Thursday, August 25, 2016

Where Are The Tax Returns ?

Seven New Presidential Polls In Virginia, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, And Utah

This chart shows the latest presidential polls in Virginia, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, and Utah. You can click on the state name to learn more about the polls.

No Coattails

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Trump (& Giuliani) Are LYING About The Clinton Foundation

You can tell that the Trump campaign is getting desperate by the number and volume of the lies told about his opponent. The latest one concerns the Clinton Foundation. Donald Trump (and his lap dog Rudy Giuliani) have lately been saying that Hillary Clinton, to enrich herself while Secretary of State, sold access to her office for donations to the foundation. Let me be clear:


None of the money raised raised for the Clinton Foundation has gone into the pockets (or bank accounts) of Bill or Hillary Clinton -- not a single penny. In fact, CharityWatch (which investigates how charities use the money they raise) gave the Clinton Foundation an "A" rating (the highest rating they give).

That's because the Clinton Foundation spends 87.2% of funds received to help millions of people around the world (a larger percentage than most other charities spend on their stated missions). About 8.6% is spent on employee salaries and other operating expenses, and 3.7% is spent on fundraising. The other 0.5% is to provide for uncollectible pledges. Frankly, those are numbers that all charities should aspire to have.

One of the things Trump (and some in the media) are crowing about is the fact that some donors to the foundation also were able to meet with Clinton while she was Secretary of State. That is true. I would have been surprised if it wasn't true. But there is absolutely NO proof that the donations were a quid pro quo for meeting with Clinton. Those people would likely have been able to meet with Clinton anyway -- just like many people did who did not donate to the foundation.

This is just Donald Trump's latest effort to label Clinton as a "crook". But the truth is that she's one of the cleanest politicians around. She's been investigated by her enemies for over a quarter of a century now, and no one has been able to find even the smallest illegal or immoral act she has committed. Can anyone say the same about Donald Trump?

Political Prisoner

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Americans Are Not As Anti-Immigrant As Trump Thinks

Donald Trump has based a large part of his presidential campaign on an anti-immigrant stance. He seems to be convinced that most Americans are angry or scared at immigrants, or that with his fear tactics he can convince them to be angry or scared. It is simply not true, and his efforts are not succeeding.

The chart above is from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between June 7th and July 1st of a random national sample of 3,270 adults, with a margin of error of 3 points.

It turns out that only 38% of Americans want to see immigration decreased. That's not even close to a majority. About 59% would oppose decreasing immigration -- with 38% wanting to keep it at the current level and 21% wanting to increase it.

Trump needs to find another issue, because this one's not a winner.

Changed ?

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

GOP IRS Head Says Trump Should Release His Tax Returns

(The cartoon image above is by John Branch at

Donald Trump has broken with tradition, and is adamantly refusing to release any of his tax returns to the public. Evidently, he believes there is something in those returns that would embarrass him and/or cost him votes. His rather pathetic excuse is that he is being audited by the IRS -- even though all other modern presidential candidates have released their returns for many years, and at least one (Richard Nixon) did it while his return was being audited.

This brings up the question -- Why won't he release those returns? What is he trying to hide from American voters? His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has released her returns for more than the last 30 years -- and people from both political parties are asking for Trump to do the same. The following op-ed is by Fred Goldberg (appointed IRS chief counsel by President Ronald Reagan and as IRS commissioner and as Assistant Treasury Secretary for tax policy by President George H.W. Bush) -- a Republican calling for the release of those tax returns. He writes:

