Category Archives: Environment

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.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

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.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

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.
-Click here to see the underlying data/sources.

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.

Save a Life; Take a Life?

I always like these stories from The Dodo about sickly animals being nursed back to health by kindly people. As I watch this video, though, I wonder how much meat this person is feeding the dog. My thinking is that it doesn’t make much sense to save one animal if it means that other animals have to die in order to feed it.

How much meat do dogs and cats in the US consume?

If the ~163 million dogs and cats in the US comprised their own country, that country would rank fifth in global meat consumption, behind only Russia, Brazil, the US, and China. Dogs and cats consume 1/4 of the total calories derived from animals in the US.*

But, won’t dogs and cats get very sick if they don’t eat meat regularly?

There have been a handful of studies conducted over the past ~15 years regarding the health of companion dogs and cats fed vegan or vegetarian diets. Although you can find plenty of information from reliable sources around the web about cats being obligate carnivores, every study surveyed has found actual and reported health of dogs and cats fed a wide range of vegan or vegetarian diets to be comparable to the health of pets fed traditional diets. Like humans, dogs and cats probably do not need to eat meat to survive and thrive. (However, cat owners who choose to feed their cats vegan/vegetarian diets may want to monitor the pH of their cats’ urine as some cats may develop health issues on meatless diets.)*

I let my cat go outside freely to exercise its feline extincts. What about me?

While this may be good for the cat in some ways, it’s very harmful to birds and small mammals. Owned cats in the US kill ~765 million birds a year and ~1.38 billion mammals per year.*

Crystal Cordell on Authoritarian Populism

On November 9th, 2016, I woke up to see a mostly red US electoral college map. With a 9-hour time difference between France, where I live, and the West Coast of the US, polls had been closed for nearly 2 hours.

At that moment, my thoughts turned to what I would say to you today. You see, I had originally intended to question the way we think about the clash of civilizations. “Individual rights and aspirations for democracy,” I had intended to say, “must not be thought of as belonging exclusively to certain civilizations, not least because that would mean undermining the validity of universal principles, if ever those civilizations happened to falter.”

I would have preferred that events in my home country not impress upon me so sharply the importance of what I had to say to you today, but they have, and they urge me to make my argument with even greater conviction. The problem that confronts us today is not Oriental or Occidental, Northern or Southern; it concerns all of us what is happening politically in states across the globe today.

Many people in power or hoping to get there are selling citizens on a package deal: “We will protect you from the dangers of the world,” they say, “if you give us power.” What are those dangers according to populist leaders? “Economic competition due to globalization; political parties and governments disconnected from the people; and corrupt values that weaken families and societies,” they say.

Now, to protect people from such great dangers, authority is needed, so the sales pitch goes, the authority of strong leaders, the authority of the state. Only authority can protect. That is the hallmark of populist discourses that seek both to reassure and instill fear, promise justice, and pledge retribution, liberate some and censor others. Now, some analysts say that these discourses emanate from a demand from below. The people are dissatisfied, alienated from political processes. Populist leaders step up and fill the gap left by other political elites.  Continue reading Crystal Cordell on Authoritarian Populism

Decision Tree

For anyone who does not yet have a Christmas tree, I have made a chart to help you decide what kind of tree to get. In four cases, I ranked the top two choices. Here‘s a link I found while creating this chart which shows where to recycle trees in Arizona.

Sources: 
Plastic decomposition: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/do-plastics-go-away-when-theyre-ocean-or-great-lakes

Real tree decay time estimate: https://northernwoodlands.org/knots_and_bolts/tree-falls-in-a-forest

Average cost: https://earth911.com/home-garden/real-vs-artificial-christmas-trees/

Life cycle impact analysis: https://www.sightline.org/2015/12/21/your-christmas-trees-carbon-footprint/

Why Vote for Democrats?

Legislation

1935
Social Security Act
-Passed the House 372-33
-Passed the Senate 77-6
-Signed into law by FDR

House
-Dem: Yes — 284 of 319 (89%)
-Rep: Yes — 81 of 102 (79%)

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 60 of 69 (87%)
-Rep: Yes — 16 of 25 (64%)

Source

* * *

1938
Fair Labor Standards Act
-Established minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, and restrictions on child labor
-Passed the House 291-89
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by FDR

House
-Dem: Yes — 252 of 293 (86%)
-Rep: Yes — 30 of 78 (38%)

Senate
Passed the Senate by voice vote.

Source

* * *

1941
Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry
-Executive Order 8802
-Banned discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work
-Established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce the new policy
-Signed by FDR

Source

* * *

1948
Desegregation of Armed Forces
-Executive Order 9981
-Established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military
-Signed by Truman

Source

* * *

1963
Clean Air Act
-Passed the House 276 to 112
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 204 of 256 (80%)
-Rep: Yes — 69 of 178 (39%)

Senate
Passed the Senate by voice vote.

