A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Romney Gets An "F" On Foreign Policy


Big Oil's Purchase Of Senate GOP Pays Off

The above cartoon (from the website EcoWatch) is pretty descriptive of what went on in the U.S. Senate this last week. The Big Oil companies have to be celebrating, because the gusher of taxpayer money they have been enjoying for years will not be cut off. And the many millions of dollars they have put in Republican campaign coffers has paid off a thousandfold.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) had introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate to cut off $24 billion in tax subsidies to the biggest oil companies. These companies are enjoying record profits, and don't need the subsidies (which allow them to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes on those record profits). It only makes sense, especially in this terrible economy, that those companies and individuals who are making the most money should at least pay their fair share of taxes.

But the oil companies don't see it that way -- and neither do the GOP senators they have purchased. Both the Big Oil companies and the Republican senators think taxes are something to be paid by the working and middle classes -- not corporations and the moguls who run them.

The bill by Menendez needed 60 votes in the Senate to be brought up for a vote -- a vote that almost surely would have eliminated the subsidies for Big Oil and forced them to pay their taxes. But 43 Republicans (and four Democrats) made sure that wouldn't happen. The Republican filibuster was not ended by a 51 to 47 vote in the Senate. To be fair, two Republicans did vote to end the GOP filibuster (Maine's two senators -- Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins). The four blue dog Dems who voted with the Republicans were Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Mark Begich (Arkansas), and Jim Webb (Virginia).

Why would these senators vote to keep giving the Big Oil companies $24 billion in tax subsidies, when they so obviously don't need them due to their record (and still growing) profits? Well, a big clue can be found in what these senators have received from the oil companies. The 47 senators who voted against ending the subsidies have received a total of $24,057,254 ($22,899,852 for the GOP senators and $1,157,402 for the four Democrats). That's an average of $511,856 per senator.

That $24 million was money well spent by Big Oil. They get to keep 1000 times that amount  in subsidies to fatten their already bulging bank accounts.

Misplaced Fear

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

Wall Street Willie Leads In Next 2 States

It's just three more days until more entities get to choose who they want to represent the Republican Party in November against the president. Those are the states of Wisconsin and Maryland, and the District of Columbia -- who will all vote on Tuesday, April 3rd. By the end of that night, about three-fifths of the states will have voted.

I haven't seen anything on the District of Columbia, but I figure Wall Street Willie (aka Willard Mitt Romney) is probably the favorite. It also looks like he may take both Maryland and Wisconsin, since two new polls show him with a comfortable lead in both those states. Even if Romney does take all three, he will still not have the required number of delegates to clinch the nomination. But it will give him a much better chance of getting that majority of delegates before the GOP convention.

Frankly, I'm not so afraid of Romney being the nominee anymore. He's shown he is a weak candidate who can't even convince the majority of Republicans he should be the nominee. He will probably get the nomination, but he won't enthuse GOP voters, and certainly won't appeal to Independents. Most people now see him as a rich tool of Wall Street who has no conception of the problems facing ordinary Americans.

Here are the two latest polls:

NBC/MARIST POLL (Wisconsin)
Mitt Romney...............40%
Rick Santorum...............33%
Ron Paul...............11%
Newt Gingrich...............8%
Undecided...............7%

RASMUSSEN POLL (Maryland)
Mitt Romney...............45%
Rick Santorum...............28%
Newt Gingrich...............12%
Ron Paul...............7%
Other/Undecided...............8%

GOP's March Brackets

Political Cartoon is by Ed Stein at edsteinink.com.

Anti-War Sentiment Is Growing In The U.S.

We have known for a while now that the American people are getting tired of the war in Afghanistan. For several months polls have shown that the people want an end to the war that has gone on for more than ten years -- and recent polls have shown they want that withdrawal now, not in the future. And that anti-war sentiment just keeps growing in the face of recent events in Afghanistan -- none of which have been good.

A recent poll by CNN/ORC International (taken on March 24th and 25th with a 3 point margin of error) verifies this. Look at these results of the poll:

DO YOU FAVOR OR OPPOSE THE AFGHAN WAR?
Favor...............25%
Oppose...............72%
Don't know...............3%

WHEN SHOULD THE U.S. WITHDRAW ALL TROOPS?
Earlier than 2014...............55%
Remove all in 2014...............22%
Beyond 2014...............22%
Don't know...............1%

IS THE UNITED STATES WINNING THE AFGHAN WAR?
Winning...............34%
Not winning...............61%
Don't know...............5%

This ridiculous and un-winnable war no longer has the support of most Americans. It is time to withdraw ALL of our troops.

Santorum Obsession

Political Cartoon is by Matt Bors at mattbors.com.

Friday, March 30, 2012

CheneyCare

Found at the fine blog called REDEYE.

2nd Poll Shows Growing GOP Unpopularity

Yesterday I posted about the recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll, which showed the popularity of the GOP presidential candidates is dropping. The most popular, Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie), lagged 19 points behind President Obama in the poll's favorability ratings. The poll also had President Obama with a double-digit lead over all of the GOP candidates in head-to-head match-ups.

