Thursday, February 28, 2019

Why War Is Waged

The House Closes The Background Check Loopholes

The chart above shows the results of a January Quinnipiac University Poll. It shows that about 92% of the public wants all gun buyers to have a background check. The poll is not an outlier. Poll after poll has shown the same thing for a couple of years now. And that is the opinion of all the demographic groups polled -- even 89% of Republicans!

In spite of that, the Republican-controlled Congress refused to act on it. But the last election changed things, giving control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. And yesterday they acted to give the public what it wants. On a 240 to 190 vote (largely along party lines) the House voted to require a backdrops check on all gun buyers (with a family exception).

Now the bill goes to the Senate. Sadly, it will probably die there. I doubt it will even get a vote. Too many Republicans have been bought and paid for by the NRA (and gun manufacturers) -- enough to sustain a filibuster, if not outright defeat the bill.

They will try the same old argument that House Republicans used -- that the bill infringes on the right of law-abiding citizens to own a weapon, that it is unconstitutional, and it's the first step toward the confiscation of all guns. Those are all LIES! The Supreme Court has already decided that background checks do not violate the Constitution, and the bill would not affect law-abiding citizens at all. The confiscation argument is nothing but a scare tactic.

One thing is clear now. The Democrats want to do something about the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. And something needs to be done. Nearly 40,000 people died from guns last year, and there was an average of about one mass shooting for every day of last year. Neither of those has slowed down this year.

Are you one of that 92%. If so, then you must vote against Republicans in 2020. That's the only way we can get some commonsense and constitutional laws to curb gun violence.

A Trump Negotiation

Political Cartoon is by Benjamin Slyngstad at

Public Overwhelmingly Wants Mueller Report Made Public

Will the results of the Mueller investigation be made public? Attorney General Barr has not promised to do so. He has said he would release what he could, and sadly, he is not required to release the report to the public -- but only his own interpretation of what the report found. Considering the Republican whitewash of Trump in the past couple of years, that is not good enough.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is committed to making the report public. He has said that if the report is not made public, he will subpoena it and call Robert Mueller to testify before Congress -- and if the subpoena is not honored, then he's prepared to go to court to force its release.

He has the backing of the public. As the chart above shows, an overwhelming majority of Americans (registered voters) wants the report made public (68% to 10%) -- a gap of 58 points favoring release of the report to the public. If the Republicans try to hide the report, they will just anger the public. And that includes their own base -- 59% of whom want the report made public.

The chart above reflects the results of a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between February 22nd and 24th of a national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2 points.

The Shoes Are Dropping

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

Texans Split Over The Wall - But Oppose National Emergency

The charts above reflect the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 20th and 25th of a sample of 1,222 Texas voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

The state of Texas has a 1,954 mile border with Mexico. That's far longer than any other state. It would make sense then, if any state suffered from the U.S. not having a wall between itself and Mexico, it would be Texas.

But that is not the case. Texas has a symbiotic relationship with Mexico -- a relationship that benefits both parties. And most Texans know that -- even though it is still a very red state.

As this poll shows, less than half of Texans (48%) want a border wall built, and an equal amount (48%) oppose building that wall. That's telling -- that a very red border state does not accept the fear mongering of Donald Trump.

It gets worse for Trump. A majority (52%) does not consider undocumented immigrants crossing the border to be a national emergency. A larger majority (60%) opposes Trump declaring a national emergency to build the wall. About 57% say the proposed wall would not decrease violent crime in the United States, and 54% say it would not decrease the amount of illegal drugs. And to cap it off, about 62% oppose seizing private property to build the wall.

Texans, who share the longest border with Mexico, know that Trump is just playing political games with the immigration issue.

Nailed Him (Long Distance)

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

Cohen Says Donald Trump Is A Racist, A Conman, & A Cheat

 (These caricatures of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump are by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

On Wednesday, Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney (Michael Cohen) testified before Congress. Cohen has already pled guilty and is soon to start a prison sentence for his misdeeds on behalf of Trump. He testified under oath, and I believe he finally told the truth.

Here are some of the things he told Congress:

I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.

He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat. . . .

To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project. . . .

Over time, I saw his true character revealed.

Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.

Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”

He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity. . . .

A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.

Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”

In private, he is even worse.

He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.

While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.

And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. . . .

Mr. Trump is a cheat. . . .

It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes. . . .

Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.

And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it. . . .

Mr. Trump is a conman.

He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that. . . .

Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. . . .

When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores. . . .

The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.

When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back. . . .

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good...let me know.”

What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.

I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on
Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day -- and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good...let me know.”

On The Old Man's Lawn

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.

Those Who Want To Stop History

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Steinbeck On Advice

Democrats Favor Moderation While GOP Wants Extremism

The charts above are from a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. It was done between January 9th and 14th of 1,505 adults. The sample included 736 Democrats and 657 Republicans. The margin of error was 4.3 points for Democrats and 4.5 points for Republicans.

It shows that, by a gap of 13 points, a majority of Democrats want their party to be more moderate. The opposite is true of Republicans. While they are already on the extreme right, by a 20 point margin, a majority of Republicans want their party to move even further to the right.

While I am a progressive (liberal), I like the results of this survey. That's because I am also a pragmatist. I want to win in 2020, and neither party will do that by being viewed as an extremist party. While both parties would like to believe that they have enough members to win an election, it is just not true. The election will be decided by who the Independents support, and most of them are moderates.

This does not mean Democrats must give up hope of passing a progressive agenda. I think those moderates would support a lot of progressive ideas. They just don't want "radical change". That idea scares them.

Most of the Democrats running for president would happily support and sign laws that would raise the minimum wage, fix our healthcare system, help students afford college (or trade schools), strengthen labor unions, protect Social Security and Medicare (and fix their future funding problem), fight global climate change and protect the environment, and increase taxes on the rich and corporations.

And the public would also support them, as long as the ideas are explained to them as helping ordinary Americans. Preaching radical change would be a mistake. We do need a lot of changes, but we can only get them by winning the next election -- and we do that by convincing the moderates that we are not the party of extremism. The Republicans are the extremists. Democrats are just the party with rational solutions to the country's problems.

Moderation is not a dirty word. In the United States, it's the path to success.


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

The Blue And Red States - And The Competitive States

The map above is Taegan Goddard's Electoral Vote Map. It shows the states that he thinks (at least currently) are likely to vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate for president in 2020. The Democratic states (blue) have 224 electoral votes. The Republican states (red) have 143 electoral votes. The states in gray are considered to be competitive, and have 171 electoral votes.

If Donald Trump is to be re-elected, he will need to win 127 of the 171 electoral votes in the competitive states, while a Democrat would need to win just 46 of those votes. That gives Democrats a significant advantage, but as we learned in 2016, not an advantage that can't be overcome.

What do you think? Is the map accurate? I just have one quibble with it.

Having been born in Texas and living most of my life there, I'm not sure Texas can be listed in the competitive column. Texas is changing thanks to demographic trends, but it is still a very red state. While Trump's job approval numbers are upside-down in the state, it is not by much. And there are still more Republicans than Democrats in the state, and too many that will vote for anyone with an "R" by their name.

I like the idea of Texas being a competitive state, and I sincerely hope it is true. I'm just not yet convinced.

Cares For Children?

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

Trump Is Toast - Americans Have Already "Fired" Him

 (This caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

America has already fired Donald Trump. They will make it official in November of next year, but in effect, it has already happened. That's the opinion of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured), and I agree with him.

Here's what he wrote on his own blog:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s soon-to-be-delivered report will trigger months of congressional investigations, subpoenas, court challenges, partisan slugfests, media revelations and more desperate conspiracy claims by Donald Trump, all against the backdrop of the burning questions: Will he be impeached by the House? Will he be convicted by the Senate? Will he pull a Richard Nixon and resign?
In other words, will America fire Trump?
I have news for you. America has already fired him.
When the public fires a president before election day – as it did with Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover – they don’t send him a letter telling him he’s fired. They just make him irrelevant. Politics happens around him, despite him. He’s not literally gone, but he might as well be.
It’s happened to Trump. The courts and House Democrats are moving against him. Senate Republicans are quietly subverting him. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him to end the shutdown.
The Fed is running economic policy. Top-level civil servants are managing the day-to-day work of the agencies. States are taking up the slack: California, for example, is now running environmental policy. 
Isolated in the White House, distrustful of aides, at odds with intelligence agencies, distant from his Cabinet heads, Trump has no system to make or implement decisions.
His tweets don’t create headlines as before. His rallies are ignored. His lies have become old hat.
Action and excitement have shifted elsewhere, to Democratic challengers, even to a 29-year-old freshman congresswoman too young to run for president.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s still dangerous, like an old land mine buried in the mud. He could start a nuclear war.

