Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Bernie Sanders Still Says He Is NOT A Democrat

(Cartoon image of Bernie Sanders is by Paul Berge at bergetoons.blogspot.com.)

Bernie Sanders has never run for office as a Democrat. Even when running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he refused to make the simple statement that he was a Democrat. The closest he would come is to say he was running for the Democratic nomination.

There is a good reason for that -- that he is NOT a Democrat and doesn't want to become one. He reiterated that last Sunday, when he told Fox News that he would be running for re-election to the Senate in 2018 as an Independent -- not as a Democrat (even thought the Vermont Democratic Party begged him to run on their ticket).

Sanders said:

“I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

I hope this ends the talk of his running in the 2020 Democratic primary for president. If he is ashamed to be a member of the Democratic Party, then he should stay out of party affairs, and that includes the party primary. The party has plenty of good candidates (including good progressives) that are proud to wear the party label -- and one of them should be our standard-bearer in 2020.

GOP Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

The Seven Proposed Amendments To Texas Constitution

Early voting has started in Texas, and statewide voters will be voting on seven proposed amendments to the state constitution (to add to the 491 amendments already in that constitution). Here are the proposed amendments this year (from the Texas Tribune):

Proposition 1 

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.”
What it means: It would authorize property tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses — those whose homes were donated to them by charity for less than market value.

Proposition 2

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing for home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.”
What it means: This would ease restrictions on borrowing against home equity in Texas and allow Texans easier access to their equity. The proposition also lowers the maximum fees that can be charged in connection with home equity loans but also exempts certain charges from the calculation of that maximum. 

Proposition 3

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate after the expiration of the person’s term of office.”
What it means: Unsalaried appointees whose terms have ended but who have not been replaced would serve only until the next legislative session has ended.

Proposition 4

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the Legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.”
What it means: This would require courts to notify the state attorney general of any constitutional challenges to state laws.

Proposition 5

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment on professional sports teams' charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.”
What it means: It would expand the definition of a “professional sports team,” giving more team-connected foundations the ability to hold charitable raffles.

Proposition 6

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”
What it means: This would give property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

Proposition 7

What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.”
What it means: It would allow banks and other financial institutions to conduct promotional activities — such as raffles — to encourage savings.

It's Only About Him

Political Cartoon is by Chris Britt in the Illinois Times.

Some Good News For Democrats About 2018 Election

Here is some of an article by Elena Schneider at Politico.com that should make Democrats feel a little better about the 2018 elections.

Democratic candidates are reporting historic early fundraising totals, alarming GOP strategists and raising the prospect that 2018 could feature the most expansive House battlefield in years.

Animated by opposition to President Donald Trump and the Republican congressional majorities, at least 162 Democratic candidates in 82 GOP-held districts have raised over $100,000 so far this year, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest FEC data. That’s about four times as many candidates as House Democrats had at this point before the 2016 or 2014 elections, and it’s more than twice as many as Republicans had running at this point eight years ago, on the eve of capturing the House in the 2010 wave election.

Nearly three dozen Republican incumbents were outraised by Democratic challengers in the third quarter of this year – a stunning figure. Nine GOP incumbents already trail a Democratic opponent in cash on hand, increasing the likelihood that many veteran incumbents will face tough opposition for the first time in years.

The Democrats’ fundraising success, especially from a glut of candidates who have never run for office before, is unsettling to those charged with protecting the GOP majority.

Of course, this does not insure a win. While individual Republicans are not doing well with donations, the RNC is doing very well (as big money donors are pouring money into it), and they will probably help those candidates. It's all going to come down to turnout. Will Democrats go to the polls in larger numbers in the off-year election, or not?

It Ain't Just Hollywood

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Way It Used To Be ?

Monday, October 23, 2017

To Destroy America

Most People Think Trump Acts/Speaks Without Thinking

This tells us why Trump remains very unpopular with the American public. Not only do they think he is dishonest and not level-headed, but 78% (nearly 4 out of 5 people) think he acts and speaks (and tweets) without thinking. This includes 55% of Republicans, 77% of Independents, and 95% of Democrats.