While those poll numbers looked good for Democrats, it's always good to have the numbers verified by another respected poll, and that's just what has happened. The CNN/ORC International Poll was released a day later, and it verifies what the previous poll had shown. As the chart above shows, the poll also has the president with a 19 point gap over the favorability of the most popular Republican -- with the president having a 56% favorable rating to 37% for Romney, 35% for Santorum and Paul, and 24% for Gingrich. The Republicans all had higher negative than positive ratings, while the president had an 8 point higher positive than negative rating.

And the good news doesn't stop there. When looking at the favorability ratings of the two parties (which could have a big effect on congressional elections), the poll shows the Democrats have opened up a 13 point difference in favorability over the Republicans. The Democrats had a 48% favorable to 45% unfavorable rating, while the Republicans had a 35% favorable to 58% unfavorable rating.

An interesting part of the poll is in the demographics section. It looks like the Democrats can thank women for their growing lead in favorability. While men give the Democrats a higher unfavorable rating than favorable (42% to 50%), women more than make up for that by giving Democrats a 14 point higher favorable rating than unfavorable (54% to 40%). It looks like the GOP's "war on women" is taking a toll on them. Both men and women now give the GOP lower favorable than unfavorable ratings -- men (36% to 57%) and women (34% to 59%).

And like the previous poll, this poll shows the low favorable ratings of the GOP candidates and the Republican Party translates into a double-digit lead for the president over either of the top two Republican candidates. Here are those nationwide numbers:

REGISTERED VOTERS

Obama...............54%
Romney...............43%

Obama...............55%
Santorum...............42%

ALL RESPONDENTS

Obama................56%
Romney...............40%

Obama...............57%
Santorum...............39%

But while both of these recent polls show the Democrats are in a good position and the numbers are moving their way, that does not automatically mean they will win in November. If too many Democrats and Independents think the election has already been won and stay home on election day, we could see another electoral disaster like 2010. The only thing these numbers should do is inspire Democrats (and Americans in general) to work even harder to turn out a big vote -- and save this country from Republican incompetence and malfeasance.

Preserving Medicare

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

Yet Another Republican Lie

Republicans obviously think the American public is as stupid as their own teabagger base. They think all they have to do is say something and it will be accepted as truth, regardless of their many actions to the contrary. It's sort of like Fox News claiming to be fair and balanced, even though they operate solely as a Republican propaganda organ.

We already know that while Republicans claim to believe in equality, their homophobic, misogynistic, and racist policies and actions show they believe white male heterosexuals to be superior to the majority of Americans. They claim to believe in fairness and democracy, but they believe corporations are people and should have the right to dominate the electoral process with their massive amounts of secretly-donated money.

They claim to believe all Americans should have access to decent health care, but want to repeal "Obamacare" and deny insurance coverage to millions of Americans. They also claim to want to protect Medicare and Social Security, when what they really want to do is privatize both and throw millions of the elderly back into poverty without any health coverage.

Now they are claiming they want to help the country's small businesses. They have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives they have titled the Small Business Tax Cut Act. The only problem with the bill is that it doesn't help small businesses. It is not even designed to help small businesses. The title they gave the bill is just a cover for the same old GOP policy of giving massive tax breaks to the rich, while refusing to help ordinary Americans (or small businesses).

The truth is that as the chart above shows, most of the tax cuts would go to the rich and not to small businesses. Actual small businesses, those making a profit of less than $200,000 a year, would only receive about 16% of the cuts while the rich would get the other 84%. The top 1% would get an average tax cut of nearly $23,000 and the top 0.1% would get an average tax cut of about $131,000.

And that's not the only Republican lie associated with this bill. The Republicans have repeatedly claimed they want to cut the government deficit. Yet this bill would cost about $46 billion a year -- and there is no provision in the bill regarding how to pay for it. In other words, the bill would increase the government deficit by billions of dollars.

I'm starting to wonder if the Republicans, at least the congressional variety, even have the ability to tell the truth.

Double-Barrels

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

More People Want To Legalize Marijuana Than Want To Keep It Illegal

A new poll shows that more people in the United States would like to see marijuana legalized and taxed than would like to keep it illegal and continue to waste money on the failed "war on drugs". It seems that a plurality of Americans realize that we have already wasted over a trillion dollars on the drug war and accomplished nothing except to fill our prisons with non-violent drug users, when we could be taxing the gentle drug (it is not nearly as dangerous as other legal drugs) and helping all levels of government solve their fiscal problems.

Why won't the government even consider legalizing marijuana? Why can't we even have a real debate over it? Could it be because the "war on drugs" is nearly as lucrative as the illegal drug trade (just for a different set of people)? The truth is that too many people and organizations make too much money off the drug war -- even though they have failed to stop, or even slow down, the flow of illegal drugs into this country. It is a repeat of the failure of prohibition, when government couldn't stop illegal alcohol from entering the country -- and thus created a lucrative and dangerous underground trade that made the criminals rich.

