Fact: It’s entirely possible to draw a gun while being full mounted.
One of the recent argument regarding the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial is the claim that George Zimmerman would not have been able to grab his gun with Martin on top of him in a full mount. The suggestion here is that Zimmerman must therefore have lied (leading to the conclusion that the shooting was not done in self defense).
First off, it should be noted that and that:
- At least one witness testified that Martin was on top of Zimmerman grounding and pounding him
- Renowned pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio has confirmed that Trayvon Martin was shot from below.
The argument that it would have been impossible for Zimmerman to draw a gun with Martin with a full mount on him has been put forth (incorrectly) by an alleged martial arts expert. This is simply incorrect and the full mount position assumed by this claim is not the only version of a full mount that Trayvon Martin could have used. Anyone familiar with grappling from the bottom position knows that there are a number of transitions from the mounted position which allows for enough range of motion to reach for a gun. That Zimmerman had some training in MMA suggests he may have at least been knowledgeable enough to obtain such a position.
Even without knowledge of defense/escapes from the full mount, the sort of full mount Continue reading
Community colleges have traditionally offered an excellent opportunity for students from lower income households and have served as a bridge to 4-year Universities. So it’s interesting to note how the cost of community college units in California have far outpaced the state’s minimum wage. It’s important to note that CA has one of the highest minimum wages in the US and community colleges in CA have traditionally been among the most affordable in the country.
Until 1985, community college units in CA were actually free. But starting this year, they were $5/unit, and at this time the minimum wage was $3.35/hr. In 2000, Continue reading
Some time ago I read a book called Patriots and I ran into a glaring historical inaccuracy which I’ve since come across in other places: That FDR somehow “gave away” a huge chunk of Europe to Stalin (thus planting the seeds for the cold war).
According to the book:
“…Roosevelt, who was quite ill at the time, and Stalin sat down…they decided right then and there how they would carve up Europe after the war…I don’t know why historians have glossed over the Yalta conference. I think if more people paid attention to it, Roosevelt wouldn’t have such a positive reputation. The bastard gave away half of Europe to Stalin.” p. 296
But historians have not glossed over the Yalta conference; the narrative here is simply misleading (if not inaccurate). Here are some facts about the Yalta conference:
- Germany had not yet surrendered (and Soviet Russia was an important ally)
- The Russians were already within striking range of Berlin (and already occupied Eastern Europe).
- FDR did not give away any territory occupied by the US Continue reading
As stated in a previous blog post (Bad Pro-Gun arguments) gun stats allow for a lot of convenient cherry picking. In reality, the stats are bit more muddled and difficult to draw a conclusion from. While there is clear pattern of lower gun deaths in states with stricter gun laws, overall murder/non-negligent manslaughter rates, burglary, robbery, forcible rape and motor vehicle theft. For example, Louisiana is one of the states with the most lax gun restrictions and also leads in terms of murder/non-negligent manslaughter. Aside from this, there isn’t much of a discernible pattern. The states with the highest rates of forcible rape (South Dakota, Alaska and Colorado) have among the loosest gun restrictions (something to keep in mind given the fact that opponents of gun control often cite the availability of guns as effective deterrents of this crime). Nevertheless, there is no overall discernible patter as an in most cases, the states with the loosest gun restrictions (the lowest Brady Scoring) often have the best and worst rates. The scatter plots below use Brady Scoring as a measure of gun law strength and FBI/UCR crime stats.
Gun Laws vs Murder/Non-Negligent Manslaughter
In a private fundraiser a few months ago, Mitt Romney ‘explained’ to his crowd of wealthy donors that Obama firmly had 47% of the vote secured and that this 47%, are the 47% that depend on the government and “pay no income taxes.” Now, it’s categorically untrue that 47% pay no income taxes (it’s true that 47% pay no FEDERAL income taxes, and this doesn’t exclude them from paying state or other local income taxes, nor payroll or sales taxes–and these last two hit the bottom earners at a higher percentage than top earners).