Yet even America’s adversaries just humor him. Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping give him tidbits to share with the American public, then do whatever they want.
Why did America fire Trump? If the nation were to write him a letter informing him he’s no longer president, then it would go like this:
Dear Mr. President,
While many of us disagree on ideology and values, we agree on practical things like obeying the Constitution and not letting big corporations and the wealthy run everything.
Your 35-day government shutdown was a senseless abuse of power. So too your “national emergency” to build your wall with money Congress refused to appropriate.
When you passed your tax bill, you promised our paychecks would increase by an average of $4,000, but we never got the raise. Our employers used the tax savings to buy back their shares of stock and give themselves raises instead.
Then you fooled us into thinking we were getting a tax cut by lowering the amounts withheld from our 2018 paychecks. We know that now because we’re getting smaller tax refunds.
At the same time, many big corporations aren’t paying a dime in taxes. Worse yet, they’re getting refunds.
For example, GM is paying zilch and claiming a $104 million refund on $11.8 billion of profits. Amazon is paying no taxes and claiming a $129 million refund on profits of $11.2 billion. (This is after New York offered it $3 billion to put its second headquarters there.)
They aren’t breaking any tax laws or regulations. That’s because they made the tax laws and regulations. You gave them a free hand.
You’re supposed to be working for us, not for giant corporations. But they’re doing better than ever, as are their top executives and biggest investors. Yet nothing has trickled down. We’re getting shafted.
Which is why more than half of us support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent tax on dollars earned in excess of $10 million a year, and more than 60 percent of us support Elizabeth Warren’s proposed 2 percent tax on households with a net worth of $50 million or more.
You’ve also shown you don’t have a clue about health care. You promised us something better than the Affordable Care Act, but all you’ve done is whittle it back.
A big reason we gave Democrats control of the House last November was your threat to eliminate protection for people with pre-existing conditions. Are you even aware that 70 percent of us now favor Medicare for All?
Most of us don’t pay much attention to national policy, but we pay a lot of attention to home economics. You’ve made our own home economics worse.
We’ll give you official notice you’re fired on Nov. 3, 2020, if not before. Until then, you can keep the house and perks, but you’re toast.

Rat Calls Mouse A Rodent

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Bertrand Russel

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Great men / Little Men

Will Trump Accomplish Anything In Vietnam? - Probably Not!

(Image was found on Facebook. The originator is unknown.)

Donald Trump is in Vietnam for a second meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. The last time they met (in Singapore), Trump got nothing except an agreement that didn't oblige North Korea to do anything.

In spite of that, Trump claimed that he had made the world safe, and North Korea had agreed to give up their nuclear weapons. It was not true. North Korea continues to make nuclear bombs and missiles capable of carrying them -- and the world knows that. Note in the chart below (from the Pew Research Center) that both Americans and people in other countries are still concerned about the danger of North Korea having nuclear weapons.

Since then, he has scaled his claims back, since his own intelligence agencies have said the North Koreans have done nothing to disarm. Now Trump claims that his visit caused North Korea to stop testing nuclear bombs and missiles. That's another disingenuous claim. They have tested both enough to know they work.

Will Trump be played for a fool again this time? It's likely. No one believes that North Korea will give up their nuclear weapons. Even many in the White House are nervous that Trump will give up too much for spurious promises from North Korea -- promises they have no intention of keeping.

The meetings start Wednesday, and the world holds its breath -- hoping that Trump doesn't blow it too bad this time. Sadly, that's probably a vain hope.

Toddler Time

Political Cartoon is by Michael DeAdder in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald.

Public Trusts Dems More To Protect Social Security/Medicare

This chart reflects the results of a recent Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between February 15th and 19th of a national sample of 1,914 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

It shows that registered voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to protect Social Security and Medicare by a 13 point margin. And that is true of all the demographic groups (education level, income level, race/ethnicity, age level, and gender).

