Saturday, June 30, 2018

Voting For The Axe

2/3 Of The Public Says NO To Overturning Roe Vs. Wade

The chart above is from the Kaiser Family Foundation Poll done between June 11th and 20th of 1,492 adults nationwide, and has a margin of error of 3 points.

Right-wingers across the country have been celebrating after hearing that Justice Kennedy is retiring at the end of June. They know that means Trump will get to appoint another Supreme Court justice, and bend the court to the right for perhaps decades. But they know it also means they might finally get something they have been wanting for the last 45 years -- the overturning of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.

They are positively giddy over Trump's being able to keep a campaign promise -- to nominate anti-choice candidates to the Supreme Court. And these people might get what they want, even though they are just a tiny minority of the American population (about 29%).

The vast majority of Americans (about 67%) say they do NOT want to see Roe vs. Wade overturned. They see that court decision as a rational and reasonable answer to the abortion debate. And that includes 81% of Democrats, 73% of Independents, 65% of men, 68% of women, and 74% women between the ages of 18 and 44.

Only one group wants to see the court decision overturned -- Republicans (53%). And 43% of Republicans also oppose overturning it.

I don't know if the end of Roe vs. Wade can be prevented, but that's what the American public wants. Unfortunately, Trump and the Republicans have shown they don't care what Americans want.

Leaning To The Right

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at

Support Is Still Very Low For The Trump/GOP Tax Reform

These charts show the results of a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between June 22nd and 24th of a national sample of 1,989 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 2 points.

When they passed their tax reform plan, the Republicans called it a middle class tax cut -- and they were sure that would bring voters flocking to the polls to vote for them. But it was exposed as nothing more than a tax cut for the rich. Trump said the people would come around once they saw all the extra money in their paychecks. That hasn't happened either.

It is now several months later, and the percentage who at least somewhat support the tax reform remains very low -- about 37%. That's because very few have seen more money in their pay checks -- only about 25%. Republicans and rich people may like the tax reform, but no one else does. This is NOT going to help the Republicans in November!

Blood On His Hands

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at

Trump's Collusion With Russia Was A Two-Way Street

(Cartoon image is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.)

Trump has denied many times that he (or his campaign) colluded with Russia to affect the 2016 election (in his favor), but there is already much evidence that the collusion was real. Some of that evidence comes from the Steele Dossier. Republicans have done their best to denigrate that dossier, but the truth is that most of it has already been shown to be true (and once Mueller's investigation is finished, it is very likely it will all be shown to be true).

There is something the dossier contains that is not being reported. The collusion agreement was not a one-way street. The Russians gave information to Trump (and used social media to help him), but they wanted something in return. The Steele Dossier says they wanted information from Trump on Russians in the United States -- and Trump very likely gave them that information.

Consider this part of an article by Mark Sumner at Daily Kos:

The Associated Press has compiled a list of the information provided in the list of memos authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and compared it with what has been revealed through court filings and public statements. And while the AP finds what they believe to be “snippets of fiction” in the pages, they also find that a great deal of what Steele produced is proving to have a basis in fact.
What has turned out to be true is the primary narrative thread that runs through all the memos: The Russian government set up an “elaborate operation” to damage Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election through social media, propaganda, and by stealing Democratic information and providing it to Trump. And the Russian government sought to aid Donald Trump, whose campaign responded eagerly to Russian offers of help. 
The Kremlin set out to harm Clinton and help Trump. Trump jumped on the opportunity. That makes Trump a colluder, conspirator, and any other c-word that comes to mind.
Steele’s memos were also accurate in many details, such as laying out Carter Page’s meeting with Russian officials at a time when it wasn’t otherwise known, possibly even to the FBI who had been watching Page for years. But there’s another key area of the memos that often gets obscured by the focus on some of the more sensational … yellow elements. 
One of the primary claims of the Steele memos is not just that Russia sought to help Trump, but that the flow of information went both ways. Part of the price for Putin’s help, according to Steele’s sources, was that Trump help Putin in ways that he could address even if he didn’t win—by providing the Kremlin with information on wealthy Russians in the United States. It’s not clear whether this information from Trump to Russia has been substantiated. Those portions of the investigations in the House and Senate that have been exposed to the public don’t even seem to have ventured into this territory, 
The idea that Donald Trump was providing something to Vladimir Putin in exchange for his assistance months before the elections is certainly intriguing. Trump’s habit of selling property to Russians and other former Soviets would position him to provide this information if asked. So far there doesn’t seem to be anything to indicate that this part of the memos has been verified … but if it were, that would seem to put the final nail in any idea that Trump was not fully on board with efforts to cooperate with Russia.

