of this new poll are correct, that may be the case -- at least in Iowa.

The numbers in the chart above are from a new Monmouth University Poll -- done between August 27th and 30th of a random sample of 405 likely Iowa Republican caucus attendees. It has a margin of error of about 4.9 points.

The survey shows that Ben Carson and Donald Trump are now tied in Iowa at 23% apiece -- far ahead of any other candidates. Carly Fiorina finishes third with 10%, and Ted Cruz is fourth with 9%. Scott Walker, who led in Iowa for quite a while, is now fifth with 7%. No other candidate got more than 5%.

Looking at the top three finishers, none of whom have ever been elected to any government position, one might assume that Iowa Republicans are mad at their elected officials. And that seems to be true. The survey also asked if those queried want someone with government experience or some from outside of government. Outside of government was the overwhelming choice (66% to 23%).

Trojan Horse (Of Racism)

Political Cartoon is by Mike Thompson in the Detroit Free Press.

"Emperor" Obama Renames Highest Mountain In U.S.

President Obama has changed the name of America's highest peak -- from Mt. McKinley to Denali (the original name given the mountain by Native Americans). Some people like this, and some don't (especially Ohio Republicans). But the funniest piece I have read about this comes from Evan Hurst at Wonkette's blog. He has written a hilarious post, and I urge you to read the whole thing. Here is a part of it:

Emperor Obama has issued another fatwa, and this time it is about how it’s no longer okay for North America’s highest peak, which is located right in the middle of Ohio in Alaska, to be named after President William McKinley, but rather, it should be given a funny foreign Alaskan name, “Denali.” This is obvious government overreach, as all mountains got their names directly from Jesus, when they were formed, and He wanted this one to be named after a U.S. president. You have questions, we have answers.

Why is the tyrant president doing this???

Okay, so fun fact. The mountain was named “Mt. McKinley” in 1896 by a prospector, and the U.S. American government officially recognized the name in 1917. But, studies show that the mountain actually existed before 1896! And native Alaskans (the real kind, not the Palin kind) had called it Denali for YEARS, long before they were forced to call it some white guy’s name. In fact, they used that name both for the 20,237-foot summit of the mountain (according to Alaska the 20,320 number is wrong), and also for the mountain’s slightly shorter BFF, which is currently called Mt. Foraker. Alaska formally removed the white American president’s name from the mountain in 1975, but the federal government (read: FUCKING CONGRESS) wouldn’t change it, because they didn’t want to make Ohio cry.

Who mad about it?

Ohio Republicans. Yes, you see, McKinley was from Ohio (and so was Sen. “Foraker,” so COMIN’ FOR YOU NEXT, probably), and, though most Ohioans will never visit Alaska, and many couldn’t pick it out on a map, it apparently is very important to them for this one mountain to be named after a president. They could, of course, name something in Ohio after McKinley — like maybe that giant Touchdown Jesus statue they have — but boo hoo and waaaaaaaah, that’s not good enough. They have to have their special mountain in Alaska, just like every other state doesn’t have.

. . .

This is probably just the beginning, isn’t it?

Almost certainly. Obama thinks all our Americas are belong to him, so we can expect many other beloved landmarks and red states to get new names before the president leaves office (IF HE EVEN LEAVES).
Possible ideas: the Rockies could be renamed “William Ayers Is My Boyfriend In A Gay Way,” the Appalachians could be renamed “Socialism Is My Favorite, Also In A Gay Way,” and Texas will, of course be renamed “ISIS,” like that wasn’t already happening anyway, duh.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.


Monday, August 31, 2015



Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Is The Media Telling The Truth Or What Will Get Viewers ?

(This caricature of the current Democratic candidates is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Republican race for their presidential nomination has been pretty volatile. There have been several different leaders in the polls. The current flavor of the month is Donald Trump, and he may or may not remain the leader. This is the kind of thing the media loves, because it gets viewers to tune in to see what is happening now in the race.

The Democratic race is far different. Hillary Clinton started out with a huge lead, and she has maintained that huge lead over all her competitors (still with double the national support over her nearest competitor, Bernie Sanders). So why is all we seem to hear from the news networks, especially the cable networks, that Clinton is losing support?

The answer is that the truth (that Clinton maintains a huge lead) is not exciting to them. They don't think it will get them viewers. They don't think people will tune in to hear that a race is static -- and that there has been no real change for several months. And they might be right. But does that give them the right to give viewers an impression that is simply not true?