Marijuana is not physically addictive, and no one can overdose and die from using it. It is as safe as a drug can be. There is no reason why we shouldn't take the growth and sales out of the hands of criminals by legalizing it. It would not only create many new jobs in the growth, distribution, and sales of marijuana, but it would also support new taxes at all levels of government. Governments could be making money instead of spending it.

The poll I talked about in the first paragraph is the Rasmussen Poll. Here are the numbers from that poll:

Legalize & tax marijuana...............47%
Keep marijuana illegal...............42%
Clueless (don't know)...............10%

Outrage Is Only For GOP Males

Political Cartoon is by Drew Sheneman at Tribune Media Services.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Republican Menu



From the excellent blog called "Under The Mountain Bunker".

Romney Unfavorable Rating Climbing

A hard-fought campaign between two or more candidates doesn't have to hurt any candidate. In 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engaged in one of the hardest fought campaigns in many years for the Democratic Party. But they did not try to destroy each other, and amazingly, both candidates finished the campaign more popular than ever -- with Barack Obama being elected president and Hillary Clinton being one of the most popular politicians in this country.

But it hasn't worked out that way for the Republicans in their fight for the presidential nomination this year. It looks like Willard Mitt Romney will probably win that nomination, but the campaign has not helped his popularity. The more people learn about Romney, the more it seems they don't like him. And a new poll now shows him badly trailing the president in popularity -- by about 19 points.

A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll has the president's favorability at about 53% (the third month in a row that he has scored above 50%). But as the chart above shows, Romney's favorability has dropped to only 34% (while his unfavorability has climbed to 50%). Romney may have been able to use all his corporate and Wall Street money to beat back his GOP opponents, but it has not made him very popular with the general public.

And this growing unfavorability is probably what's hurting him in the latest head-to-head match-ups with President Obama. A new Suffolk University national poll shows the president is now 10 points ahead of Romney. And the other Republican candidates do even worse. Here are those numbers:

SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY POLL

Obama...............47%
Romney...............37%
Third party...............7%
Undecided...............7%

Obama...............49%
Santorum...............35%
Third party...............7%
Undecided...............9%

Obama...............50%
Gingrich...............31%
Third party...............11%
Undecided...............7%

Obama...............49%
Paul...............28%
Third party...............12%
Undecided...............10%

And the news just keeps getting worse for both Romney and Santorum. A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows that President Obama has now jumped into a healthy lead over both of them in three very important swing states (states the Republicans must win to have a chance of winning the White House). Here are those numbers:

FLORIDA

Obama...............49%
Romney...............42%

Obama...............50%
Santorum...............37%

OHIO

Obama...............47%
Romney...............41%

Obama...............47%
Santorum...............40%

PENNSYLVANIA

Obama...............45%
Romney...............42%

Obama...............48%
Santorum...............41%

The extended Republican campaign is giving the GOP candidates a lot of exposure. Their problem is that the public just doesn't like what they see.

Hazardous Waste

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

My Apology To Paul Sadler

The gentleman pictured above is former State Representative Paul Sadler. He is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay bailey Hutchison. A few weeks ago, when I posted a rundown of the Democratic candidates running for that office, I said I thought Mr. Sadler could well be a "blue dog" -- a Democrat that votes with Republicans more than with his own party.

I based that on what little information I could glean from Sadler's website. The website was (and still is) pretty vague on the issues. Instead. he talks about energy independence, strengthening national defense, and his own "fierce independence". In Texas, that kind of talk can be code for being a "blue dog" (conservative Democrat).

But last week Mr. Sadler gave the Texas Tribune an interview. In it, he came out publicly in support of the president's health care reform, marriage equality, women's health, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Those are not stands a blue dog would take. It looks like, if elected, Sadler could be counted on in votes critical for the Democratic Party.

I'm sure that Sadler and I will disagree on some issues -- I've never met the candidate I can agree with on everything. But I am sorry I called him a blue dog, and I formally apologize to him for that.

Now I have a hard choice to make between Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard -- both of whom I think would make a good senator. The Democrats in this year's senate race may not be well-known, but they are solid Democrats and offer the people of Texas a real choice from all the right-wingers running for the Republican nomination. That's a refreshing change.

Teabagger Health Care Idiocy

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

More Proof Its Time To Leave Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan has now dragged on for more than 10 years, and there's still no end in site. The president has announced a small reduction of troops stationed in the occupation of that country, but there is no plan to have all U.S. troops out for at least another two and a half years (the end of 2014) -- and there is talk of leaving troops in that country even longer.

This makes no real sense. If we have been unable to pacify that country in ten years, why should we think another few years will make any difference? At this point, does anyone really believe a military victory can be achieved there? That's not only doubtful, but recent actions in that country show that we may actually be making more enemies in Afghanistan than friends.