This shouldn't surprise us. Both programs work very well and are very popular with the public. In spite of that, the Republicans in Congress have expressed a desire to cut both programs. They want to do that to cover the trillion dollar a year hole they blew in the federal budget by passing a huge tax cut for the rich and corporations.

They want Americans to believe it is Social Security and Medicare that's causing the budget deficit and growing national debt. That is a LIE. Social Security has never added a penny to the budget deficit or the national debt, and Medicare adds very little.

The Republicans have never liked either program, but they love lowering taxes for the rich and corporations -- and given a choice they will happily throw American seniors under the bus. They are not the party of fiscal responsibility (as they claim). They are the party of the rich, and it's time for voters to realize that.

I doubt they can cut either program since the Democrats now control the House of Representatives, but it wouldn't surprise me if they tried anyway. That would be a big mistake, and it would come back to bite them in the 2020 election.

Evil Betsy

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

Open Letter From Former GOP Congressmen To Current Ones

It isn't just Democrats that oppose Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build his border wall (using money that Congress appropriated for another purpose).

Some Republicans also oppose it. They understand that Trump is just trying to do an unconstitutional end run around Congress -- and that his action fundamentally alters the palace of power in our national government.

Below is an open letter from former Republican Congressional office holders to the current Republican members of Congress. I hope those current members of Congress will listen to their fellow Republicans and vote to rein in Trump's power grab.

They write:

As Republican Members of Congress, each of us started with one central understanding of our party’s overarching commitment: to honor our pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. After each election, when our constituents granted us the privilege to again represent them in Congress, we renewed that pledge. It has always been a Republican fundamental principle that no matter how strong our policy preferences, no matter how deep our loyalties to presidents or party leaders, in order to remain a constitutional republic we must act within the borders of the Constitution. Our oath is to put the country and its Constitution above everything, including party politics or loyalty to a president.

We who have signed this letter are no longer Members of Congress but that oath still burns within us. That is why we are coming together to urge those of you who are now charged with upholding the authority of the first branch of government to resist efforts to surrender those powers to a president.

We offer two arguments against allowing a presidentany president, regardless of partyto circumvent congressional authority. One is the constitutional placing of all lawmaking power in the hands of the people’s representatives. Article 1 of the Constitution, which vests the legislative branch with specific powers, states in section 9: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The power of the purse rests with Congress because it is comprised of 535 representatives of the taxpayer and is the most direct connection between those being governed and those governing. If you allow a president to ignore Congress, it will be not your authority but that of your constituents that is deprived of the protections of true representative government.

The second argument goes directly to the question each of you must face: how much are you willing to undermine both the Constitution and the Congress in order to advance a policy outcome that by all other legitimate means is not achievable? The current issuea wall on our southern borderhas gone through the process put in place by the Constitution. It has been proposed by the President, it has been debated by Congress, and the representatives of the people allocated funding at a level deemed appropriate by Congress. We understand that there are many Members of Congress who disagree with the final funding compromise reached by a bipartisan group of legislators. To you, we ask this question: what will you do when a president of another party uses the precedent you are establishing to impose policies to which you are unalterably opposed? There is no way around this difficulty: what powers are ceded to a president whose policies you support may also be used by presidents whose policies you abhor.

Like us, you have taken an oath of office. You were elected to Congress to carry out the constitutional duties and responsibilities of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. You were sent to Congress to be the voice of the people. That is an awesome burden and it may require you to exercise restraint to protect the constitutional modelthat which is the root of American exceptionalismand to keep it from being sacrificed on the altar of expediency.

We who have served where you serve now call on you to honor your oath of office and to protect the Constitution and the responsibilities it vested in Congress. We ask that you pass a joint resolution terminating the emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019.