There was a time in this country when networks didn't expect their news shows to be money-makers. They made their money off their entertainment shows, and considered their news shows to be a community service -- happy if they just came fairly close to breaking even. But that time is gone. Now the networks, both cable and broadcast, expect to make money from every minute of air time.

That is the reason we get less real news and more "fluff" pieces, and it is the reason they are willing to give a false impression to their viewers -- because that is what they think will increase their viewership, and more viewers equals more money.

The truth is that the Democratic race has changed very little over the past few months. Clinton still has around 50% support, while her closest competitor has around 25% -- and if that changes by a point or two from poll to poll, that's not real news. But the networks will jump on every little change, whether it is significant or not, because profits is more important than truth to them (and especially to the giant corporations that own them).

That is not a good thing, but it is a sad reality of how low our news networks have fallen.

Inadequate Response

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Which Of These Iowa Democratic Polls Is The Outlier ?

All of the cable news networks were talking about the poll represented in the top chart yesterday -- the Des Moines Register / Bloomberg News Poll. It shows Bernie Sanders within 7 points of Hillary Clinton among Iowa Democrats. But these networks seem to have a short memory. Just a couple of days ago, the Suffolk University Poll was released. It shows Clinton with a dominant 34 point lead over Sanders among Iowa Democrats.

Instead of talking about how Sanders is catching Clinton in Iowa, the news networks should have been asking how two polls could be showing such vastly differing results. One of these polls is clearly wrong. Which one is it? This can be accounted for by the margin of error (4.4 points for Suffolk and 4.9 points for DMR/BN). The difference between the two polls is 27 points -- far beyond the margin of errors combined.

Did one poll have a much bigger sample of Democrats? Not really. The DMR/BN poll queried 404 Democrats, while Suffolk questioned 500 Democrats. Those sample sizes are close enough that they can account for the huge difference between them.

Were they taken at different times? Suffolk was done between August 20th and 24th, while DMR/BN was done between August 23rd and 26th. The were done within a couple of days of each other, and nothing significant has happened in those couple of days that would account for a huge movement in support.

I expect the Sanders supporters will believe the DMR/BN poll, while the Clinton supporters will believe the Suffolk poll -- but one of them is wrong. Which one? I honestly don't know. And I hate it when this happens with polls, because it just muddies up the picture of what is happening. We're going to have to wait and see what future polls tell us about Iowa Democrats before we'll know which poll is the outlier (a poll that differs from all others).

The Candidate Of Racists

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Robert Reich Blasts The Huge Rise In CEO Pay

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured) thinks the rise in CEO pay since the inception of GOP "trickle-down" economics is outrageous (and I agree). Average CEO compensation in the United States is far higher, compared to the average worker compensation, than in any other developed capitalistic country -- and continues to rise, while worker wages remain stagnant.

Here is what Mr. Reich has to say about it on his own blog (posted on August 9th):