So far this year, there have been 46 American service members killed in Afghanistan. It would be bad enough if these were all casualties of enemy combatants, but they weren't. At least 16 of these killings (about 35%) were by Afghan security forces. That's right, our "friends" -- the troops we are training to take over if we ever leave. It seems that our soldiers can't even trust the troops they are training.

It is becoming obvious that the longer we stay (to prop up the corrupt government we installed), the more enemies we make. We already know that a majority of Americans would like to see an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan. It's time our government stopped dreaming of a magical military victory and brought our troops home. To do otherwise is to deny reality (and cause more deaths of both Americans and Afghanis unnecessarily).

Trayvon

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at MSNBC.com.

Hoodies

Found this on the Facebook page of the blog GOP: Greed Oppression Piety. It was just too good not to pass along.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Successes Of "ObamaCare"


I was not thrilled when President Obama signed his health care reform bill into law (commonly called "ObamaCare"). That was because I had wanted the health care reform to go much further and cover all Americans with a Medicare-like government single-payer insurance plan. I still think that would be the best solution, but it would take a complete fool to think the bill that was passed did not help many Americans. Even though the law has not fully come into effect, millions of Americans have been helped (as the graphics above show). A lot of good things were accomplished.

Maybe someday the Democrats can get back to work and do even more.

Defense Budget Needs To Be Cut

The chart above should make it clear to all Americans that the United States is spending far too much money on its defense (military) budget. In fact, the defense (military) budget of this country makes up about 45.7% of all the defense and military spending in the entire world. This is way out of whack!

If you add up the defense (military) budgets of all the countries that most in this country consider to be countries we should fear -- China (5.5%), Russia (3.3%), Asian & Australasian countries (7.0%), and Middle East & North African countries (5.0%) -- you would only get 20.8% of the world's total defense (military) spending. We could cut the American defense (military) in half, and we would still be spending significantly more than all of these countries combined.

The Republicans claim that government spending is out of control in this country. To cure that they want to drastically cut social programs, education, Medicare, and Social Security. This is ludicrous. To begin with, Social Security and much of Medicare are not even paid for out of the general budget -- but out of payroll taxes. Cutting them wouldn't help to balance the budget at all. Then we have the social programs and education. Even put together, these programs make up only a small part of the general budget spending. You cannot eliminate the national debt by cutting (or even eliminating) these programs.

So how can the deficit and national debt be significantly reduced. There are two things that could be done to eliminate the deficit and bring the national debt back under control. The first is to raise taxes on the richest 1% of Americans. This is just common sense, since they are the only Americans doing extremely well in this economy (making record breaking profits).

The second thing is to drastically cut the defense (military) portion of the federal budget. This is the largest portion of general budget spending by far, and the biggest culprit in deficit spending and growing the national debt. And much of it is unnecessary. There is no reason why we should be spending nearly half of all defense (military) spending in the world -- almost as much as all other countries combined. This is not sensible defense (military) spending -- it is paranoia (and corporate greed).

And those same Republicans who want to cut education, social programs, Social Security, and Medicare, also want to increase the defense (military) budget and give the richest 1% massive new tax cuts. That isn't just dumb, it is sheer insanity.

The truth is that this country could create many new jobs, help hurting Americans, fully fund education, and solve Medicare funding problems by just instituting a sensible tax policy and making significantly large cuts to the defense (military) budget -- and it would not put this country in danger. All other developed nations do this. Why can't we?

(NOTE -- Social Security has a different, but equally easy solution. Just remove the cap on FICA taxes , currently set at a little over $160,000. Why shouldn't the rich pay the same FICA percentage as working Americans?)

GOP Health Care Attitude

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

Romney's Super-PAC "Attack Dog"

(The image above is from the website of Vanity Fair.)

The ridiculous decision made by the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. FEC has had a profound effect on the American electoral process already. It allows candidates to get around the campaign donation limits (and even allows those donors to remain secret). It has also given the candidates some deniability regarding negative advertising.

This is especially true of Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie). His super-PAC has been very successful at raising money (most of it from Wall Street and big corporations). And that super-PAC, Restore Our Future, has acted as the campaign's "attack dog". It is responsible for nearly all of the negative attack ads done on behalf of Romney.

The Romney campaign has spent about $11.8 million on broadcast ads (12,817 spots), and almost all of them have been positive spots promoting Romney. But that does not mean Romney has waged a positive campaign. His super-PAC has spent about $36.1 million, and $35 million (96.95%) of that has been spent on negative advertising attacking his GOP opponents (Santorum and Gingrich).

Of course the Romney campaign (and some right-wing apologists) will claim that Romney has no control over what his super-PAC does, since it is against federal law for the two entities to be combined. If any of you really believe that, please give me a call. I've got some ocean-front property here in Amarillo that I'll sell real cheap. It takes nothing more than a wink and a nod for the campaign to control super-PAC actions.

