Monday, November 19, 2018

Satisfy Need - Not Greed


116th Congress Will Have A Record Number Of Women


The 115th Congress had 107 women in it (House and Senate combined). The 116th Congress will have 123 women. That's a record for the number of women in Congress. And it is mainly due to Democrats, who ran a record number of women. The number of Democratic women in Congress was 78 in the 115th Congress, but grows to 104 in the 116th Congress. Meanwhile the number of Republican women dropped from 29 in the 115th Congress to only 19 in the 116th Congress.

Democrats took a big step toward becoming a more gender-inclusive party, while Republicans moved closer to being an all-male party in Congress.

But while 123 women in Congress is a move in the right direction, it's not good enough. Women make up slightly more than half the population, and should compose about half of the members of Congress.

We still have a lot of work to do to end the political patriarchy in this country.

A Win For The Press

Political Cartoon is by Mark Streeter in the Savannah Morning News.

These Election Trends Should Worry Trump (And GOP)



In his New York Times column, Stanley B. Greenberg notes four trends from the recent election. These voting trends gave the Democrats their huge victory, and should be of serious concern for the future -- especially 2020, when they will probably go into the election with Trump at the head of the ticket. Here's what the 2018 election showed:

First of all, Democrats did not win simply because white women with college degrees rebelled against Mr. Trump’s misogyny, sexism and disrespect for women. Nearly every category of women rebelled. . . .

Yes, House Democrats increased their vote margin nationally among white women with at least a four-year degree by 13 points compared with the Clinton-Trump margin in 2016. But Democrats also won 71 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of unmarried white women (who split their votes two years earlier). In 2018, unmarried white women pushed up their vote margin for Democrats by 10 points. In fact, white women without a four-year degree (pollster shorthand for the white working class) raised their vote margin for Democrats by 13 points.

Overall, white women split their vote between Democrats and Republicans, but it is clear which way they are moving. Interestingly, the white college women who were supposed to be the “fuel for this Democratic wave” played a smaller role in the Democrats’ increased 2018 margin than white working class women, because the former were 15 percent of midterm voters and the latter 25 percent. . . .

Second, Mr. Trump and his party maintained their principal base with white working class voters, the shift among women notwithstanding, and Democrats still need to do better. Nonetheless, Democrats got their wave in part because a significant portion of male and female white working class voters abandoned Mr. Trump and his Republican allies.

In 2016, the white working class men that Mr. Trump spoke most forcefully to as the “forgotten Americans” gave him 71 percent of their votes and gave only 23 percent to Hillary Clinton. This year, the Republicans won their votes with a still-impressive margin of 66 to 32 percent. But what was essentially a three-to-one margin was deflated to two-to-one, which affected a lot of races. . . .

Third, Democrats made big gains because Mr. Trump declared war on immigrants — and on multicultural America — and lost. His ugly campaign succeeded in making immigration and the border a voting issue for the Republican base, according to the postelection survey I did with Democracy Corps, which asked those voting Republican why they did. “Open borders” was the top reason given for voting against a Democratic candidate. But it backfired among other voters.

On Election Day, a stunning 54 percent of those who voted said immigrants “strengthen our country.” Mr. Trump’s party lost the national popular vote by seven points, but he lost the debate over whether immigrants are a strength or a burden by 20 points. Mr. Trump got more than half of Republicans to believe immigrants were a burden, but three quarters of Democrats and a large majority of independents concluded that America gains from immigration. . . .

Fourth, Democrats could not have picked up as many House seats as they did in 2018 without raising their share of the vote by four points in the suburbs, which have grown to encompass 50 percent of voters. Mrs. Clinton won many of these districts in 2016, so it was clear that any further shift in the Democrats’ direction would prove consequential. But Democrats made their biggest gains not there, but in the rural parts of the country. That was the shocker.
Democrats cut the Republicans’ margin in rural areas by 13 points, according to the Edison exit poll and by seven points in one by Catalist. Democrats still lost rural America by somewhere between 14 and 18 points so that left Democrats in a pickle there. That had implications for the Senate, but it shouldn’t conceal the fact that Democrats actually made progress in rural areas.

Racing To Brexit

Political Cartoon is by Peter Pismestrovic at cagle.com.

Anything You Allow


Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Wise Man . . .


