Friday, August 28, 2015

Wars Are Always Fought For The Rich

Why Do Some Leftists Insist On Repeating Right-Wing Lies?

(This photo of Hillary Clinton is from ABC News.)

Before this campaign for president started, progressives were united in their effort to expose right-wing lies. But it seems that has changed. Now some, many of those who support Bernie Sanders, are perfectly willing to accept right-wing lies about Hillary Clinton -- and even pass them on to their friends (and anyone else who will listen).

Understand, I am NOT accusing Bernie Sanders of this. He (and Clinton) have both kept their campaigns on the issues -- and both are to be congratulated for that. It is refreshing to see that.

But while Sanders has taken the high road, that is sadly not true of too many of his supporters. They seem perfectly willing to pass on right-wing lies about Clinton. I am talking specifically about the so-called "e-mail scandal".  I can understand why the right wants to spread the lie that somehow Clinton has done something wrong by using a private e-mail server. They know they would have little chance to defeat her in a general election, so they are doing everything they can to smear her (which is the normal way of campaigning for the GOP).

But it is disappointing to see progressives engaging in this same kind of campaigning. I had thought my progressive brothers and sisters were better than that. Could it be that they realize that Clinton and Sanders are very close on most issues, and they now think their candidate cannot win on the issues? Do they think, like the Republicans do, that the only way to beat Clinton is to smear her good name by repeating right-wing lies about her?

Let's make one thing very clear. Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong by using a private e-mail server. She did not break any laws (or even any Obama administration rules). She did not expose classified information on the private server. And she did nothing that Secretaries of State have not done in the past.

The truth is that the Democrats have two great progressive candidates -- and both are to be congratulated for running clean campaigns. It is time for their supporters to do the same. Smearing opponents with lies is not a tactic that any Democrat should engage in. It is a tactic that Democrats (and progressives in general) have always opposed. It is time to live up to our principles -- regardless of which candidate we support.

Gun Violence is Much Bigger Than One TV Killing

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Clinton And Trump Maintain Large Leads For President

We are still a little over four months away from the first primaries/caucuses, and things could always change (with several national debates scheduled for both parties). But right now, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the candidates to beat in their respective parties. Both currently have more than double the support of their closest competitor.

Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by 23 points (45% to 22%), and Donald Trump leads Ben Carson by 16 points (28% to 12%). Those are significant gaps, and neither candidate has shown any evidence they will fade -- at least not yet.

These charts were made from the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll that was done between August 20th and 25th. They queried a random national sample of 666 Republicans and 647 Democrats. The margin of error for Republicans is 3.8 points, and for Democrats is 3.9 points.

Right-Wing Monster

Political Cartoon is by Rob Tornoe at Media Matters for America.

Sec. Vilsack Explains Why He Supports Hillary Clinton

Secretary of Agriculture, and former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack (pictured) supports Hillary Clinton for president. He penned the following editorial on August 25th to tell us why he supports Clinton:

On Feb. 1, 2016 I intend to proudly caucus for Hillary Clinton — plain and simple. Hillary Clinton is not new to the fight for middle class families. Throughout her public life she has consistently fought to expand and strengthen the middle class. I have no doubt she will continue that fight as president. 
Expanding and strengthening the middle class starts with quality jobs. Too often the discussion of good jobs fails to include the unique challenges faced by rural Americans. Hillary Clinton understands that some of the deepest and most pronounced poverty exists in rural areas of the country. Her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and bio-based manufacturing as important parts of a revitalized rural economy makes clear she will work hard to promote meaningful economic opportunity throughout the country. 
Hillary knows the economy of the future depends on a well-educated and trained workforce, and she understands the cost of education — from preschool to college and beyond — increasingly strains family budgets with unprecedented debt. That’s why she’s laid out a specific, workable plan to address these strains and make a good education available to all our children.
However, a secure footing requires more than a good paying job and access to education. It means a foundation that cannot be undone by injury or illness. Hillary will preserve those protections gained under the Affordable Care Act instead of putting insurance companies in the driver’s seat, and will look for ways to expand access to affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans and continue to bend the cost curve of health care. 
Every Iowan knows good ideas aren’t enough. We recognize the most successful presidents are those who can both lead and govern, while navigating the toughest job on earth. 
In other words: Leadership inspires. Governance delivers. 
As President, Hillary Clinton will both inspire and deliver results. I know because I have worked with her and called her a friend for nearly two decades.
She leads by example. Her courage in China as First Lady when she declared “women’s rights are human rights” continues to inspire people all over the world to demand equality and freedom. As a twice-elected Senator, she worked with farmers to improve their prosperity in rural New York. And as Secretary of State, she helped to establish a program that delivers food assistance to over 12.5 million hungry children in some of the poorest countries in the world. This just scratches the surface of her career of inspiring and delivering for people around the country and across the globe.
On a personal note, Hillary Clinton is one of the most loyal people I know and that is rare in politics. My relationship with Hillary goes back a long way. Hillary and Tom Bell, my brother-in-law, became friends in 1972 when they worked together as staff members to the Congressional Watergate Hearings — long before she was a household name. When I was elected governor of Iowa in 1998, I met with President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. In that private meeting, he gave me some very good advice. He encouraged me to stay true and loyal to the ideas I ran on and to the people who had faith in me to govern well. Hillary Clinton is one of those people. 
My election that year was a surprise to many — but not Hillary. Despite the fact that I was way behind in the polls, she encouraged people she knew from all over the country to pitch in when I needed help, especially in the last weeks of the campaign. Without her support I may not have won. 
Why did she do it? Loyalty. 
Many years before I met her and before she was known to Iowans, my brother-in-law told me how much he’d liked and respected Hillary Clinton when they worked together.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve come to like and respect her, too.
That is why I support her.
Hillary Clinton has the right policies to strengthen and expand the middle class, is battle tested, and has the experience and relationships to lead and govern well. For all of those reasons as well as our friendship, I will caucus for Hillary Clinton on Feb. 1, 2016.