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved a rule last week requiring that large publicly held corporations disclose the ratios of the pay of their top CEOs to the pay of their median workers.
About time.
For the last thirty years almost all incentives operating on American corporations have resulted in lower pay for average workers and higher pay for CEOs and other top executives. 
Consider that in 1965, CEOs of America’s largest corporations were paid, on average, 20 times the pay of average workers. 
Now, the ratio is over 300 to 1
Not only has CEO pay exploded, so has the pay of top executives just below them. 
The share of corporate income devoted to compensating the five highest-paid executives of large corporations ballooned from an average of 5 percent in 1993 to more than 15 percent by 2005 (the latest data available).
Corporations might otherwise have devoted this sizable sum to research and development, additional jobs, higher wages for average workers, or dividends to shareholders – who, not incidentally, are supposed to be the owners of the firm.
Corporate apologists say CEOs and other top executives are worth these amounts because their corporations have performed so well over the last three decades that CEOs are like star baseball players or movie stars. 
Baloney. Most CEOs haven’t done anything special. The entire stock market surged over this time. 
Even if a company’s CEO simply played online solitaire for thirty years, the company’s stock would have ridden the wave.  
Besides, that stock market surge has had less to do with widespread economic gains than with changes in market rules favoring big companies and major banks over average employees, consumers, and taxpayers.
Consider, for example, the stronger and more extensive intellectual-property rights now enjoyed by major corporations, and the far weaker antitrust enforcement against them. 
Add in the rash of taxpayer-funded bailouts, taxpayer-funded subsidies, and bankruptcies favoring big banks and corporations over employees and small borrowers.
Not to mention trade agreements making it easier to outsource American jobs, and state legislation (cynically termed “right-to-work” laws) dramatically reducing the power of unions to bargain for higher wages. 
The result has been higher stock prices but not higher living standards for most Americans.
Which doesn’t justify sky-high CEO pay unless you think some CEOs deserve it for their political prowess in wangling these legal changes through Congress and state legislatures.
It even turns out the higher the CEO pay, the worse the firm does.
Professors Michael J. Cooper of the University of Utah, Huseyin Gulen of Purdue University, and P. Raghavendra Rau of the University of Cambridge, recently found that companies with the highest-paid CEOs returned about 10 percent less to their shareholders than do their industry peers. 
So why aren’t shareholders hollering about CEO pay? Because corporate law in the United States gives shareholders at most an advisory role.
They can holler all they want, but CEOs don’t have to listen. 
Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, received a pay package in 2013 valued at $78.4 million, a sum so stunning that Oracle shareholders rejected it. That made no difference because Ellison controlled the board. 
In Australia, by contrast, shareholders have the right to force an entire corporate board to stand for re-election if 25 percent or more of a company’s shareholders vote against a CEO pay plan two years in a row.
Which is why Australian CEOs are paid an average of only 70 times the pay of the typical Australian worker.
The new SEC rule requiring disclosure of pay ratios could help strengthen the hand of American shareholders.
The rule might generate other reforms as well – such as pegging corporate tax rates to those ratios. 
Under a bill introduced in the California legislature last year, a company whose CEO earns only 25 times the pay of its typical worker would pay a corporate tax rate of only 7 percent, rather than the 8.8 percent rate now applied to all California firms. 
On the other hand, a company whose CEO earns 200 times the pay of its typical employee, would face a 9.5 percent rate. If the CEO earned 400 times, the rate would be 13 percent. 
The bill hasn’t made it through the legislature because business groups call it a “job killer.” 
The reality is the opposite. CEOs don’t create jobs. Their customers create jobs by buying more of what their companies have to sell.
So pushing companies to put less money into the hands of their CEOs and more into the hands of their average employees will create more jobs. 
The SEC’s disclosure rule isn’t perfect. Some corporations could try to game it by contracting out their low-wage jobs. Some industries pay their typical workers higher wages than other industries. 
But the rule marks an important start.

Coverage Goes To The Craziest Candidate

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

The Secret Of Freedom

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Religious Freedom - Not Religious Oppression

Clinton & Trump Are Candidates Most Mentioned On News

Publicity is the life-blood of a political campaign, and the more coverage a candidate gets through the news media, the less critical it is to have huge amounts of money to spend on campaign advertising. As the chart above (from Television Campaign Tracker) shows the "winners' of being mentioned by the news media are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Is that really good? Much, if not most, of the mentions have been negative for Clinton and for Trump. Considering that, I think it shows the strength of both candidates that they both still hold large leads in their respective primary races.

Some might say that any mention, even negative ones, are good -- but I'm not at all sure I buy that. There have been times in the past when negative publicity on the news programs have killed campaigns.

Sanders supporters have been complaining loudly that their candidate doesn't get his fair share of coverage. But I wonder if they'd really like to have an enormous amount of negative coverage. I suspect they'd then be complaining about how that large coverage was still unfair.

The charts below show the percentage of news media mentions by each candidate in their own party race.

Real (Bad)

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Americans Are Split On Whether Churches Should Be Taxed

I have to admit that I was a little surprised at the results of this survey. I had expected that a significant majority of the United States public would think that churches (and other religious organizations) should be exempt from paying taxes (as they currently are. But that is not true. They are split right down the middle on the matter -- with 40% saying they should be taxed and 40% saying they should not be taxed (and 20% who don't know what to think).

I was also surprised by the demographic breakdown of those who believe either way. I had expected men to want them taxed over women, and younger people wanting them taxed more than older people. That was just the opposite of what the survey showed. It turns out that by a small percentage, men support the tax exemption while women support taxing them -- and younger people support exemption while older people support taxation.