Source

* * *

1964
Civil Rights Act
-Passed the House 290-130
-Passed the Senate 73-27
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 152 of 248 (61%)
-Rep: Yes — 138 of 172 (80%)

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 46 of 67 (69%)
-Rep: Yes — 27 of 33 (82%)

Source

Note: This vote was an important moment in the history of the Republican and Democratic parties and was the major catalyst leading to the transition of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party.*

* * *

1965
Medicare (Social Security Act Amendments)
-Passed the House 307-116
-Passed the Senate 70-24
-Signed into law by LBJ

House
-Dem: Yes — 237 of 293 (81%)
-Rep: Yes — 70 of 140 (50%)*

Senate
-Dem: Yes — 57 of 67 (85%)
-Rep: Yes — 13 of 32 (41%)*

* * *

1972
Clean Water Act
-Passed the House 366-11
-Passed the Senate 74-0
-Vetoed by Nixon
-Nixon’s veto was overridden by Congress

House Override
-Dem: Yes — 151 of 161 (94%) (92 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 96 of 109 (88%) (68 abstained)*

Senate Override
-Dem: Yes — 34 of 37 (92%) (17 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 17 of 25 (68%) (19 abstained)*


The Economy

Most economists lean Democratic:


From a 2003 survey of 264 economists
Source


From a 2010 survey of 299 economists
Source


Climate Change

The earth’s climate is extremely important, both economically and biologically. Most Democrats agree with the vast majority of climate scientists that humans have caused all or nearly all of earth’s rapid warming over the past 5-6 decades.* As of 2017, 78% of Democrats agreed that human activity is causing the warming while only 24% of Republicans agree* with the extremely strong scientific consensus.

But, isn’t there still a lot of uncertainty about what’s causing global warming? No. Climate scientists are roughly as certain that humans are causing the rapid warming of the earth’s atmosphere as they are in the basic science of plate tectonics.*

But, is scientific consensus really important? Maybe. One way to look at it is to consider artificial intelligence. Imagine if we looked at research papers of artificial intelligence researchers and polled them and found that 5% of them are warning that there is a high probability of robots taking over the world in the near future. That might be slightly alarming, right? However, if we look at that same information and talk to the same people and find that 97% of those papers and scientists are warning of a robot takeover, governments all over the world would be acting immediately to prevent this.

Separation of Powers and the Clean Water Act

In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu argued that a separation of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of government is necessary to prevent abuses of power. He wrote that, if a single body holds all of these powers, that body can abuse it, but, if the powers are separated, each can check the other. He wrote that the legislative branch alone should have the ability to tax in order to prevent the executive from imposing its will arbitrarily. The president can veto acts of legislature, and the legislature is divided into two chambers that each check one another. The judiciary, Montesquieu thought, should be independent of the other two branches and should only concern itself with laws regarding threats to public order and security.*

An example of this is the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (aka, the “Clean Water Act”). This bill set a national goal of eliminating all pollutant discharges into US waters by 1985 while also making waters safe for fish, shellfish, wildlife and people by July 1, 1983. The bill passed the House by roll call vote 366-11 and the Senate by roll call vote 74-0 on October 4th 1972.* The Senate needs a simple majority of 51 votes to pass a bill while the House needs a simple majority of 218 votes to pass a bill.* So, the Clean Water Act easily passed both chambers of Congress.

President Nixon then had an opportunity to veto this bill. As the Constitution notes, every bill that passes the House and Senate must be signed by the president in order to become law. If the president returns it with objections to the originating chamber, it must be voted on again and receive two-thirds vote from both chambers before becoming law.*

In this case, President Nixon chose to exercise that Constitutional privilege and returned the bill back to Congress on October 17th. Nixon chose to do this shortly before midnight on that day which would have been 10 days from when he received it. If he had waited until after midnight, the bill would have automatically become law (another stipulation in the Constitution). On being returned to the House, not all members voted again. A two-thirds vote of the entire 435 body would be 290. Their vote of 247-23 means that only 62% of House members voted. However, of those who did vote, 91% voted to override the president’s veto. In the Senate, the breakdown was 52-12, again a large majority of a subset of the Senate. Thus, the bill became law on October 18, 1972.*

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

Jogging Outdoors in Arizona

I’ve largely stopped jogging outdoors in recent years. One reason is that I’ve been concerned for a long time about the air quality. It kind of defeats the purpose of exercising if you’re breathing in car exhaust and coal fumes.*

Arizona’s most recent air quality grade from the American Lung Association is, overwhelmingly, an F, mainly thanks to our cars and reliance on coal for electricity.*


From the American Lung Association’s 2018 Assessment*

We know from a 2013 MIT study that air pollution causes roughly 200,000 premature deaths in the US annually.* This isn’t surprising as we also know that air pollution increases risk of respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart disease.

What shocked me years ago as a psychology student was coming across various studies indicating different ways in which air pollution causes cognitive problems. It reduces brain mass, negatively impacts memory, and it’s associated with increased Alzheimer’s incidence.**

Reading this stuff, I would think back to times throughout my teens when I would ride my bicycle a hundred miles a week from Silly Mountain out to Crismon and back, praying that I wouldn’t get stuck at a red light next to that poorly-serviced 1970s station wagon. Or summers when I worked for my mom’s husband in road construction shoveling dirt from curbs while walking around in a black cloud of exhaust from the giant Caterpillar machines. I look back and wonder what permanent cognitive damage I unknowingly inflicted on myself.