And you can bet this will continue if Romney is the nominee in the general election. He will try to act innocent, while his super-PAC viciously attacks the president.

Recovering

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

Is The U.S. A Religious Nation ?

There is a fairly significant portion of the American electorate that claims America is a christian nation. They tell us that this country was founded as a christian nation and remains so today, and because of this they want to force all Americans to abide by their beliefs by passing laws requiring that.

The first part, that America was founded as a christian nation, is easily disproved. Not only does the Constitution guarantee freedom of religion (which encompasses all beliefs, and not just christianity), but a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate in the early 1800s (only a few years after the nation was founded) verifies that the United States is a secular nation.

That leaves the second assertion -- that the United States is today a religious nation (i.e., a christian nation). Is that really true? Not so much. A recent Gallup Poll shows that less than half of all Americans consider themselves to be "very religious". This poll asked Americans to choose one of three categories:

VERY RELIGIOUS -- These people claim religion is important and attend religious services regularly (at least once a week).
NONRELIGIOUS -- These people say religion is not important and almost never attend religious services.
MODERATELY RELIGIOUS -- These people either claim religion is important but don't attend services, or claim it is not important but attend services anyway.

So how does this break down? It turns out that only four out of ten Americans consider themselves to be very religious. Here are the numbers:

VERY RELIGIOUS...............40%
NONRELIGIOUS...............32%
MODERATELY RELIGIOUS...............28%

So it turns out that those who would like to legislate religion into our American law are in the minority. And since many of that 40% who are in the "very religious" category are among those who believe the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion (the freedom to believe in any religion, or none at all), that means those who wish to legislate their own religious morality are in an even smaller minority. It is time for decent Americans of all faiths (and no faith) to stand up to this tiny minority of religious bigots.

An interesting part of the Gallup Poll was a ranking of states according to their religiosity. This was done by ranking them according to the number of people in each state who claimed to be very religious. Here are the top ten states in both the "most religious" and least religious" categories:

LEAST RELIGIOUS
1. Vermont...............23%
1. NewHampshire...............23%
3. Maine...............25%
4. Massachusetts...............28%
4. Alaska...............28%
6. Oregon...............30%
6. Nevada...............30%
6. Washington...............30%
9. Connecticut...............31%
10. New York...............32%
10. Rhode Island...............32%

MOST RELIGIOUS
1. Mississippi...............59%
2. Utah...............57%
3. Alabama...............56%
4. Arkansas...............54%
4. Louisiana...............54%
4. South Carolina...............54%
7. Tennessee...............52%
8. North Carolina...............50%
9. Georgia...............48%
9. Oklahoma...............48%

If your state is not listed, you can go to the Gallup site (linked above) to see how it ranks (by just moving your computer icon to hover over the state in question).

Irony

Political Cartoon is by Chan Lowe in the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GOP Definition Of "Persons"



From the great blog called Under The Mountain Bunker.

Wall Street Bets Against Investor Interests By Backing The GOP


The top graphic shows that since 1961, Wall Street investors have done better during during periods when a Democrat was in the White House than they did under Republican presidents -- and not just a little bit better, a whole lot better. This information does not come from some left-wing organization, but from a study done by Bloomberg News (a conservative business-oriented publication). In fact, this is true even when tax rates are taken into account -- investors still earned much more under Democratic administrations.

And this is still true, since the investors on Wall Street have done very well under the Obama administration. The Republicans have always claimed that they were the party that represented business interests, and it is true that the Republican Party since Reagan has done its best to favor big business at the expense of everyone else (including small businesses). But, as progressives have been saying for many years, everyone does better when the economic system is fair and profits from increased production is shred with the working and middle classes instead of being hoarded by the upper class (because that increases sales and benefits both small and large business).

All of that makes the lower graphic above somewhat of a puzzle. Why does Wall Street pump so much money into Republican presidential campaigns, when history shows they do much better under Democratic administrations? Have they bought the Republican lies without examining the economic facts (as the teabaggers have)? Have they been so seduced by the Republican promise of tax cuts that they are willing to forgo much bigger long-term profits?

It is the general opinion of most Americans that the denizens of Wall Street are the top business and economic minds in the country -- they make a ton of money, so they must know what they are doing. Right? Evidently not. As the two graphics show, they are willing to spend millions to put a party in power that will pursue policies that will depress investor earings (and stunt economic growth in general). That's not very smart.

So far, in the current election cycle, Wall Street has donated about $32.8 million dollars to the presidential candidates ($30.2 million to Republican candidates and $2.6 million to the Democratic candidate). That means the GOP candidates are getting about 92.07% of all Wall Street donations, while Democrats get about 7.93%.

And most of those Wall Street dollars are going into the campaign coffer of one candidate -- Willard Mitt Romney. That's because he is one of them, and thus the most likely to allow them to continue to stack the deck in their favor (against the small investor's interests, and the interests of other Americans). The leaders of Wall Street don't want economic fairness or a level playing field that would benefit all investors. They know the economy and most investors would be better off with a Democrat in the White House, but they are afraid that Democrat might expose the shell game they are running and force them to earn their money the hard way -- by earning it.