The First Thing House Democrats Should Do In January

(This caricature of the Democratic Party symbol is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives in the midterm election on November 6th. It looks like they will have a big enough majority to do whatever they want once the 116th Congress begins in January.

There's been a lot of talk about what the Democrats should do with their substantial majority. Much of it has to do with subpoenas and investigations. That needs to be done, and it will be done -- but if all the Democrats do is attack the Trump administration, then they will have squandered this opportunity to show the voters they are the party to that the country needs.

They must pass some legislation -- and it should be legislation that will help this country and legislation the public wants.

An infrastructure bill is needed, and a bill to fix Obamacare. Both would make the public happy, and if done right, might even have enough support to get through the Senate also. But neither is going to be easy to do, and it will take some time to hold hearings and write a bill.

There is something else that would make a better start. It could be done very quickly, and has the support of a substantial majority of Americans. It is to raise the minimum wage significantly. That would give an economic boost to millions of Americans, and do it without more federal spending. And it would not just benefit those making at or near the minimum wage. It would put upward pressure on the wages of all working men and women. And a side benefit would be to take many hard-working families off the public dole. It would even benefit businesses, because they would be able to sell their products to the workers with more money to spend.

Sending a bill to the Senate that significantly raises the minimum wage would also be a smart political move. If the Senate approves it, then Democrats look good for proposing and passing it. If the Senate kills it (which is likely), Democrats still look good because the public will know it was the Republicans would killed it. Either way it's a win for Democrats.

The Combover Must Be Protected

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Number Of Immigrant Minors In Detention Tops 14,000

(Photo of immigrant detention for children is from marketwatch.com.)

The number of immigrant children being held in federal detention centers has now topped 14,000.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

There were 14,056 unaccompanied immigrant minors in Department of Health and Human Services custody on Friday, according to a government source familiar with the number. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that the total had reached approximately 14,000.
That number tops records set just two months ago, putting further strain on an already overburdened system.
And that number is going to continue growing. Why? Because the Trump administration has changed the rules that would allow those children to be released into families that would care for them.

In the past, the Depart of Health and Human Services (HHS) would release those children to families living in the U.S., but now the Trump administration has ordered HHS to give the names of those families to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers (ICE). ICE then investigates the families, and if anyone in that family is an undocumented immigrant, they are arrested and deported.

This has caused a lot of families willing to house those youngsters to not apply to do that. They don't want ICE breathing down their necks. And that is true of families of citizens and legal immigrants, because ICE has been known to deport people in this country legally.

This is all to make Trump look good to the racists and xenophobes in his base. He has decided shamefully that his own political career is more important that releasing immigrant children from detention to loving families.

Hulk / Sulk

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

Michelle Obama's New Book Is A Huge Success


From apnews.com:

First day sales for Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” topped 725,000 copies, making it one of the year’s biggest debuts.
Crown Publishing told The Associated Press on Friday that the figures include sales and pre-orders for the former first lady’s memoir include hardcover, audio and e-books editions for the United States and Canada. “Becoming” was released on Tuesday, the same day Mrs. Obama launched a national book tour . Crown also announced that it had raised the book’s print run from 1.8 million copies to 2.6 million. Reviews of the book, which traces Obama’s journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House, have been positive, with The Washington Post praising its “impressive balance in telling the truth of her challenges while repeatedly acknowledging her lucky life.”
“Becoming” had the biggest opening of any books in 2018 by Crown’s parent company, Penguin Random House. But at least one other book this year, from Simon & Schuster, did start higher: Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” sold around 900,000 copies after one day.
“Becoming” is well exceeding the pace of previous memoirs by first ladies. In 2003, Hillary Clinton’s “Living History” had first week sales of around 600,000 copies, at a time when audio sales were tiny and e-book sales nonexistent.

A Unified Press

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Fundamental And Undeniable


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Disposable


This Is What Is Scaring Republican Politicians



These charts are from the Pew Research Center. They graphically display what scares the hell out of Republican politicians in this country. They show the demographic change that is happening to this country.

In the top chart, it shows the percentage of the U.S. population that is white and nonwhite among those 6 to 21 years of age (called the postmillennials). Back in 1968, this group was 82% white. The percentage had dropped to 70% in 1986 and 61%in 2002. In 2018, whites are only 52% of this age group, and very soon they will be a minority. This is why many are predicting that whites will be a minority in the U.S. by the middle of this century.

