Sunday, August 09, 2020

Republicans Just Don't Care


Trump Attacks Social Security Funding With Executive Order

On Saturday, Donald Trump issued an executive order eliminating payroll taxes through the end of the year. And he said if he is re-elected, he will make that permanent.

He says he did it to help Americans, but it will provide very little help to Americans hurt by the Trump Virus and Trump recession. The people really hurting are those without a job, and this move will not help them at all.

There is something it will do though. It will defund the Social Security program -- the program that keeps millions of seniors out of poverty. Social Security is completely funded through those payroll taxes. Trump's executive order means Social Security will not get any funds through the end of this year, and if he's re-elected, will not get any funding even after this year.

How does he expect to pay for the Social Security program? Does he even care. He, and his Republican cohorts, have never liked the Social Security program. They and their rich friends don't need it, and they don't care about the millions of Americans who need it to survive.

The Republicans have tried to eliminate Social Security many times. And when they couldn't succeed, they resorted to trying to chip away at the program -- by increasing age limits and reducing benefits. Trump's latest action is just another hidden effort to defund and destroy Social Security. Once Social Security cannot pay the benefits, they will then eliminate it -- throwing millions of seniors into poverty.

Trump is disguising this as tax relief for workers, but it's just an attack on Social Security.

This is just one more reason why Trump and the Republicans MUST be voted out of power in November.

Reflections

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

The Other Epidemic Killing Americans - Gun Violence

The Coronavirus pandemic is seizing all of the headlines these days from the media. And it should, since it is killing thousands of Americans unnecessarily (due to the failure of Republicans to adequately address it).

But it is not the only epidemic claiming thousands of lives in this country. Gun violence has claimed 25,257 American lives as of 8/8/20 (14,586 suicides and 10,671 homicides and accidents). Last year, the number of gun deaths topped 40,000, and it looks like that will happen again this year.

Some might have thought that the number of mass shootings in this country might have fallen in 2020, due to the shutdown of many businesses and schools. That has not happened. So far, there have been 352 mass shootings in the United States this year. That's about 1.59 mass shootings for each day of the year -- and that rate is significantly higher than in the past. Last year the rate was about 1.2 mass shootings for each day.

Like with the Coronavirus, Republicans must also shoulder the blame for failing to deal with the gun violence epidemic. They have been bought by the NRA, who funds their re-election campaigns -- and they follow the NRA's wishes to not have any kind of restrictions on guns. They won't even plug the loopholes in the background check law, which is supported by 90% of the public.

There was a bit of good news this week -- news that may have an impact on the gun violence epidemic. The New York Attorney General completed an investigation into the NRA, and filed charges in a New York Court to dissolve the NRA (which is registered as a charity in New York) and demand its four top executives pay back millions of dollars in NRA money they siphoned off for their own benefit (about $64 million in just the last three years). The NRA leadership was using the organization's funds as their personal piggy bank.

The NRA leadership has said they will fight the charges in court, but it looks like the Attorney General has plenty of evidence to back up her case. The NRA has also filed suit against the Attorney General's office, saying they were denying the NRA's First Amendment rights. That's ludicrous -- the First amendment doesn't protect stealing funds from a registered charity!

If the NRA is dissolved, and there is a good chance of that happening, then that will cut off the funding for those GOP congressmen and senators. It might free them to vote to save American lives, or give opponents a better chance to defeat them at the polls. Either way, it could mean the country could finally have some reasonable and constitutional gun restrictions. Let's hope so!

Lying About Biden

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Growth Of COVID-19 Cases In Each State In The Last Week

These numbers are from The COVID Tracking Project.

The first number for each state is the number of cases they had on 8/1/20. The second number is the number of cases on 8/8/20 (one week later).

