No One Is Taking On Pot Legalization

❝ Why don’t more politicians attempt to make marijuana legalization a national issue?

Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight looked at the polling last week and wondered about it. And the numbers are impressive. As he reports, almost two-thirds of Americans backed legalization in one recent poll, and while Democrats are somewhat more likely to favor it, the gap between the parties is unusually small for a policy question. Enten suspects that a big reason no politician has taken it up as a national issue is that they just haven’t caught up with the rapidly moving shift in public opinion.

❝ That’s possible. But I can think of some other reasons.

RTFA to check out what Jonathan Bernstein thinks are the reasons.

Poisonally, I think chickenshit politicians have chickenshit reasons to rationalize away most progressive action. Followed closely by cowardly reasons they use to rationalize away most action that might jeopardize re-election in the slightest.

Americans Retiring Later, Dying Sooner, Sicker In-Between

❝ The U.S. retirement age is rising, as the government pushes it higher and workers stay in careers longer.

But lifespans aren’t necessarily extending to offer equal time on the beach. Data released last week suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age workers face the prospect of shorter, and less active, retirements than their parents enjoyed.

❝ Here are the stats: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate—a measure of the number of deaths per year—rose 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Society of Actuaries. That’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1 percent since 1980.

At the same time that Americans’ life expectancy is stalling, public policy and career tracks mean millions of U.S. workers are waiting longer to call it quits. The age at which people can claim their full Social Security benefits is gradually moving up, from 65 for those retiring in 2002 to 67 in 2027.

Almost one in three Americans age 65 to 69 is still working, along with almost one in five in their early 70s.

Mail me a penny postcard when you’re confident either of the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb political parties we’re allowed is going to do a damned thing about this. To make it better, that is.

Meanwhile, read the rest of the article. Then go find some independent organization that tries from the grassroots on up to change this crap situation for the better. Hint: it probably won’t be someone with the word “Party” in the last half of their name.

Christianity in America grudgingly moves in opposite directions

A series of Pew Research Center polls released last week shows how ideas about religious belief and morality are increasingly falling along racial and political lines. Fifty-six percent of Americans now say that belief in God isn’t a necessary component of morality, up from 49 percent in 2011. The uptick reflects the wider prevalence of the spiritually unaffiliated, or “nones,” as nearly a quarter of Americans identified as atheist or agnostic in 2011.

The change may be only a 7-point difference. But those differences manifest themselves almost exclusively along political lines.

Having resolved this discussion to the best information available in science and philosophy – at the time – I’ve been a philosophical materialist, a dialectician, an atheist since 1956. Every serious scientific publication I’ve read since has only strengthened that conviction.

While Republicans have roughly held steady in their attitudes — 50 percent say a belief in God is necessary for morality, while 47 percent say it is not — Democrats have shown the most change in their perspectives. Almost two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters now say belief in God is not part of being a good person, compared with 51 percent in 2011.

RTFA for more directions – and direction – the authors seem solid that this portion of their survey speaks most accurately to changes in the United States.

Access to birth control pills easier in 102 countries – outside the U.S.

On World Contraception Day, let’s reflect on the fact that Americans still need to see their doctor to get birth control.


Click to enlargeAP/Charles Dharapak

❝ In this March 25, 2015, file photo, Margot Riphagen, of New Orleans, wears a birth control pills costume as she protests in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, as the court heard oral arguments in the challenges of President Barack Obama’s health care law requirement that businesses provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to contraceptives.

Yup. This is about as advanced and up-to-date as Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats think our healthcare should get. Keep access control in the pockets of the medical-industrial complex.

Someone Tell Republicans it is 2017, Not 1981 — and Trump Ain’t Reagan

❝ It’s not 1981 anymore. That’s the message of an editorial in the conservative Weekly Standard, which warns Republicans not to design a tax reform patterned on the one that Ronald Reagan signed in his first year as president.

Mimicking the Reagan tax cuts is a temptation both because of Republicans’ enduring admiration for the 40th president and because his program has been the source of the economic ideas they have championed ever since his time in office.

❝ But the Standard is right that times have changed. That doesn’t mean the Gipper’s basic disposition toward lower and less onerous taxes needs to be junked. It means that today’s Republicans (and Democrats!) need to grapple with four differences between our time and his.

❝ First: The federal debt is much larger now…

❝ Second: The top individual income tax rate is a lot lower than it was in 1981…

❝ Third: The payroll tax for Social Security and Medicare has grown in importance while the income tax has shrunk…

❝ Fourth: The corporate tax rate has become a bigger problem. It has fallen since 1981…But other countries have cut their rates further.

I have my doubt if few – if any – Republicans have the economic smarts to move beyond ideology their electoral base thinks is heavenly writ. Establishment Democrats retain their backbone [or absence of same] problem.

While the South is drowning, the West is burning


Click to run

As of last week, 77 large fires are burning across 1.4 million acres in eight western U.S. states. That’s an area more than three times the size of Houston.

The burning is part of a long-term trend of increasing wildfire in the West, brought on by a variety of factors, none more significant, according to recent research, than human-caused climate change.

RTFA. If your Congress-critter is still in denial about climate change, kick their sorry butt out of office. You can work to put someone useful into office and the dullard can try to find an honest job.

Republicans sing, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be college graduates!”

❝ Most Republicans think colleges are bad for the country, and the vast majority think the news media is too, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The Pew study, conducted from June 8 to 18 among more than 2,000 respondents, found that Democrats and Republicans are growing substantially more divided in their opinions on public institutions.

❝ According to the survey results released Monday, 58 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have had a negative impact on the nation — the first time a majority of Republicans have thought colleges are bad for the country. As recently as 2015, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country, but by 2016 those results split to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative.

On the other side of the aisle, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they think colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, holding steady with past years’ results…

❝ The partisan divide was even sharper when it came to the media. Only 10 percent of Republicans thought the media had a positive effect on the way things are going in the US.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a positive view of the news media’s impact on the nation — an 11-point increase since August 2016…

❝ Despite the widening partisan gap, however, Pew reports that the public’s overall views on the effect of institutions on the nation are relatively unchanged. Polarization may have increased, but the uptick in Democrats’ positive views balance out Republicans’ increasingly negative ones.

Nice to know that confidence in constitutional democracy, republican representation, outweighs ideological stupid.