The second chart shows that is already true in some regions of the country among postmillennials. Whites only make up 40% of this age group in the West, and 48% in the South.

This is why the Republicans are trying to suppress the votes of minorities in various ways, and it's why they want to build a wall and deny immigration to nonwhites. Their racist and xenophobic base won't let them change their policies, so it's all that's left to them to try and survive politically.

It won't work though. As the minority groups grow in size (and join with liberal whites), they are already starting to put more Democrats in power (and vote Republicans out). Those Democrats will help defeat voter suppression efforts, thus giving the growing minority a larger voice in coming elections.

Building a wall or trying to limit nonwhite immigration is doomed to failure also. As the chart below shows, 93% of postmillennials and 88% of Hispanic postmillennials are born in this country.

This puts the GOP in a difficult situation. The only way they can avoid this demographic disaster is to change their policies to more diversity friendly ones. But any Republican who tries to do that will incur the wrath of the GOP base (which is solidly racist, religiously bigoted, and xenophobic).

I don't see a way out of this mess the GOP has created for itself. By allowing the far-right bigots to take over the party, they may have begun a process that will result in the death of the party. Are they going to go the way of the Whigs. It's very possible. Perhaps then a new and less bigoted conservative party can be created (because we need a two or more party system).



Justice Reform

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Maps Can Hide Or Reveal The Truth



The maps above are from The New York Times. Both show the results of the 2018 congressional elections. But they are also a prime example of how a map can hide as much truth as it reveals.

The top map has an enormous amount of red on it. It gives the impression that most Americans are conservative (and that somehow the Democrats must have connived to win in 2018).

That is simply not true. The second map breaks the country down into congressional districts (roughly equal). Note there is much more blue on this map, because Americans voted to give Democrats a significant majority of those individual congressional districts.

The truth is that most Americans are not conservatives. And in 2018, they showed a definite preference for Democrats.

In Trump's World

Political Cartoon is by Benjamin Slyngstad at slyngstadcartoons.com.

U.S. Version Of Capitalism Is Obsolete & Must Change

This cartoon (by Mike Stanfill at farleftside.com) shows one of the disadvantages of the kind of largely unregulated capitalism in the United States. The rich (who own the corporations) make the rules and get all the benefits, while workers struggle to make a living.

There is a better way. Capitalism must be regulated so that it is beneficial to all members of society. Many other developed nations do this, and their citizens are better off than most Americans.

Consider this excellent article from Umair Haque:

