Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween


Biden Is Doing A Good Job


U.S. Ranks Very Poorly Among Nations On Inclusivity

The Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkley has released its Inclusiveness Index for 2023. Using sic universal indicators (race, gender, LGBTQ+, religion, disability, and general population), the index ranks countries on a scale of inclusivity. 

The United States did not do well -- ranking far down the list at 77th.

Here are the rankings for the first 80 countries:

Puppet Speaker

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Statements About The Israel/Hamas War That Are WRONG!

The following post is by Robert Reich: 

The warfare in Gaza is calamitous and heartbreaking.


But many of the things I hear or read about it from otherwise intelligent people strike me as blind to its realities. For example:

“Gazans are unfortunate collateral damage.”

I heard this today from an Israeli official. This view is morally bankrupt. Innocent children, parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters are not “collateral damage.” Their lives are no less valuable than any other lives. Their deaths and suffering add to the deaths and suffering of everyone. 

“Jews should be ashamed.”

I heard this yesterday from a so-called “expert” on the Middle East. It’s an absurd and antisemitic remark. Even if you condemn the decisions of the Israeli government that have led to this cataclysm (as I do), assigning complicity to all Jews is morally repugnant.

“No one should hire any student who blames Israel.”

I heard this from a titan of Wall Street. It’s outrageous. Students should be free to express their views, even if you believe them misguided. Harming their careers because of the views they express when at college is a form of blacklisting akin to the worst of Senator Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunts. Wealthy donors from Wall Street and C-suites who seek to silence young people are morally wrong.

“I won’t vote for Biden because of his support for Israel.” 

A young progressive activist told me this yesterday. I told her she has a right to vote for whomever she wishes, of course, but that a vote withheld from Biden will in effect be a vote for Trump. And no matter how much she disagrees with Biden’s support for Israel in the present conflict, Trump’s foreign policies will be far worse — giving authoritarian tyrants whatever they want.

“Israel has no choice.” 

I heard this from a graduate student who specializes in the Middle East and says a ground invasion of Gaza is the only way to destroy Hamas. I think he’s wrong. Israel is wealthy and powerful. It has other ways to contain Hamas. The ground invasion will not destroy Hamas — it may even enlarge it, as more Gazans and other Palestinians are radicalized by it.


Israel can invest more and better in intelligence about Hamas (its intelligence failures in the current crisis are mind-blowing). It can infiltrate Hamas and destroy its leadership. It can work with other Arab states to isolate Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s other terrorist clients.


I fear that the choice Israel is now pursuing — a ground war in Gaza — is exactly what Hamas hoped for when it launched its October 7 assault, because it is undermining whatever sympathy Israel had, deflecting world attention from the murderous regime in Tehran, and forcing Israel to stretch its forces to permanently occupy Gaza and the West Bank.

“America can’t afford to support Israel and Ukraine simultaneously.”

I heard this yesterday from a senior House Republican who wants to send additional billions to Israel but not to Ukraine. It’s a foolish and misleading position. Of course we can afford to send additional aid to Ukraine even if we’re also sending aid to Israel. Trump Republicans must not reward Putin’s aggression.

The tragedy unfolding in Gaza requires clear thinking and a moral compass. I’m not observing a lot of either.

He's A Bad Boy!

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com

Stop Scapegoating Mental Illness


Monday, October 30, 2023

Morally Wrong, Physically Dangerous, & Inherently Unnatural


U.S. Is Averaging Over 57 Mass Shootings A Month


Another mass shooting is making national headlines. This time a right-winger in Maine killed 18 people and wounded over a dozen more. But that is just one of many mass shootings happening in this country. Most of them just don't make the national news.

As I write this, the United States has had 573 mass shooting this year - an average of 57.3 mass shooting each month. And there are still two months to go in the year.

No other developed nation has anywhere near this massive number of mass shootings, or deaths by guns (35,607 so far this year). 

Republicans in Congress are blocking any kind of solution to this problem. They claim to be protecting the Second Amendment right to possess a firearm. But that claim is specious. They want you to believe the right to own a gun is absolute, but no right in our constitution is absolute -- not even the right to vote or the right to free speech (and the GOP supports restriction on both of those).

The Maine shooter has some psychological problems in his past. Republicans will use that to claim the massive number of mass shootings and gun deaths is due to mental illness. That is a lame excuse at best. Other nations also have mentally ill people, and the number of mentally ill in the United States is no larger than in those countries. They just don't make it easy for the mentally ill to by or possess firearms.

Republicans also claim the shootings are due to the diminishing number of religious people in the country. But most European countries are less religious than the United States, and they don't have the problem with shootings.

