Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Beliefs Of A REAL President

Biden, Warren, And Sanders Lead National Poll

The chart above reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between January 19th and 21st of a national sample of 470 Democrats and Democratic leaners.

The poll shows that it's still really a three-way race for the nomination between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.

Puppets In The Dark

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Workers Pay More & Corporations Pay Less Of U.S. Taxes

The chart above, from Business Insider, shows how Republican economic policy has benefitted corporations while hurting workers. In 1950 (a time of substantial growth and a growing middle class), workers paid only about 2% of federal tax income while corporations paid about 7%.

Thanks to Republican policies favoring the rich, that has now flipped. Workers now pay 7.8% of national income, while corporations pay only 0.9%.

Republicans said the money saved by corporations would trickle=down to the rest of America. That has not happened. Instead of paying workers more, the corporations are just buying their own stock (thus artificially inflating the value of that stock, allowing executives and stockholders to fatten their bank accounts).

Corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes, and too many high-profit corporations pay no taxes at all. We must fix this, and return to an economic policy fair to all Americans. This will not happen until the Republicans are voted out of power.

The Full List

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

Greta Speaks Truth To The Rich And Powerful At Davos

(This image of Greta Thunberg at Davos is from CNN.)

For the last few days, some of the richest and most powerful individuals in the world met in Davis, Switzerland. The occasion was the annual meeting called the World Economic Forum. Uncowed by their wealth and power, young climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a dose of truth to them. Here is what she said:

One year ago, I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire. I said I wanted you to panic. I’ve been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do. But don’t worry. It’s fine. Trust me. I’ve done this before. And I can assure you: It doesn’t lead to anything. 
And for the record, when we children tell you to panic, we’re not telling you to go on like before. We’re not telling you to rely on technologies that don’t even exist today at scale and that science says perhaps never will. We are not telling you to keep talking about reaching net zero emissions or carbon neutrality by cheating and fiddling around with numbers. We’re not telling you to offset your emissions by just paying someone else to plant trees in places like Africa, while at the same time forests like the Amazon are being slaughtered at an infinitely higher rate. Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough of what is needed, and it cannot replace real mitigation and rewilding nature. 
And let’s be clear: We don’t need a low-carbon economy. We don’t need to lower emissions. Our emissions have to stop, if we are to have a chance to stay below the 1.5-degree target. And until we have the technologies that at scale can put our emissions to minus, then we must forget about net zero. We need real zero, because distant net-zero emission targets will mean absolutely nothing if we just continue to ignore the carbon dioxide budget that applies for today, not distant future dates. If high emissions continue like now even for a few years, that remaining budget will soon be completely used up. 
The fact that the U.S.A. is leaving the Paris accord seemed to outrage and worry everyone. And it should. But the fact that we are all about to fail the commitments you signed up for in the Paris Agreement doesn’t seem to bother the people in power even the least. Any plan or policy of yours that doesn’t include radical emission cuts at the source starting today is completely insufficient for meeting the 1.5- or well below 2-degree commitments of the Paris Agreement. 
And again, this is not about right or left. We couldn’t care less about your party politics. From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left, as well as the center, have all failed. No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world, because that world, in case you haven’t noticed, is currently on fire. 
You say children shouldn’t worry. You say, “Just leave this to us. We will fix this. We promise we won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.” And then nothing. Silence. Or something worse than silence: empty words and promises which give the impression that sufficient action is being taken. 
All the solutions are obviously not available within today’s societies, nor do we have the time to wait for new technological solutions to become available to start drastically reducing our emissions. So, of course, the transition isn’t going to be easy. It will be hard. And unless we start facing this now, together, with all cards on the table, we won’t be able to solve this in time. 
In the days running up to the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, I joined a group of climate activists demanding that you, the world’s most powerful and influential business and political leaders, begin to take the action needed. We demand, at this year’s World Economic Forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050 or 2030 or even 2021; we want this done now. 
It may seem like we are asking for a lot, and you will of course say that we are naive. But this is just the very minimum amount of effort that is needed to start the rapid sustainable transition. So, either you do this, or you’re going to have to explain to your children why you are giving up on the 1.5-degree target — giving up without even trying. 
Well, I’m here to tell you that, unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight. The facts are clear, but they are still too uncomfortable for you to address. You just leave it, because you just think it’s too depressing and people will give up. But people will not give up. You are the ones who are giving up. Last week, I met with Polish coal miners who lost their jobs because their mine was closed. And even they had not given up. On the contrary, they seem to understand the fact that we need to change more than you do. 
I wonder: What will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing a climate chaos that you knowingly brought upon them? That it seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to resign the idea of securing future living conditions without even trying? 
Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. And we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else. Thank you.


Political Cartoon is by Matt Davies in Newsday.

Experts Agree That Trump Lied About Economy

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Truth About War

The Public Grades Trump (And The Grades Are Not Good)

The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll. They questioned 1,996 registered voters between January 10th and 12th, and the poll has a margin of error of only 2 points.

