Friday, March 24, 2017

You Must Answer For You Cowardice


The GOP Plan

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

GOP Delays The Vote - Still Fighting Among Themselves

(Cartoon image is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.)

The Republican House leadership said there would be a vote on their "repeal and replace" plan for health care on Thursday. Both Speaker Ryan and Donald Trump said they had the votes to pass that horrible plan. They were lying. Thursday rolled around and they blinked. After meeting after meeting was held, they realized that the plan could not pass.

This should not really surprise anyone. For the last seven years the Republicans have promised to come up with a plan to replace Obamacare -- and no plan was ever put forward that congressional Republicans could agree on. This did not matter much when President Obama was in office, because he would have vetoed it anyway. But now they control both Congress and the White House. Now they have no excuse for not delivering on seven years of promises (and repeated campaign promises by Trump).

Why can't they agree on a health care plan? Because they really don't want a plan to begin with. They don't believe health care is a right of all citizens. They consider it to be a product to be sold to those who can afford it -- and if you can't afford it, then you get to die. They call that freedom. I call it BS. Isn't the most important right of all the right to life?

Understand that the infighting going on between Republicans is not between those who would deny the right to life and those who would protect it. Both sides would deny it. One side (the teabaggers in safe districts) don't want to do anything at all. They were happy with the pre-Obamacare broken system, and wish to return to that. They want a repeal without a replacement.

The other side is only slightly better. They fear they'll lose their jobs if they take insurance away from millions, so they support a bad plan that would slightly mitigate that. It would still leave many millions without insurance, but they could claim they tried.

Neither side cares about ordinary Americans, and are perfectly willing to sentence thousands to death each year for lack of being able to afford expensive private insurance or restrictive government Medicaid. What they do care about is cutting taxes for their rich friends and corporations -- and that is really what the "repeal and replace" is all about.

The chart below (from the Urban Institute) shows who would benefit from the Republican plan and who would be hurt. Note that those who make over $75,000 a year would benefit from the plan. The plan would be fairly neutral for those making between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. But the people making less than $50,000 a year (more than half of the population) would be hurt by the bill. They would pay more, and probably receive much less.

The Republican leadership in the House (and Trump) are now promising a vote on Friday. Will the plan pass? I still think it has no better than a 50-50 chance to pass -- and maybe less. Obamacare may survive in spite of Republican promises to repeal it -- and that's a good thing.


Bad Mechanic

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Trump Has Dismal Job Approval And Honesty Numbers



Donald Trump is still unable to convince a majority of Americans that he is doing a good job as their president. In fact, the percentage who disapprove of the job he's doing has grown. Only 37% of the public now thinks he's doing a good job, while a significant majority (56%) say he's not doing a good job -- a difference of 19 points.

One reason for this (other than his despicable policies) could be that his incessant lying seems to be catching up with him. Last November, about 52% thought he was dishonest. Currently, about 60% think he is dishonest -- a growth of 8 points. Only about a third of the public (35%) say he is an honest person. Those are mostly Republicans. I think they know he is a liar, but just aren't yet ready to admit it publicly (afraid it will hurt their party).

The charts shown hear reflect the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between March 16th and 21st of a random national sample of 1,056 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.



Remorse

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at cagle.com.

Most People Can't Name Any Member Of Supreme Court



These charts were made using information in a recent C-SPAN / PSB Survey -- done between March 7th and 9th of a random national sample of 1,032 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.05 points.

The good part is that the public seems to understand that the decisions made by the Supreme Court affects their lives. That's the opinion of nine out of ten Americans (90%) -- and no gender, age, or political group had less than 88% saying that.

The bad news is that a majority of Americans (57%) could not name a single member of the court that has such an important effect on their lives. Only 43% could name at least one Supreme Court justice. That's embarrassing, and displays the ignorance of the American public regarding their government.

And that embarrassment should extend to all political divisions -- Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. All three groups had a majority failing this simple test (although Independents did better than either Republicans or Democrats). If you're going to criticize (or praise) the Supreme Court, shouldn't you be able to name at least one of the justices on that court?

Among those who could name a justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was named most often (by 16% of respondents). Trailing her were Roberts at 12%, Thomas at 10%, and Sotomayor at 3%. None of the other four justices could be named by more than 1% of respondents.


Not Really There ?