Alabama..........89349 -- 98387
Alaska..........3827 -- 4373
Arizona..........177002 -- 186107
Arkansas..........43173 -- 48039
California.........500130 -- 545787
Colorado..........46809 -- 49893
Connecticut.........49810 -- 50320
Delaware..........14877 -- 15502
District of Columbia..........12205 -- 12653
Florida..........480028 -- 526577
Georgia..........190012 -- 213427
Hawaii..........2111 -- 3115
Idaho..........20721 -- 23922
Illinois..........181757 -- 193998
Indiana..........67122 -- 73287
Iowa..........44976 -- 48283
Kansas..........27812 -- 30638
Kentucky..........30723 -- 34578
Louisiana..........116280 -- 128746
Maine..........3937 -- 4026
Maryland..........89365 -- 94581
Massachusetts..........117612 -- 120711
Michigan..........91332 -- 96191
Minnesota..........55188 -- 60101
Mississippi..........59881 -- 66646
Missouri..........51258 -- 57379
Montana..........4081 -- 4889
Nebraska..........26211 -- 28104
Nevada..........49074 -- 55419
New Hampshire..........6613 -- 6818
New Jersey..........182029 -- 184429
New Mexico..........20600 -- 21965
New York..........415767 -- 420345
North Carolina..........123878 -- 134766
North Dakota..........6602 -- 7508
Ohio..........92087 -- 99969
Oklahoma..........37731 -- 43080
Oregon..........18817 -- 21080
Pennsylvania..........112936 -- 118092
Rhode Island..........19022 -- 19738
South Carolina..........90599 -- 99460
South Dakota..........8867 -- 9477
Tennessee..........108184 -- 120585
Texas..........430485 -- 481483
Utah..........40702 -- 43751
Vermont..........1421 -- 1454
Virginia..........90801 -- 99189
Washington..........55803 -- 61587
West Virginia..........6735 -- 7563
Wisconsin..........58058 -- 64213
Wyoming..........2769 -- 3013

Virgin Islands..........421 -- 528
Puerto Rico..........17872 -- 21424
Guam..........367 -- 412

Fake Christian

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

The GOP Is Making The Recession Worse - Much Worse!

The U.S. has millions of Americans out of work (the official figure is 10.2% of the workforce). And the GDP fell by 9.5% in the second quarter of this year (after falling in the first quarter).

We are in the midst of a recession -- a recession that's worse than the Bush recession of 2007-08. In fact it is rivaling the Great Depression.

Sensible people know that that government must act to prevent the recession from growing even worse. And the Democrats know that, which is why the House passed a second stimulus relief bill a couple of months ago. Sadly though, the Republicans don't seem to realize this.

The Republicans (in both the White House and the Senate) have been unable to agree on any plan to save the economy, and help the millions of workers hurt by the recession. Many of them seem to think nothing needs to be done -- that the economy will magically heal itself in the midst of this pandemic. And the rest only want to give aid to the rich and corporations. Their intransigence will only deepen the recession.

Here is part of how Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains it in The New York Times:

One pretty good forecasting rule for the coronavirus era has been to take whatever Trump administration officials are saying and assume that the opposite will happen. When President Trump declared in February that the number of cases would soon go close to zero, you knew that a huge pandemic was coming. When Vice President Mike Pence insisted in mid-June that “there isn’t a coronavirus ‘second wave,’” a giant surge in new cases and deaths was clearly imminent.

And when Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist, declared just last week that a “V-shaped recovery” was still on track, it was predictable that the economy would stall. . . .

But things could get much worse. In fact, they probably will get much worse unless Republicans get serious about another economic relief package, and do it very soon.

I’m not sure how many people realize just how much deeper the coronavirus recession of 2020 could have been. Obviously it was terrible: Employment plunged, and real G.D.P. fell by around 10 percent. Almost all of that, however, reflected the direct effects of the pandemic, which forced much of the economy into lockdown.

What didn’t happen was a major second round of job losses driven by plunging consumer demand. Millions of workers lost their regular incomes; without federal aid, they would have been forced to slash spending, causing millions more to lose their jobs. Luckily Congress stepped up to the plate with special aid to the unemployed, which sustained consumer spending and kept the nonquarantined parts of the economy afloat.

Now that aid has expired. Democrats offered a plan months ago to maintain benefits, but Republicans can’t even agree among themselves on a counteroffer. Even if an agreement is hammered out — and there’s no sign that this is imminent — it will be weeks before the money is flowing again.

The suffering among cut-off families will be immense, but there will also be broad damage to the economy as a whole. How big will this damage be? I’ve been doing the math, and it’s terrifying.

Unlike affluent Americans, the mostly low-wage workers whose benefits have just been terminated can’t blunt the impact by drawing on savings or borrowing against assets. So their spending will fall by a lot. Evidence on the initial effects of emergency aid suggests that the end of benefits will push overall consumer spending — the main driver of the economy — down by more than 4 percent.

Furthermore, evidence from austerity policies a decade ago suggests a substantial “multiplier” effect, as spending cuts lead to falling incomes, leading to further spending cuts.

Put it all together and the expiration of emergency aid could produce a 4 percent to 5 percent fall in G.D.P. But wait, there’s more. States and cities are in dire straits and are already planning harsh spending cuts; but Republicans refuse to provide aid, with Trump insisting, falsely, that local fiscal crises have nothing to dowith Covid-19.

