Category Archives: Education

2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

“A Joe Biden presidency would be exactly the same as a second term for Donald Trump.” This is something that I have heard from various friends and, of course, from the Internet recently. For one friend, Trump’s various sexual misconduct allegations are exactly equal to reports of unwanted contact from Biden. There was also a Bloomberg quiz where you can guess, unsuccessfully, as to which person said which of a small collection of quotes.

Of course, that is pertinent information, but I think it ignores the significant differences in legislation that would be passed under each presidency and what might also happen to the Supreme Court under each presidency. To get a better picture of the actual impact of each person’s presidency, I have dug into the legislative careers of various presidential candidates.

Why “various”? Why not all of them? Well, obviously, not all of the candidates have a legislative trail. Julián Castro was most recently HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antanio. Pete Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Andrew Yang founded the nonprofit Venture for America.

Trump, of course, never held elected office until winning the electoral college in 2016. FiveThirtyEight, a website devoted to quantifying political, sports, and other phenomena, tracks how closely the voting records of congresspeople have aligned with Trump. The most-aligned with Trump by that metric was Jeff Sessions, who voted with Trump 100% of the time before becoming Attorney General. So, it is Sessions who will be used as an (imperfect) proxy for Trump.

I live in Arizona, and so I am especially interested in my own senators. Those two senators currently are Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema. They both became senators (Sinema by election and McSally by appointment) in 2019. Therefore, their House records are used for this comparison.


ACLU

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Current positions of the ACLU include: opposing the death penalty; supporting same-sex marriage and the right of LGBT people to adopt; supporting birth control and abortion rights; eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; supporting the rights of prisoners and opposing torture; and opposing government preference for religion over non-religion, or for particular faiths over others.


AFL-CIO

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) is the largest federation of unions in the United States. It is made up of fifty-five national and international unions, together representing more than 12 million active and retired workers.


FreedomWorks

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

FreedomWorks is a conservative and libertarian advocacy group based in Washington D.C., United States. FreedomWorks trains volunteers, assists in campaigns, and encourages them to mobilize, interacting with both fellow citizens and their political representatives. It is widely associated with the Tea Party movement.


Human Rights Campaign

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest LGBTQ advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States. The organization focuses on protecting and expanding rights for LGBTQ individuals, most notably advocating for marriage equality, anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, and HIV/AIDS advocacy.


Humane Society

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
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From Wikipedia:

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), based in Washington, D.C., is an American nonprofit organization founded by journalist Fred Myers and Helen Jones, Larry Andrews, and Marcia Glaser in 1954, to address what they saw as animal-related cruelties of national scope, and to resolve animal welfare problems by applying strategies beyond the resources or abilities of local organizations.


League of Conservation Voters

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
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From Wikipedia:

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is an American environmental advocacy group. LCV says that it “advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates.”


NAACP

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey. Its mission in the 21st century is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”


National Education Association

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union and professional interest group in the United States. It represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers. The NEA has over 2.9 million members and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.


NRA

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

From Wikipedia:

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is a gun rights advocacy group based in the United States. Founded in 1871, the group has informed its members about firearm-related legislation since 1934, and it has directly lobbied for and against firearms legislation since 1975.


NumbersUSA

Scores are percentages. The higher the score, the better, according to the organization.

-Click here for enlarged image.
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From Wikipedia:

NumbersUSA is an anti-immigration organization that seeks to reduce both legal and illegal immigration to the United States. It advocates for immigration reduction through user-generated fax, email, and direct mail campaigns.

McSally vs. Sinema – AZ Senate Race 2018

People often focus more on what politicians say than on what they do. Those two things are often not in accordance, due to factors within their control and not within their control. My preference is to look at how candidates actually legislate. However, no one that I know of puts out this information in an easy-to-read way. So, I have tried below to compile all of the legislative scorecards I could find for two Arizona candidates. I hope you find it useful.