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

Evidence Is Emerging That Trump Colluded With Russia


“There’s a smell of treason in the air.” -- Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

The Trump administration has based their defense against allegations of collusion with Russian officials to subvert the 2016 election on the excuse that there is no evidence of such collusion. That is now changing. The FBI now has circumstantial evidence that collusion did indeed take place. The only word for such collusion is TREASON!

Consider the following story from CNN News:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN.
This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source.
The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.
In his statement on Monday Comey said the FBI began looking into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the bureau had gathered "a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power." . . .
One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.
The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.
The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates -- Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page -- for contacts with Russians known to US intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts and CNN has not confirmed any of them are the subjects of the information the FBI is reviewing.
One of the obstacles the sources say the FBI now faces in finding conclusive intelligence is that communications between Trump's associates and Russians have ceased in recent months given the public focus on Russia's alleged ties to the Trump campaign. Some Russian officials have also changed their methods of communications, making monitoring more difficult, the officials said.
Last July, Russian intelligence agencies began orchestrating the release of hacked emails stolen in a breach of the Democratic National Committee and associated organizations, as well as email accounts belonging to Clinton campaign officials, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. 
The Russian operation was also in part focused on the publication of so-called "fake news" stories aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign. But FBI investigators say they are less focused on the coordination and publication of those "fake news" stories, in part because those publications are generally protected free speech.
The release of the stolen emails, meanwhile, transformed an ordinary cyber-intrusion investigation into a much bigger case handled by the FBI's counterintelligence division.
FBI counterintelligence investigations are notoriously lengthy and often involve some of the U.S. government's most highly classified programs, such as those focused on intelligence-gathering, which can make it difficult for investigators to bring criminal charges without exposing those programs.
Investigators continue to analyze the material and information from multiple sources for any possible indications of coordination, according to US officials. Director Comey in Monday's hearing refused to reveal what specifically the FBI was looking for or who they're focusing on.
US officials said the information was not drawn from the leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by a former British intelligence official compiled for Trump's political opponents, though the dossier also suggested coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives.

Twittering Away His Credibility

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

The Real Terrorists


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Question Answered


The Source

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

Who Should The Democrats Should Nominate In 2020 ?


I'm sure many of you will think it's far too early to be picking a candidate for 2020 -- and you are right. But it's not too early to start thinking about who the Democrats have that could win in 2020, because getting Trump out of the White House in the next election is critical for the well-being of this country (or getting Pence out if Trump doesn't last that long).

The Harvard / Harris Poll asked that question of 2,092 registered voters between March 14th and 16th. The results are shown in the chart above. No "candidate" got a lot of support -- with the leaders being Bernie Sanders (who's NOT a Democrat) at 14%, Michelle Obama (who will not run) at 11%, Elizabeth Warren at 9%, and Hillary Clinton at 8%.

The overwhelming choice was that someone new was needed. I agree with that. The Democrats need a new candidate without a lot of baggage -- a candidate that can offer a fresh prospective.

I have a couple of people that I like for the job. They are pictured below -- former ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I believe either could energize the party and garner the support of most Americans -- and both are good progressives.



Stolen

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

Public Thinks The GOP Health Plan Is A Step Backward


Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the Republican plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They need to understand that a majority of Americans (51%) think the GOP plan is a step backward. It will make the health care situation of millions of Americans much worse -- by insuring 24 million less people, by increasing insurance premiums, and by doing nothing to control the rising cost of drugs and medical care.

The chart above reflects the results in a recent Harvard / Harris Poll done between March 14th and 16th of a random national sample of 2,092 registered voters.

Happy Country ?

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at miltpriggee.com.

Public Doesn't Believe Obama Wiretapped Trump


Donald Trump refuses to back off his accusation (i.e., LIE) that President Obama wiretapped him during/after the 2016 campaign. He sticks to that lie even though FBI Director Comey, the Justice Department, and our intelligence agencies say there is no proof that it happened.

But he needs to drop that accusation, and admit he was wrong. That's because the American people, by a huge margin, don't believe it happened. Two-thirds of the public (66%) think he was NOT wiretapped by Obama, while only one-third (34%) think it did happen. By continuing to lie about this, Trump is just further destroying his credibility with the American people.