The 47% who aren’t paying federal income taxes aren’t paying into this bucket because their wages have fallen below a certain threshold as more and more of their productivity goes to the top 1%. In terms of after-tax income, the bottom half has gotten most of the shaft. Mitt Romney and his puppet masters would have us demonize these low income earners for not paying federal income taxes.
Republican apathy toward this continuing trend is astounding. Here are the facts.
Paul Ryan’s plan to “reform” Medicare is really a plan to slowly privatize it.
The elderly are the most costly to insure because their needs tend to be the costliest (conversely, the young and healthy are the easiest to insure, which is why their premiums are the lowest). Rather than expecting retirees to foot the bill for the most expensive health care plans out there, there’s a bucket we all pay into which insures the elderly have access to affordable health care.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that private sector insurance costs have risen faster than medicare costs.
Is Medicare Really Bankrupt?
Paul Ryan and others would have you believe that Medicare is in danger and the Continue reading
The facts regarding the percentage of Americans are as follows:
- Roughly half of all Americans pay no federal income taxes specifically
- About 86% of Americans pay Federal taxes of some sort (because everyone who earns a paycheck pays payroll taxes).
- Lower income earners still pay local/state taxes
- Everyone pays a variety of sales taxes
- Payroll and sales taxes are highly regressive (they account for a much higher percentage of a lower income earner’s paycheck).
- The reason about 50% don’t pay federal income taxes is because the bottom 50% have seen their real earnings drop over the last few decades, as the top 1% has seen a corresponding increase in wealth
What a standard paycheck looks like
This is what a standard paycheck looks like (in California). Those who claim that half of Americans pay no taxes are really just referring to the item 1 (federal withholding).
According to Google Politics & Elections Blog, Google searches for Occupy Wall Street resoundingly topple the amount of Google searches for Tea Party.
The blog post states:
Despite big leads in polls and search traffic for Occupy Wall Street, it is almost in a dead heat with the Tea Party for the volume of news coverage. Using Advanced Search in Google News we found that between October 7 and last week, Occupy Wall Street only barely bests the Tea Party when we examine the number of news pieces covering each movement: 29,000 to 22,000.
Here is a screenshot from Google Insights:
The myth that there is no difference between Democratic and Republican Party is actually quite common (especially among disgruntled Libertarians). But this is demonstrably false. Regardless of which party you agree with (or if you believe they are both full of it), a quick look at their voting pattern on key legislation shows a stark contrast. Here are a few significant bills that have been voted on strictly along party lines. Continue reading
What happens when you mix clever but simple ‘sound byte’ cartoons with somewhat complicated political issues? Sometimes you get bad analogies. And these bad analogies often just serve to confuse and misinform viewers. In the cartoon below, the elephant (Republican) and donkey (Democrat) argue over whether to reduce he leakage by one or two drops, and it makes them both appear out of touch. If this analogy were based on reality, it would include the fact that there exists a drain that can lower the water, not just the option to turn off or lower the water faucet. In other words, cutting spending isn’t the only option. There is the potential to raise tax revenue (for example, by rolling back the Bush tax cuts, and certainly by NOT passing further tax cuts Republicans would like to enact). And it’s the elephant that wants clog the drain even more (cut tax revenue) while the donkey wants to open it a bit. But of course, the caricature isn’t intended to actually inform us. It is entertainment.
Less entertaining and less appealing to our limbic system (but more informative), here is the breakdown of what’s causing our current and projected future debt.
In fact, the era of deficit spending began under Reagan as he reduced taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
One little known fact is that tax burden as a percentage of GDP has largely fallen for the US overall, especially compared to the OECD average.
Unfortunately, middle and lower class wages have fallen as more wealth has coagulated at the top. So to many Americans taxes seem high because their incomes haven’t risen the way it has for those at the top.