That's why the bulk of Wall Street money is going to Romney. His campaign has received $7.3 million from Wall Street individuals and related PACs. In addition, his super-PAC has received another $16.5 million. That means he has received a total of $23.8 million from Wall Street (about 72.56% of all Wall Street donations, and about 78.81% of all money given to Republican candidates). He's the prohibitive favorite of Wall Street.

That's why I call him "Wall Street Willie". He's earned the nickname -- by his previous actions at Bain Capital, and by his current position as Wall Street's favorite candidate.

Out Of Touch

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

Too Many Nuclear Weapons In The World

The BBC News website had an article on countries that currently possess nuclear weapons, and it included this graphic. The figures are based on best estimates of the Federation of American Scientists (using publicly available information, including information from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). They believe the only countries that have operational nuclear weapons (weapons ready to be used on very short notice) are Russia, the United States, Great Britain, and France.

That's nine countries who currently possess nuclear weapons and, at least theoretically, have the ability to use them. It was bad enough when these weapons were just possessed by the United States and Russia (the Soviet Union). Those countries came close to using them on at least two occasions -- once in the 1960s (Kennedy administration) and again in the 1980s (Reagan administration). Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed both times.

But the more countries that possess these terrible weapons, the more likely they will someday be used. A lot of talk has been heard lately about preventing Iran from joining this nuclear club (although there's no real evidence that they are planning, or are capable of, doing so). But that stops far short of what is needed.

What is needed is for all of these countries to eliminate their nuclear arsenals -- including the United States (remember, we're the only country that has actually used nuclear weapons). Detente is not enough. What's needed is disarmament.

There is a recent story in the newspapers saying President Obama told Russia's Medvedev that he needed some "space" and would be able to do more regarding missile defense after the 2012 election. Here is what was said:


Mr Obama told his Russian counterpart: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defence, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space."
Mr Medvedev responded: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you."
Mr Obama then said: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."
Mr Medvedev replied: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

Personally, I hope that is true. I hope President Obama is re-elected, and does take some bolder action that results in another reduction in nuclear arms between the two countries. I know the right-wing will go nuts over this story, and claim that the president is planning to put the country in danger if elected. Fear is the only policy they have to peddle.

The truth is that the less nuclear weapons in the world, the better off all of mankind will be. And if sharing missile defense capability with other countries (including Russia) will help them to reduce (or hopefully eliminate) their nuclear stockpiles, then I'm for it.

Teabagger Medical Card

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Could GOP Plan Make Single-Payer Health Insurance More Likely ?

I was one of those people disappointed in the health care reform plan passed by the Democrats. It's not that the plan didn't make things better than they were. It was a definite improvement. I just didn't think it went far enough in reforming our health care system. I believe we need a single-payer health care insurance system, and someday we'll realize that and do it (something like Medicare for everyone).

In the Bloomberg News a few days ago, there was an excellent article by Ezra Klein. Mr. Klein asserted that the current GOP budget plan (the Ryan Plan), which eliminates Medicare and throws the elderly back to purchasing private insurance plans (with a little government help) might actually hurry this nation down the road to passing a real single-payer government insurance plan. It's an interesting idea, and he just might be right. Here is a part of what he had to say:


Republicans have put all their eggs in the competitive-bidding basket. If that doesn’t work to control costs -- and versions of it have failed in the past -- they’re sunk.
Democrats, on the other hand, are promoting a slew of delivery-system reforms in the Affordable Care Act. They’re hoping competitive bidding works, but they’re also trying comparative-effectiveness review, pay-for-quality, accountable- care organizations, electronic health records, penalties for excessive readmissions and medical errors, and a host of other experiments to determine which treatments and processes actually work and how to reward the doctors and hospitals that adopt them.
It’s unlikely that the model in the Republican budget will prove sustainable. That legislation would repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut Medicaid by a third and adopt competitive bidding for Medicare. The likely result? The nation’s uninsured population would soar. In the long run -- and quite possibly in the short run -- that will increase the pressure for a universal system. Because Republicans don’t really have an idea for creating one, Democrats will step into the void.
As a result, Republicans’ long-term interests are probably best served by Democratic success. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed by the next president or rejected by the Supreme Court, Democrats will probably retrench, pursuing a strategy to expand Medicare and Medicaid on the way toward a single-payer system. That approach has, for them, two advantages that will loom quite large after the experience of the Affordable Care Act: It can be passed with 51 votes in the Senate through the budget reconciliation process, and it’s indisputably constitutional.

I urge you to go read Klein's entire article at Bloomberg News.