These results are from the recent Harvard / Harris Poll done between March 14th and 16th of a random national sample of 2,092 registered voters. (No margin of error was given)

Lies And Leaks

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Trump Is Bad For This Country - Ryan Is Worse

 (These caricatures of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

The following post is by Allen Clifton at his website, Forward Progressives.

Mr. Clifton writes:

While Donald Trump has dominated the news since the day he launched his campaign on June 18, 2015, I think it’s important to remember that he’s far from the only unethical, shady crook within the Republican Party. If anything, I’ll at least give him some (though very little) credit for being fairly transparent about the fact that he’s a vile, pathological liar. Of course he’ll deny that, and so will his supporters, but most rational people are well aware of the type of bottom-feeder Trump is based on his words and actions.

But I’ll argue that it’s those who are too cowardly to be exactly who they really are who I think might even be worse than Trump.
For example, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Say what you want about Trump, but at least he’s an arrogant bastard who owns the fact that he’s exploited our system for his own benefit. He won’t word it that way, but when you’re a billionaire who avoided paying taxes for nearly 20 years, that’s what you are.
Paul Ryan doesn’t do that. This is someone who lacked the courage to stand up to Trump during the primary. He found himself publicly condemning something his party’s candidate had said or done over and over again, only to still endorse him for president. Then we can’t forget about his speech at the RNC’s convention where he barely even mentioned Trump by name, then uninvited him to a campaign event in Wisconsin after he said he was “sickened” by Trump following the release of the infamous “grab them by the pu–y” video that was made public in October.
Yet, despite all of that, Ryan has mostly backed Trump at every disgusting and shameful turn.
Even when he was asked about Trump’s ridiculous claim that “millions” of people voted illegally in this election, Ryan took the cowardly approach by basically trying to blow off that our president-elect just used an asinine, unfounded conspiracy to claim that the entire 2016 election was tainted.
As I’ve said before, Ryan is a spineless hypocrite.
He’s someone whose sole purpose in life seems to be showing a disdain for the poor, supporting policies that help big business and worshipping the twisted economic principles of Ayn Rand to strip away any sort of social safety net many Americans use to survive.
Paul Ryan is someone who’s been itching — for years — to take the first true steps toward ending Medicare and Social Security. And while it’s true many Republicans would love to get rid of Medicare and Social Security, Ryan’s stance on social safety nets is especially hypocritical based upon his history and his career choice.
After Ryan’s father tragically died when he was a 16-year-old public high school student, Ryan received Social Security benefits until his 18th birthday — benefits he saved up to help him pay for his college education at the publicly funded Miami University.
Since then he’s spent nearly the entirety of his adult life (aside from a few summers working as a salesman for Oscar Mayer) as a government employee whose pay and benefits are provided for him by the taxpayers. A man who’s built his political career on the greatness of the private sector — has spent nearly most of his life heavily benefitting from government benefits and pay.
You can’t make this stuff up.
This is also someone who publicly condemned President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, who then sought funds from it to help out his district.
Though it’s important to keep in mind that, while he likes to present himself as some sort of “fiscal conservative,” Ryan’s voting record includes:
  • Voted for both the Iran and Afghanistan wars.
  • Supported George W. Bush’s stimulus bill.
  • Backed Bush’s tax cuts while supporting two wars.
  • Voted for the $700 billion TARP/Wall Street bailout.
  • Supported the auto bailout.
  • Supported trillions in defense spending.
Which means this “fiscal conservative” who’s built a career vilifying the government has not only enjoyed a life largely funded by the taxpayers, but his career is filled with votes for legislation that have added trillions of dollars to our national debt.
And I can’t forget what a “devout Christian” Ryan claims to be, while supporting economic principles that are the antithesis of real Christian values.
Paul Ryan defines hypocrisy.
As much as I loathe Donald Trump, Ryan might actually be worse. At least Trump makes it fairly obvious that he’s an unapologetic, insecure, narcissistic bigot who panders to the worst part of our society. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan likes to act as if he’s morally superior, even though he’s the same type of two-faced, hypocritical con man pandering to the same deplorable beliefs as Trump.

Voter Misogyny

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

An Act Of Malice


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This Is Just Wrong


Trump Voters

Political Cartoon is by Trevor Irvin at cagle.com.

Will Trumpcare Pass In The House On Thursday ?