And a significant majority (58%) believes he ignores the advice of his advisors -- including 34% of Republicans, 54% of Independents, and 78% of Democrats..

These charts are from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done on October 15th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,326 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Two Down - One To Go

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

Congress Very Unpopular (And GOP Is Blamed For It)

These charts reflect the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done on October 15th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,326 registered voters), with a 3.1 point margin of error.

It shows the public is still extremely unhappy with the 115th Congress (with only 10% approving of the job they are doing). And the public blames Republicans for this far more than they blame Democrats (42% to 14%).

This has the congressional Republicans very nervous, and it's why they are desperate to push a tax cut through Congress. They are hoping that a tax cut will save them from disaster in the 2018 election. They need to be careful about what kind of tax cut they pass though. If they pass the current version, it will just make the public madder -- because that version gives the bulk of the cuts to the rich and the corporations.


Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Trump/GOP Budget Will Add $1 Trillion A Year To Deficit

(Cartoon image is by Drew Sheneman at Tribune Media Services.)

Congress is trying to rush a budget through, because they need to do that before they can give their massive tax cuts to the rich (and corporations). And as expected, it takes money from needy Americans to give more to those who don't need help -- a reverse Robin Hood. And it destroys the image they have always claimed -- of being the party of fiscal responsibility. That's because their budget will add another trillion dollars to the deficit each year. Here is some of an article about this by Stan Collender at Forbes:

The U.S. Treasury Department reported last Friday that the federal budget deficit for the just-completed fiscal year had risen by $80 billion over fiscal 2016 to the ominous-sounding $666 billion, a number many people think is an omen for the coming of the devil or anti-Christ.
In this case they may be right: The spending and taxing policies about to be put in place by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress will balloon the federal deficit to $1 trillion or more every year going forward.
And unlike the four consecutive $1 trillion deficits recorded during the first years of the Obama administration, these trillion dollar annual deficits will be the result of enacted changes in federal spending and taxing rather than on a temporary economic downturn. Some of these changes will be permanent. Others will need to be reapproved annually but are unlikely to be rejected in the future. . . .
Here's how the annual $1 trillion budget deficits will happen.
In July, the Congressional Budget Office projected (Table 1) that the Trump fiscal 2018 budget will result in an average annual deficit of about $677 billion between 2018 and 2022. But that took the Trump budget preposals at face value and assumed Congress would agree to all the spending cuts proposed by the White House, something that the House and Senate have already shown no interest in doing. That makes the average annual baseline deficit over the next five years closer to $750 billion.
While the White House and its congressional supporters insist the tax cut the House and Senate will consider in the next month or so will eventually pay for itself with much higher economic growth rates, the congressional budget resolution passed by the Senate late last Thursday (and highly likely to be accepted by the House) assumes that the deficit will increase by about $150 billion a year over the next 10 years. Nonpartisan analyses show that the deficit will increase by an average of between $220 billion and $240 billion between 2018 and 2027 and even more thereafter. An average of the three estimates results in about a $200 billion increase in the budget deficit for each of the next five years. . . .

Trump Rules For Black Athletes

Political Cartoon is by Ruben Polling at tomthedancingbug.com.

Liberal Propaganda

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Religious Freedom"

Trump/GOP Efforts Already Causing Uninsured % To Rise

The efforts by the GOP to repeal Obamacare, and the threats to stop insurance subsidies to help cover the cost of insuring working and middle class people, have already had a negative effect on the percentage of uninsured Americans. Because of that insecurity about what will happen, insurance companies have raised premiums. That is causing some to be unable to afford insurance -- the the percentage of uninsured Americans has risen from 10.9% to 12.3%. That may not sound like much, but remember that each percentage point represents about 3 million people.

Now that Trump has stopped those insurance subsidies, and it is unsure what Congress will do about that, we can expect the number of uninsured to continue to rise. Trump is gloating over damaging Obamacare -- and that shows he really doesn't care about making insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans. He only cares about the rich (who don't need Obamacare).

The chart above is from the Gallup Poll, and it was done in the third quarter of this year (July-August-September) of a random national sample of 45,743 adults, with a 1 point margin of error.