Republicans have also tried to claim the shootings are due to the proliferation of violent video games -- another lame excuse. Other nations have the same video games without having the problems with mass shootings or gun deaths.

The truth is the United States has too many guns floating around in the country (significantly more guns than people in the country), and it is too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to buy and possess any kind of firearm they want (including weapons of war designed to kill as many people as possible in a short period of time).

It doesn't have to be this way. There are reasonable and constitutional solutions to the problem. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate mass shootings and gun deaths, they could be drastically reduced with some sensible gun laws.

The following measures would save many lives without violating the Second Amendment:

1. Close the holes in the national background check law. The current weak law allows too many people to avoid having to get a background check when purchasing a weapon. This failure just benefits criminals, since law-abiding citizens could easily pass a background check. And the measure is supported by over 80% of the population (including a significant majority of gun owners).

2. Ban assault weapons. These are the choice of most mass shooters. Other weapons of war are banned (machine guns, tanks, etc.), and so should assault-style rifles. Other weapons are better for hunting and self-defense. There was a ban on them for a few years, and the mass shootings were reduced. A new ban could accomplish the same.

3. Ban ammunition magazines holding more than 10 cartridges. The more a mass shooter has to reload, the better chance a person has of stopping him.

4. Red Flag Laws. This would allow the police to take guns away from people whose pose a credible threat to others.

These sensible and constitutional measures would save many thousands of American lives. Sadly though, none of them will happen as long as there are enough Republicans in government to veto them. These Republican politicians have sold their soul to the gun industry, and they would rather protect corporate profits than save American lives.

If you want to stop the carnage, then remember this when you go to the polls to vote.

Trump's Pet

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Gaza Hospitals Will Become Morgues For Lack Of Fuel

The following op-ed was written by Dr. Hussam Abu Safyia (a pediatrician in Gaza) for The New York Times

At Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, we are no strangers to treating victims of airstrikes over the years. The team all too often must rush into the emergency room, all hands on deck, ready to treat shrapnel wounds, burns and blood loss. In the early days of the current Israel-Hamas conflict, our hospital of only 80 beds was quickly overrun. On Oct. 17, following the explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, we were flooded with dozens of wounded and dying victims. By the next day, our patient roster had grown by nearly 120. We knew it would be another sleepless night, another in a string of far too many since the violence started 10 days earlier.

As many as three to four children had to share single beds, and many more were forced to settle for the floors. Some patients from the hospital explosion came in screaming in pain, but others were silent, in shock or beyond saving. With anesthesia, iodine, alcohol, blood and even gauze running low or entirely gone, we had a dwindling supply of tools to help ease the human suffering. The people who flocked to Kamal Adwan to sleep in our hallways or even the parking lot, believing it safer than their homes, were no doubt as frightened as we were.

As I write this, the hospital is on the precipice of true disaster. We are down to the last gallons of fuel necessary to run the electric generators, despite our most stringent efforts to ration it since the start of hostilities. Lights are off most of the time, elevators are out and patients are carried between floors. When the fuel runs out, we will no longer be able to function at night after the sun goes down. Most of the tools and equipment needed to run a modern hospital like ventilators, defibrillators and our neonatal units will become useless. When the generators fall silent, we will be relegated to practicing medieval-level medicine. Without an urgent resupply of fuel, the lights will go out permanently, and our hospital could turn into a morgue.

Kamal Adwan is far from the only hospital reaching its breaking point, as doctors like myself desperately cry out for more aid to Gaza. I’m a pediatrician at Kamal Adwan, part of a team of nine MedGlobal doctors and humanitarian aid workers that have been on the ground in Gaza since 2018. In that time we’ve seen our share of tragedy, suffering and shortage, but nothing could have prepared us for the horrors of the past few weeks. My team and I have divided our time between caring for patients and locally sourcing and distributing medical supplies, food and fuel to 11 different hospitals — $1.3 million worth of resources since the violence began. And it is still not nearly enough. . . .

Doctors are no strangers to tragedy or death and are trained to steel themselves against it, but the pressure we’ve been under these past few weeks is beyond any training. One of my colleagues lost his father and brother to an airstrike in the first week of the fighting; another saw his dead son wheeled in by an emergency crew. At a professional level, a personal level and most fundamentally a human level, the people of Gaza and the medics who care for them are at a breaking point. Like our patients, especially the children, this conflict will leave every one of us traumatized.