Speaker Ryan is forging ahead to have a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday to pass the Republican Health Care plan (Trumpcare). I think he and Trump see it as now or never -- because the longer it takes to try to pass it, the more people realize just how bad the plan really is. And as the charts above show, the people are already turning against the GOP bill.

Americans oppose Trump care by a 21 point margin (24% to 45%). And they think Obamacare is a better (even though flawed) plan than Trumpcare by an 11 point margin (25% for Trumpcare and 36% for Obamacare).

Will it pass? That's anyone's guess at this point. The "freedom caucus" (teabagger Republicans) had enough votes to kill it a few days ago. But Trump met with them, and Ryan has allowed some right-wing amendments to the bill. Trump and Ryan say they now have enough votes to pass it. The freedom caucus leader says he has enough votes (combined with Democrats who'll vote against it) to kill it.

Who is right? I had originally thought the bill would pass fairly easily, then thought it would fail because of teabagger opposition. Today, I see it as 50-50 on pass or fail. Either way, it will be interesting to watch the vote on Thursday -- a vote that could determine whether 24 to 26 million Americans get to keep their health insurance.

The charts above were made from info in a new YouGov Poll -- done on March 16th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Blind To Reality

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

A Population Trend That Bodes Well For Democrats



The charts above are from the Pew Research Center -- using a compilation of surveys they have done in each year since 2000.

They show a trend toward liberalism (progressivism) and toward the Democratic Party since that year. Those who identify as liberal has shown an increase of 9 points (to 21%), while those identifying as conservative has increased by only 3 points (to 25%). The trend toward those identifying as Democrats has also shown better growth (7 points) than those identifying as Republicans (2 points).

The second chart shows how this is happening. The younger Americans are trending more toward liberalism and the Democratic Party, while older Americans favor the Republican Party. Those identifying as liberals has grown by 9 points among Millennials (to 27%), and by 7 points among Generation X (to 21%). And those identifying as Democrats has grown by 7 points among Millennials (to 54%), and by 6 points among Generation X (to 48%).

Conservatism has grown among Baby Boomers by 8 points (to 31%), and among the Silent Generation by 11 points (to 36%). Those identifying as Republican has grown by 5 points among Baby Boomers (to 44%), and by 10 points among the Silent Generation (to 48%).

The problem for Republicans is that as the Silent Generation (and them Baby Boomers) die off, they will be replaced by the much more liberal and Democratic Generation X and Millennials.

When you add this trend to another population trend -- the percentage growth of non-whites (who tend to be much more liberal and Democratic) over whites among the voting population -- then you have a future that looks very bright for Democrats.

Trump Gives The Finger To Americans

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.

Domestic Violence Is A Far Bigger Problem Than Terrorism

(This chart is from upworthy.com.)

The Republicans would have you believe that the biggest danger to American citizens is terrorism -- and they have started wars, issued travel bans, and want to build a wall to solve that problem. But the truth is that there's a problem much bigger and much more dangerous to American citizens -- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

As the chart above shows, more women have been killed in this country between 2001 and 2012 than soldiers killed in Afghanistan & Iraq and Americans killed by terrorists -- combined! And yet, this is a problem on which most of our politicians, especially Republicans, are silent. They want to spend many billions more to fight terrorism, but seem to be complacent about the much more serious problem of domestic violence.

To their credit, many police departments are now taking domestic violence more seriously -- and no longer require a victim's consent to file charges against the abuser. But much more needs to be done. Sadly though, it won't be done until the population as a whole in this country recognizes the problem and demands it be corrected.

We need stricter laws and more judicial enforcement of those laws. And personally, I think we should make it much harder for those convicted of domestic violence to buy or own a firearm -- and we should seriously punish those who violate than ban.

Dead (Twitter) Birds

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

Global Warming Is Making Wildfires Much Worse This Year

(This Texas wildfire was photographed by the Hoover Volunteer Fire Department.)