Amber Alert

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


Friday, June 29, 2018

Thoughts And Prayers Useless Again

Democrats Must Go "All-In" To Protect Roe Vs. Wade

(Cartoon image is by Bill Day at

The Trump administration has been a disaster, but most of what Trump has done can be undone by our next president. His appointment of another Supreme Court justice is different. Another Trump justice would make sure the court leans to the extreme right -- possibly for many decades.

Another Gorsuch on the court will be bad for equal rights (minorities, LGBT, women, etc), immigration, voting rights, gun control, the environment, gerrymandering of congressional districts, labor unions and worker rights, human rights -- the list is endless. And sadly, the one thing we know is that we cannot fight all of those battles right now. The Republicans are going to get a justice they like on most of those issues.

We must pick an issue on which to stand. An issue we will not give in on, and will go to the wall to protect. I believe that issue is the protection of Roe vs. Wade. It has been the law of the land for 45 years now, and it has saved the lives of many thousands of American women. If it was overturned, it would not end abortion -- no law can do that. It will just drive women back into getting back alley abortions -- which will kill many of them.

This is a life and death issue -- not for fetuses, but for women (actual people). It won't affect the rich. The rich, including right-wing Republicans, will continue to get the abortions they want because they have the money to travel to a state or country that allows it. But the poor and lower middle classes (of all colors) are not so lucky. They don't have the money to travel a great distance to get a safe abortion.

Why should these women have to give up control over their own bodies to some egotistical and self-righteous men wearing an elephant pin -- some prick who believes women are second-class citizens who must be told what they can and cannot do? It's shameful, and it's wrong!

For those who oppose abortion, there are much better ways to prevent them -- ways that don't take rights away from women. Just teach the truth about sex and pregnancy prevention to everyone starting in middle schools. Then provide free and easy access to effective contraception to everyone. And for the few pregnancies that still happen, offer government help to those women who choose to have the baby.

Overturning Roe vs. Wade is mean-spirited, and will not stop abortions. We must stop it. It is the one thing we cannot give in to, because women's lives and rights are just too important.

A Right-Wing Court

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at

Who Do The Political Parties Care For The Most ?

This chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between June 24th and 26th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3.1 point margin of error.

The poll asked which political party cares the most for various groups.

Respondents said the Republican Party cared most for corporations, men, White people, and rich people.

Respondents said the Democratic Party cared the most for women, Hispanics, Black people, poor people, the middle class, immigrants (both legal and undocumented), families, regular Americans, all people, U.S. workers, and people like them.

Retiring Rights

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at

Job Approval Of Trump And Congress Still Upside-Down

These charts reflect the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between June 24th and 26th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Neither Trump nor Congress has been able to significantly improve on their job approval numbers. Currently, Donald Trump has a negative 14 point gap. Congress is even worse, with a negative 41 point gap. These numbers do not bode well for Republicans (who control Congress) with an election only four months away.

Lyin' King

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Colorado Independent.

Trump Is Raking In Millions From Corrupt Practices

(Cartoon image is by Bill Schorr at

As most of you probably know, Trump failed to divest himself of his business interests after becoming president (as previous presidents of both parties have done). This means he is still making millions from his properties, and many groups (both domestic and foreign) stay at those properties to incur favor with Trump. Also, he is staying exclusively at his own properties, which funnel millions of taxpayer dollars into his own pockets. It's corruption on a grand scale, and it makes Trump the most corrupt president in U.S. history.

Here's part of an article on this by Derek Kravitz, Alex Mierjeski, and Gabriel Sandoval at ProPublica:

Since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president in late 2015, at least $16.1 million has poured into Trump Organization-managed and branded hotels, golf courses and restaurants from his campaign, Republican organizations, and government agencies. Because Trump’s business empire is overseen by a trust of which he is the sole beneficiary, he profits from these hotel stays, banquet hall rentals and meals.

To arrive at the total, we compiled campaign finance reports from the Federal Election Commission; state government spending gleaned from dozens of state websites and portals; and federal agency expenditure records obtained by the Washington-based transparency organization Property of the People. For this project, Property of the People filed Freedom of Information Act requests with 15 federal agencies and sued four of them to obtain records. (The organization is also attempting to procure comparable records for the Obama era.)

