Friday, February 23, 2018

Narrow Mind


Will Trump Will Actually Do Anything About Gun Violence ?

(Caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

Donald Trump held a "listening session" on Wednesday to hear from people angry about the mass shootings in this country (although sadly, he had to make himself a note to remember to be empathetic to the victims). I doubt he was really listening though, because he seemed to have already made up his mind about what he wants to do (or says he wants to do).

Trump made three suggestions -- change the age to buy an assault weapon, make background checks better, and arm teachers and school employees. I doubt he was serious about any of these suggestions, and considering how many times he has lied during his first year in office (more than 2,000 times), I'm not going to hold my breath until any change is made.

The first suggestion is silly. Making people wait until they are 21 to buy a military-style assault weapon will accomplish nothing. These weapons need to be outlawed -- for people of any age. They have no purpose except to kill large numbers of people as fast as possible. It won't pass though, because the NRA opposes it, and they own most congressional Republicans.

The same goes for background checks. We do need background checks for anyone trying to buy a firearm (or is being given a firearm), and about 90% of the public (including most rank-and-file NRA members) support that. But the NRA leadership opposes it -- and both Trump and Congress are not about to do anything the NRA leaders don't want. This was just a BS lie from Trump (like his promise to protect DACA Dreamers, his promise to give most tax cuts to the middle class, and his promise to provide great health insurance for all Americans). He didn't mean it, and we won't see it.

He might actually try to implement his third suggestion -- to arm teachers and other school employees. That's something the NRA would support, and congressional Republicans could pat themselves on the back for and believe they have accomplished something. But it's a bad idea. I can see some teacher losing his/her cool and shooting some student (probably unarmed) because they "feared for their life".

Trump said the shooters would avoid schools if they thought teachers had guns, because he said the shooters are cowards and don't want to be shot. That's stupid. Almost all of the shooters EXPECT to be killed (and kill themselves if others don't do it). More guns won't change this. It will just make our schools more dangerous for everyone (teachers and students).

Arming teachers won't do much to stop mass shootings, because mass shootings happen everywhere (concerts, theaters, parking lots, churches, etc.). Are we going to arm everyone everywhere? The right would like us to think that more guns means more safety, but that's simply not true. More guns just means more opportunity for nuts to commit mass shootings.

Trump, and right-wingers, also want to talk about mental illness and video games. Those are not the primary causes of mass shootings. Other developed nations have mental illness and the same proliferation of video games, but do not have the horror of mass shootings that the United States has (about one every day). Why not? We let our nuts have any kind of weapon and as much ammunition they want -- other countries don't.

We do need to take action to stop both the number of mass shootings and the number of gun deaths in this country -- and while we may not be able to completely eliminate them, we could significantly reduce them (just as other countries have done). And we could do it without violating our Constitution. But don't expect Trump to do anything about it.

If you think Trump will do anything, then you have been conned by him again.

Signs

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

1st Day Of Texas Early Voting Shows Enthusiasm Of Dems


Texas early voting has started. The charts I show here use information from the office of the Texas Secretary of State. It shows the early voting totals for the 15 largest counties in the state. Those counties have about 66% of the state's registered voters. And the results for the first day of early voting should encourage Democrats.

Note (in the chart above) that the first day total of early voters is up from the last off-year election of 2014. In 2014, 73,375 people cast their vote. This year, 96,404 people cast a ballot on the first day. The increase is due to an increase in the number of Democrats casting an early vote. The number of Republicans remained fairly constant (48,898 in 2014 and 47,029 in 2018). But the number of Democrats more than doubled on first day voting (from 23,377 in 2014 to 49,375 in 2018).

This does not necessarily mean the Democrats are going to outvote Republicans statewide, and it doesn't assure a Democratic victory in November. But it does show that Democratics are fired up and enthusiastic about voting this year -- and that's a good thing.

The chart below shows the number of voters for each party on the first day in each of the 15 largest counties.


Puppeteer

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

Another Poll Shows Public Wants Stricter Gun Laws








These charts use information in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,308 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Donald Trump, congressional Republicans, and the NRA may not think anything should be done about the level of gun violence in this country, but the general public certainly does. They want stricter laws concerning guns -- especially who can buy those guns.

Maps

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

10 Charts Showing The Depth Of Public Dislike Of Trump











The charts reflect information in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 16th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,249 voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

I don't think commentary is needed. The charts speak for themselves.

"Pardon Me"

Political Cartoon is by Tom Tales in The Washington Post.

Not Good Enough ?


Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Limits Of Tyrants


Are We Seeing The Start Of A New Youth Revolution ?

(This AP photo by Brynn Anderson is from The Seattle Times.)

I am old enough to have experienced the youth revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Youth in the Baby Boomer generation rose up and challenged the way things were done in the United States. They were for free speech and equal rights, and against war and discrimination. And as adults began to join that revolution, the country was profoundly changed.

As the country changed, that revolution was absorbed into the larger society. Since that time, America's youth have largely been silent. No widespread youth movements have survived. We saw in the last election a small youth movement to support Bernie Sanders. But that was political, and seemed to die out once the election was over.

The crisis of gun violence may be starting a new youth revolution. This crisis in gun violence is not new. For many years, this country has led the developed world in the number of gun deaths per capita, the number of gun murders per capita, and the number of mass shootings per capita (and this figure, already averaging more than one every day, is rising).

But the latest mass shooting (that occurred at a high school in Parkland, Florida) seems to have ignited a spark among young people. Young people are rising up and speaking out against the gun violence, and they are demanding action. They are angry, and they have the mastery of modern tools like cell phones and the internet to spread their anger to their peers across the nation.

