Saturday, August 13, 2022

Inflation Reduction Act Passes On Strict Party Line Vote


 

Mar-A Lago Warrant And List Of Items Seized








 

Going Nuclear

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

Voters Are Not Worried About Increasing Size Of The IRS



These charts are from a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between August 5th and 7th of a nationwide sample of 2,005 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

Republicans tried to defeat the Inflation Reduction Act by trying to scare voters about increasing the size of the IRS. It didn't work. 

MAGA Fueled By Hostility And Delusion

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

Dems Have More Small Donors But GOP Has The Rich


Democrats have raised far more money from small donors, but the rich are closing the gap for Republicans. Here's what Robert Reich has to say about this:

Notably, the Inflation Reduction Act didn’t attract a single Republican vote in the Senate. (And at least one Democratic senator — Kyrsten Sinema — made sure its tax provisions wouldn’t raise tax rates on rich individuals.) Why? 

We talk a lot about money in politics, but there’s a huge and growing difference between the big money (campaign donations of $1 million or more), most of it pouring into Republican coffers and small money (individual donations of $200 or less), mainly pouring into the Democrats. (Corporations have been giving to both sides, in roughly equal measure.)

The significance of this difference is growing.

With the midterms elections looming, the gap between the two sources is larger than ever. Democrats are far outpacing Republicans in small-dollar donations. The most recent reports (through June 30) show, for example, that: 

— In Georgia, incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock has raised $14 million in small donations; Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker has raised only about $8 million in small donations. 

— In Florida, Val Demings, the Democratic challenger to Senator Marco Rubio, has raised more than $24 million in small donations; Rubio himself has reported $12.7 million in small donations. 

— In Arizona, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly's re-election campaign has raised nearly $23 million from small-dollar donors. His GOP challenger, Blake Masters, less than $2 million from small donors. 

But the GOP’s big money donors are making up the difference.

— Billionaire Peter Thiel has so far poured over $25 million into the races of Blake Masters in Arizona and J.D. Vance in Ohio. 

— Kenneth C. Griffin, the CEO of giant hedge fund Citadel, is bankrolling Republican super PACs to the tune of nearly $50 million. 

— Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of giant hedge fund Blackstone, has so far contributed a combined $20 million to the main House and Senate Republican super PAC. 

— Banking heir Timothy Mellon (descendant of the robber baron Andrew Mellon) has so far contributed $10 million to the main House GOP super PAC.

— Ditto billionaire Patrick R. Ryan. 

— Miriam Adelson (whose husband, Sheldon Adelson, was one of the GOP’s most generous contributors until his death last year) just made her first $5 million donation. The list goes on. 

Small donors are ramping up their giving to Democrats because they’re aware of how nuts the Republican Party has become on issues ranging from abortion to democracy. Trump has pulled into the GOP white supremacists, Christian nationalists, QAnon paranoids, xenophobic cultists, antisemites, misogynists, and rightwing militias. Plus a StarWars cantina of grifters, crackpots, and thugs who — as the January 6 attack showed — pose a clear and present danger to American democracy. 

Big donors are ramping up their giving to Republicans because they now have so much money that any Democratic-led tax increase on them (or Republican-led tax cut for them) will invariably have large financial consequences. The Inflation Reduction Act reveals just how much damage Democrats could do to the bottom lines of the rich.

Many big donor billionaires (e.g., Peter Thiel) are trying to justify their donations as “libertarian,” but they know damn well the current Republican Party has nothing to do with personal freedom. It’s busy intruding on reproductive rights, pushing book bans in libraries and classrooms, barring young transgender people from playing on certain sports teams or using certain bathrooms, refusing to allow teachers to talk about aspects of American history they don’t want young people to know, and actively suppressing votes. Liberty my foot. 

No, the billionaires aren’t libertarian. They want only one thing: more tax cuts.

The extraordinary growth of small donors to Democrats is all about justifiable fears of what Republicans will do with more power. The growth in big dollars to Republicans is all about greed.

Taking The Fifth

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

He Knew It Was A Crime - Charge Him!


 

Friday, August 12, 2022

A President Who Gets Things Done!


 

Partisan Hostility Grows in the United States

 



The charts above are from a survey done by the Pew Research Center between June 27th and July 4th of a nationwide sample of 6,174 adults, with a 1.8 point margin of error.

How It Started / How It's Going

 Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

About 262,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week


The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that about 262,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on August 6th. Here is the official Labor Department statement:

In the week ending August 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 262,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 12,000 from 260,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 252,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 7,250 from 254,750 to 247,500.

