Monday, November 20, 2017

Delicious


Huge Majority Still Favors Plugging Background Check Holes


It has been said that Congress won't plug the gaping holes in the background check law for gun buyers because they lack the political courage. They are afraid the voters will punish them if they do that. That's pure bullshit!

No politician would be punished for closing the holes in the background check law (which still allow 40% of all gun sales to be done each year without any background check). About 77% of the public wants that to be done, while only 12% oppose it -- and that is true of every group, even Republicans (where only 14% would oppose it).

Any politician could easily defend passing such a law. It doesn't require political courage -- only the willingness to forgo getting campaign money from the NRA. Unfortunately, too many in Congress (in both political parties, but especially Republicans) have sold their vote to the NRA (which is now controlled by gun manufacturers -- not gun owners).

Closing the holes in the background check law simply makes sense. It would not violate the Second Amendment, and it would not keep law-abiding citizens from buying and possessing a firearm. What it would do is save American lives.

The chart above reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between November 12th and 14th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,281 registered voters), with a 3 point margin of error.

A Closer Look

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

House GOP's Tax Plan Is NOT A Middle Class Tax Cut


The graphic above shows who would benefit the most from the tax plan recently passed by the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Note that the top 20% would get 73.6% (about 3 out of every 4 dollars cut) of all the cuts, and the top 1% would get  47.1% (or nearly half of all the cuts).

How can this be called a middle class tax cut, when 80% of Americans get only 26.4% of the cuts? The truth is that this is a cut for the wealthy and the corporations -- not the middle or working classes. It once again highlights who the Republicans care about -- and that's not most Americans. Their true constituency is the wealthy and the corporations, and their economic agenda (i.e., trickle-down) is always geared toward helping those groups.

Here are the quintile yearly income levels:

Lowest 20% -- under $15,010

20-40% -- $15,010 to $30,000

40-60% -- $30,000 to $46,126

60-80% -- $46,126 to $75,067

Top 20% -- over $75,067

Top 1% -- over $300,800

That means 47.1% of the tax cuts go to those making over $300,800 a year -- and 73.6% of the cuts go to those making more than $75,067 a year.

If this was really a tax cut for the middle class, then the middle quintile (those making between $30,000 and $46,126 a year) should be getting the bulk of the cuts. But that middle group gets only 8.1% of the cuts. And those making less than $30,000, the ones needing relief the most, get only 1.7% of the cuts.

This isn't a middle class tax cut, and it's not a plan that's fair for most Americans. It's a travesty, and another giveaway to the rich -- and it must be stopped.

Not That Stupid

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Senator Al Franken Should NOT Resign His Seat

I'm sure you've heard by now about the accusations made against Senator Franken by right-wing broadcaster Leeann Tweeden. Franken (before being elected to the Senate) allowed a rather disgusting picture to be taken and is accused of forcing a kiss on Tweeden.

Perhaps the best commentary I've read about this comes from Ramona Grigg at Crooks and Liars -- and I agree with her. Here is part of what she has written:

Yes, I'll say it, and I hope it's not too late: Al Franken should not resign. He shouldn't be forced to resign, either by the Democrats who (rightly) can't abide double standards or the Republicans who would love to see a Democratic knock-down. I can agree that what he did to Leeann Tweeden was stupid, gross, and as close to sexual predation as it gets, and still want him to stay where he is. . . .

. . .how could I, flaming liberal feminist, active #MeToo member, wish for Al Franken to go on working in the Senate? I confess I've been torn over this, asking myself why I should accept Franken's admission and apology and still go after Roy Moore or Donald Trump for their ugly sexual transgressions.
Well, yes, they're lowlife scum and don't deserve my defense--I agree--but I want the punishment to fit the crime. Franken has plenty to apologize for--gross, sexist stupidity is finding its day in court and, after so many decades of unfettered applications, it can't come too soon--and he has apologized. Twice so far, without the usual equivocations. He is as disgusted with himself as we are. Leeann Tweeden accepted his apology. She said she doesn't want him to resign, adding that he does good things for the people of Minnesota while still acknowledging it was wrong and these things shouldn't be ignored.
She's right. They shouldn't be ignored. Spreading sunshine all over the place encourages women--and sometimes men--to come out of the shadows and tell their stories. We are at a crossroads now and we have to get it right. Sexual predators, no matter who they are, need to be exposed. We should, of course, look to punishment, but who gets to decide what form and how much?
Did Al Franken do something worthy of expulsion? There's the dilemma. I want women like Leeann Tweeden to be able to come forward without consequence to tell their stories. I want the men who abused them to feel their pain, to get it, to show us they've learned from these revelations and will work to put a stop to a culture that has for too long equated power with the freedom to use sex as a right.
I believe Franken gets it. I want him to stay in the Senate because his work is important. Too important to set aside. He does good work there. He asks relevant, sometimes burning questions, does his homework, and works for the disenfranchised, the underdogs, the people hungering for attention to their condition. The loss would be painful.
I want him to work for us, against the Trump administration and the GOP majority, against any hateful agents who try to diminish or harm those of us without power. I want him where he can do the most good. I want him in the Senate.