Forest "Fire"

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Despite Media Assertions, Clinton's Support Remains Strong

From the Daily Kos website:

It's been inescapable for weeks: Beltway hacks have been braying about Hillary Clinton's "falling poll numbers," eager to fan the flames of Democratic discord and generate column-inches about intra-party conflict where none exists. What's most pathetic about this latest anti-Clinton drumbeat, though, is how it's directly contradicted by, well, the polls.
The chart above shows a combined average of every single national poll taken since March 1 of this year that pits Clinton against the 10 leading Republican candidates—197 matchups in all, courtesy of Huffington Post Pollster. The key takeaway, as you can see from the blue and red trendlines, is that the race has been remarkably static.
In fact, at the beginning of March, Clinton led the GOP field by an average of 50.3 to 42.6, or 7.7 percentage points. Now, in late August, she leads 48.7 to 41.2, or 7.5 percent. Clinton's "collapse," in other words, is 0.2 percent! No serious analyst would consider that anything more than a rounding error. (And we're not cherry-picking the start date, either: The picture is the same if you dial it back to Jan. 1.)

The GOP Base

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

A Moral Responsibility

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rich/Corporations Don't Need Free Stuff

Clinton Still Has Double The Support Of Sanders

This chart was made from the results of a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on August 23rd and 24th of a random national sample of 536 likely Democratic primary voters, and has a margin of error of 4 points. Sanders seems to be having a problem getting more than a quarter of Democrats to support him. That may (or may not) change after the first debate in October. We'll just have to wait and see.


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

More Guns Is Not The Solution - It is The Problem

The graphic above may be shocking, but it is true. In 2015, which is now 8 months old, the United States has averaged one mass shooting every single day. That's with the definition of a mass shooting being that four people or more are shot.

The latest shooting being covered by the mainstream media concerns the shooting of two news personalities in Virginia (both of whom were killed) and the person they were interviewing (who thankfully is still alive). Using the above definition, this doesn't even qualify as a "mass shooting" -- but it does once again point out that we have a serious problem with gun violence in the United States.

I know the gun-lovers will whine that this was a mental illness problem, and not a gun problem. They are half-right. The shooter was mentally ill. And we (Republican legislators mostly) have cut far too much funding from care for the mentally ill. That funding badly needs to be restored and people like this shooter, who exhibited many instances of rage in the past, need to be forced to get treatment.

But like it or not, we do have a gun problem in this country. Although only about a third of households have a gun, there are more than 300 million guns floating around in this country -- nearly enough for every man, woman, and child to have one. That is simply ridiculous.

But even more ridiculous is the fact that any terrorist, criminal, or dangerously mentally ill person in this country can easily and legally buy any kind of gun they want. We have a gun sales background check law, but that law has gaping holes in it. In fact, about 40% of all the guns sold each year in the U.S. are sold legally without a background check being done. That should not be allowed.

By buying at a gun show, through the internet or by mail, or from an individual, anyone (regardless of their background) can legally buy any kind of gun they want -- from a handgun to an assault rifle. It is time to fix that. No gun should be allowed to be sold (or given) to any individual with a background check first being done.