From Natasha Geiling at Think Progress:

Wildfire season, or the period between spring and late fall when dry weather, heat, and ignition sources make wildfires more likely, is already off to a devastating start, with fires already burning through a combined 2 million acres across the country — ten times the average for mid-March. According to data from the National Interagency Fire Center, more acreagehas already burned in 2017 than burned during the entire fire season in 1989, 1993, and 1998.
Record-high temperatures combined with low humidity and high wind have created the ideal environment for wildfires throughout much of the Great Plains and into the West, destroying homes and property and resulting in several deaths.
Late last week, a blaze near Boulder, Colorado, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes. The fire, which burned 74 acres, was fully contained as of Monday. But the containment comes at a cost — according to the Denver Post, it cost firefighters $500,000 to fight the fire. Officials speculated that the fire was caused by human activity.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) declared a state of emergency in 22 Oklahoma counties, after wildfires burned through 400,000 acres in the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly three-quarters of the state is currently in drought conditions.
In Texas, an early-March blaze killed three ranchers as they tried to save cattle from a grass fire that eventually engulfed 100,000 acres. Another fire burned 300,000 acres of the Texas panhandle, the third largest in Texas A&M Forest Service history, while another fire burned 25,000 acres and threatened hundreds of homes near Amarillo.
In Kansas, early-March fires consumed more than 400,000 acres, destroying at least 30 homes. The fires forced between 10,000 and 12,000 evacuations, according to a spokeswoman with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. They were the largest fires in state history.
recent New York Times article chronicled the devastation wrought on ranchers by the recent Plains fires, some of whom lost hundreds of cattle. One Kansas rancher, who voted for Donald Trump for president, bemoaned Trump’s lack of engagement with the suffering ranchers, telling the Times, “I think he’d be doing himself a favor to come out and visit us.”
Emergency programs meant to help farmers and ranchers recover from catastrophic events — like the fires — are facing a 21 percent cut under Trump’s recently proposed “skinny budget.” Some ranchers told the Times they could be facing losses as high as $10 million.
The influence of climate change on wildfires is well-documented. Rising temperatures, combined with prolonged drought throughout the West, has prompted wildfires to spread across 16,000 more square miles than the otherwise would have — an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. And over the last three decades, wildfire season has also gotten longer — as global temperatures have increased, wildfire season lasts on average 78 days longer.
Longer and more widespread fires mean more danger to humans, who are increasingly building homes and communities closer to forests, grasslands, and other fire-prone areas. But the increase in burn acreage and fire season also comes with economic costs to taxpayers.
The 2015 fire season, which burned through more than 9.8 million acres, cost the U.S. Forest Service $1.71 billion for the year — well above the $1.3 billion average usually spent on fire suppression. The cost of fighting fires has been steadily rising in recent years, meaning more of the Forest Service’s budget has been siphoned into fighting fires, rather than non-fire services like watershed management or road maintenance. Even services that can help prevent fires, like forest management, have seen their budget decline at the expense of fire suppression.
And those costs are only expected to increase as climate change continues to fuel record-breaking temperatures, feed extended droughts, and encourage pests like the pine beetle to ravage forests. According to a Forest Service report from August 2015, “the U.S. burns twice as many acres as three decades ago, and Forest Service scientists believe the acreage burned may double again by mid-century.” By 2025, the report concluded, fire-fighting costs could regularly exceed $1.8 billion annually.
While all signs point to an increased demand for fire suppression and preparedness, Trump’s proposed budget funds both wildfire at $2.4 billion annually — the average demand over the past 10 years.
Trump’s proposed budget also cuts any domestic climate research, as well as programs housed within the Department of Energy aimed at expanding renewable energy throughout the country. When asked about these cuts, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that climate funding was “a waste of [taxpayer] money.”
Yet without taking actions to significantly curb carbon emissions and fight climate change, fire season is only set to grow longer, more destructive, and more expensive in the coming years.

Not Amused

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Number 45


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not Any Better


Today's Letters

Political Cartoon is by Sean Delonas at seandelonas.com.

After 60 Days Trump Is Still The Prez With Lowest Approval


The chart above (from Gallup Poll daily tracking) shows the job approval numbers for Donald Trump after 60 days in office. His numbers are growing worse -- not better. Currently only 37% of the public approves of the job he is doing, while 58% disapprove.

Trump remains the least approved president after 60 days of the last seven presidents. He's not only the only one of that seven to have a job approval below 50% -- but is also the only one to have a net negative job disapproval.

I am still convinced that this is an administration that's in trouble. And things didn't get any better for Trump yesterday. Appearing before Congress, FBI Director Comey said he had no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped (as Trump continues to claim), and worse, that the FBI is conducting an official investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

How low can Trump's job approval numbers go?