Justification ?

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

Less Bullets, More Brains


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Now Explicable


Trump Job Approval Went Down After His Asian Trip



Trump and his supporters welcomed the trip to Asia, because they thought it would make him look presidential and would improve his job approval numbers. But the trip, regardless of Trump's bragging about it, was far from a success -- and the public knows it.

His job approval numbers actually went down after the Asian trip. In this YouGov Poll, his pre-trip job approval was 40% to 52% (a negative 12 point gap). But after the trip, his numbers are 34% to 55% (a negative 21 point gap). I think most Americans were embarrassed about Trump trusting Putin more than U.S. intelligence agencies.

These charts are from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between November 12th and 14th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.

Flattery Works When Dealing With Trump

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

What Is The Most Important Post In The Presidential Cabinet ?


I thought this poll was interesting. Rasmussen asked voters which cabinet post was the most important. About 32% said the Secretary of State was most important. Secretary of Defense and Attorney General tied for second with 21% each.

I was a little surprised at how far down the list the Secretary of Treasury finished. Americans almost always vote for who they think will be better for the domestic economy -- and yet, the post with the biggest effect on the domestic economy (Secretary of Treasury) was chosen by only 6%.

The chart reflects the results of a recent Rasmussen Poll -- done on November 7th and 8th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

(Trump) Elf On A Shelf

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Moore Scandal Has Boosted Fundraising For Doug Jones

(The photos above of Doug Jones and Roy Moore are from al.com.)

The following is by Alex Seitz-Wald at nbcnews.com:

The Roy Moore scandal has unleashed a torrent of online donations to Democrat Doug Jones, who was collecting around $250,000 per day in its immediate aftermath, according to two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity. 
Democrats may end up in the unlikely situation of dramatically outspending the GOP in the Senate contest in deep red Alabama now that national Republicans have abandoned Moore. The Republican candidate's bank account had been depleted by a tough primary battle even before nine women came forward to accuse him of sexual impropriety
The scandal has super-charged Jones' already robust online fundraising to "Ossoff-level money," as one Democrat put it, referring to failed Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, who amassed a staggering $30 million in a Georgia special election this year. 
Unlike Ossoff, however, who was matched by an equally massive amount of GOP money, Jones' spending may go unanswered by pro-Moore forces through the Dec. 12 election.
Jones has kept national Democrats at arm's length, and skipped a Washington fundraiser this week. But that hasn’t stopped him from quietly enjoying the fruits of Democratic stars' prodigious email fundraising lists. 
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut raised more than $135,000 for Jones, according to an aide, while the liberal blog Daily Kos raked in nearly $138,000 for Jones since endorsing him just before the before The Washington Post published the first allegations against Moore. 
Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Tim Kaine of Virginia, among others, also recently tapped their online donors on Jones' behalf. 
Jones' campaign did not specifically address its post-scandal fundraising. But in a statement, campaign chairman Giles Perkins said, "We have seen a pickup in fundraising since Roy Moore was nominated and Alabama's choice became clear." 
Moore started October with roughly half as much money in the bank as Jones, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosures available, and the cavalry most likely isn’t riding to his rescue.

No Right To Comment

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

You Do Not Need A Shepherd


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Marijuana Laws Are Counter-Productive


59% Say It's Likely Dems Will Flip Congress In 2018


I found this poll interesting. It's the newest Rasmussen Poll -- done on November 9th and 12th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

It shows that 59% (nearly 6 out of 10 people) think it's likely that the Democrats will regain control of Congress in the 2018 election. Only 34% think the Republicans will retain control, and another 7% are unsure.

It's still a year until that election, and the real results will depend on turnout. Voter turnout is traditionally low in off-year elections, but there is a lot of enthusiasm among Democrats right now. If they can get large numbers of voters to the polls next November, then they can win back control of Congress -- if they can't do that, then the Republicans will retain control.

A Different Standard ?

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Fox News Poll Has Jones Leading Moore By 8 Points




The question on every political pundit's mind these days is what's going to happen in the Alabama Senate race. Will the people of Alabama elect a sexual harasser/abuser of teenage girls, or will they elect a Democrat to that seat. Alabama is a bright red state, and normally, the Republican candidate would be a shoo-in. And

Alabama's Republican governor showed her lack of moral character when she said she found Moore's accusers credible, but would still vote for him -- because it's important to her to to have a GOP senator (even one guilty of sexually harassing/abusing teenage girls). Will the Alabama voters make that same choice? They claim to be "values" voters and most are evangelical christians, but voting for Moore would make a mockery of those claimed "values".