Imagine the most comically absurd capitalist thing you can think of. Go ahead. Double it. OK — ready? How about this one: a nation of people who are mostly broke, living paycheck-to-paycheck, who’ll never retire, barely able to afford decent healthcare…subsidizing, by billions, the world’s — scratch that, history’s — richest man. Absurd enough for you?
And yet that’s American reality. It’s essentially what massive “incentives” for Amazon’s new HQ means. So why are Americans — who live at the edge of ruin — subsidizing the world’s richest man, who’s also probably history’s richest man, to the tune of billions — instead of him investing in them, their healthcare, educations, retirements, and so forth? Let me put that another way.
Could there be a better example of the abject failure of capitalism — and what it really is — than the world’s richest man asking for yet more money from broke Americans (LOL)? I mean, he’s already…the world’s richest man!  . . . 
But it’s not just funny. It’s a failure. Not just one of ethics or morals — capitalism doesn’t have any. It’s the result of the stunning, catastrophic failure of an outdated set of ideas about how societies grow and prosper. . . .
The American idea of how societies grow and prosper goes like this. In order to fund social investment, you need capitalism. You tax the capitalists, and hey presto — then and only then do you have money to invest in schools, roads, hospitals, and so on. (Now, it’s obvious to see that there are many flaws with this theory. In order for capitalism to earn more, it will have to exploit more people, or exploit people more — and so in the end, will it just be a wash? And who will decide what the adequate level of such public goods is? In America, it’s capitalists — not people: they essentially dictate terms to the polity. Now, note the assumption here: the only way a society grows is through capitalism, and that means that capitalists, too, have the power to withhold prosperity from a society — and that way, to hold it ransom. What if they decide to do that?)
The biggest flaw with this theory is one of power. If capitalists know that a society depends on them to “fund” it, then they’ll probably demand some kind of payment in order to operate in a society in the first place — hence, incentives. And the payment they demand — since capitalism is only concerned with how much money it makes, period, full stop — will be precisely equivalent to the taxes that are raised. (If all this sounds suspiciously like a shakedown to you, you’re not wrong — the real question is why decades of American thinking has glorified it as some kind of grand intellectual breakthrough.) What’s the effect of that ? That means that in a capitalist society, the level of public investment will never really rise — translation: people will never really have more or better healthcare, incomes, savings, retirements, choices, chances, and so on.
And that is precisely, exactly, eerily what happened in America, isn’t it? The capitalists won, by stripping society of investment, and everyone else lost. . . .
So does society-need-capitalism, or does capitalism-need-society? You see, if the theory that society-needs-capitalism is true, then we’d see a very specific pattern at work in the world. Societies with higher levels of all those nice and wonderful things would have more and bigger capitalism, not less — because capitalism is the thing which would be funding all those gleaming hospitals, universities, schools, roads, not to mention retirement and childcare systems and so forth. So is that pattern — more public goods require more capitalism — what we do see, in the real world? Of course not. We see precisely the opposite, in fact.
Europeans live vastly better lives — longer, happier, richer, wealthier in every regard than Americans — because they spend twice as much on public investment as a share of GDP — 50% versus 25%. Translation — they spend twice as much on healthcare, education, retirement, childcare systems, safety nets, and so on — which also means they spend less on capitalism. Europeans have far better healthcare and retirement and education and everything systems — but there are no Apples and Amazons in Europe — there’s not a single trillion dollar company, in fact. So the American theory that society-needs-capitalism in a kind of linear relationship to grow and prosper is obviously false — we can disprove it merely by glancing at the world. . . .
The European theory goes like this: social investment can be self-sustaining. Imagine that you work at a national healthcare system somewhere in Europe, as a doctor, or a nurse. It’s not that you don’t pay taxes — of course you do. Your taxes then go right back to fund all those other various social services. But the people who work in those sectors are funding you, too. Everyone is simply investing in everyone else. There’s no magic behind it — you can simply think of it like a shared insurance pool, which is exactly what it mostly is. Together, all that adds up to about half the economy — a much more balanced model than America.
Now, all those people who are investing in one another can go out and spend some of their money on capitalism. But note the effect — now a society has a stable, large, and readily available pool of secure, well-paid, middle class jobs with benefits. So there is always an alternative to capitalism — unlike in America, where the choice is between different flavors of exploitation, in Europe, it’s often between being exploited by some capitalist, and working for the common good. And because people are free to make that choice, which also means they are investing in their own growth and development, capitalism can never really hold such a society hostage like it can in the States. . . .
In European thinking, a society doesn’t have to depend solely on capitalism for its growth and prosperity. In fact, it mustn’t — because capitalism will hold it to ransom, and demand that people subsidize capitalists, not matter how rich they grow — which is how you get to the world’s richest man demanding even more money (LOL) from Americans. How to escape that dilemma? A society can simply invest in itself — and kickstart a virtuous circle that lifts everyone upwards, because here, no one is exploiting anyone else. . . .
It’s through bizarre, strange, upside-down examples like this one — the world’s richest man asking for more money from a nation whose middle class has collapsed, where people choose between healthcare and food — that we see the hard, grim, and dismal truths of capitalism. What it is, without the myths and fables and fairy tales. It’s contradictions, it’s limitations, at what scale it is useful and helpful — and how it becomes abusive and self-destructive to a society.

Trump And The Press

Political Cartoon is by Christopher Weyant in The Boston Globe.

The Truth About "Medicare For All"


Friday, November 16, 2018

Remember When ?


McConnell Shows Himself To Be A Master Of Hypocrisy

(Caricature of Mitch McConnell is by DonkeyHotey.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed for Fox News a couple of days ago. In it, he bragged about how bipartisan the Senate had been under his leadership, and called for House Democrats to be bipartisan when they take control in January. Here is just part of what he wrote:

The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.
And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.
What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?
Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.
That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.
All the ridiculous op-ed shows is that McConnell is a master of the art of hypocrisy. He evidently thinks the American people will forget his actions of the last 10 years. No one in Congress has been more partisan than Mitch McConnell since 2008.