I know many right-wingers and gun-lovers will whine that this violates their Second Amendment right -- but that is not true. The Supreme Court is very clear on this. They have ruled that background checks do not violate the Constitution, and not everyone has the right to own a gun -- only honest and law-abiding citizens have that right. And most Americans agree, with about 80% wanting the holes in the background check law closed.

Sadly though, that is not likely to happen. Too many politicians have sold out to the wishes of the NRA, and the NRA has sold out to the wishes of the gun manufacturers. In this nation, the deaths of U.S. citizens is just not as important as the economic well-being of the gun manufacturers. That was not the intent of the Second Amendment, and it should not be used to accomplish that.

Closing the holes in the background check law won't prevent all gun killings, but it would prevent many -- and that's why it should be done. Lives are more important than profits.

Ignoring The Reality

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Net Favorability Of U.S. Businesses/Sectors By The Public

I just thought this Gallup Poll was interesting. It shows the net favorability (favorable views minus unfavorable views) of the differing sectors of our society. Note that the most unpopular are the federal government (-29%), the oil and gas industry (-13%), and the pharmaceutical industry (-8%). This makes me wonder -- with these businesses being so unpopular, why does our government continue to give them huge subsidies? It's not like they weren't making billions in profits (without the subsidies).

The survey was conducted between August 5th and 9th of a random national sample of 1,011 adults, and has a margin of error of 6 points.


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

Trump Represents The True Feelings Of "Conservatives"

From Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

Frank Bruni marvels at polls indicating that Donald Trump, with his multiple marriages and casinos, is the preferred candidate among Republican evangelicals. Others are shocked to see a crude mercantilist make so much headway in the alleged party of free markets. What happened to conservative principles?
Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship. Instead, it was all as Corey Robin describes it: Conservatism is
a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.
It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.
The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.
And I might add that this feeling of keeping the "boss" in power extends to keeping white privilege also. Racists like David Dukes (and others) have been quick to jump on the Trump bandwagon. They have looked at what Trump has had to say about brown-skinned immigrants, and believe he wants the same kind of country they do -- a country where Whites are in charge.

The Republican base has been exposed, and their brand of "conservatism" is a rancid one.

Conservative Values

Political cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

A Duty To Disobey

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Women's Equality Day (Because There's More To be Done)

Clean Power Plan

Will Christie Be Dumped From The "Big Kids" Debate ?

We're just about three weeks away from the next Republican presidential debate. It will be held on September 16th at the Reagan Library in California, and it will be hosted by CNN this time. CNN has said they will follow the lead of Fox News and restrict the main debate to 10 participants -- and hold a secondary debate for those who can't make the top 10.

In the last debate, Carly Fiorina was relegated to the secondary debate, but it seems obvious that she will be in the major debate this time. That brings up the question -- who will be booted out to make room for Fiorina. It looks like it could be Chris Christie.

The chart above shows the RealClearPolitics average of the major polls taken in the month of August (Rasmussen Poll, Fox News Poll, CNN/ORC Poll). The top 10 candidates range from Donald Trump at a 22% average down to Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Mike Huckabee, who all have a 4.3% average. Christie is in 11th place with a poll average of 3.3%.

There will be more polls in the next two-three weeks, and things could change -- but if Christie doesn't start doing better, he's the guy that gets demoted.

NOTE -- You may note that Pataki and Gilmore are not on the chart. They couldn't even average the pitiful 0.3% that Graham got.

Affordable ?

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

Sanders Leads In New Hampshire (But Nowhere Else)

Congratulations are in order for Bernie Sanders and his supporters. A couple of weeks ago, he was drawing close to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire -- and now he has taken a 7 point lead in that early primary state. I'm not surprised. New Hampshire borders Sanders' home state of Vermont, and if he is a viable candidate, he should be able to win there.

But that's all of the good news for Sanders. Four other state polls were released and a national poll, and he trails big in all of them -- 34 points in Iowa, 33 points in Florida, 30 points in Ohio, 26 points in Pennsylvania, and 32.7 points in the national poll. Sanders has been unable to find any traction at all outside of Vermont and New Hampshire.

You can go here for a closer look at these polls:

New Hampshire


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Kasich Leads In Ohio - Trumps Leads Everywhere Else

We've finally found a state where Donald Trump is not in the lead. A new poll shows John Kasich leading Trump by 6 points in Ohio. Katich is the first candidate to outpoll Trump in his own home state (Kasich is the governor of Ohio). State polls were also released for four other states and a national poll. Trump leads Kasich by 24 points in New Hampshire, leads Bush by 4 points in Florida, leads Carson by 11 points in Pennsylvania, leads Carson by 15 points in South Carolina, and leads Carson by 27.1 points in the national poll.