Is this the start of a youth movement that will inflame the passions of the youth in our nation, and bring them together to initiate social change? It could be. I am encouraged by the passion they display alongside the reality they show by knowing there will be no overnight solutions. If they really mean what they say, they could actually accomplish some changes to slow gun violence -- and it could even spread to make other changes in our society and government.

I could be wrong. This youth movement could die out as quickly as it started. But I hope it survives, and grows. We need changes to our society and government, and this nation's youth could be the leaders in that change -- change that we adults have failed to make.

His Master's Voice

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

GOP Officials Are On Wrong Side Of Gun Violence Issue










These charts were made using information contained in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 16th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,249 voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

The U.S. has had 19 school shooting in 2018, and it is averaging a mass shooting (shooting in which 4 or more are injured or killed) every day. America is waking up to the fact that something needs to be done to reduce the amount of gun violence in this country.

Unfortunately, our Congress is controlled by Republicans. Those Republicans have been bought by the NRA (through huge campaign donations), and they support the NRA policy (that no new gun laws or restrictions are needed. This is not going to help them in November, because the public disagrees. The public thinks action is needed, and 75% say Congress is not doing enough to control gun violence (and 52% say the Democrats would do a better job).

It has become obvious that NOTHING will be done about gun violence as long as the Republicans control Congress. We can fix that in November!

Victim ?

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

Only A Quarter Of Americans Have Seen More In Paychecks


When the new tax law was passed,  Trump and the congressional Republicans told Americans that it was a law that mainly benefitted the missile class -- and most Americans would see more money in their paychecks as a result of the new law. That has simply not happened.

The chart above shows the results of a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between February 15th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,989 registered voters, with a margin of error of only 2 points.

The poll shows that only about 25% of Americans have actually seen an increase in their paychecks due to less tax being deducted from it. The poll didn't ask how much more that 25% saw, but you can bet it was far less than the huge tax cuts the rich and corporations got out of the new law. I suspect for most it was just a pittance.

This was the law the Republicans were counting on to save them in the 2018 elections. I don't think it will do that -- especially since we are also not seeing the massive creation of new jobs that were also promised. I think the middle and working classes will understand that they were once again conned by the Republicans.

The Republicans made promises to the middle class, but delivered only to the rich and corporations. They should be punished for that in November.

Unbalanced

Political cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Nationwide Ban Of Assault Weapons Needed To Save Lives


From Niall McCarthy at statista.com:

After the Parkland shooting, it emerged that the perpetrator purchased his AR-15 assault rifle legally. That weapon and others like it were once banned under U.S. law and there are growing calls for a reintroduction of that legislation. 

The AR-15 is a civilian version of the military grade M16 and M4 family of rifles that are designed to deliver small sized bullets at high velocity in order to inflict catastrophic and lethal wounds. Whether these weapons actually serve a purpose on today's civilian market is a valid question. What is certain is that they have been used in a string of mass shootings including the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November, Las Vegas last October and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016. 

Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts at Boston says that "you would see drastic reductions in what I call gun massacres” if the 1994 federal assault weapons ban was reinstated. In his book "Rampage Nation", he defines a gun massacre as a shooting incident in which six or more people are shot and killed. He collected data on every gun massacre for the 50 years before 2016 and he found that the number of incidents fell during the assault weapons ban between 1994 and 2004. 

According to some of his findings which were published by the Washington Post, gun massacres fell 37 percent during the ban period and in the ten years after it lapsed in 2004, they went up an alarming 183 percent. Klarevas points out that the ban on high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds made a huge difference. He says that if that is regulated, there will be a considerable drop in massacres and fatalities.

Unfaithful

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

A Better System


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts And Prayers


Respect For U.S. President Is Lowest Since Bush's Final Years



The top chart is from the Gallup Poll -- done between February 1st and 10th of a random national sample of 1,044 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.

It shows that the American public is very aware of the lack of respect for Donald Trump among world leaders. Only 29% believe world leaders respect him -- lower than any percentage since the last couple of years of the Bush Administration (when only 21% or 22% thought world leaders respected our president).

The second chart is from a Gallup Poll survey in over 130 countries. It shows that while respect for our president has gone down among both our allies and non-allies, it has dropped the most among our allies. Among our allies, respect for the president has gone from 63.5% to 36.8% -- a drop of 26.7 points. Among non-allies, respect has dropped from 53.9% to 48.1% --a drop of 5.8 points.

Trump has seriously damaged the U.S. reputation in the world -- and sadly, the most damage has been among our allies. Many of them don't believe that can trust us any longer.

Misguided

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Most See N. Korea As Greatest Enemy (They Are Wrong)


This chart reflects the results of a recent Gallup Poll -- done between February 1st and 10th of a random national sample of 1,044 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Gallup asked respondents to name the one greatest enemy of the United States. North Korea was named by 51% of Americans (including 58% of Republicans, 50% of Independents, and 45% of Democrats). It seems that the scare tactics of Donald Trump (and pushed by our media) over North Korea getting a nuclear bomb and perfecting a missile to deliver it, has scared a lot of Americans. Russia finished a distant second in the poll.

I understand that fear of North Korea, but I don't agree with it. Yes, that country has a narcissistic blowhard as a leader (just like this country), but I don't think he's suicidal. He knows, just like other nuclear powers know, that sending a nuclear missile toward the United States would result in the utter destruction of his country. We have already proved that we will use nuclear power.

There is another country that is a much greater threat -- Russia. Russia is the only country that has recently attacked us -- with cyber warfare. And they continue to attack us. Their attack has targeted our most precious democratic institution -- the fair and impartial election of our leaders. Their attack has divided us and cast doubt on our electoral system. They represent, by far, the biggest danger to this country.

And neither Trump nor the Republican Congress is taking any action to stop or answer Russia's attack on the United States. To me, that approaches treasonous behavior.

Bloody Spot

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson at philly.com.