Friday, May 31, 2019

The Modern Republican Party

It Is NOT Unconstitutional To Indict A Sitting President

Attorney General William Barr (aka "Whitewash Willie) would like to have his cake and eat it too. He has said that if Mueller had found Trump obstructed justice then he should have charged him with that. But he also holds with the Justice Department opinion that says it is unconstitutional to indict a sitting president, because the only remedy for a sitting president is impeachment and removal from office.

The impeachment clause of the Constitution (Article 2, Section 4) is in the image above. It is short and to the point, and simple says how the president can be removed for office. It does NOT say the president is above the law and cannot be indicted. In fact, that is nowhere in the Constitution. It exists only in the minds of weak Attorney Generals (mostly Republicans).

Why is the impeachment clause in the Constitution? It's because the Founding Fathers knew they must include a way to remove a president from office who had committed criminal behavior. It was never meant to substitute for a criminal procedure (indictment and trial). It was only a way to get a criminal out of the presidency. Without it, a president could commit a gross criminal act and remain in office.

The idea that a sitting president cannot be indicted puts the president above the law, and in a true democracy (or representative democracy), no one can be above the law. Only tyrants are above the law.

Inflaming The Issue

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at

Biden Leads In New Polls In N. Hampshire And S. Carolina

The two charts above are from the Tel Opinion Research Poll of New Hampshire Democrats and Democratically-leaning Independents. About 600 voters were questioned between May 20th and 22nd, and the poll has a 4 point margin of error.

The two charts above are from the Tel Opinion Research Poll of South Carolina Democrats and Democratically-leaning Independents. They questioned 600 voters between May 22nd and 24th, and the poll has a 4 point margin of error.

The polls show Biden has a 21 point lead over Sanders in New Hampshire, and a 27 point lead over Sanders in South Carolina -- and in both states, Warren is nipping at Sanders' heels.

South Carolina is not a surprise. Sanders lost it in 2016, and is likely to lose there again in 2020. But New Hampshire is a big surprise for me. Sanders won over 60% of the New Hampshire vote in 2016, and to remain a viable candidate in 2020, he needs to win there again. Trailing by more than 20 points could signal that the Sanders campaign is in trouble.

NOTE -- In these polls, voters were not given a list of candidates to choose from. Instead, they were asked simply -- Who would you like to see win the Democratic presidential nomination?

Not Looking At The Same Thing

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

Mueller's Statement Tosses The Ball To Congress

(This cartoon image is by Chris Britt at

Robert Mueller addressed the nation in a short speech on Wednesday. And the cartoon above sums up what he said very well. Republicans (and Trump) don't want to admit it, but Mueller's speech can be summed up with three bullet points:

* Russia substantially interfered with the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, and they will do it again in 2020.
* Donald Trump is guilty of multiple attempts to obstruct justice.
* Congress needs to address both of those facts.

Here is the full transcript of Mueller's speech:

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. Two years ago, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created the special counsel’s office. The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
Now, I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel’s office, and as well, I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself. Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cybertechniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.
The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation, where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election. These indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or the innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.
Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts, addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate. The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.
The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

The introduction to the Volume II of our report explains that decision. It explains that under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report, and I will describe two of them for you.
First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.
And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.
So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president. We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general, as required by department regulations.
The attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and to the American people. At one point in time, I requested that certain portions of the report be released and the attorney general preferred to make — preferred to make the entire report public all at once and we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public. And I certainly do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision.
Now, I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.
So beyond what I’ve said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress. And it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today, as well.
Now, before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the F.B.I. agents, the analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity. And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

How To Get Filthy Rich

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at


Thursday, May 30, 2019

They Did NOT Say So

The Public Favors Free Tuition And Cancelling Student Debt

A college education is very expensive these days. Even public colleges and universities have priced themselves out of the reach of many poor and working class students, and those who borrow to attend those schools find themselves with a crushing debt upon graduation.

Republicans don't seem to care. They want to cut the amount of grants available to students, and raised the interest rate students must pay when they borrow to go to school. Once again, it shows the Republicans only care about the rich.

Democrats have proposed a couple of plans to help needy students better themselves by getting an education. One would provide free tuition at public colleges and universities. Another would cancel up to $50,000 of debt to students from families making less than $100,000 a year.

What does the public think of the Democratic plans? A significant majority of them approve of both plans. About 61% of adults and registered voters support free tuition at public colleges and universities. About 56% of adults and 58% of registered voters support cancelling up to $50,000 in debt for families making less than $100,000 a year.

These programs make a lot of sense. In fact, they would pay for themselves over time, since those college-educated individuals will pay a lot more in taxes over their working life. Other developed nations know this, and many of them already offer free college tuition. It's time for the U.S. to do the same.

The charts above are from the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 26th and 28th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,120 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 2.6 point, and for registered voters is 3 points.

End This Circus!

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at

Democratic Candidates Being Considered By Primary Voters

This chart reflects the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 26th and 28th of a national sample of 590 Democrats and Independents expected to vote in the Democratic primary. Each respondent was asked who they are considering voting for in the 2020 Democratic primary, and they were allowed to choose as many candidates as they wished.