You can go here for a closer look at these polls:

New Hampshire
South Carolina

Getting Warmer

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in the Hartford Courant.

Repeal Is Just Talk - GOP Can't Undo Obamacare Now

The congressional Republicans are still talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but they have yet to come up with a viable plan to replace it. Both Walker and Rubiuo announced plans last week, but those plans are ludicrous. They would undo the parts of Obamacare that the public likes, and they would take insurance away from millions of people. They would be a disaster for health care in this country -- and if passed, would very likely be a disaster for the Republican Party also.

Here is how Paul Waldman puts it in a Washington Post column:

In the last few days, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio released health care plans, and other Republican candidates are sure to follow soon. Most will probably be pretty similar, even if some are more fully fleshed out than others.
But they’ll all share one feature, the thing that tells you that they aren’t even remotely serious about this issue: they will take as their starting point that the entire Affordable Care Act should be repealed.
I say that that shows they aren’t serious not because I think the ACA has done a great deal of good, though I do think that. I say it because it shows that they’re completely unwilling to grapple with both the health care system as it exists today, and how incredibly disruptive the wholesale changes they’re proposing would be. Walker’s plan even says, “unlike the disruption caused by ObamaCare, my plan would allow for a smooth, easy transition into a better health care system.” This is the health care equivalent of thinking the Iraq War would be a cakewalk.
The reality is that repealing the ACA now that it has been implemented would mean a complete and utter transformation of American health care. Republicans have often lamented that the law was so terribly long and included many different rules and regulations — yet now they act as though the law amounts to just a couple of rules here and there that can therefore be tossed out without too much trouble. But they were right the first time: the law is indeed complex, and has brought hundreds of changes big and small to American health care, not just in how people get insurance but in how Medicare and Medicaid work, how doctors and hospitals are paid, and in all sorts of other areas.
The ACA established health care exchanges. It brought millions of people into Medicaid, it closed the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole.” It gave subsidies to small businesses. It funded pilot projects to explore new means of providing and paying for care, it imposed new regulations on insurance companies. It created new wellness and preventive care programs, it provided new funding for community health centers. It did all that, and much more. You can argue that each one of these was a good or a bad idea, but you can’t pretend that unwinding them all would be anything resembling a “smooth, easy transition.”
We know why every Republican health care plan has to start with repealing the ACA: politics. Republicans have spent the last five years telling their constituents that they’re going to repeal it any day now, and they’ve held over 50 repeal votes in Congress. They’ve refused to admit that a word of it has any merit, even as they try to incorporate some of its more popular reforms (like protections for people with pre-existing conditions) into their own plans. So they’ve backed themselves into a corner where whatever any Republican offers has to start with repeal.
Which is why all their plans, the ones that have been released and the ones yet to come, are absurdly unrealistic. They pretend that it will be no problem to completely transform the American health care system — and there will be no losers in such a transformation, only winners — which shows that they have no intention of actually doing so. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if a Republican gets elected next November, he’ll be relieved when his health care plan dies in Congress.
Let’s contrast that with how Democrats acted in 2008, when there was a vigorous debate in the presidential primary over health care. The three leading candidates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards, all had very similar plans, similar because they reflected the Democratic consensus on health care reform that had evolved in the decade and a half since Bill Clinton’s reform effort failed. One major disagreement was over whether there had to be an individual mandate — Clinton’s plan had one, and Obama’s didn’t — but when he took office, Obama accepted that the mandate was necessary to make the entire plan work. It wasn’t a fantasy plan that just pandered to liberal hopes, it was something that could actually pass and be implemented.
Whenever liberals told Obama that a single-payer health plan would be far superior to what he was proposing, he would respond that if we were starting from scratch, that would probably be true. But, he’d say, we aren’t starting from scratch, so the ACA has to accommodate itself to the health care system that already exists. The result was a gigantic kludge, new complexity layered on top of an already complex system in an attempt to solve its varied shortcomings. Like all kludges, it seemed like the realistic option given the situation we confronted, but it left us with something that was far from perfect.
A Republican who actually wanted to pass real health care reform would have to approach the problem the same way: by saying that for better or worse, the Affordable Care Act has already affected the system in profound ways, so any realistic plan has to understand what those changes are, and find the most efficient way to keep the ones that are working and change the ones that aren’t. That doesn’t mean that repeal is impossible, just that it would be a spectacular upheaval, one that I promise you Republicans have no genuine appetite for. Remember all the screaming and shouting they did over the people on the individual market whose previous plans didn’t qualify under the new regulations, and who had to shop for new plans? Multiply that by ten or twenty times, because that’s how many people would likely lose their existing coverage if you repealed the ACA in one fell swoop.
And that would be only the beginning. So when any Republican candidate says he or she has a plan to reform health care, take a close look. If it starts with repealing the ACA — and it will — then you’ll know it isn’t serious and it’s never going to happen.