Trump On Health Care

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.

Public Thinks Trump Will Be Remembered Poorly By History

The public doesn't just have a poor opinion of how Trump is doing his job, but they don't think he's going to improve that performance -- and 58% see him being remembered in history as below average or one of the worst presidents ever (16% below average and 42% worst ever).

This chart reflects the results of a new Marist Poll -- done between October 15th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,093 adults, with a margin of error of 3 points.

The poll has his current job approval rating at 37% approval and 55% disapproval.

No Clue ?

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Koterba in the Omaha World-Herald.

Texas Is Gaining Democrats Faster Than Republicans

The charts above are from Progress Texas. They show that the state is gaining many more Democratic voters than Republican voters (both in the state as a whole and in the 20 most populous counties - including traditionally Republican counties). This is good news for Democrats and should worry Republicans. I believe Texas will eventually turn blue. The only question is how soon. There was a long way to go for Democrats in the state, but it's slowly happening. The charts above show the change since 2012.

What You Signed Up For

Political Cartoon is by Christopher Weyant in The Boston Globe.

Trump Lied About Contacting Gold Star Families

(Cartoon image is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.)

It will probably come as no surprise to most of you, but Donald Trump was lying when he said he had contacted most or all of the families of soldiers slain on his watch. Consider this article by John Donnelly in Roll Call -- part of which is posted below:

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.
The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.
Not only had the president not contacted virtually all the families of military personnel killed this year, the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of those who had been killed.
The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them.
Capt. Hallock Mohler, the executive secretary to Defense Secretary James Mattis, provided the White House with information in the 5 p.m. email about how each servicemember had died and the identity of his or her survivors, including phone numbers.
The email’s subject line was, “Condolence Letters Since 20 January 2017.”
Mohler indicated in the email that he was responding to a request from the president’s staff for information through Ylber Bajraktari, an aide on the National Security Council. The objective was to figure out who among so-called Gold Star families of the fallen Trump had yet to call. Mohler’s email said that the president’s aides “reached out to Ylber looking for the following ASAP from DOD.”
Trump had said in a Fox News Radio interview earlier that day that he had contacted the families of “virtually everybody” in the military who had been killed since he was inaugurated.
“I have called, I believe, everybody — but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” Trump said.
Since then, the Associated Press contacted 20 families and found that half had not heard from Trump. It is not clear how many of the families that have heard from the president received the calls this week, since the controversy over his contacts with military families erupted. It is not clear when the White House first asked for data on Gold Star families, but it is clear that the answers had not been provided before Tuesday. . . .
The White House-Pentagon email scramble Tuesday undermines the veracity of Trump’s statement about his record of contacting all Gold Star families. The internal document also sheds light on how the White House staff, on this and other occasions, has had to go into damage-control mode when the president makes inaccurate statements.

Wall Prototypes

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Scientific Fact

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It Shouldn't Be Up For Debate

The Real Questions To Ask About Trump And NIger

(Cartoon image is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.)

Four American soldiers were recently killed in an ambush in Niger. Much has been made in social media and on the news about Trump's failure to recognize the deaths, and his late calling of the victim's families.

Now we are beginning to hear questions about whether the deaths could have been prevented. Was their a huge intelligence failure? Hopefully, an investigation will answer that question. But there are a couple of basic questions that should be answered.

The first is why did we have combat troops in Niger (and don't try to tell me that Special Forces soldiers aren't combat troops)? Did anyone outside the Pentagon and CIA even know we had those troops in Niger?

But perhaps even more important -- did Donald Trump know we had troops in Niger (and know why they were there)? We know that those who brief him on intelligence matters have had to cut their daily briefings down to less than one page, because Trump can't (or won't) sit through a thorough briefing as other presidents have received.

Trump is only interested in his own public relations. Both domestic and foreign affairs bore him, probably because he doesn't understand the intricacies of either (and has no desire to spend the time to learn). He's only interested in his own desires.