Bear in mind that the coronavirus itself — a shock that came out of the blue, though the United States mishandled it terribly — reduced G.D.P. by “only” around 10 percent. What we’re looking at now may be another shock, a sort of economic second wave, almost as severe in monetary terms as the first. And unlike the pandemic, this shock will be entirely self-generated, brought on by the fecklessness of President Trump and — let’s give credit where it’s due — Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.

The question is, how can this be happening? The 2008 financial crisis and the sluggish recovery that followed weren’t that long ago, and they taught us valuable lessons directly relevant to our current plight. Above all, experience in that slump demonstrated both that economic depressions are no time to obsess over debt and that slashing spending in the face of mass unemployment is a terrible mistake.

But nobody in the White House or on the G.O.P. side of Capitol Hill seems to have learned anything from that experience. In fact, nothaving learned anything from the last crisis almost seems to be a requirement for Republican economic advisers.

So at the moment we seem to be headed for a Greater Recession — a worse slump than 2007-2009, overlaid on the coronavirus slump. MAGA!

Trump Sees A Hero - The World Sees A Clown

Political Cartoon is by Tom Stiglich at tomstiglich.com.

Che Guevara


Saturday, August 08, 2020

It's Not Complicated


Only 38% Approve Of The Job Trump Is Doing



The charts above are from the Pew Research Center. They questioned 11,001 adults nationwide between July 27th and August 2nd, and the survey's margin of error is only 1.5 points.

The survey shows that only 38% of Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing, while 59% disapprove -- a negative gap of 21 points. Those are not the kind of numbers that get a politician re-elected.

He's Desperate

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

The July Unemployment Rate Remained In Double-Digits


The Labor Department released their unemployment statistics for the month of July. It showed that 1bout 1.8 million workers returned to work, but about 16,338,000 remain jobless. The official rate dropped by less than a percentage point, and remained in double-digits at 10.2%.

Here are the relevant statistics for July:

SIZE OF THE CIVILIAN WORKFORCE:

159,870,000

OFFICIAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS:

16,338,000

OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

10.2%

DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN OF OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT:

Adult men...............9.4%
Adult women...............10.5%
Teenagers (16-19)...............19.3%
White...............9.2%
Black...............14.6%
Hispanic...............12.9%
Asian...............12.0%
Less than HS diploma...............15.4%
HS graduate...............10.8%
Some college...............10.0%
Bachelor's deg. or more...............6.7%

NUMBER OF MARGINALLY-ATTACHED WORKERS (unemployed, but no longer counted):

1,979,000

MORE REALISTIC NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS (official + marginally-attached):

18,317,000

MORE REALISTIC UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

11.46%

All Boats Are NOT Lifted

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

The United States Badly Needs Another "New Deal"


The United States is in deep trouble -- and it's not just from the Coronavirus pandemic. There were serious economic and racial problems that was affecting our democracy long before the virus showed up. The virus just made those problems easier to see.

The Roosevelt Institute has issued a report on how to fix our problems and save our democracy. I urge you to read the entire report. Here are 9 broad policies the report says should be instituted:

This report outlines a true New Deal for the COVID-19 era, with nine essential policies:
  • canceling student, housing, and medical debts—and implementing structural change to address the accumulation of debt;
  • creating a federal jobs guarantee;
  • federalizing and expanding unemployment insurance;
  • building a modern Reconstruction Finance Corporation;
  • guaranteeing universal childcare;
  • mandating sectoral bargaining;
  • ensuring corporate accountability through federal chartering;
  • reinvigorating antitrust law for real trust-busting; and
  • rebalancing political power through institutional reform.
You can go here to read the entire policy, and a discussion of those broad policies. Here is the report's conclusion:

From the uncertain trajectory of COVID-19 itself to the economic despair in its wake, our country is being tested in ways that we could not have foreseen even a few months ago. There are a number of things our government can and must do to mitigate the pandemic and alleviate the suffering it has caused and exacerbated.

The solutions we highlight here are particularly important because they target not only the effects of COVID-19 but the broken economic system that has amplified them. Well before Americans even knew the term “COVID-19,” our country was already in deep despair, and too many were already suffering. In an emergency like the one we currently face, some policymakers will argue that we must deal with the most pressing problems at hand and save the rest for later. But the policies proposed here show that this is a false choice. We can address the pandemic while also dismantling systemic racism, strengthening democracy, diminishing outsize corporate power, creating better jobs, and building worker power. During the New Deal era, if government institutions were unable to meet the public’s needs, we updated them to meet the moment rather than curb the scale of our ambition.