I think churches should be taxed. They are exempted because they are considered to be charities, but I don't see them doing that much charitable work (and I don't consider spending money to convince others to accept their particular brand of religion to be charitable work). And I certainly don't see helping a religious leader to live the life of a rich person to be charitable.

I could see allowing churches to get a deduction for true charitable spending that some of them do (such as feeding or housing the poor), but the rest of their income, not spent for that charitable work or to pay their true expenses (such as utilities) should be subject to taxation -- and they should pay property taxes on any property not used for true charitable work.

I see no reason why religion should be given a free ride in this country -- and it looks like 4 out of 10 Americans agree with me (and an equal amount disagree). We have a secular government established by a secular constitution, and those who are not religious should not have to pay more in taxes to make up for what religious organizations do not pay.

These numbers come from a new YouGov Poll -- done between August 24th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, and has a margin of error of 4.4 points.

Another interesting question in the survey is illustrated in the charts below. It seems that a significant majority (62%) think it is NOT acceptable for a religious leader to become wealthy through their religious activities (like many preachers, especially the TV preachers, do).

Supporter ?

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

Clinton And Trump Continue To Hold Large Leads

These charts show the latest (August 28th) results of the Reuters/Ipsos Poll. The survey is a rolling average of the last five days for both Republicans and Democrats. Bot Clinton and Trump continue to hold large leads over their respective primary candidates. Clinton leads Sanders by 20.2 points, and Trump leads Huckabee by 20.8 points. It is a small surprise that Huckabee is in second place.

Perfect Recruit

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

New Cancer Breakthrough Stops Growth Of Cancer Cells

(This image of differing types of cancer cells is from MedicineNet.com.)

Researchers at Florida's Mayo Clinic has made an astounding discovery. They have discovered a way to stop the growth of cancer cells and turn them into harmless benign cells. Here is how Sarah Knapton, science editor of The Telegraph, describes the new discovery:

Cancer cells have been programmed back to normal by scientists in a breakthrough which could lead to new treatments and even reverse tumour growth. 
For the first time aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths. 
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, US, said it was like applying the brakes to a speeding car. 
So far it has only been tested on human cells in the lab, but the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day be used to target tumours so that cancer could be ‘switched off’ without the need for harsh chemotherapy or surgery. 
"We should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function,” said Profesor Panos Anastasiadis, of the Department for Cancer Biology. 
“Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising. 
“It represents an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer." 
Cells need to divide constantly to replace themselves. But in cancer the cells do not stop dividing leading to huge cell reproduction and tumour growth. 
The scientists discovered that the glue which holds cells together is regulated by biological microprocessors called microRNAs. When everything is working normally the microRNAs instruct the cells to stop dividing when they have replicated sufficiently. They do this by triggering production of a protein called PLEKHA7 which breaks the cell bonds. But in cancer that process does not work. 
Scientists discovered they could switch on cancer in cells by removing the microRNAs from cells and preventing them from producing the protein. 
And, crucially they found that they could reverse the process switching the brakes back on and stopping cancer. MicroRNAs are small molecules which can be delivered directly to cells or tumours so an injection to increase levels could switch off disease.
“We have now done this in very aggressive human cell lines from breast and bladder cancer,” added Dr Anastasiadis. 
“These cells are already missing PLEKHA7. Restoring either PLEKHA7 levels, or the levels of microRNAs in these cells turns them back to a benign state. We are now working on better delivery options.” 
Cancer experts in Britain said the research solved a riddle that biologists had puzzled over for decades, why cells did not naturally prevent the proliferation of cancer. 
“This is an unexpected finding,” said Dr Chris Bakal, a specialist in how cells change shape to become cancerous, at the Institute for Cancer Research in London. 
“We have been trying to work out how normal cells might be suppressing cancer, and stopping dividing when they form contacts with each other, which has been a big mystery. 
“Normal cells touch each other and form junctions then they shut down proliferation. If there is a way to turn that back on then that would be a way to stop tumours from growing. 
“I think in reality it is unlikely that you could reverse tumours by reversing just one mechanism, but it’s a very interesting finding.” 
Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: “This important study solves a long-standing biological mystery, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. 
“There’s a long way to go before we know whether these findings, in cells grown in a laboratory, will help treat people with cancer. But it’s a significant step forward in understanding how certain cells in our body know when to grow, and when to stop. Understanding these key concepts is crucial to help continue the encouraging progress against cancer we’ve seen in recent years.” 
The research was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.