Steve Bartlett
United States House of Representatives (R-TX), 1983-1991
Douglas Bereuter
United States House of Representatives (R-NE), 1979-2004
Sherwood Boehlert
United States House of Representatives (R-NY), 1983-2007
Rodney Chandler
United States House of Representatives (R-WA), 1983-1993
William Clinger Jr.
United States House of Representatives (R-PA), 1979-1997
Tom Coleman
United States House of Representatives (R-MO), 1976-1993
John Danforth
United States Senate (R-MO), 1977-1995
Mickey Edwards
United States House of Representatives (R-OK), 1977-1993
David F. Emery
United States House of Representatives (R- ME), 1975-1983
Chuck Hagel
United States Senate (R-NE), 1997-2009
Gordon Humphrey
United States Senate (R-NH), 1979-1990
Nancy Johnson
United States House of Representatives (R-CT), 1983-2007
James Kolbe
United States House of Representatives (R-AZ), 1985-2007
James Leach
United States House of Representatives (R-IA), 1977-2007
John LeBoutillier
United States House of Representatives (R-NY), 1981-1983
Richard Lugar
United States Senate (R-IN), 1977-2013
Pete McCloskey
United States House of Representatives (R-CA), 1967-1983
Thomas Petri
United States House of Representatives (R-WI), 1979-2015
Claudine Schneider
United States House of Representatives (R-RI), 1981-1991
Christopher Shays
United States House of Representatives (R-CT), 1987-2009
Peter Smith
United States House of Representatives (R-VT), 1989-1991
Olympia Snowe
United States Senate (R-ME), 1995-2013
Alan Steelman
United States House of Representatives (R- TX), 1973-1977

Tapping Incompetence

Political Cartoon is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post.

Not The Same

Monday, February 25, 2019

Information Restriction

Public Views Democrats More Favorably Than Republicans

What does the general public think of the two political parties? The charts above (from the Civiqs Poll) show that the public is not enamored of either political party. Both have favorable/unfavorable numbers that are upside-down.

But the numbers for the Democrats look much better than those for the Republicans. The Democrats are viewed favorably by 39% and unfavorably by 52% -- giving them a negative favorable rating of 13. The Republicans are viewed favorably by 26% and unfavorably by 60% -- giving them a negative favorable rating of 34.

The Republicans have a little more than a year to fix this. If they don't, then 2020 could be an even bigger disaster for them than 2018 was.

Socialist Plots

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.

Would "Medicare For All" Really Be Too Expensive?

It's beyond debate that our current health care system is broken. At least a tenth of our population has no health insurance, and that's is not expected to get better under current law. In fact, it is gradually getting worse, thanks to recent changes to the law by Republicans. The cost of insurance and medical expenses are both rising faster than the rate of inflation, and the U.S. spends twice as much on medical care per capita than most other developed nations (who cover all their citizens).

The Republicans have no plan to fix our broken system. Even after complaining for years that Obamacare was not the answer, they have been unable to come up with their own answer. Some Democrats have called for a single-payer system, something like Medicare that would cover all U.S. citizens. It's an idea that deserves to be debated.

The biggest objection to a "Medicare For All" system by its critics is cost. It has been suggested that it would cost about 32 trillion dollars over a ten year period. That sounds like a lot of money, and it is -- until you consider what the current system costs (see chart above).

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tells us that, under current law, the current cost of medical care in the United States in 2017 was about 3.5 trillion dollars. Extend that over a ten year period and it actually exceeds the "Medicare For All" expected cost by 3 trillion dollars.

But it gets worse. The expected cost for medical care in this country, according to CMS, will grow by about 5.5% each year -- and by 2027 will be nearly 6 trillion dollars a year. When this is considered, the cost for "Medicare For All" is much cheaper than the current broken system. It will cover all citizens and cost less.

The question is not can we afford a "Medicare For All" system, but can we afford to not have it.

Corporations Over People

Political Cartoon is by Max Gustafson at

What The Next President Should Do To Restore That Office

Donald Trump has followed many policies, both domestic and foreign, which have seriously damaged the United States and its reputation. But that is not all he has done.

With his incessant lying, his nepotism, and his corruption, Trump has damaged the office of the President. Before we even get to policies, there are some things our next president must do to restore the public's faith and trust in the presidency. And the good part is that none of these things require the cooperation of Congress -- just the actions of an ethical and honest chief executive.