You Can't Please Some People

 Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.

Trump's Claim Of Persecution Is His Favorite Weapon


Immediately upon learning of the FBI search at Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump claimed he was being persecuted. Claiming persecution is his favorite weapon -- and his favorite choice to fund raise (which he is already doing). Of course, he's not being persecuted, but the claim works with those who still support him after all of his criminal conduct.

The following is part of an op-ed in The New York Times by Charles M. Blow: 

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday — an extraordinary event in the history of the United States — the former president and his allies immediately began to howl that Trump was being persecuted.

Trump issued a statement that said his “beautiful home” was “currently under siege, raided and occupied” and “nothing like this has ever happened to a president of the United States before.” Left out of this victimhood framing was that this wasn’t so much an action but a reaction — a reaction to a president corrupt on a level this country has never seen before.

Trump wrote in his statement, of course referring to himself in the third person, that “the political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years” and “it just never ends.”

The pivotal word there was “persecution.”

Persecution is a powerful social concept. It moves people to empathize with and defend those perceived to have been wronged. It rouses righteous indignation. And it produces the moral superiority of long suffering.

For instance, central to the story of the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — is the presence of persecution and the ultimate overcoming of it.

The origin story of America itself is of a country born of religious persecution as a group of English separatists searched for a place where they could experience religious freedom.

And many of the most celebrated historical figures around the world — Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — were persecuted.

Throughout history, political persecutions of whole populations have led to ghastly crimes against humanity. Some continue to this day, like China’s oppression of the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang being subjected to internment camps and forced sterilization. . . .

But alongside these stories of actual persecution are scoundrels pretending to be persecuted, activating the same defensive human instincts in people that genuine accounts do.

I would argue that the entire MAGA movement was born of Trump weaponizing the siege ideology held by many Americans — white replacement theory, immigrant invasion and loss of culture — and framing himself as their messiah and potential martyr. . . .

On Monday, Trump once again claimed that efforts to hold him accountable were evidence of political persecution, and his followers rallied to his defense.

In fact, reports like one from Reuters on Tuesday claim that the search of Trump’s home may actually have boosted him, placing him in his “political sweet spot,” allowing him to play victim of “institutional forces” — the Deep State — “at a time when his grip on the party appeared to be slipping.”

For Trump, the politics of persecution is both his security blanket and his weapon of choice.

Hiding Behind The Fifth

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

The Largest And Least Productive Industry In History


 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Trump Says Innocent Don't Plead Fifth - Then Pleads Fifth


 

The Jan 6th Committee Has Not Changed American Minds


The chart above is from the Monmouth University Poll -- done between July 28th and August 1st of a nationwide sample of 808 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

If this poll is to be believed (and it is a fairly reliable poll), then the televised hearings of the January 6th committee has not changed many minds. While millions watched the hearings, they were evidently the people who had already made up their mind.

The chart below is also from this poll.



Raid

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

The GOP Flip-Flops To Oppose Law And Order


The Republican Party likes to call itself the "law and order" party. But they now show they were not really serious about that. They only support the law when they think it should be used against Democrats. But they don't think it should apply to them -- especially the orange demagogue.

The following op-ed is by Steve Benen at MSNBC.com:

If there was one thing Republicans cared about six years ago, it was how high-ranking officials dealt with classified materials. In fact, as recently as 2016, the GOP was certain — that is, the party at least pretended to be certain — that politicians disqualify themselves from positions of authority when they put documents at risk.

And so, now that Republicans have learned that Donald Trump allegedly took highly sensitive classified materials to his golf resort, one could imagine the party expressing outrage with the former president. After all, given the GOP’s recent history of passionate feelings on the subject, it stands to reason that Trump may have crossed an intolerable line.

But that would assume that the Republican Party’s principles and standards are consistent. They are not. On the contrary, GOP officials aren’t outraged with Trump, they’re outraged with federal law enforcement for even considering the possibility of holding Trump accountable for his alleged actions.

There’s regular ol’ hypocrisy and then there’s nuclear-grade hypocrisy. I’m reminded of this New York Times report from February, shining a light on Republicans who were “once so forceful about the issue of mishandling documents.

Several Republicans who once railed against Mrs. Clinton’s document retention practices did not respond Thursday to questions about Mr. Trump’s actions. Others who had been directly involved with investigating Mrs. Clinton declined to discuss the specifics except to suggest, without evidence, that the National Archives and Records Administration was treating Mr. Trump more harshly.