That has me thinking that Trump was probably as surprised as the rest of America that we had troops in harm's way in Niger. And it's probably why a couple of weeks passed before he would even acknowledge the fact. That's a scary thought, but I think it's true. How can everything be included in a brief one-page intelligence report? What other important things are happening that Trump doesn't have a clue about?

NOTE -- One more question. Do you think Trump could find Niger on a world map without assistance? I doubt it.

Know What You Are Signing Up For ?

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

Trump's Quarterly Job Approval Is Still Dropping

The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. They show the average job approval for Donald Trump in each of the three quarters of his presidency. It shows his approval is sliding downward -- from 41.3% in the first quarter to 38.8% in the second quarter to 36.9% in the third quarter. The bottom chart compares Trump's third quarter average with that of other modern presidents -- and shows he continues to be the most unpopular of all.

The numbers for the latest quarter are based on 46,663 interviews done daily between July 20th and October 19th, and has a margin of error of 1%.

Interfering With His Golf

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Some Samples Are Being Built Of Trump's Border Wall

Trump still wants to build his silly wall on our Southern border -- in spite of the fact that it's not needed and we can't afford it. What will it look like, if built? The El Paso Times gives us a look at some of the proposed walls, some which are already being built in hopes of being chosen. The construction of these samples is being done near San Diego.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in Hearst Papers.

Pollution Is Killing Millions Of People Each Year

(This pollution image is from DoSomething.org.)

We talk a lot about pollution, and what it does to our air and water -- and even what it means to the future of the planet. But one thing we don't stress enough is that pollution kills people -- about 9 million worldwide each year.

The following is just part of a thought-provoking article by Natasha Geiling at Think Progress:

A landmark new study on the public health impacts of global pollution found that toxic air, water, and soil are responsible for the deaths of nine million people each year, more than the number that die from war, hunger, malaria, and AIDS — combined.
The study, published on Friday in the Lancet, warned that pollution is so dangerous it “threatens the continuing survival of human societies.” According to the study, which pulled data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ongoing Global Burden of Disease project, pollution accounts for 16 percent of deaths worldwide — 15 times more than deaths from war and conflict, and three times more than deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. . . .
Most of these nine million deaths occur from pollution-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and lung-cancer. The majority occur in developing nations, where rapid industrialization combined with lax regulations translate into higher exposure to toxic air, water, and soil pollution for residents. But the study found that pollution-related deaths do occur in industrialized nations, with the United States and Japan topping the list for most “modern” pollution-related deaths, from things like fossil fuel-related and chemical pollution.
According to the study, outdoor air pollution from things like cars or industrial activity is responsible for some 4.5 million deaths each year, nearly half of all pollution-related deaths — a number that experts estimate will only increase in the coming years, with air pollution deaths in southeast Asia expected to double by 2050. Another 2.9 million deaths come from indoor air pollution, from things like wood-burning stoves, which are still used throughout the developing world for heat and cooking. Toxic water is responsible for another 1.8 million death each year; sewage-laced water, for instance, is often linked to illnesses like cholera or parasitic infections. Workplace pollution — prevalent in industrialized countries — accounts for some 800,000 deaths each year.
Researchers warned that nine million could be an underestimate of the true number of deaths due to pollution each year, as the link between pollution and certain diseases — like dementia or diabetes — is an area of emerging science. Researchers also pointed to the unknown impact of hundreds of widely-used chemicals and pesticides prevalent in the environment, which could increase the total number of pollution-related deaths.
According to the study, while sources of “traditional pollution” — like wood-burning stoves and toxic water — have declined in recent years, sources of “modern pollution” — largely defined as pollution from industry — has increased at a stunning rate.
The study also linked pollution deaths to lost economic output, finding that on average, pollution-related deaths resulted in a 6 percent hit to global GDP (a loss of $4.6 trillion each year). In developing countries, pollution-related deaths were linked to a 1.3 percent loss in national GDP, compared with a .5 percent loss in developed countries. . . .
The report comes as the Trump administration looks to roll back a number of pollution-related regulations in the United States, from stricter limits on ozone pollution from industry to limits on toxic discharge allowed for coal companies. 

Swimming With Pigs

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Doesn't Make Sense