Any Idiot

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Voting Republican


Still No Justice In Racist Killing

It's now been a month since young Trayvon Martin was murdered for having the temerity to walk to the store for a snack while visiting his father in a predominantly white neighborhood -- and his murderer has yet to spend a single day in jail. The police (and some right-wing organizations) want us to believe the killing was done in self-defense -- a ridiculous assertion, since the killer outweighed Martin by over a hundred pounds and was armed with a pistol.

Then we have some denizens of Fox News trying to make other excuses. Sean Hannity asks if it was an "accident", and Geraldo Rivera says we must blame the victim because he was wearing a hoodie. Are they so worried about losing the large segment of their viewers that harbor racist sentiments that they cannot admit the truth? Trayvon Martin was shot because he was an African-American. If he had been a white youth, he would be alive today. Like it or not, this was an unnecessary killing spurred on by the shooter's racist tendencies.

But it's not just the murder that was racist. The police investigation has the same stink of racism as the killing. It was botched from the start, and very possibly intentionally botched. It stretches believability to the breaking point to suggest the "investigation" would have turned out the same way if the victim had been white and the shooter was African-American.

Thankfully, the federal government is now conducting its own investigation. That gives us some hope that justice will finally be done in this case.

For a fuller understanding of just what happened on February 26th in Sanford (Florida), Think Progress has compiled a list of 26 things that everyone should know about the Trayvon Martin killing. Here is that list:

The Dilemma

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in the Miami Herald.

Krugman Blasts All Four Of The GOP Candidates' Budget Plans

Here is what Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman has to say about the budget plans of the four remaining Republican candidates for president:

Mitt Romney is very concerned about budget deficits. Or at least that's what he says; he likes to warn that President Obama's deficits are leading us toward a "Greece-style collapse. 


So why is Mr. Romney offering a budget proposal that would lead to much larger debt and deficits than the corresponding proposal from the Obama administration? 


Of course, Mr. Romney isn't alone in his hypocrisy. In fact, all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved - and much, much more - on tax cuts for the rich. 


And nobody should be surprised. It has been obvious all along, to anyone paying attention, that the politicians shouting loudest about deficits are actually using deficit hysteria as a cover for their real agenda, which is top-down class warfare. To put it in Romneyesque terms, it's all about finding an excuse to slash programs that help people who like to watch Nascar events, even while lavishing tax cuts on people who like to own Nascar teams. 


O.K., let's talk about the numbers. 


The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently published an overview of the budget proposals of the four "major" Republican candidates and, in a separate report, examined the latest Obama budget. I am not, by the way, a big fan of the committee's general role in our policy discourse; I think it has been pushing premature deficit reduction and diverting attention from the more immediately urgent task of reducing unemployment. But the group is honest and technically competent, so its evaluation provides a very useful reference point. 


And here's what it tells us: According to an "intermediate debt scenario," the budget proposals of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney would all lead to much higher debt a decade from now than the proposals in the 2013 Obama budget. Ron Paul would do better, roughly matching Mr. Obama. But if you look at the details, it turns out that Mr. Paul is assuming trillions of dollars in unspecified and implausible spending cuts. So, in the end, he's really a spendthrift, too. 


Is there any way to make the GOP proposals seem fiscally responsible? Well, no - not unless you believe in magic. Sure enough, voodoo economics is making a big comeback, with Mr. Romney, in particular, asserting that his tax cuts wouldn't actually explode the deficit because they would promote faster economic growth and this would raise revenue. 


And you might find this plausible if you spent the past two decades sleeping in a cave somewhere. If you didn't, you probably remember that the same people now telling us what great things tax cuts would do for growth assured us that Bill Clinton's tax increase in 1993 would lead to economic disaster, while George W. Bush's tax cuts in 2001 would create vast prosperity. Somehow, neither of those predictions worked out. So the Republicans screaming about the evils of deficits would not, in fact, reduce the deficit - and, in fact, would do the opposite. What, then, would their policies accomplish? The answer is that they would achieve a major redistribution of income away from working-class Americans toward the very, very rich. 


Another nonpartisan group, the Tax Policy Center, has analyzed Mr. Romney's tax proposal. It found that, compared with current policy, the proposal would actually raise taxes on the poorest 20 percent of Americans, while imposing drastic cuts in programs like Medicaid that provide a safety net for the less fortunate. (Although right-wingers like to portray Medicaid as a giveaway to the lazy, the bulk of its money goes to children, disabled, and the elderly.) 


But the richest 1 percent would receive large tax cuts - and the richest 0.1 percent would do even better, with the average member of this elite group paying $1.1 million a year less in taxes than he or she would if the high-end Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. 


There's one more thing you should know about the Republican proposals: Not only are they fiscally irresponsible and tilted heavily against working Americans, they're also terrible policy for a nation suffering from a depressed economy in the short run even as it faces long-run budget problems. 


Put it this way: Are you worried about a "Greek-style collapse"? Well, these plans would slash spending in the near term, emulating Europe's catastrophic austerity, even while locking in budget-busting tax cuts for the future. 