That was six months ago. The problem is far more acute in the wake of the FBI showing up at Mar-a-Lago yesterday.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, Republicans, with varying degrees of hysterics, made Hillary Clinton out to be a literal criminal who put the United States at risk. During the presidential campaign, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan went so far as to formally request that the Democrat be denied intelligence briefings — insisting that her email practices, which were the subject of an FBI investigation, were proof that she mishandled classified information and therefore couldn’t be trusted.

To this day, rabid Republican activists will reflexively chant, “Lock her up!” at the mere mention of Clinton’s name because she allegedly failed to properly deal with classified materials.

And now many of those same Republicans say they don’t much care. Indeed, the only thing many in the GOP appear to care about this morning is condemning federal law enforcement for taking the issue seriously.

Some might suggest that GOP voices have flip-flopped, conveniently changing their minds. But that gives the Republicans playing this game far too much credit: The problem is not that the GOP took the issue of document retention seriously before, only to later shift their position; the problem is that the party only pretended to care about the issue in the first place.

The Tool Needed At Mar-A-Lago

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.
 

Don't Go Back To Superstition

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

College Football Pre-Season Poll


 

The Abortion Issue Will Have Big Impact On 2022 Election


The chart above is from the new ABC News / Ipsos Poll -- done on August 5th and 6th of a nationwide sample of 665 adults, with a 4.2 point margin of error.
 

The GOP Just Doesn't Care

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

Trump Says Mar-A-Lago Search Was Like Watergate


On Monday, the FBI conducted a day-long search of Mar-A-Lago. Predictably, Donald Trump blew a fuse! He claimed it was unnecessary and politically motivated. He even went so far as to compare the search of his Florida home to the break-in at the Watergate Building -- asking, "What's the difference between this and Watergate?"

Of course, there is a huge difference. The burglary of the Watergate Building was a crime. The search of Mar-A-Lago was not. The search was a legal action done with a warrant (approved by the head of the FBI and signed by a federal judge). The warrant would not have been issued unless the judge was convinced there was credible evidence of a crime and information regarding that crime was contained in Mar-A-Lago (and could be destroyed if the search was not conducted).

Here is what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote about the search:

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” Donald Trump raged today after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida and broke open a safe, apparently looking for documents that Trump illegally took from the White House.  

To set the record straight. Trump is no longer president of the United States. He’s a normal citizen. He may believe he’s still president because he never conceded the 2020 election, but he lost that election. As a result, he is subject to the same search-and-seizure provisions, under court supervision, as is anyone else. 

Trump may be correct that no former president has ever before been subject to an FBI search, but, then again, nothing like Trump has ever before happened to the United States. No former president has ever attempted a coup to remain in office.

Trump claims that the search of Mar-a-Lago was intended to stop him from running for president in 2024. 

There is no way the search could stop him from running, unless, perhaps, the search turns up even more evidence that he participated in an “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States – in which case, pursuant to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress might move to disqualify him from running. But it’s far from clear that even such a congressional resolution would trigger Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

On the other hand, if a grand jury determines that Trump broke the law and decides to indict him, the Justice Department could take him to court, where a jury could decide he is guilty. The court conceivably could send him to prison. This would make it difficult, although not impossible, for him to run for or be re-elected president. 

We don’t know yet what the FBI agents who searched Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago today were looking for, but in January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that National Archives officials said should have been turned over when Trump left the White House. Evidently, more boxes were missing. 

We also know that a federal grand jury in Washington has been gathering information about efforts by Trump, along with his lawyers and enablers, to try to use fake electors to block Joe Biden from formally becoming president after the 2020 election. As part of that investigation, authorities have begun examining Trump’s actions, seeking to discover what instructions he gave to subordinates, according to people familiar with the investigation.

In today’s statement, Trump claimed that “such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” If he was referring to the assault he instigated on January 6, 2021, against the United States Capitol, he is partly correct. Had that assault been successful, the United States could indeed have become a broken, Third-World country.

Today’s search of his home, however, was done with a warrant and approved by a court. It occurred under the law.

But America might still become a broken, Third-World country, due to Trump’s and other Republicans’ continuing efforts to sow doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election. During a speech on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Trump reiterated his claim that the 2020 election “was rigged and stolen and now our country is being systematically destroyed,” despite the fact that sixty federal judges, some appointed by Trump, concluded that the election was not rigged and stolen and that Trump’s own Department of Justice came to the same conclusion. Trump, however, has systematically tried to destroy our country. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke at that same conference last Saturday. Orban has turned Hungary into a Third-World autocracy. This is what Trump wants for the United States. He and his Republican enablers are still at it. 