In his address at the Democratic National Convention in 1932, FDR declared, “We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.” Through the New Deal, he was able to pull his country out of crisis, rewrite the rules of the economy, and foster broader prosperity. We must do the same today—for all.

A Sad Anniversary

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Whites Have An Obligation


Friday, August 07, 2020

Trump IS Responsible


Forecasting the United States Presidential Election





The Economist has been forecasting the outcome of the United States presidential election. The charts above show the current state of their forecast. They see Joe Biden with a 97% chance of winning the popular vote, and an 89% chance of winning the electoral college vote. They see Donald Trump with a 3% chance of winning the popular vote, and an 11% chance of winning the electoral college vote.

It Doesn't Work

Political Cartoon is by Mike Thompson in USA Today.

Another 1.1 Million Filed For Unemployment Last Week


The Labor Department released its statistics on the weekly unemployment claims filed. It showed another 1,186,000 workers filed a claim for unemployment benefits in the week ending August 1st. That marks the twentieth week in a row that more than a million workers filed for unemployment.

Here is the official Labor Department announcement:

In the week ending August 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,186,000, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 1,434,000 to 1,435,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,337,750, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 1,368,500 to 1,368,750.

A Lie Too Big For Facebook

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

Senate GOP Is Worried - "Well, It Is What It Is"

Republicans in Congress are getting worried. They were already in a very tenuous position, but the failure to come up with more help for unemployed and hurting workers is compounding their troubles

They now face an Election Day in which they are blamed for the nation's recession (and the pandemic). That could easily translate into an Election Day disaster for them.

The following is just part of a great op-ed in The Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin:

There is no deal yet between the White House and House Democrats on the stimulus bill, the Heroes Act, which the House passed more than two months ago. The Senate Republicans’ bill, finally rolled out last week, was so preposterously insufficient even President Trump called it “semi-irrelevant.”

Senate Republicans are so irrelevant they are not even participating in talks between the president’s representatives — White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). That’s right: The Democratic minority leader is relevant; the Republicans are not.

That is because they have allowed the anti-government, anti-science Trump sycophants to disclaim any interest in the bill, thereby handing the reins to Democrats. Only recently does it seem to have dawned on Republican incumbents on the ballot three months from now that this is not a good place to be. CNN reports: “Republican senators are increasingly concerned over the state of stimulus negotiations on Capitol Hill. They’re frustrated over how long it is taking to reach an agreement and fearful that a deal may not come together at all as the country remains in crisis.”. . .

Let me suggest that Senate Republicans, angst-ridden over the failure to conclude a deal, should have taken action when Trump put his reelection above national security concerns; when he refused to hold Russia accountable for bounties on our troops; when he aired false, quack theories and contradicted expert advice; when he insisted on reopening states while the virus still raged; and when he held a rally endangering thousands of Americans. They could have removed him — rebuked him even or, at the very least, declared they would not vote for him in November — for any number of corrupt and malicious actions. Instead, they bet their careers and mortgaged their conscience to their political party.

Republicans are worried now? Hey, it is what it is.

His Base Loves It

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in the Colorado Independent.

It Has Just Become More Obvious In This Pandemic


Thursday, August 06, 2020

It Just Keeps Getting Worse



The Public's Opinion Of A Possible COVID-19 Vaccine





The charts above reflect the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 2nd and 4th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3.3 point margin of error.

Donald Trump would like for Americans to believe that a vaccine for COVID-19 is nearly ready for the market -- and could even arrive before Election Day.

The public doesn't believe that anymore than they believe his other public health pronouncements. About 63% don't believe it will come before the end of this year, and 50% believe it will be at least the summer of 2021 before a vaccine is available.

The public is also worried about the safety of a vaccine that is "fast-tracked". About 73% say they are concerned -- 35% very concerned and 38% somewhat concerned. Only 6% say they are not concerned at all.

Trump is still wanting states to ignore the virus and reopen their economies. The public doesn't like that idea either, with 60% saying it's not safe to reopen without a vaccine. Only 22% say it is safe before a vaccine is available.

And only 40% right now say they will take the vaccine once it is available, while 33% say they are unsure and 27% say they would not get vaccinated.

Republicans Don't Care!

Political Cartoon is by Walt Handelsman in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Biden Has 9-Point Lead In New Economist/YouGov Poll


The chart above reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 2nd and 4th of a national sample of 1,229 registered voters, with a 3.3 point margin of error.