The question now is whether someone offering this toxic combination of irresponsibility, class warfare, and hypocrisy can actually be elected president.

Bummer

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

Context ?

Once again The Atheist Pig cuts to the heart of the matter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jesus Candidate ?

You can click on the image to get a larger and easier to read picture.

Mr. Frothy Wins Big In Louisiana

Last Tuesday Wall Street Willie (aka Willard Mitt Romney) waltzed to an easy victory in Illinois. That means it was time for one of his opponents to win a state (seeing as how the GOP campaign has been going this year). And Mr. Frothy (aka Rick Santorum) did not disappoint last night. He easily took the Louisiana primary, winning by more than a 22 point margin (not just a whuppin', but an outright ass-stompin'). Here are the numbers:

LOUISIANA (99% reporting)
Rick Santorum...............91,133  (49.07%)
Mitt Romney...............49,433  (26.62%)
Newt Gingrich...............29,564  (15.92%)
Ron Paul...............11,422  (6.15%)
Others...............4,172  (2.25%)
TOTAL VOTES...............185,724

Now it's about 10 days until the next primaries are held (in Maryland, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia on April 3rd). Rasmussen has released a poll showing Romney with a sizeable lead in Wisconsin, but most of it was done before the Romney campaign's "etch-a-sketch" gaffe. Polls coming out about a week from now should be interesting, because they'll show if this latest gaffe is going to hurt him.

Etch-A-Sketch Mitt

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Majority Of Congress Has Ethical Problems

If you follow politics much at all this probably won't surprise you, but it should make you mad as hell. It seems that the "fat cats" in Congress are using their position in government to enrich themselves (and their family and friends). I'm not talking about the money they get from corporations and lobbyists (although that is still a problem). I'm talking about them using the federal treasury as their own personal piggy bank to enrich themselves, their families, and their friends.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) did a survey of every member of the House of Representatives. They found that at least 248 members of the 435 member House (about 57%) was guilty of using their position to enrich themselves and their families in such ways as paying family members with congressional or campaign funds, getting family members jobs as lobbyists, earmarking government money for family businesses, funneling money to campaigns of other family members, and other ethically problematic behavior.

Personally, I was surprised that CREW found only 57% of the House members were engaged in these ethically-dubious financial transactions. I had thought the percentage would be much higher. The bad news is that this shady behavior is not limited to any one party. Republicans and Democrats both engage in it (105 Democrats and 143 Republicans). That should irritate the rank-and-file members of both parties. Here's some of what CREW found:



  • 82 members (40 Democrats and 42 Republicans) paid family members through their congressional offices, campaign committees and political action committees (PACs);
  • 44 members (20 Democrats and 24 Republicans) have family members who lobby or are employed in government affairs;
  • 90 members (42 Democrats and 48 Republicans) have paid a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit;
  • 20 members (13 Democrats and 7 Republicans) used their campaign money to contribute to a family member’s political campaign;
  • 14 members (6 Democrats and 8 Republicans) charged interest on personal loans they made to their own campaigns;
  • 38 members (24 Democrats and 14 Republicans) earmarked to a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit.


  • If you would like a more in-depth view of some of the worst offenders, you can go here.



    Bad Law

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

    The Vanishing Middle Class

    Right after World War II, the American society had a huge growth of the middle class. This middle class growth benefitted all Americans (it gave the rich more customers with money to spend, and the tax revenues from this growth helped lift the poor up). Much of this growth was due to what right-wingers called socialist policies (strong unions, GI Bill to help with college and buying homes, etc.) But that has changed since the Republicans have managed to institute their "trickle-down" economic policy (which emphasizes giving more money to the rich in the hopes some of it would trickle down to the rest of America).

    To say this Republican economic policy (started by Reagan and thrown into high-gear by Bush II) was a failure would be an understatement. It cost Americans millions of jobs and threw the country into a serious recession (which still continues for most people in this country). It has also had another devastating result -- it is destroying the middle class. As the chart above shows, the number of middle class households in the United States has been reduced significantly since 1970.

    Every 10 years since 1970 the country has had roughly 2 million households disappear from the middle class -- and those households are not moving to the upper class, but down to the working class or even to poverty level. A recent census report showed that half of all Americans now live on an income less than 50% above the poverty level.

    The Republican economic policy has been very successful in helping the rich to get richer, but it has hurt the rest of America badly. Alan Krueger, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors puts this shift in wealth and income in stark terms. He says it is the equivalent of moving $1.1 trillion from the 99% to the 1% every year for the last three decades.

    That may sound great if you're in the 1%, but it can't be healthy for the country's economy. It is the reason we're in the current economic mess. And what is the Republican solution? To give the rich and the corporations larger tax cuts, and pay for that by taking more away from the other 99% of America. That simply makes no sense, and we can no longer afford these kinds of brain-dead policies.

    It's going to be a long and hard fight to cure our economic ills. But if the Republicans are re-elected in large numbers this November, there may not be any recovery at all -- in the short or long term.