We have only one bulwark against this menace. It is called the rule of law. Finally, it seems, on the basis of today’s search of Mar-a-Lago, that bulwark is being utilized.

The Cost

 Political Cartoon is by Matt Davies in Newsday.

A Corporatocracy Is NOT A Democracy


 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Capitalism


 

Republicans Deny Affordable Insulin To Millions

These two paragraphs are from The Washington Post.

Millions of Americans have Type I Diabetes. For them, insulin is a life-saving drug. But the greedy drug companies have raised the price of insulin many times over the years -- and that price is so high that many cannot afford the needed drug.

Some are trying to ration the bit of insulin they are able to buy -- taking less than the prescribed amount of skipping shots. They hope to make the drug go further. But this is putting their medical condition in jeopardy. And I don't think it's an exaggeration to say some are dying by doing this.

But what choice do they have. The drug companies are not going to lower the price unless they are forced to do it. To them, profits are more important than the lives or health of American citizens. It's greed gone crazy, and it's dangerous.

Democrats in the Senate tried to fix this last weekend. They included a $35 cap on insulin in the Inflation Reduction Act. That would make insulin more affordable to all those who need it. Unfortunately, the Senate Republicans agree with Big Pharma that profits are more important than lives. Using an arcane Senate rule, they stripped the $35 cap on insulin out of the bill -- and then voted down a Democratic effort to put it back in the bill.

The cap remains for those on Medicare. But millions of Americans are not old enough to be on Medicare. They still need the insulin though, and they will still have to pay the outrageous price demanded by the drug companies -- if they can afford it. If they cannot afford it, they could die quickly, or die more slowly by trying to ration the amount they could afford.

Republicans have once again shown that they don't care about Americans -- unless they are rich white men.

Trying To Hide The Fascism

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

Republicans Attended Elite Schools & Learned Nothing


Republicans like to call Democrats "elite", knowing it will be taken as an insult for their base voters. But the truth is that as many Republicans in Congress (if not more) attended elite colleges. They just didn't seem to have learned anything from that.

Following is part of an op-ed by Robert Reich: 

The original justification for elite higher education in the United States was to train the future leaders of American democracy. As Charles W. Eliot, who became president of Harvard in 1869, noted, Harvard existed to inculcate the ideals of “service and stewardship.”

Since then, Harvard has produced eight US presidents; Yale, five. (Stanford can boast Herbert Hoover, if it feels compelled to do so.)

Elite universities have also produced a disproportionate number of senators and representatives from both parties. In fact, Republicans elected to the Senate over the last decade are more likely than their Democratic counterparts to have attended Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford.

So how to explain Elise Stefanik, Harvard class of 2006, now the third-ranking House Republican, who recently called the January 6 hearings a “partisan witch hunt,” voted to invalidate the 2020 election, and has repeated Trump’s Big Lie of election fraud?

Or Josh Hawley, Stanford class of 2002 and Yale Law class of 2006, now senator from Missouri, who in December 2020 became the first US senator to announce plans to object to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, then led Senate efforts to overturn the Electoral College vote count, and fist-bumped the rioters on January 6?

Or Ted Cruz, Princeton class of 1992 and Harvard Law class of 1995, now senator from Texas, who in late 2020 joined in John Eastman’s and Trump’s plot to object to the election results in six swing states and delay accepting the Electoral College results on January 6, potentially enabling Republican state legislatures to overturn them?

And how to explain a new crop of Republican senate candidates?

JD Vance, Yale Law class of 2013, now Republican candidate for the Senate from Ohio, has claimed that there “were certainly people voting illegally on a large-scale basis” in the 2020 election. When asked earlier this year if the 2020 election was “stolen,” he said, “Yeah, I do.”

Blake Masters, Stanford class of 2008 and Stanford Law class of 2012, now the Republican candidate for the Senate from Arizona, has declared in campaign ads that “Trump won.” He promotes rightwing “replacement theory” – that Democrats favor illegal immigration “so that someday they can ‘amnesty’ these people and make them voters who they expect to vote Democrat.”

These alumni of America’s finest institutions of higher education haven’t adhered to their alma maters’ ideals of service and stewardship of American democracy. In fact, they’re actively wrecking American democracy.

Nor can these elite graduates claim they don’t know any better. Most third-graders can distinguish a lie from the truth.

No, these scions of the most prestigious halls of American academe are knowingly and intentionally abetting the most dangerous attack on American democracy since the Civil War.

Whatever did they learn from their rarified education? Obviously, zilch.