He made it his objective to oppose everything President Obama tried to do -- with no regard as to whether it might be good for the country or not. It was enough for him to oppose it just because it was proposed by a Democratic president. That never changed throughout the full eight years of the Obama administration.

And when a Supreme Court vacancy occurred, McConnell refused to act on Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland -- delaying any action on the nomination until a Republican took the White House.

Once Trump took office, McConnell continued his partisanship. Never once did he invite Democrats to participate in creating legislation, and he blocked any effort to compromise -- refusing to bring any Democratic -supported bill to the Senate floor. He also made  sure the whitewash of Trump was successful in the Senate. Even after calling on Democrats to be bipartisan, he killed an effort to bring a bill to the floor that would protect the Mueller investigation.

There have been many majority leaders (of both parties), but there has never been one as blatantly partisan as Mitch McConnell. His claim of being bipartisan is absurd, and so is his call for Democrats to reach across the aisle -- something he never did!

The Hypocrite

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

Trump Has A Lot Of Ground To Make Up Before 2020

This chart reflects the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between November 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,284 registered voters, with a 3 point margin of error for adults (and 2.9 points for registered voters).

This chart reflects the results of a new Monmouth University Poll -- done between November 9th and 12th of a national sample of 802 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

Donald Trump did his best to make the 2018 election about him, believing that would save the Republicans running for office. It didn't work. Voters supported Democrats by an overwhelming margin.

These charts show us why. Americans are not happy with the Trump administration. By a 20 point margin, they don't want him to run for re-election (16 points among registered voters). And by a 23 point margin (21 points among registered voters) they don't want him to be re-elected on 2020.

Making the election about himself was a huge mistake in 2018, and unless Trump is able to win over a lot of voters in the next couple of years (unlikely), 2020 will be another disaster for Republicans (and for Trump himself).

Better Than A Pardon

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.

War Has Cost The United States $5.9 Trillion Since 2001


The chart above (from Forbes.com) shows the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan by year (between 2004 and 2018). Note that 2018 has the record for the number of bombs dropped, and we still have a month and a half to go in 2018. If you thought the war was winding down in that country, that graph should wake you up.

But those bombs in Afghanistan represent only a fraction of spending on wars in Asia and the Middle East since 2001. The actually spending on those seemingly perpetual wars is about $5.9 trillion. And that spending goes on. In fact, we don't have any idea (and neither does our government) when those wars will end.

What have these wars accomplished? That would be NOTHING! We were told they were (and are) waged to defend American freedoms and to stop terrorism. Both of those are LIES! The wars did nothing to defend this country, because the countries attacked did not pose any danger to the U.S. (or its freedoms). And there are far more effective ways to fight terrorism that invading and occupying a foreign country.

The only thing the wars have accomplished has been to waste trillions of dollars, kill hundreds of thousands people (including soldiers from U.S. and its allies, and innocent civilians), and displace millions of people (now called refugees). It's time to stop the nonsense and bring our soldiers home.

Here is how cnbc.com reports the costs of the U.S. wars in Asia/Middle East:

The U.S. wars and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001, according to a new study.
That total is almost $2 trillion more than all federal government spending during the recently completed 2017-18 fiscal year.
The report, from Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, also finds that more than 480,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting. Over 244,000 civilians have been killed. Another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.
The $5.9 trillion figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone, according to Neta Crawford, the study's author.
In addition to the money spent by the Pentagon, Crawford says the report captures the "war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans' care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security."
It breaks down like this, according to Crawford and the report:
  • Total U.S. war-related spending through fiscal year 2019 is $4.9 trillion.
  • The other $1 trillion reflects estimates for the cost of health care for post-9/11 veterans.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will be responsible for serving more than 4.3 million veterans by 2039.
What's more, longer wars will also increase the number of service members who will ultimately claim veterans benefits and disability payments.
The U.S. government spent $4.1 trillion during fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Treasury Department.
The Defense Department accounted for 14.7 percent of that, and the Department of Veterans Affairs accounted for 4.4 percent.
NOTE -- the figures above for government spending includes Social Security and Medicare, in spite of the fact that none of Social Security and most of Medicare are not a part of the discretionary budget. When you subtract them, you find that military spend makes up more than half of the U.S. discretionary budget.

Twin Towers

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Unparalleled Grace


Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Demagogue's Secret


Would Anti-Pelosi Dem Faction Help Elect A GOP Speaker ?