Even so, we are treating our patients to the best of our ability with the bare minimum of electricity, medicine and supplies. We sterilize wounds with vinegar, previously unthinkable in our modern intensive care unit. Drinking water ran out days ago, and the water we do have isn’t potable, contributing to a rising tide of intestinal infections and diseases not seen in Gaza in years. Our morgue filled to capacity within the first week and we’ve had to store many dead children in a nearby tent, praying that the decomposing bodies don’t contaminate the water wells or spread further disease. We fear an outbreak of cholera and typhoid. We fear for the long-term mental health impacts on the children in our care. Their little bodies are quick to injure and quick to heal, but their minds and spirits will need a lifetime of care to overcome what they have seen and experienced. . . .

As Kamal Adwan Hospital and Gaza itself run out of everything — food, water, fuel, medicine — the one thing we have not yet run out of is hope. I see it in my fellow doctors and the MedGlobal team risking their life every day to drive the streets of Gaza delivering supplies. I see it in the eyes of our patients — not all, but many. There’s a resilience and tenacity at the heart of the human experience that’s stronger than any horrors men can inflict on one another.

Through that hope, we make an urgent plea to the rest of the world to send more aid into Gaza. In order for hospitals like Kamal Adwan to continue functioning, we desperately need more resources — especially fuel for our generators. If we cannot turn the lights back on and keep lifesaving equipment running, too many of our patients will end up needlessly dying.

We hope that people will read our story and share in our desires: for a cease-fire, for a full opening of border crossings so that the wounded and sick may leave and lifesaving supplies can reach the tired, hungry and the displaced. For a normal life of peace where hospitals in the region see Israeli and Palestinian patients side by side, unburdened by grief, separation and war. We need the world’s help to sustain these hopes and bring this senseless violence to an end.

Working For The GOP

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Danziger in The Rutland Herald.

Does U.S. Approve Of Israel Punishing All In Gaza?


Sunday, October 29, 2023

An Agonizing Challenge


Does The U.S. Love Guns More Than Lives?


The following is a letter to The New York Times by author Stephen King:

There is no solution to the gun problem, and little more to write, because Americans are addicted to firearms.

Representative Jared Golden, from Maine’s Second Congressional District, has reversed course and says he will now support outlawing military-style semiautomatic rifles like the one used in the killing of 18 people in Lewiston this week. But neither the House nor the Senate is likely to pass such a law, and if Congress actually did, the Supreme Court, as it now exists, would almost certainly rule it unconstitutional.

Every mass shooting is a gut-punch; with every one, unimaginative people say, “I never thought it could happen here,” but such things can and will happen anywhere and everywhere in this locked-and-loaded country. The guns are available and the targets are soft.

When rapid-fire guns are difficult to get, things improve, but I see no such improvement in the future. Americans love guns, and appear willing to pay the price in blood.

The Crazy New Speaker

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

9 Military Bases Had Confederate Names - Not Anymore!

 From CBS News:

The Army has finished renaming nine installations that previously honored confederate generals with the redesignation Friday of Fort Gordon in Georgia to Fort Eisenhower. 

The Defense Department has until the end of the year to complete the recommendations of the congressionally mandated Naming Commission. The Naming Commission was tasked with identifying items in the U.S. military named after figures from the confederacy. 

The commission's final recommendations included renaming nine installations across the country named after Confederate generals

Fort Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia, is the last installation to receive its new name. The redesignation to Fort Eisenhower took place in an official ceremony Friday morning.

Fort Gordon was named for Major Gen. John Gordon, who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was considered one of Robert E. Lee's most trusted generals. After the Civil War, he served as a U.S. senator and governor of Georgia. 

The new name honors President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who also led the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II as an Army five-star general.

In its recommendation for the new name, the Naming Commission said, "Eisenhower's extensive military experience as a combined and allied commander, and as a U.S. President symbolizes the professionalism, excellence, and joint nature of the base's mission." 

The installation is the home of the U.S. Army's Signal Corps, Cyber Command, and Cyber Center of Excellence. 

These are the other eight installations that have received new names: 

  • Fort Benning, Georgia – renamed Fort Moore after Lt. Gen. Hal and Julia Moore.
  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina – renamed Fort Liberty after the value of liberty.
  • Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. – renamed Fort Walker after Dr. Mary Walker.
  • Fort Hood, Texas – renamed Fort Cavazos after Gen. Richard Cavazos.
  • Fort Lee, Virginia – renamed Fort Gregg-Adams after Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams.
  • Fort Pickett, Virginia – renamed Fort Barfoot after Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot.
  • Fort Polk, Louisiana. – renamed Fort Johnson after Sgt. William Henry Johnson.
  • Fort Rucker, Alabama – renamed Fort Novosel after Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Novosel, Sr.

Ordained By The Orange Demagogue

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

The House GOP Is Controlled By Trump


Saturday, October 28, 2023

GOP Makes It Easier For Criminals To Get Guns


Congressional Approval Drops To A Low Of Only 13%

The chart above is from a Gallup Poll -- done between October 2nd and 23rd of a nationwide sample of 1,009 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.