They asked voters to grade. Trump on his performance in office. About 49% gave him a D or F, while only 38% gave him an A or B.

Dershowitz And Trump

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Public Overwhelmingly Want Witnesses In Senate Trial

It looks like Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are going to get what they want -- a cover-up instead of a fair trial that won't call any witnesses to testify before the Senate. That is not what the American public wants to see though.

About 69% of all adults (including 69% of Independents and 86% of Democrats) think the Senate should call witnesses. Even a plurality of Republicans (48%) agrees with that.

The Republicans, in their effort to cover-up for Donald Trump's misbehavior, are playing a dangerous game -- and it's one that could hurt them in the coming election. Americans want Trump removed by a 6 point margin (51% to 45%), but a much larger percentage wants to see a Senate trial that is fair to both sides.

These charts reflect the results of a new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between January 16th and 19th of a national sample of 1,156 adults, with a 3.4 point margin of error.

GOP Liars

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at

Newest Poll Of Iowa Democrats

The chart above reflects the results of the latest Focus on Rural America Iowa Poll -- done between January 15th and 18th of 500 likely Democratic caucus attendees. It has a 4.4 point margin of error.

Under The Rug

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

Trump Continues To Set Records For Presidential Lying

From The Washington Post:

In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.
In other words, in a single year, the president said more than the total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019.
As of Jan. 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims. Only 366 days to go — at least in this term.

Puppet Master

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at

They Love Him Because They ARE Him

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Common Sense

New York Times Endorses Warren AND Klobuchar

 (These caricatures of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are by DonkeyHotey.)

The voting to choose a Democratic presidential nominee will begin in Iowa in about two weeks. And I will be voting on Super Tuesday in about a month and a half (March 3rd).

I have not publicly supported any of the candidates until now -- and I am convinced that any of the Democrats running will make a much better president than Donald Trump. But it's now time for me to get off the fence.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be voting for Elizabeth Warren on March 3rd. My second choice would be Amy Klobuchar. I just think it's past time for this country to have a woman as president, and both Warren and Klobuchar would be an excellent choice.

It seems like I'm not alone in that view. The editorial board of the New York Times has made their endorsement for the Democratic nominee. Instead of choosing a single nominee, that board has endorsed two candidates -- Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Here is some of what they had to say:

On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation. Some in the party view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. Then there are those who believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced.

The Democratic primary contest is often portrayed as a tussle between moderates and progressives. To some extent that’s true. But when we spent significant time with the leading candidates, the similarity of their platforms on fundamental issues became striking.

Nearly any of them would be the most progressive president in decades on issues like health care, the economy and government’s allocations of resources. Where they differ most significantly is not the what but the how, in whether they believe the country’s institutions and norms are up to the challenge of the moment. . . .

The history of the editorial board would suggest that we would side squarely with the candidate with a more traditional approach to pushing the nation forward, within the realities of a constitutional framework and a multiparty country. But the events of the past few years have shaken the confidence of even the most committed institutionalists. We are not veering away from the values we espouse, but we are rattled by the weakness of the institutions that we trusted to undergird those values.

There are legitimate questions about whether our democratic system is fundamentally broken. Our elections are getting less free and fair, Congress and the courts are increasingly partisan, foreign nations are flooding society with misinformation, a deluge of money flows through our politics. And the economic mobility that made the American dream possible is vanishing.

Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.

That’s why we’re endorsing the most effective advocates for each approach. They are Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. . . .

Elizabeth Warren has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic left.

Senator Warren is a gifted storyteller. She speaks elegantly of how the economic system is rigged against all but the wealthiest Americans, and of “our chance to rewrite the rules of power in our country,” as she put it in a speech last month. In her hands, that story has the passion of a convert, a longtime Republican from Oklahoma and a middle-class family, whose work studying economic realities left her increasingly worried about the future of the country. The word “rigged” feels less bombastic than rooted in an informed assessment of what the nation needs to do to reassert its historic ideals like fairness, generosity and equality.

She is also committed to reforming the fundamental structures of government and the economy — her first commitment is to anti-corruption legislation, which is not only urgently needed but also has the potential to find bipartisan support. She speaksfluently about foreign policy, including how to improve NATO relations, something that will be badly needed after Mr. Trump leaves office.

Her campaign’s plans, in general, demonstrate a serious approach to policymaking that some of the other candidates lack. Ms. Warren accurately describes a lack of housing construction as the primary driver of the nation’s housing crisis, and she has proposed both increases in government funding for housing construction, and changes in regulatory policy to encourage local governments to allow more construction.

She has plans to sharply increase federal investment in clean energy research and to wean the American economy from fossil fuels. She has described how she would reduce the economic and political power of large corporations and give workers more ability to bargain collectively. And she has proposed a sweeping expansion of government support for Americans at every stage of life, from universal child care to free public college to expanded Social Security. . . .