It is now known that the Democrats will have a significant majority in the next House of Representatives (that will be seated in early January of 2019). That would normally mean the next Speaker of the House would be a Democrat.

But there is a small group of anti-Pelosi Democrats that are trying to force the party to bend to their will. They remind me of the "freedom caucus" that caused so much trouble for Republicans in the 115th Congress? Is this group going to keep Democrats from accomplishing anything in the 116th Congress. Maybe. They are certainly sounding like they could be troublemakers who will divide the House Democrats.

They are now claiming they will vote against Nancy Pelosi when the Speaker election is held on the floor of the Senate, and they claim they have enough votes to prevent her from winning the Speaker election.

These Democrats (?) don't have enough votes to keep Pelosi from becoming the Speaker nominee of the House Democratic Caucus. She will be the nominee of the party. The Republicans will put their own nominee up -- and the one with the most votes will be Speaker.

Understand that the anti-Pelosi Dems are not saying they will abstain from the vote. That would just reduce the number of votes needed to become Speaker. They are saying they would actually vote against Pelosi -- and the only way to do that is to vote for the Republican candidate. Even if the faction put up their own candidate, it would just require a second vote (after their candidate was eliminated), and would once again come down to Pelosi or the Republican.

Are these people really willing to vote for the Republican? Is their misogyny so strong they would put a Republican in as Speaker of the Democratically-controlled House? I'm wondering if they have thought their ridiculous threat through. The folks who elected them did not do so to get another right-wing Republican Speaker. Some of them might even face a recall, and all of them would have a real Democrat opposing them in 2020.

I suspect this is just a lot of huffing and puffing, and most will fall in line on Speaker election day (while a few will vote present). They are trying to force their minority view on the majority. It won't work. Nancy Pelosi is going to be the next Speaker of the House -- and any Democrat that votes against her will only be hurting themselves. No real Democrat would vote to install a Republican as Speaker.

The Acting AG

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

Public Says NO To Social Security/Medicare Cuts



After ballooning the deficit to a trillion dollars a year with their tax cuts for the rich, the Republicans thought they could reduce that by cutting Social Security and Medicare -- even though Social Security adds nothing to the deficit and Medicare adds very little. That doesn't matter to the Republicans, since their true constituency is the rich -- not seniors who rely on Social Security and Medicare.

This was the Republican plan all along. They have always hated Social Security and Medicare (since their rich constituents don't need them), and they have tried various means to get rid of them. The latest is to falsely blame them for the deficit and cut the benefits. Senate Majority Leader McConnell even admitted that was what they planned to do.

They misjudged to public. And the threats to Social Security and Medicare contributed to their stunning defeat in the 2018 election. With the House solidly in Democratic hands, there will be no cuts to Social Security and Medicare -- which is just what the public wants. In fact (as the charts above show), the public wants to see spending on Social Security (65% to 3%) and Medicare (66% to 6%) increased -- not decreased.

The Republicans may not care about seniors (which seems obvious), but they need to realize that the public will NOT support efforts to damage either Social Security or Medicare. Americans know these programs keep millions out of poverty and in good health, and they want those programs to continue.

It used to be said that Social Security and Medicare were the "third rail" of politics, and touching them meant certain political death. That is still true!

The charts above reflect the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between November 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,284 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3 points, and for registered voters is 2.9 points.

The Narcissist

Political Cartoon is by Ann Telnaes in The Washington Post.

Americans Like The Results Of The 2018 Election




We now know that the Democrats will have a substantial majority in the House in the 116th Congress, and the Republicans will retain a small majority in the Senate. Even with a Republican still in the White House, right-wing control over government has been effectively ended.

What does the public think about the election results? By an 18 point margin, adults are happy about the outcome (and the margin rises to 24 points among registered voters). Adults are also happy that Democrats will control the House of Representatives by a 13 point margin (and registered voters by a 12 point margin).

The only thing they are not happy about is the Republicans continuing control of the Senate. Adults by a 4 point margin (and registered voters by a 7 point margin) are unhappy at that result.

These charts reflect the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between November 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,284 registered voters), with a 3 point margin of error for adults and a 2.9 point margin of error for registered voters.