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


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

GOP Plan

Is Joe Biden Going To Jump Into The Democratic Race ?

In the last few days, the cable news outlets are all agog over rumors that Vice-President Joe Biden may toss his respected hat into the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.

It wouldn't be the first time he has run. He has tried it twice before. And it wouldn't be an unusual thing for the sitting vice-president to run. It almost always happens. And if it wasn't for the recent death of his son, these rumors would probably have started earlier.

The rumors were kicked off this time because he met with Senator Elizabeth Warren a few days ago. Sen. Warren, in her short time in the Senate has developed a fairly large and fanatic following among progressive Democrats. I have no doubt that Biden was trying to determine whether he could get her support, or whether she would support any of the candidates. Personally, I think she's going to sit this primary race out, since both Clinton and Sanders (and Biden if he gets in the race) generally support the economic reforms she would like to see.

The news outlets want to know right now if Biden is going to be a candidate, but they're going to be disappointed. Insiders close to Biden say he hasn't made up his mind, and may not do so until around the first of October. I believe that timetable. Biden can read the polls, and he knows that unless something changes he cannot defeat Hillary Clinton.

He will wait another month and see what happens. If Clinton slips badly in the polls in the next month, he will enter the race. If she doesn't, he will not run. Personally, I don't see Clinton slipping in the polls among Democrats. I believe most Democrats believe she has earned her shot at the nomination. For that reason, I don't believe Joe Biden will run.

But I could be wrong. What's your opinion? Will he run, or not?

The Wall We Need

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

Latest Poll Has Clinton And Trump Leading Big

These charts show the latest numbers in the Reuters / Ipsos Poll on the two parties presidential nomination contests. They surveyed 501 Republicans and 625 Democrats. The margin of error was 5 points for Republicans and 4.5 points for Democrats.

Not a lot to say except that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both hold significantly large leads. Clinton leads Sanders by 23.7 points, and Trump leads Bush by 15.7 points.

Opinions On Agreement

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

The GOP's Problem With Hispanic Voters Is Real

In the last couple of presidential elections, the Republican nominee has done very poorly among Hispanic voters. Republican leaders know this, and they also know that the Hispanic portion of the American population is the fastest growing portion of the population (and the majority of them are American born, and thus are citizens who will be able to vote). It is just a fact that with each election in the future, the percentage of Hispanic voters will grow while the percentage of White voters will shrink (by about 2% to 4% each presidential election).

The GOP leadership hoped to reach out to Hispanic voters in this election. They haven't changed any of their policies, but they hoped their candidates would at least temper their rhetoric (and put immigration on the back burner until after the election). But Donald Trump has taken those hopes and tossed them into the trash. He has made demonizing Hispanic immigrants a centerpiece of his campaign, and his huge lead among the presidential candidates has reminded Hispanic voters of just how bad the GOP policies are toward them.

The chart above shows just how bad the Republican brand is among Hispanics. It is from a new Gallup Poll -- done between July 8th and August 23rd of a random national sample of 2,183 Hispanic adults, with a margin of error of 5 points.

The chart shows the net favorability of each candidate (Favorable views minus unfavorable views). Note that only one candidate, Jeb Bush (who speaks Spanish and has a Hispanic wife), has a favorability of double-digits among Hispanics -- and it is a poor 11%. Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban heritage, finishes second with a 5% net favorability. No other candidate tops 3%, and 10 of the 17 GOP candidates finish with a negative net favorability. Not surprising, Donald Trump finishes dead last with a -51% net favorability.

Those are some atrocious numbers for all the GOP candidates. It's still a long time before the election is held (about 15 months), and nothing is written in stone -- but the Republicans have a lot of work to do if they expect to get a significant amount of Hispanic votes.

The chart below shows the net favorability of the Democratic candidates among Hispanics. Hillary Clinton does very well, getting a 40% net favorability rating. But her opponents are doing as poorly as the Republican candidates (Sanders 5%, Webb 2%, Chafee 0%, and O'Malley -2%).

No Credit - Lots Of Blame

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.