No Place Is Safe In The U.S.

 Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

The House Resolution To Censure Marjorie Taylor Greene


A Lot Of "Witches" Are Being Found

 Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Georgia Recorder.

The GOP Is Extremist On Both Social And Economic Issues

The new GOP Speaker is not just an extremist on social issues. He's also an extremist on economic issues (which would negatively affect millions of Americans). Economist Paul Krugman explains in The New York Times:

There are no moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Oh, no doubt some members are privately appalled by the views of Mike Johnson, the new speaker. But what they think in the privacy of their own minds isn’t important. What matters is what they do — and every single one of them went along with the selection of a radical extremist.

In fact, Johnson is more extreme than most people, I think even political reporters, fully realize.

Much of the reporting on Johnson has, understandably, focused on his role in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Let me say, by the way, that the widely used term “election denial” is a euphemism that softens and blurs what we’re really talking about. Trying to keep your party in power after it lost a free and fair election, without a shred of evidence of significant fraud, isn’t just denial; it’s a betrayal of democracy.

There has also been considerable coverage of Johnson’s right-wing social views, but I’m not sure how many people grasp the depth of his intolerance. Johnson isn’t just someone who wants to legalize discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. Americans and ban gay marriage; he’s on record as defending the criminalization of gay sex.

But Johnson’s extremism, and that of the party that chose him, goes beyond rejecting democracy and trying to turn back the clock on decades of social progress. He has also espoused a startlingly reactionary economic agenda.

Until his sudden elevation to speaker, Johnson was a relatively little-known figure. But he did serve for a time as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group that devises policy proposals. And now that Johnson has become the face of his party, people really should look at the budget proposal the committee released for 2020 under his chairmanship.

For if you read that proposal carefully, getting past the often mealy-mouthed language, you realize that it calls for the evisceration of the U.S. social safety net — not just programs for the poor, but also policies that form the bedrock of financial stability for the American middle class.

Start with Social Security, where the budget calls for raising the retirement age — already set to rise to 67 — to 69 or 70, with possible further increases as life expectancy rises.

On the surface, this might sound plausible. Until Covid produced a huge drop, average U.S. life expectancy at age 65 was steadily rising over time. But there is a huge and growing gap between the number of years affluent Americans can expect to live and life expectancy for lower-income groups, including not just the poor but also much of the working class. So raising the retirement age would fall hard on less fortunate Americans — precisely the people who depend most on Social Security.

Then there’s Medicare, for which the budget proposes increasing the eligibility age “so it is aligned with the normal retirement age for Social Security and then indexing this age to life expectancy.” Translation: Raise the Medicare age from 65 to 70, then keep raising it.

Wait, there’s more. Most nonelderly Americans receive health insurance through their employers. But this system depends greatly on policies that the study committee proposed eliminating. You see, benefits don’t count as taxable income — but in order to maintain this tax advantage, companies (roughly speaking) must cover all their employees, as opposed to offering benefits only to highly compensated individuals.

The committee budget would eliminate this incentive for broad coverage by limiting the tax deduction for employer benefits and offering the same deduction for insurance purchased by individuals. As a result, some employers would probably just give their top earners cash, which they could use to buy expensive individual plans, while dropping coverage for the rest of their workers.

Oh, and it goes almost without saying that the budget would impose savage cuts — $3 trillion over a decade — on Medicaid, children’s health coverage and subsidies that help lower-income Americans afford insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

How many Americans would lose health insurance under these proposals? Back in 2017 the Congressional Budget Office estimatedthat Donald Trump’s attempt to repeal Obamacare would cause 23 million Americans to lose coverage. The Republican Study Committee’s proposals are far more draconian and far-reaching, so the losses would presumably be much bigger.

So Mike Johnson is on record advocating policies on retirement, health care and other areas I don’t have space to get into, like food stamps, that would basically end American society as we know it. We would become a vastly crueler and less secure nation, with far more sheer misery.

I think it’s safe to say that these proposals would be hugely unpopular — if voters knew about them. But will they?

Actually, I’d like to see some focus groups asking what Americans think of Johnson’s policy positions. Here’s my guess, based on previous experience: Many voters will simply refuse to believe that prominent Republicans, let alone the speaker of the House, are really advocating such terrible things.

But they are and he is. The G.O.P. has gone full-on extremist, on economic as well as social issues. The question now is whether the American public will notice.

Off The Cliff

Political Cartoon is by Marty Two Bulls at m2bulls.com.

Fringe Conspiracy Theories Are Now Mainstream In The GOP