It Is What It Is

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Is Donald Trump Ignorant Or Racist? - Probably Both!

(Photo shows President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.)

The following op-ed is by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. She discusses Trump's ignorance/racism in his recent interview at Axios on HBO -- where he once again claimed to have done more for Blacks than any other president (and questioned the Civil Rights Act).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is widely viewed as one of the most consequential laws in the history of the republic. After overcoming filibuster attempts by white supremacists (I highly recommend Clay Risen’s magnificent telling of the law’s passage in “Bill of the Century"), it transformed society, integrating everything from schools to amusement parks to labor unions; banishing the “whites only” signs that Blacks had to endure since Reconstruction; requiring any entity receiving government funds to adhere to nondiscrimination requirements; and setting up the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the potential for civil suits. Even today, it continues to extend the blessings of equality in public accommodations, employment and education to all Americans — including the LGBTQ community, as Justice Neil M. Gorsuch recently wrote for the Supreme Court.

Yet when asked about the law in the disastrous interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan, President Trump responded: “How has it worked out? If you take a look at what Lyndon Johnson did? How has it worked out?” When Swan followed up by asking if he thought the Civil Rights Act was a mistake, Trump deflected.

The most charitable explanation for this exchange is that nearly four years into his presidency, Trump remains almost entirely ignorant about U.S. history and law. He quite possibly has no idea or only a vague idea of what the Civil Rights Act is (let alone the 1965 Voting Rights Act or the 1968 Fair Housing Act). His vast ego combined with laziness and lack of intellectual curiosity prevent him from learning even basic information any informed citizen, let alone the president, should have mastered by high school.

The other possibility — consistent with his history of alleged housing discrimination in the 1970s; his call for the execution of the Central Park Five (and refusal to recognize their innocence after DNA evidence exonerated them); his resorting to birtherism; his comment about “very fine people” at violent rallies in Charlottesville, Va.; his remark about “shithole” countries; his defense of Confederate statues and of military bases named for traitorous generals; and his recent appeal to white fear of “low income” neighbors — is that he is a racist seeking to appeal to a racist base. From start to finish (I hope we are nearly at the end), this has been a president driven and defined by white supremacy and convinced the way to bind himself to supporters is by appeal to white grievance.

We can debate whether Trump is sui generis or simply the inevitable result of the “Southern strategy” (and its progeny in the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration). What is certain, however, is that Trump at the very least exposed the ugly underbelly of a segment of his party and of the country.

Like all authoritarian-minded leaders, Trump relies on disputing facts and warping history to cover himself in glory and avoid accountability for his serial disasters. In his tellingmaybe only Abraham Lincoln was better for Blacks; the struggle for civil rights is airbrushed out of history; and he stands as the White savior of Black America. That is the monster the Republican Party lifted into office. He is the president whom elected GOP officials and intellectually corrupt pundits still support. If we are to recover our country and even our history, he must be banished to the dustbin of history.

A Great Time To Visit The U.S.?

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Trump Demands Public Schools Reopen (But Not the Private School His Child Attends)


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Trump Must Lose, And Lose Badly


Rate Of COVID-19 Cases In The States (Per 100,000)




The charts above are from statista.com. They show the rate of Coronavirus cases in each state per 100,000 residents as of August 3, 2020.

The Difference Between Absentee & Mail-In Ballots

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Public Does Not Trust Trump To Give Them COVID-19 Info


The chart above is from the NBC News / SurveyMonkey Poll -- done between July 27th and August 2nd of a national sample of 47,190 adults, with a 1 point margin of error.

It shows that 51% of the public trusts Dr. Fauci, and 55% trusts the Center for Disease Control to give them information about the Coronavirus pandemic. But far fewer trust Donald Trump -- only 31%.

About 69% of Republicans said they trusted Trump, and that skewed the survey. Only 13% of Independents and 2% of Democrats trust him.

Trump is not helping himself with his one-person press conferences on the virus, because most Americans simply don't believe anything he says about that.

Back To School Sale

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Another Poll Shows Texas Is A Toss-Up In Presidential Race


The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll. They questioned 2,576 likely voters in Texas between July 24th and August 2nd, and their survey had a 2 point margin of error.

The poll showed Joe Biden with a 1 point lead over Donald Trump (47% to 46%). That means the two are virtually tied in the state right now. This is why Biden recently beefed up his number of campaign workers in Texas.

Rose Garden Mulch

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.