Silly Mountain, A Stone’s Throw from My Teenage Home

These days, people are often surprised that I drive around in a Micro Machine. Seems to me that that’s the least I can do. Just like I think voting for people who oppose fossil fuels and support cleaner energy sources is the least I can do.

I think it’s this easy: Kids should be able to ride their bicycles and play outside without an increased risk of physical or cognitive impairment. It’s inexcusable and unconscionable that they don’t have such a guarantee in Arizona in 2018.

2014 State Per Capita CO2 Emissions vs Party Lean

Do people in red-leaning or blue-leaning states have a bigger carbon footprint?

Just looking at data from the Energy Information Administration from 2014, it looks like red states do produce more CO2 per capita:

 

I wanted to better quantify this, though, so I ran the data through a Pearson correlation calculator.* Here’s the dataset in case you’d like to check my work:

And, here are the results:

As you can see, mathematically, as the proportion of a state that was Republican or leaned Republican in 2014 went up, so did the state’s per capita CO2 emissions. The value of R is 0.549, a moderate positive correlation. R2: 0.3014.


For the sake of thoroughness, I performed the same calculation for the Democrats. Here’s that dataset:

Here’s the resultant graph:

The value of R is -0.5593, a moderate negative correlation. R2: 0.3128.

When You’re Right, You’re Right

Sometimes I like to surf out onto the ol’ worldwide web and look for people with whom I unexpectedly concur on this or that. I know that may sound a bit weird as the whole point of the ‘Net is to argue with people, but I do it nevertheless. In this case, I have found a bunch of Republicans, conservatives, or other figures on “the right” who I think said something downright agreeable. Enjoy! (Also, please let me know if you know of other examples!)



Abortion

“I don’t think we should ever tamper with abortion. You’ll never stamp it out. It’s been in existence since the world began, and it’s going to be here when the world ends.”

Barry Goldwater

Source

Barry Goldwater on Abortion


 


Animal Welfare

“Factory farming amounts to a complete subordination of animal life to human convenience, the reduction of thinking, feeling beings to commodities only and of their fate, no matter how horrific, to a calculation of pure self-interest.”

John Conner Cleveland, speechwriter for George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin


Climate Change

“I have been to the Antarctic; I’ve been to Alaska. I’m not a scientist, and I’ve got the grades to prove it. But I’ve talked to the climatologists of the world, and 90% of them are telling me that greenhouse gas effect is real, that we’re heating up the planet. I just want a solution that would be good for the economy that doesn’t destroy it.”

Lindsey Graham

Source


 

* * *

“Absolute certainty is unattainable. We are certain beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that the problem of human-caused climate change is real, serious, and immediate, and that this problem poses significant risks: to our ability to thrive and build a better future, to national security, to human health and food production, and to the interconnected web of living systems.”

Kerry Emanuel, long-time Republican and atmospheric scientist at MIT

* * *

“I’m a registered Republican, play soccer on Saturdays, and go to church on Sundays. I’m a parent and a professor. I worry about jobs for my students and my daughter’s future. I’ve been a proud member of the UN panel on climate change, and I know the risks. And I’ve worked for an oil company and know how much we all need energy. The best science shows we’ll be better off if we address the twin stories of climate change and energy and that the sooner we move forward, the better.”

Richard B. Alley, Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State

Source


 


Gun Control

“As you know, my position is we should ban all handguns, get rid of them, no manufacture, no sale, no importation, no transportation, no possession of a handgun.”

John Chafee

Source

* * *

“If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment. […] This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. […] ‘A well-regulated militia….’ If the militia, which was going to be the state army, was going to be well-regulated, why shouldn’t 16 and 17 and 18 or any other age persons be regulated in the use of arms?”

Warren Burger

Source


 


“Illegals”

“I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”

Ronald Reagan

Source


 


Religion

“I’m an atheist. An agnostic is someone who is not sure; I’m pretty sure. I see no evidence of God.”

George Will

* * *

“It was old Tom Jefferson that had us separate the church and state and, while I have nothing against a minister being a member of Congress, he should leave the Bible at the front door. Just carry it around in his head, and don’t try to preach and practice religion in the halls of Congress.”

Barry Goldwater

Source


 


Science

“[N]owhere do our hopes take more visible form than in the quest of science…. The remarkable thing is that, although basic research does not begin with a particular practical goal, when you look at the results over the years, it ends up being one of the most practical things government does…. [O]ne thing is certain: If we don’t explore, others will, and we’ll fall behind. This is why I’ve urged Congress to devote more money to research. After taking out inflation, today’s government research expenditures are 58% greater than the expenditures of a decade ago. It is an indispensable investment in America’s future.”

Ronald Reagan

Source