Note that only 10 out of the 24 candidates are being considered by a double-digit number of voters, and only 7 are being considered by more than 20% of them. Only Joe Biden is being considered by a majority of voters.

Alabama Obstetrics

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

The Moral Acceptability Of 21 Issues In The United States

These charts are from a recently released Gallup Poll -- done between May 1st and 12th of a national sample of 1,009 adults, and has a margin of error of 4 points.

The top chart shows the opinion of Americans on whether these 21 issues are moral or not. The bottom chart shows the difference in the opinions between liberals and conservatives on those issues.

Phone Scam

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

It's Time To Impeach

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Is The Gillibrand Candidacy A Waste Of Time And Money?

It is an understatement to say the Kirsten Gillibrand bandwagon is off to a slow start. That bandwagon seems to be motionless.

Gillibrand, in the first quarter, raised less money than any of the other supposedly qualified candidates. And in every national poll of Democratic candidates to date, she has scored less than 2% support.

Why is she having so much trouble get her candidacy off the ground?

You might think that it's because she's not well known to voters outside her home state of New York. That's true. But she's not even very popular inside the state of New York. A Quinnipiac University Poll from last March (done of New York voters) showed she has a favorable rating from only 29%, while she was viewed unfavorably by 35%. And it wasn't a whole lot better among Democrats (42% favorable to 20% unfavorable). That's not good when less than half of home state Dems view her favorably. Why should national Democrats support her when her home state doesn't?

Gillibrand was quick to jump on board the "Me Too" movement. Nothing wrong with that, since that's something most Democrats support. But she did it by knifing Senator Al Franken in the back by demanding he resign from the Senate -- because of a right-wing effort to denigrate him with a fake accusation. Most Democrats were upset by that, even women, because they knew Franken was one of the strongest male supporters of women's rights in the Senate.

Another reason for her slow start is that there doesn't seem to be a lane for her to run in. For those wanting a woman to be nominated, there are three other female senators in the race -- Elizabeth Warren (on the left), Kamala Harris (center-left), and Amy Klobuchar (centrist). All are more credible and better campaigners, and that haven't left Gillibrand with a constituency to appeal to.

Also troubling some is her seeming with on issues. As a House member, she was center-right on issues. To become a senator, she moved to the left. What are her real beliefs?

There is no candidate for which the June debates are more important than Gillibrand. She must break out after a great debate performance, and star showing better in the polls. If she doesn't, her candidacy may not last out this year.


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

The Results Of The Black Census Project Survey

The Black Census Project surveyed over 31,000 Blacks throughout all 50 states. What they found is shown in the charts below. Politicians would do well to read their report.

Student Debt

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pity The Nation

Public Says Dems Share Their Values More Than GOP

These charts reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 18th and 21st of a national sample of 1,113 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error.

Republicans love to call themselves the party of "values". We can debate whether that was ever true, but if it was, they are now abdicating that title. Probably thanks to their unquestioning support for the most amoral and dishonest president we have ever had, and their support for anti-family, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, and other discriminatory policies, the voting public doesn't believe Republicans share their values.

About 45% of registered voters say Democrats share their values, while only 39% say Republicans do -- a gap of 6 significant points.

This doesn't bode well for the GOP in the upcoming election.

Punch And Judy (Trump Version)

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

The Reason Why There's Hope For The Future

I'm rather ashamed of the Silent and Baby Boomer generations. By preferring Republicans and clinging to discrimination, they have screwed up this country (and its economy).

Fortunately, there's hope for a much brighter future. That's because the younger generations, especially the Millennials and Generation Z, are much more liberal and much less discriminatory than the older generations.

These charts are from the Pew Research Center.

Can't Be Done

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at

It's Time To Legalize Marijuana In The United States

The federal government, and all 50 states, should legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use. We need to stop making criminals out of otherwise decent and hard-working people. And we could use the taxes that legalization would produce, and the jobs the marijuana industry would create. It has never made any sense to make this innocuous herb illegal, considering it is the least harmful drug we have -- far less harmful than any legal drug.

Here is the case for legalization made by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:

The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality. 
We must end this nonsensical prohibition.
The costs associated with enforcing this ban – including arrests, court costs, and incarceration – reach nearly $14 billion a year
Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.
On the other hand, legalizing, taxing, and regulating is good for the economy and creates jobs. 
By simply levying a tax on marijuana like we do cigarettes and alcohol, state and local governments could raise more than $6 billion a year. This doesn’t even include additional revenue from taxes on the marijuana industry. 
But this is more than an economic issue. It’s also a matter of racial justice and equality. 
The federal prohibition on marijuana dates back to anti-Mexican sentimentin the 1930s.  In large part, it was nothing more than another way to criminalize communities of color. 
Given the racist legacy of these laws, it’s particularly important that the economic gains of legalization extend to communities that have been most harmed by the war on drugs.
Yet Donald Trump and his administration are trying to turn back the clock. They’ve even formed a task force to weaken public support for legalization and help spread misinformation about so-called“marijuana threats.”
Just as with the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s, the federal prohibition of marijuana has been unnecessarily cruel – wasting billions of dollars, unjustly harming millions of lives, and furthering racist policies. 
It’s time to legalize marijuana.

Trump's Parrots

Political Cartoon is by Randall Enos at