Ms. Warren’s path to the nomination is challenging, but not hard to envision. The four front-runners are bunched together both in national polls and surveys in states holding the first votes, so small shifts in voter sentiment can have an outsize influence this early in the campaign. There are plenty of progressives who are hungry for major change but may harbor lingering concerns about a messenger as divisive as Mr. Sanders. At the same time, some moderate Democratic primary voters see Ms. Warren as someone who speaks to their concerns about inequality and corruption. Her earlier leaps in the polls suggest she can attract more of both. . . .

Amy Klobuchar has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center. Her vision goes beyond the incremental. Given the polarization in Washington and beyond, the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration.

The senator from Minnesota is the very definition of Midwestern charisma, grit and sticktoitiveness. Her lengthy tenure in the Senate and bipartisan credentials would make her a deal maker (a real one) and uniter for the wings of the party — and perhaps the nation.

She promises to put the country on the path — through huge investments in green infrastructure and legislation to lower emissions — to achieve 100 percent net-zero emissions no later than 2050. She pledges to cut childhood poverty in half in a decade by expanding the earned-income and child care tax credits. She also wants to expand food stamps and overhaul housing policy and has developed the field’s most detailed plan for treating addiction and mental illness. And this is all in addition to pushing for a robust public option in health care, free community college and a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Ms. Klobuchar speaks about issues like climate change, the narrowing middle class, gun safety and trade with an empathy that connects to voters’ lived experiences, especially in the middle of the country. The senator talks, often with self-deprecating humor, about growing up the daughter of two union workers, her Uncle Dick’s deer stand, her father’s struggles with alcoholism and her Christian faith.

Ms. Klobuchar promises a foreign policy based on leading by example, instead of by threat-via-tweet. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she serves on the subcommittees responsible for oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the nation’s borders and its immigration, citizenship and refugee laws. In 13 years as a senator, she has sponsored and voted on dozens of national defense measures, including military action in Libya and Syria. Her record shows that she is confident and thoughtful, and she reacts to data — what you’d want in a crisis. . . .

Any hope of restoring unity in the country will require modesty, a willingness to compromise and the support of the many demographics that make up the Democratic coalition — young and old, in red states and blue, black and brown and white. For Senator Klobuchar, that’s acknowledging the depth of the nation’s dysfunction. For Senator Warren, it’s understanding that the country is more diverse than her base.

There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives. But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in 2016, and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth. That’s the very purpose of primaries, to test-market strategies and ideas that can galvanize and inspire the country.

Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate.

May the best woman win.

Like His Master

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at

What The "Trumpers" Are Teaching Their Children

Monday, January 20, 2020

Debs Nailed It!

Trump's Claims Of Black Support Are Ludicrous

Just before the last election, Donald Trump bragged that he had the support of about 40% of Blacks. And since then, he has intermittently made claims of growing Black support. It is not even close to true, but just more Trump lies.

The truth is that 90% of Blacks disapprove of how Trump is doing his job, 76% believe Trump's actions as president have made life worse for Blacks, 83% believe he has made racism a bigger problem in the U.S., and 83% believe Trump is a racist.

These results are from a recent Washington Post / Ipsos Poll -- done between January 2nd and 8th of a national sample of 1,088 Black adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

Too Emotional

Political Cartoon is by Mike Thompson in USA Today.

The Economy Is NOT As Great As Trump/GOP Claims

Donald Trump loves to brag about how great the United States economy is, and if you are rich (like him and his buddies) then he might be right. But the truth for most Americans (in both the working and middle classes) is that the economy is not so great. They are struggling to make ends meet -- and falling further behind each month.

The thirteen charts above (from the Economic Policy Institute) paint a true picture of the U.S. economy. They show an economy geared to favor the rich at the expense of all other people.

This does not have to be. We have had economic policies in the past that were much fairer to everyone. But the Republicans don't want that, and until they are voted out of power we will continue to have this unfair economy.

Proving The Love Of Trump

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at

U.S. Wastes Billions Of Healthcare Dollars Every Year

 Americans like to think that the money they spend each year for health insurance goes to actually pay for health care. It doesn't. The truth is that the U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year that doesn't contribute to the health of any American.

The money goes to pay the overhead for private insurance companies -- profits, executive and employee compensation, stockholder compensation, et cetera. The people receiving this money provide no health care. They simply suck dollars out of the health care system.

No matter what kind of health care system a country has, some money will be spent on overhead (managing the system), but Americans spend far more on overhead than other countries do -- and that is largely why health care costs so much more in the U.S. than in most other countries. For instance, Canada spends only about $1 on this compared to $4 in U.S. for each person.

Consider this excellent article by Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times:

In the United States, a legion of administrative health care workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.
Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering health care is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.
That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private health care programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.
Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.
It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private health care insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their health care coverage.
To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.
Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.
The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.
In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of health care administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major health care insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.
Administering the U.S. network of public and private health care programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.
“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”
The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian health care sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.
Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian health care spending, the costs of administering health care insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.
In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.
“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”
AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.
Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. health care system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same health care.
“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on health care paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.
That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

Borrowed Sharpie

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

War - Who Is It Good For?