Much has been said and written about Donald Trump 's refusal to release his tax returns. Tax returns paint a revealing picture of who we are. That's why confidentiality is a central pillar of our tax system. If our government expects taxpayers to share this information with the IRS, we are entitled to ironclad guarantees of confidentiality and privacy — for this reason, our laws provide that wrongful IRS disclosure of our tax-return information is a felony.
But nothing prevents us as taxpayers from choosing to release our tax returns — and those who aspire for the highest public office have done so for decades. And they do so precisely because their returns provide a window (for better and worse) into who they are. Those who say Trump should release his tax returns claim we are entitled to view this portrait of the man who aspires to lead our country.
Trump has promised to release his returns when his audit ends, but claims he is under continuous audit by the IRS and that releasing his returns (including returns for years that are now closed) could have an adverse impact on current and future IRS examinations. As a former IRS commissioner and practicing tax lawyer, I understand it may be inconvenient for Trump to release his tax returns but we all know — and the IRS has confirmed — that nothing prevents any of us from releasing our tax returns any time we want. And by the way, for those who listen carefully, Trump's promise means he will never release his tax returns. Trump's advisors also have substantial control over when his current examination will conclude.
As a citizen and voter, I want to take a look because I will learn something important about this man who would be president. Inevitably, his refusal to release his returns raises a question: What is Trump hiding? The additional audit hassle is nothing compared to the extraordinary burdens he would carry as president. It's a small price of admission to the Oval Office. The sooner he releases his entire returns, the better.
Be that as it may, however, Trump is so far not willing to take that step. That's his decision, and voters will form whatever judgments they choose to form.
There is, however, a first step that Trump has no excuse for not taking. He can and should immediately release the first two pages of his Form 1040, along with his Schedule A, for the past 20 years. This would tell us how much he makes, how much he pays in taxes, and how much he contributes to charity.
Releasing this information would have no impact on any pending or future IRS audit of Trump. Zero. None. It is a risk-free first step with no downside. While painting a far from complete portrait, it would answer a few of the questions that Trump himself has raised during the campaign: He claims that he makes a lot of money; he claims that he makes significant charitable contributions; and he claims that he reduces his tax liability as far as current law allows.
The first two pages of his enormous tax returns, along with his Schedule A, will shed important light on these claims. The first two pages plus the Schedule A of the Clintons' 2015 tax return tell us they made $10.6 million; that they made charitable contributions of $1.0 million; and that they paid federal taxes of $3.6 million, for an effective tax rate of 34 percent. We have that same information about the Clintons for the past 20 years. The first two pages of Trump's tax returns, together with his Schedule A, would provide us with the same information for him. He can and should share that information with no audit risk whatsoever.
This would be a beneficial first step. His full return, as is the case with any individual having complex business affairs, would provide further important information, helping to paint a more complete portrait of Trump. For example, it could provide insight into Trump's record in business, such as more information about his important sources of income (real estate, domestic and off-shore investments) and the tax impact of debt forgiven in his bankruptcies.
A couple of my own disclosures: I had the honor of being appointed IRS chief counsel by President Reagan, and being appointed IRS commissioner and then Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the United States Treasury by President George H.W. Bush. This year, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton . I am confident she will keep us safe and that she could and would work with Republicans in Congress to lead our country to a better future for all Americans.
 (The cartoon image above is by Dan Wasserman in the Boston Globe.)

The Misogyny Candidate

Political Cartoon is by Sophie Louise Dam at

Share The Cookies

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Which Will Actually Help ?

Economists Say Clinton Would Better Manage The Economy

Donald Trump likes to claim he would be better at managing the economy than Hillary Clinton, because he is a businessman. But economists disagree. The National Association of Business Economists (NABE) queried 414 of their members between July 20th and August 2nd to find out which presidential candidate they thought would best manage the nation's economy.

It turns out that a significant majority (55%) said electing Clinton would be best for the U.S. economy, while only 14% said Trump would be best -- a huge 41 point gap. Trump may be able to fool his teabagger base into thinking he could effectively run the economy, but the economists are not fooled. They know his economic policies would benefit only the rich and the corporations, while hurting other Americans.