The vast majority of the money — at least $13.5 million, or more than 84 percent of what we tracked — was spent by Trump’s presidential campaign (including on Tag Air, the entity that operates Trump’s personal airplane). Republican Senate and House political committees and campaigns have shelled out at least another $2.1 million at Trump properties. At least $400,000 has been spent by federal, state and local agencies. (For example, the Florida Police Chiefs Association held its summer conference last year at the Trump National Doral Miami.) The state and local tally appears to be a gross undercount because of the agencies’ spotty disclosures and reporting.

The use of taxpayer dollars at Trump hotels is under scrutiny in a closely watched lawsuit in Maryland federal court. The District of Columbia and the state of Maryland sued Trump, citing a venerable anti-corruption provision of the U.S. Constitution known as the Emoluments Clause. It prohibits any financial gift, or emolument, from benefiting a sitting public official, including the president.

The judge in that case, Peter Messitte, is expected to make a final ruling by the end of July. Last month, he allowed the case to proceed, concluding in his opinion that a trip to the Trump International Hotel in Washington by Maine Gov. Paul LePage “rather clearly suggests that Maryland and the District of Columbia may very well feel themselves obliged, i.e., coerced, to patronize the Hotel in order to help them obtain federal favors.”. . .

In his 18 months in office, he has stayed at his hotels or Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., estate and club, nearly a third of the time: 161 days and counting.

“Trump appears to be commandeering federal resources in order to maximize revenues at Trump properties, and he does this by visiting properties close to the White House,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert in legal ethics. “And when he travels to the golf courses in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey, other agencies that are involved in supporting the president end up spending money.”

Strongman ?

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Accomplice To Corruption

Justice Kennedy Retires - Putting Our Rights In Danger

The people of the United States just got some very bad news. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has been the swing vote on the United States Supreme Court, announced that he will retire at the end of July.

That means that the make-up of the court will change. Instead of four conservatives, four liberals, and a swing justice, there will now be five hard right-wingers and four liberals. It could be that way for at least a decade -- maybe longer. And you can bet that McConnell will try to push a Trump nominee through the Senate as quickly as possible.

This puts equal rights, human rights, and voting rights into serious jeopardy. And it could even put the Roe vs. Wade decision into jeopardy.

Democrats need to use every procedural device at their disposal to stop, or at least delay, a vote on a Trump nominee (who is guaranteed to be a hard right person like Gorsuch). I doubt they can stop the Senate Republicans from approving another right-winger appointed by Trump, but they must try.

This makes it extremely important for Democrats to get to the polls and vote in November. They must flip the Senate to Democratic control. If Democrats are able to delay Trump's nomination pick, they could then force him to appoint a moderate to the court. If not, they could at least make sure that he gets no more picks.

Note the ages of the justices in the graphic above. What if one of the liberals has to retire, or perish the thought, dies. Ginsburg is 85 and Breyer is 79. If Trump got to replace either of them, the conservative advantage would be 6 to 3 -- and that would mean a right-wing court for decades to come.

Flipping the House of Representatives in the coming election would be good, but flipping the Senate has now become critical. That can only be done if Democrats (and Independents) vote is massive numbers in November. Staying at home is NOT an option if you love this country and the rights we have.

Not A Muslim Ban ?

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

Majority Of Texans Are Ready To legalize Marijuana

This may surprise some people, but Texas voters have moved on the question of legalizing marijuana. A majority of Texas voters (53%) now agree with the majority of national voters that marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. Another 31% would legalize the use for medical purposes only, and 16% want to keep it completely illegal.

The chart above reflects the results of the newest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll -- done between June 8th and 17th of a sample of 1,200 registered Texas voters, with a margin of error of 2.83 points.


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

A Majority Of Texans Want Stricter Gun Control

Texas is a red state, and it is a state with very loose gun control laws. But that is not necessarily the way Texas voters want it to be. A Majority of Texas voters (51%) say they would like to see stricter gun control laws, while 31% want to keep the laws as they are now and 13% want less strict laws. The other 5% are unsure.

The chart above reflects the results of the latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll -- done between June 8th and 17th of a sample of 1,200 registered Texas voters, with a margin of error of 2.83 points.

Origin Of Trump's Signature

Political Cartoon is by Tom Tales in The Washington Post.

Interview With Steve Schmidt On His Leaving The GOP

(This photo of Steve Schmidt, from Wikipedia, is by David Shankbone.)

Steve Schmidt has been a Republican all his life -- and he has worked for many powerful Republicans (like George W. Bush, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger). But he loves his country, and that has caused him to publicly declare that he is no longer a Republican (and will support Democrats in the coming election).

Here is part of an interview with Andy Kroll at Rolling Stone after making his decision to leave the GOP.

Why did you finally decide to leave the Republican Party?