Shameful

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

White House Is In Chaos After A Very Bad Week For Trump

(Caricature of Trump is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

Over 70% of the candidates Donald Trump supported lost their election bids. But that was just the start of a very bad week for Donald Trump and his administration. He made himself look even worse by his glum attitude in Paris at the memorial of the 100th year since the end of World War One, making himself even more isolated from other world leaders (except for Putin who got Trump's only smile). Then he caused a furor by refusing to go to the French cemetery where thousands of American soldiers were buried. He skipped the Peace meeting attended by other world leaders, and once back in Washington, refused to go to Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He is the only president in over five decades to fail doing that.

And who was responsible for his very bad week? It was Trump himself. Once again, he has displayed his total incompetence.

Here's how Paul Waldman describes Trump's self-imposed meltdown in The Washington Post:

New reporting paints a picture of the administration descending into a thunderdome of backstabbing and resentment as staffers jockey for position or wonder whether they should get the heck out, all presided over by an erratic, unhappy president. This might sound like a familiar story, but if it isn’t already worse than it has been before, it soon will be, especially now that the midterm elections have cast a cloud over the remaining two years of President Trump’s term.
Let’s run down a few of the highlights:
  • Trump’s trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I was a disaster, marked by a brooding and petulant president mocked and condemned wherever he went. Angry about his party’s midterm losses, Trump has spent his time in the past week insulting reporters in terms that are unusually personal even for him, spinning out desperate conspiracy theories about stolen elections on Twitter and lashing out at Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron.
  • After deciding not to attend a ceremony honoring those killed in the war because rain apparently made it inconvenient to get there, Trump grew enraged at his staff “for not counseling him that skipping the cemetery visit would be a public-relations nightmare.” Somehow he was not able to figure out for himself that doing so might not go over well.
  • Trump “told advisers over the weekend that he had decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and that he also was seriously considering replacing White House chief of staff John F. Kelly.”
  • While Trump is considering replacing Kelly with Nick Ayers, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, “aides told Trump that appointing Ayers would lower staff morale and perhaps trigger an exodus.”
  • First lady Melania Trump’s staff issued an extraordinary statement saying a top national security aide, Mira R. Ricardel, “no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” making public a bureaucratic feud that stretches between the White House and the Pentagon.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, “With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment.”
  • Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions and appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, a move meant to protect him from the Mueller investigation, is turning out to be a mini-scandal in its own right, to the point where the president vacillates between singing Whitaker’s praises and claiming he doesn’t know him.
The root of all this is the midterm elections, and it’s hard to overstate what an impact they’ll have on the administration. Nobody likes losing, of course, but nobody hates it more than Trump, particularly after he worked so hard in the weeks leading up to the election, tellinghis supporters that “I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me.” It was indeed, and he was pretty emphatically rejected.
Nothing is more upsetting to Trump than being considered a loser, even temporarily. But I suspect that the prospect of having his tax returns made public has him even more frightened. We don’t know what they will reveal, but suffice to say that no sane person believes that all we’ll discover when they’re opened up is that Trump took advantage of some loopholes and did some creative accounting here and there. Everything we know about Trump’s career — not least the recent revelation that he and his family engaged in a years-long conspiracy to commit tax fraud on an absolutely massive scale — suggests that those returns will be a Pandora’s box of scandal.
So that would account for the president’s dark mood. But if you’re one of his staffers, you’re probably gripped by an equally strong sense of foreboding, or at a minimum the feeling that the fun times are over. Not only won’t there be any more conservative legislation to pass, but also Democrats will be launching one investigation after another, probing everything you’ve done for the past two years. If you’re senior enough, you may get hauled before House committees to be grilled mercilessly. You might even need to get yourself a lawyer, which can be a real burden on a government salary.
So you go to work every day wondering when the hammer is going to fall on you. Is one of your colleagues plotting against you? Are you going to get a congressional subpoena? Is today the day that the president turns his wrath on you in his endless search for others to blame for his problems and his mistakes?
When everyone around you feels that way, too, things get a little uneasy. Describing the White House right now, one former Trump aide told Politico, “It’s like an episode of ‘Maury,'” referencing the daytime TV show famous for bitter family arguments. “The only thing that’s missing is a paternity test.”
But there’s no mystery about who the father of this mess is. He’s sitting in the Oval Office, scared and angry that the accountability he has outrun his entire life might actually catch up to him.

Behind The Curtain

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

An Infantile Disease