Here's what Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin believes our next president must do to restore the office of the President:

Here are just a few steps that a president could undertake on his or her own — no congressional action needed (and no power grab permitted) — to help restore trust in government and the stature of the presidency:
  • The president and vice president will voluntarily comply with existing ethics laws that cover all executive branch employees — including the requirement to divest themselves of assets that pose a conflict of interest. They will disclose 10 years of tax returns and, specifically, any foreign holdings or obligations. 
  • The administration will adopt a single rule: Any significant violation of the Hatch Act (e.g., conducting politics on government time) or misuse of taxpayer money (e.g., extravagant travel) will result in termination. Period. 
  • Any White House staffer or Cabinet member credibly accused of sexual assault, harassment or spousal abuse will be immediately placed on administrative leave until the matter can be investigated. 
  • No White House staffer will contact any member of the Justice Department to inquire as to the status of any investigation or enforcement action (or lack thereof). Any discussion of individual enforcement matters should be conducted only between the attorney general and White House counsel, and should be logged with the date and general subject matter specified. 
  • The president will not impugn the integrity of any judge. The president (like any citizen) is free to criticize the outcome or reasoning of decisions but not the motives or authority of the judge. In conjunction with Congress, the president will urge the Supreme Court to commit to developing a written code of ethics for the high court (which it lacks, unlike lower courts).
  • The president will not permit any shutdown of the government, and will sign legislation providing for an automatic continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels in the event of a lapse in budget authority. 
  • The president, each day, will receive in person and read the President’s Daily Brief (PDB).
  • Insofar as tweets are deemed to be official documents, any tweet from the president addressing a policy matter will be vetted for form and accuracy as would a presidential speech or written declaration. 
  • The media is not the “enemy of the people,” but a necessary institution given constitutional protection. Accordingly, the president will support a federal shield law, support legislation adopting New York Times Co. v. Sullivan as a matter of statutory law and undertake an initiative to protect the safety of the media — both domestically and abroad. 
  • No family members will be employed in either the Cabinet or the West Wing. 
  • Senior national security personnel who have lobbied for or been engaged as a consultant by a foreign government will not be hired.
There certainly are more actions that would help restore the presidency’s stature and dignity, but that’s a good start. 

A Test For Democrats

Political Cartoon is by Walt Handelsman in The New Orleans Advocate.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

No Amount

Christians Are Overrepresented In The 116th Congress

The charts above are from the Pew Research Center. They show the religious make-up of the United States 116th Congress.

Many christians, especially evangelicals, like to claim they are being discriminated against in this country. That is simply not true, and the make-up of Congress reflects that. Christians have a significantly higher proportion of Congress than they do in the U.S. population -- and that is true of both protestants and catholics.

This erroneous belief that they are discriminated against probably springs from the extension of equal rights to groups that many christians discriminated against themselves (using religion as a justification for that discrimination). What they don't seem to understand is that granting equal rights to others doesn't take any rights away from them.

Our Constitution is not a religious document, and the Founding Fathers never meant for it to be one. They went out of their way to create a secular government that would allow all religious people the freedom to practice their religion -- and allow those who are not a part of any religion to be free from religious intolerance. We have not always lived up to those ideals, but we are making progress toward that.

Being prevented from writing your own religious principles and dogma into law is NOT discrimination. It is the constitutional protection of the right of ALL Americans to be free (to practice or not practice any religion).

I am just thankful that the non-religious still have some rights in this country. And someday, we might actually have adequate representation in this country's Congress. Each generation is less religious than the one that came before it, and someday this will truly be a secular country with a secular Congress -- just like the Founding Fathers dreamed.

Watch Party

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

The Public Still Sees Trump As Dishonest And Untrustworthy

The chart above reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 17th and 19th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,318 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.1 points, and for registered voters is 2.8 points.

It shows that only one group (Republicans) considers Donald Trump to be honest and trustworthy. All other groups (general public, registered voters, both genders, all age groups, and all race/ethnicities) have significantly more people saying he is dishonest and untrustworthy.

Id he wants to be re-elected, he needs to change that. He cannot win with just Republican votes. But he seems to be uninterested in changing it. He continues to lie to the public on a daily basis. He seems to think if he tells the same lies enough times, then people will start to believe them. I think he's wrong. This poll has shown the number who thinks he is dishonest and untrustworthy has been remarkably stable over his term in office.

Attacking Poverty

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) in The Baltimore Sun.