I think it's fair to say I've been estranged from the party on a number of issues going back to my advocacy and support for marriage equality in 2009 and then my opposition to the populism and the nationalism that we've seen. The reality that I've come to is that the party stands at an hour at which it is irredeemable, where it has died and bled out because of the cowardice and fecklessness of its leaders.

When Trump was elected, there were three parties in Washington: the Trump party, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Republican Party had every chance to put a check on his vile personal conduct, his administration's outlandish corruption, his fetishizing and affinity for autocrats around the world and his undermining of the western alliance.

This present strain of know-nothingism has long been in the party's DNA.

This cancer has always been there. This dormant cancer. But it has become fully embraced in this moment. We're seeing at this moment a president of the United States do five things. He is using mass rallies that are fueled by constant lying to incite fervor and devotion in his political base. The second thing we see him do is to affix blame for every problem in the world. Many of them are complex, not so different from the issues faced at the end of Agrarian age and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We see him attack minority populations with words like "invade" and "infest." The third thing he does is a create a shared sense of victimization caused by the scapegoated populations. This is the high act of Trumpism: From Trump to Sean Hannity to Laura Ingraham, everyone is a victim. The fourth thing he does is he alleges conspiracy by nefarious and unseen hidden forces – the "deep state." And the fifth thing is the assertion that "I am the law, that I am above it." He just said immigrants don't get a hearing; they don't get a court representation.

So the party's evolution is as much cultural as it is political or ideological.

The two parties for a long time were not homogeneous ideologically. There were plenty of conservatives in the Democratic Party, and there were no small number of liberals in the Republican Party. Now, culturally, we're in thrall to theocratic crackpots like Mike Huckabee and Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, where you're able to justify the candidacy of a Roy Moore because you want to keep the Senate seat. The theocracy and crackpot sewer conservatism has taken over.

What you've seen is this rapid devolution over the last 18 months of the Republican Party becoming a white ethno-nationalist party, a blood-and-soil party that is protectionist, isolationist, that is rooted in resentment and grievance.

The Republican Party isn't going to die because of Trump. It's going to die because of Ryan and McConnell. You're now left with one political party in support of liberal democracy.

Can the Republican Party be saved?

If the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan is to be redeemed and resurrected, then the party of Trump must be obliterated. Annihilated. Destroyed. And all of the collaborators, the complicit enablers, the school of cowards, need to go down. Maybe something can regenerate from that.

I don't view it so much differently than I view a forest fire. A forest fire is part of a natural cycle of the forest. The forest burns, and through its burning and destruction, it is regenerated and made healthy again. For the Republican Party and the conservative movement, with its rot, its corruption, its indecency ... before there can be any talk of restoration, there must be a season of burning.

Caging Decency

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at

Call Them "Trump Camps"

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Everyone But Putin

Arizona Could Send A Democrat To The U.S. Senate

I was a little surprised, but thrilled, to see the results of this poll. I would never have guessed that Arizona has a good chance of sending a Democrat to the United States Senate -- but that seems to be a definite possibility. There's still four months until the election, but right now Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is leading all three of the people running for the Republican nomination -- she leads Kelli Ward by 10 points, Martha McSally by 11 points, and Joe Arpaio by 25 points.

The chart is from the NBC News / Marist Poll -- done June 17th and 21st of a sample of 839 registered Arizona voters, and has a margin of error of 4.5 points.

The Barrier

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

Americans Are Worried About The State Of U.S. Democracy

What is the state of the American democracy? A survey was commissioned by the George W. Bush Institute, the Penn Biden Center, and Freedom House. About 1,400 adults were surveyed between April 28th and May 8th, and the margin of error was 2.6 points. It was called The Democracy Project.

The survey showed that a lot of Americans are worried about the state of the U.S. democracy. By an 18 point margin, Americans say the democracy is weak. By a 43 point margin, Americans say the democracy is getting weaker. By a 58 point margin, Americans say they are concerned about the condition of the democracy. By a 7 point margin, Americans are concerned about the U.S. becoming an authoritarian and undemocratic country. And by a 60 point margin, Americans say laws passed by the federal government reflect the wants of special interests over the needs of the people.

The survey also questioned people on how the democracy can be strengthened. The charts below show some of the ways people think the U.S. democracy can be improved and made stronger.

Bird For Dinner

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

Texas House Dist. 31 Has Impressive Democratic Candidate

 (These photos of Mary "MJ" Hegar are from her website.)

U.S. House District 31 in Texas has been reliably Republican for years, but that may change in the coming election. The Democrats have a strong candidate this year.