Trump's Plan

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

Clinton Is Better For Poor/Middle Class & Trump For Rich

It looks like the American people may finally be starting to realize that the presidential candidate that's better for most Americans (the poor, the middle class, and small business) is Hillary Clinton, while the candidate that would be better for the rich (and Wall Street and big business) is Donald Trump.

Hopefully, this goes further than just the presidential candidates, and the public is starting to understand that the policies of the Republican Party benefits only the rich -- while Democratic Party policies benefit everyone. If so, November could be disastrous not just for Trump, but for the Republicans in general.

This chart was made from a recent YouGov Poll -- done between August 11th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,300 adults, with a margin of error of 4.1 points.

Vicious Creatures

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

Still No Appeal To Decision To Void Texas' Voter ID Law

A few weeks ago, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the odious Texas Voter ID law -- saying it discriminated against minorities. They sent the case back to the U.S. District Court in San Antonio so a decision could be reached on how to implement their decision.

At that time, plaintiffs and the state of Texas came to an agreement. That agreement stated that anyone who was on the voter registration rolls could vote -- as long as they showed a voter registration card, or some other kind of ID to show they were the person on the voter rolls (and that ID could be something as innocuous as a gas or electric bill in their name -- and no photo was required on the ID used). They also agreed that no voter could be challenged unless there was proof that they were not the person listed on the voter rolls.

I had thought the matter was finally over, but last week Attorney General Paxton made a big deal out of announcing that the Circuit Court's decision would be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Oddly enough though, no appeal has been filed (even though it is only about 10-11 weeks until the election is held). This is very unusual for Paxton, as the Lone Star Project tells us:

In the past Paxton has announced new lawsuits or appeals AFTER they’ve already been filed.  For example, when he announced a challenge to the federal government directive regarding school bathrooms—he issued a press release the day he filed the lawsuit.  The same was true in a petition filed against the EPA in June—Paxton issued a statement the day after the petition was filed in federal court.

It seems to me that Paxton has no intention of appealing. The man is stupid, but not so stupid as to think that appeal could succeed in the current divided Supreme Court. It is doubtful the appeal would even be heard by the court, and if it was, it would end in a 4 to 4 tie (which would uphold the Fifth Circuit Court's decision). It is also extremely unlikely any appeal could be heard and determined before the election. In short, an appeal would be a waste of time and money.

So what is Paxton doing? He's trying to keep the GOP's teabagger base happy in the short time until the election. The Republicans will probably win Texas, but it's closer than in the past -- and they can't win if a lot of angry teabaggers stay at home instead of voting. This appeal is just a political ploy.

NOTE -- The photo above of Attorney General Paxton is the mug shot at the Collin County Jail when he was arrested a little over a year ago and charged with three felonies (which are still pending).

Paxton is charged with two first-degree felonies related to accusations that he failed to disclose he was being paid by a McKinney technology firm when he encouraged investors to buy into the company. He is also charged with a third-degree felony for failing to register as a broker when he connected clients to a friend’s investment firm, which he admitted to publicly. 

Fair And Balanced (In Harassing)

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It's About Protecting Progressivism

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tragedy / Tradition

Electoral College Change From February To August

The two electoral college maps above are from Roll Call. The top reflects their electoral college prediction back in February of this year. The bottom reflects their electoral college prediction for this month (August). Hillary Clinton has gone from a 72 vote edge in February over Donald Trump (263 to 191) to a 141 vote edge in August (332 to 191). While Clinton has gained about 69 electoral votes, Trump has gained none.

Campaign Advice

Political Cartoon is by Randy Bish in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Texas Has Highest Maternal Mortality Rate In The Nation

The chart above was made from figures (rounded to the nearest whole number) in a study done for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It shows that the maternal mortality rate in the continental United States (and the District of Columbia) has been slowly climbing since 2000. That's troubling for a nation that claims to have the best medical system in the world. Obviously, our "great system" is not reaching all Americans -- and we need to address that.