 

ACLU

Supports government transparency; Supports eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; Supports protecting the rights of immigrants

McSally and Sinema:
https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/acl18002_legislative_report_card_v2.pdf?redirect=legscorecard2018


AFL-CIO

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Sinema: https://web.archive.org/web/20180923212924/https://aflcio.org/scorecard/legislators/kyrsten-sinema

McSally: https://web.archive.org/web/20180923212941/https://aflcio.org/scorecard/legislators/martha-mcsally


FreedomWorks

Pro Small Government Advocacy/Tea Party-Affiliated

McSally and Sinema:
http://congress.freedomworks.org/keyvotes/house/2018#keyvotes-descriptions


Human Rights Campaign

Advocates for LGBTQ Equality

McSally and Sinema: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/114thCongressionalScorecard.pdf?_ga=2.84250265.1888141725.1539383407-944623586.1539383407


Humane Society

Pro Animal Welfare Advocacy

McSally and Sinema:
http://www.hslf.org/assets/pdfs/humane-scorecard/humane_scorecard_2017_final.pdf


League of Conservation Voters

Environmental Advocacy

Sinema:
http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/kyrsten-sinema

McSally:
http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/martha-mcsally


NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Advocacy, “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination”

McSally and Sinema: https://www.naacp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2017-Legislative-Report-Card-1.pdf


National Cannabis Industry Association

McSally: 17%
Sinema: 100%

No Title

No Description


NCPSSM – National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

McSally: 14%
Sinema: 86%

No Title

No Description


NEA – National Education Association

Labor union that represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers.

McSally and Sinema


NumbersUSA

Immigration Reduction Advocacy

McSally and Sinema: https://www.numbersusa.com/content/my/tools/grades/list/0/CONGRESS/az/A/Grade/Active


NRA

Gun Deregulation Advocacy

McSally and Sinema


Planned Parenthood

Pro Reproductive/Abortion Rights

Sinema

McSally

Jefferson on Public Education

From Notes on the State of Virginia, February 27, 1787*

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories.

But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary.

An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth: and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case every man would have to pay his own price.

The government of Great-Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in ten has a right to vote for members of parliament. The sellers of the government therefore get nine-tenths of their price clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by confining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the people: but it would be more effectually restrained by an extension of that right to such numbers as would bid defiance to the means of corruption.

If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth….

US Holocaust Museum Poster Gets Patron “Shook”


I’ve been seeing this post floating around a lot lately. I was curious about the origins, so I called the Holocaust Museum. I got transferred to a guy named Luke who I think was in “exhibitions.” I asked if this was still on exhibit. He said it was never on exhibit, but that it was available in the gift shop. He then said that it was no longer being sold in the gift shop. I hadn’t realized the price tag on some of the images. Of course, there it is!

Turns out the list comes from a gentleperson named Laurence W. Britt who fleshed out these points in a March 2003 issue of Free Inquiry magazine. The full text appears to be included here. Britt is referred to there as a political scientist, but there doesn’t appear to be anything available on the web to suggest that he’s more than an aficionado.

He wrote the op-ed in the context of the Bush administration. Here’s the conclusion of an interview he gave to a Rochester paper in December 2004 (worth a read, I’d say):

City: Looking at the world right now, do you consider the US a fascist state?

Britt: No. By definition it’s a democracy. My article is a cautionary tale. This is what I’ve researched; this is what I’ve seen; this is what’s happened in the past. You can draw your own conclusions: No, this has nothing to do with the United States; or, there are some disquieting trends here that we certainly have to be aware of, and the powers that be exhibit many of these characteristics, and we’d better damn well be careful.

One thing I’d add is that most of these attributes would probably be ascribed to the other side by people of any political persuasion who felt disenfranchised to some degree.

Ultimately, I think US politics wastes far too much energy on political maneuvering and expends far too little on governance. If you’re devoting any energy whatsoever to trying to personally discredit an opponent by whatever means available, then you’re wasting energy that should be used on trying to make the city, state, country, and world better.

I think the answer is to let AI run things. We’ve trusted humans with government for far, far too long. Experts from relevant fields should reach a consensus on various policies and these policies should be implemented by computers. The computers should be overseen by other computers. Those computers should be overseen by technicians who have no idea what the computers do so that they cannot consciously or unconsciously influence their functioning.

Humans simply should not be allowed anywhere near the government. We can’t handle it. Maybe in a world where every person undergoes at least two decades of rigorous critical thinking education humans stood a chance. This isn’t that world.