That candidate is Mary "MJ" Hegar. Hegar was a helicopter search and rescue pilot for the U.S. Army -- doing three tours in Afghanistan. She was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device. After returning, she successfully fought for the right of women to serve in combat position in the military.

Her first ad for her run for Congress went viral, and has received over 4 million views in a very short time. The following is part of an interview she did with Michael Walsh at Yahoo News after the ad went viral.

Yahoo News: Are you surprised with the level of attention your campaign ad has received so far?
Hegar: I got to say yes and no. I’m always surprised when people show interest in my bio because I saw hundreds of people doing the same stuff that I was doing, but I’m not surprised that the message of absent representation [that congressmen are less interested in representing their constituents than advancing their careers] is resonating with people. I think that most people feel that way.
Now that the video is live, have you had people reaching out to you saying that their representatives didn’t think they were important enough because they weren’t a donor, or something else along those lines? 
I think there is this sense of “you’re not important” or that you can only get to the front of the line if you’re a high-dollar donor. I had one person say to me once, “Don’t forget me when you go to D.C.” I said, “Wait, let me be clear. Your donation says to me that you agree that we share values and that you think I’ll be effective in fighting for us.” If that’s what you mean then I’ll be fighting for us in D.C. I think we need more of that. We need more people who are not willing to promise people the moon just to get their money.
This video depicts the sexism you encountered when you came back. The door was closed in your face and you couldn’t talk to your representative because you weren’t a large donor. What would you like to do to make sure other women and people in general don’t get the same treatment you did? 
I really believe in my heart that people in general — whether that’s different ethnicities, religions, genders, backgrounds, accents, socioeconomic statuses or anything — really need a government that’s more reflective of our population. And until we have that, we will have representatives, a majority of whom are representing their own self-interests and the future of their careers. We’ve got to hire more servant leaders. I think that’s a great thing about the wave of veterans running. Veterans understand what it means to put the good of the country ahead of their lives. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of this improve until we have people in office who frankly don’t need to get reelected for their ego or résumé. They just are serving their time as long as their constituents want to put them there. Now, unfortunately, the system is set up to put up barriers [in front of] everyday people who want to run for office. That’s something I’m working on trying to tear down here in my district. I’m trying to support good people up and down the ballot.
If you’re elected, when you get to Congress, what main goals do you have in mind? What problems do you see in D.C. wherein you can serve as a corrective and set things straight? 
I have a very realistic view of what a freshman congresswoman can get done. I’ve been mentoring with members and been in D.C. lobbying to stop bad legislation in the past, successfully. It’s really more about what I can do at home. Now I do have things I want to accomplish in D.C., but the No. 1 priority is constituent services and making sure that the district I’ve grown up in and love has representation and has a way for constituents to communicate and get help when they need help navigating the bureaucracy in government. And advocating. I find it personally offensive when representatives say they know how to advocate for groups without going to those groups and saying, “What are your experiences? What things worked? What things haven’t worked? What are the obstacles you had to overcome? What can we do to make things better and collaborate?” I definitely want to fight for marginalized communities, fight money in politics, fight toxic hyperpartisanship. Those are my three big things.
You’re running in a very deep red district. It’s been Republican for a while. What gives you confidence that this seat can turn blue?  
Probably the same thing that has moved our race from “strong red” to “likely red” in a couple of polls. I have lived here almost my whole life. I know this district. This is not your typical red district. Most people here don’t like to self-identify as one party or another. There’s a lot of disenfranchisement on Democratic votes in Texas. A lot of “Oh, this is a red state. If you’re a Democrat your vote doesn’t count” — not to mention voter suppression of different minorities and other groups that tend to vote more heavily Democratic. I would say that the majority of people in this district don’t like to say, “I’m a member of this party or that party.” They’re discerning. They like to vote for the person: someone with character and integrity who will represent them. We have more veterans in this district than in 97 percent of the rest of the country. There is no longer a party of the military. Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, Republicans were the party of the military. I don’t think that’s true anymore in the information age. I think that the reason I’m confident we can win is my district is hungry for representation. While there have been other good people on the ballot against John Carter, those people haven’t been able to gather the type of resources it takes to communicate to voters that they are good people and will represent them. We’re presented with a real opportunity here and I know we can win.
I’ve taken on uphill battles before. Becoming a pilot was no easy feat, 150 enemy fighters to our nine, suing the secretary of defense: all of those things were done intentionally, after I looked at the data, saw the path to victory and did what it took to win. This will just be my fourth.

Not Welcome

Political cartoon is by Joe Heller at