But there is a state that is currently much worse than any other state -- Texas. From 2000 to 2010, the rate varied in Texas, but the trend line would put it about the same as the other states. But the maternal mortality rate shot up drastically after 2010, and remains far too high -- about 10 points higher than the rest of the states.

One would be tempted to blame Texas' failure to expand Medicaid, but over 20 other states did not expand Medicaid and their rates haven't risen like the rate in Texas. Could it just be an error in the data collection? That was checked and it was ruled out. The what happened in Texas?

It turns out that was the time when Texas Republicans decided to save some money -- and they decided to do it on the backs of the poor. They cut funding for women's health clinics by a whopping 66% -- evidently not caring that these clinics (many which were forced to close) were the only health care choice that many poor women had available. When these clinics closed, or had to cut back on the care they provided, that denied care to many poor women -- and they had no place to turn since the state refused to expand Medicaid.

We have known for a while now that the Republicans don't believe in equal rights for women. But the Texas Republicans denial of healthcare for poor women (so they could gives more tax breaks to corporations) establishes a new low in misogynistic heartlessness.

Softer Tone ?

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

August Presidential Polls For Ohio And North Carolina

These charts are from RealClearPolitics, and they show the polls taken in August regarding the presidential race in Ohio and in North Carolina. Both of these states are critical to Donald Trump's chances to win the White House. No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio, and North Carolina is a red state that a Republican must keep to reach 270 electoral votes.

The August polls show Trump is in trouble in both of these states. The average of the polls taken (which has proven more reliable than any single poll) show he is behind Hillary Clinton by 4 points in Ohio, and by 3 points in North Carolina.


Political Cartoon is by Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star.

46% Of Blacks Were Treated Unfairly In Last 30 Days

The panel above is from a newly released Gallup Poll. It shows that nearly half (46%) of American Blacks believe they have been treated unfairly in at least one of the above five areas -- just in the last 30 days. Imagine what the figure would be if you asked them about the last year or so.

But the most depressing figure in the poll is that only 46% of Whites believe that Blacks are ever treated unfairly in any of the five areas. That tells me that a majority of Whites either don't want to admit the obvious, are racists, are stupid, or fear that they will lose their "white privileges" if they acknowledge the truth. That is unacceptable.

Those same Whites would tell you that they believe in the U.S. Constitution. But that same Constitution guarantees every citizens, regardless of race or color, equal treatment. Anyone who truly believes in the Constitution would admit the truth, and they would join other decent Americans (the 46%) in trying to eliminate racism.

The Gallup Poll was done between June 7th and July 1st of a random national sample of 3,270 adults. The margin of error for Whites was 4 points, and for Blacks was 5 points.

Touchy ?

Political Cartoon is by Barry Deutsch at

I Do Not Like

Monday, August 22, 2016

No Mystery

Donald Trump's Campaign Spending Makes No Sense

The chart above shows the campaign spending by Donald Trump over the past year. The red portions show his spending on advertising. Note that since he was assured of the Republican nomination, he has spent very little on advertising -- and in June 2016 spent almost nothing. The staff payroll has also not increased -- meaning he still is not establishing a significant ground force to get people to the polls.

There are two areas where his spending has increased -- payments to his campaign management (dark gray) and spending to raise money (green). I have to wonder how much he really wants to win. Advertising and establishing a ground get-out-the-vote organization will help him far more than paying his managers more money -- and raising money won't help if it's not spent the right way.

So, how's he doing since June? In July, he raised $37 million, and spent about $18.5 million -- none of it on advertising. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton raised $52 million, and continued her barrage of campaign advertising. Trump finally did buy $5 million dollars worth of advertising in the middle of August. Is it too little and too late?

Trump seems to think he can run his campaign like his economic plan -- give big money to the top and expect everything to somehow magically work out. He's either very stupid or he's getting a lot of bad advice -- maybe both.


Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

New Polls Are Out For Iowa And Ohio Presidential Races

These polls are from the CBS News / YouGov Battleground Poll. They were done between August 17th and 19th of randoms sample of 987 likely Iowa voters and 997 likely Ohio voters. The Iowa margin of error is 4 points and the Ohio margin of error if 3.9 points. Ohio is especially critical for Trump, since no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.


Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Trump Is No Longer Tweeting About The Presidential Polls

It's no secret that Donald Trump loves to tweet -- and during the Republican primary, he tweeted a lot about how well the polls show he was doing. But those tweets bragging about the polls have been reduced significantly since the general election campaign began. It looks like he is beginning to realize that he is in trouble, and that there's nothing to brag about anymore.

The Briefing

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

Half Of Voters Say They Would Never Vote For Donald Trump

The graph above is from Morning Consult Polling. It was done on August 16th and 17th of a random national sample of 2,001 voters, and has a margin of error of only 2 points. It shows that 50% of American voters say they would never vote for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, 51% of voters say they definitely will (35%) or would consider voting (16%) for Hillary Clinton. Only 45% say they would definitely (29%) or consider (16%) voting for Trump. This election is slipping away from Trump, and he doesn't seem to have a clue as to what to do about it.

Desperate Blowhard

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Prominent Utah Republican Backs Hillary Clinton

David Irvine (pictured) is a Salt Lake City attorney, a lifelong Republican, and a former member of the Utah House of Representatives. He is also a supporter of Hillary Clinton for president. Here is much of what he wrote in an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune:

I've been an active Republican for all of my adult life. That this venerable political party, once home to visionary thinkers and leaders, could hand its presidential nomination to Trump, who seems not to know how much he doesn't know and could not care less, is unfathomable to me. It is unfortunate that so many of those who claim to be leaders of the congressional and presidential wings of the Republican Party have long since made their Faustian bargains and are actively endorsing a totally self-centered know-nothing who behaves like the caricature of a banana-republic dictator. 
That only shows that there are no Republican leaders of Lincolnian stature. It is especially dissonant when they have to distance themselves more than once per week from the outrageous statements of a man who even disparages the sacrifice of a heroic Army officer's Muslim family. There's a point where this failure to withdraw an endorsement becomes a self-indicting embrace of a demagogue's values.
Trump is riding astride the Four Horsemen of Calumny he has resurrected from an earlier and equally dismal Republican playbook: Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear. Then-Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, R-Maine, coined the phrase on June 1, 1950, as the first in the Senate to oppose Sen. Joe McCarthy. Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" laid out four fundamental American values that McCarthyism and now Trumpism seek to trample: (1) the right to criticize, (2) the right to hold unpopular beliefs, (3) the right to protest and (4) the right of independent thought.
Some retired military flag officers, for whom I have high regard, contacted me about endorsing Hillary Clinton, which I've agreed to do. There's irony here, because 98 percent of them are either Republicans or unaffiliated voters. That they feel so strongly about this election says a lot. 
We see this as a matter of high stakes when it comes to national security and which candidate has the temperament to make critical decisions about war and peace. Trump revels in being a bull in a china shop, but that mentality scares seasoned national security hands to death.
Elections are always gambles; candidates are rarely perfect. George Washington came as close as perfection gets; few would have guessed that Lincoln would become a giant. The nation has been blessed at critical junctures with presidents of good heart even though there have been a lot of clay feet. 
Most Utahns loathe Trump, for admirable reasons. Yet we live a political reality that unless Hillary Clinton gets more electoral votes, Trump and his tweeting fingers will be moving into the White House, where the nuclear codes also reside. There have been Utah voices urging Utahns to either not vote or vote for a third-party candidate — on "principle" — but it's really a binary choice. 
It's entirely possible that this election could turn on Utah's electoral votes. Recognizing that reality, every Clinton vote is crucially important. A nonvote or a Johnson vote is a vote for Trump. 

Ignoring The Signs

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at

GOP Platform