Polls have shown they may opt for decency and morality over party ideology. That's what a new Fox News Poll -- done between November 13th and 15th of a random sample of 823 registered Alabama voters (649 likely voters), with a margin of error of 3 points -- is showing. It has Jones leading Moore by 9 points among registered voters and by 8 points among likely voters.

The election is not until December 12th, and things can change quickly in politics -- but right now things look encouraging for Democrats.

The poll showed another odd result (for Alabama). Note the third chart. Both Barack Obama and Doug Jones have a 52% favorable rating -- higher than any Republican. Trump and Sessions tie for second at 50% favorability.

Then And Now

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

With His Own Background, Trump's Tweets Are Hypocritical


Trump has been silent about the sexual harassment/abuse of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, but he broke his silence to tweet about an inappropriate picture of Democrat Al Franken -- even though that picture doesn't come close to the sexual harassment/abuse allegations leveled against Moore (which included a 14 year old girl), or the allegations against Trump himself (which he cavalierly dismissed as "fake news"). It is the height of hypocrisy for him to comment on Democrats while giving Republicans a free ride.

Here are 14 very credible reasons why it is inappropriate for Trump to be making accusations against anyone regarding sexual harassment/abuse:

1. Ninni Laaksonen, former Miss Finland, says “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt” in July 2006. 

2. Jessica Drake says Trump grabbed and kissed her without consent, then offered her $10,000 for sex in 2006.  

3. Karena Virginia says she was groped by Trump at the U.S. Open in 1998. 

4. Cathy Heller says Trump grabbed her and attempted to kiss her at Mar-a-lago in 1997. 

5. Summer Zervos, an Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her, grabbed her breasts and began “thrusting his genitals” in 2007.  

6. Kristin Andersonsays Trump reached under her skirt and grabbed her vagina through her underwear in the early 1990s. 

7. Jessica Leeds says Trump lifted up the armrest, grabbed her breasts and reached his hand up her skirt in the early 1980s. 

8. Rachel Crooks says she was sexually assaulted by Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. 

9. Mindy McGillivray says Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-lago in 2003. 

10. Natasha Stoynoff says Trump pushed her against a wall and jammed his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-lago in 2005. 

11. Jennifer Murphy, another Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview in 2005.  

12. Cassandra Searles says Trump grabbed her ass and invited her to his hotel room in 2013. 

13. Temple Taggart McDowell, Former Miss Utah, says Trump kissed her directly on the lips the first time she met him in 1997. 

14. Jill Harth says Trump repeatedly sexually harassed her and groped her underneath a table in 1993.

And this doesn't even include the 13 year old girl Trump was witnessed having sex with (who by definition cannot give consent). Trump is stupid to be commenting on someone else's problems, when he has a terrible history of sexual harassment/abuse of his own.

Moore Commandments

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy at cleveland.com.

GOP Tax Plan Is A Boon For Corporations And The Rich

(Cartoon image is by Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News.)

The House has passed their version of the Republican tax plan, and the Senate is considering their version (which has been voted out of committee on a party-line vote). Both would cut the corporate tax in half (while leaving intact all the loopholes and subsidies). And both would eliminate many deductions for ordinary citizens -- which means many will see an actual tax increase, and since the individual cuts are only temporary (unlike the corporate cuts which are permanent), by 2027 every individual would see a tax increase. This is a very bad tax plan (unless you happen to be rich).

Here's the take of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on the onerous GOP plan. He writes in the New York Times:

Looking at the reactions to Republican tax plans, I found myself remembering what people used to say about former Senator Phil Gramm, whose presidential ambitions never went anywhere but who did help cause the 2008 financial crisis: “Even his friends don’t like him.”
So it is with G.O.P. tax “reform,” especially the Senate version, which would raise taxes on most individuals, especially in the middle and working classes, and add around 13 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured, all to pay for big cuts in corporate taxes. The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right?
Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively.
The answer is that C.E.O.s, living in the real world of business, not the imaginary world of right-wing ideologues, know that tax rates aren’t that important a factor in investment decisions. So they realize that even a huge tax cut wouldn’t lead to much more spending.
And with that realization, the rationale for this tax plan, such as it is, falls apart, leaving nothing but a scheme to make the rich — especially those who rake in investment income rather than working for a living — richer at everyone else’s expense.
For what it’s worth, here’s the story the Trump administration and its allies are telling. Their claim is that cutting taxes on corporate profits would lead to an explosion in private investment and faster economic growth. Furthermore, the fruits of this growth would trickle down to American workers in the form of higher wages — and rising incomes would raise tax receipts, so the tax cuts would end up paying for themselves.
Even if some part of this story were true, there would be side consequences they’re carefully not discussing. After all, if we’re talking about a big increase in capital expenditure, where does the money for that expenditure come from? Nothing in the bill would make Americans consume less and save more. So the money would have to come from abroad — from selling stocks, bonds and other assets to foreigners, on a massive scale.
And this inflow of foreign money would drive up the value of the dollar and lead to huge trade deficits: according to my analysis of the most optimistic forecast out there, more than $6 trillion in deficits over the next decade. These trade deficits would have a devastating effect on manufacturing — remember those jobs Trump promised to bring back? — to the likely tune of more than two million jobs lost.
Oh, and about that economic growth: Foreign investors would be earning profits and taking them home. So much — probably most — of any growth we would get from cutting corporate taxes would accrue to the benefit of foreigners, not Americans.
But don’t worry too much about this stuff. Most serious economic analysesagree with those C.E.O.s who disappointed Gary Cohn: Corporate tax cuts wouldn’t actually do much to raise investment. They would, however, explode the budget deficit.
So in an attempt to limit that deficit blowout, Senate Republicans are proposing significant tax increases on working families. In fact, according to Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, taxes would rise on average for every group with incomes under $75,000 a year, and would surely rise for many families even in higher-income groups. The only significant winners would be those making more than $1 million a year. Populism!
Oh, and this doesn’t even take account of the health care sabotage that’s an integral part of the Senate plan. By repealing the mandate — the requirement that people purchase insurance — the plan would, as I said, cause 13 million to lose coverage; that loss of coverage, and the associated government subsidies, is why mandate repeal saves money that can be given to corporations.
But the move would also drive up premiums for those who keep their insurance, because the dropouts would tend to be those with lower health costs. So that’s an additional, hidden indirect tax on the middle class.
Nor does it take account of what would inevitably come next: tax-cut-induced deficits would, by law, trigger cuts in Medicare, and this would just be the start of a G.O.P. assault on programs like disability insurance that provide a crucial safety net for millions of working-class Americans.
All of which raises the question, why are Republicans even trying to do this? It’s bad policy and bad politics, and the politics will get worse as voters learn more about the facts. Well, last week one G.O.P. congressman, Chris Collins of New York, gave the game away: “My donors are basically saying get it done or don’t ever call me again.”
So we’re talking about government of the people, not by the people, but by wealthy donors, for wealthy donors. Everyone else hates this plan — and they should.

Patriotism Vs. Nationalism

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Battle Of The Ideologies


Friday, November 17, 2017

It's A Bad Plan


House Passes Tax Plan Opposed By The Public





The House of Representatives passed the ridiculous GOP tax cut bill. The bill was passed on a 227 to 205 vote -- with all 227 yes votes coming from Republicans, while 13 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the bill.

The Republicans are still trying to claim that this is a bill that mainly benefits the middle class. That is an outrageous lie. About 80% of the cuts go to people that don't need them -- the rich and corporations. They are also claiming that the corporate cuts will boost the economy, create jobs and raise the wages of working men and women. That is also a lie. Corporate tax cuts in the past have not done any of those things, and there is no reason to believe this one will either.

The Republicans are hoping that passing this bill will make their party more popular, and help them in next year's elections. The problem is that the public is not buying their lies. Only 25% support the GOP plan, while 52% oppose it. Only 16% think the plan will reduce their taxes, while 33% believe it will increase their taxes. Only 36% believe the plan will boost the economy and create jobs, while 52% believe it will not. And only 24% believe the middle class is helped the most by the plan, while 61% say the plan helps the rich most of all.

Those are not good numbers. The public doesn't like the GOP's tax plan, and unless that plan is drastically changed, it will not help the Republicans -- not now or in the 2018 elections.

The charts above reflect the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between November 7th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,577 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

Not Gonna Happen

Political Cartoon is by Mike Smith in the Las Vegas Sun.

The GOP's Own Poll Shows Moore Trailing In Alabama


The number of accusers saying they were sexually harassed or abused by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is now up to nine (with one of them being only 14 years-old at the time of the incident). The question now, of course, is whether this will matter to the voters in Alabama. It seems that many are ignoring the accusations, and continue to support Moore.

But the Republican's own poll shows he is losing support. It is the poll done by the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the committee responsible for seeing that Republicans get elected to the Senate. In early October, their poll showed Moore with a 16 point lead over Democrat Doug Jones. A couple of weeks ago, that lead was still pretty strong at 9 points.

But their latest poll, done on November 13th and 14th, shows Moore has lost significant support -- and is now trailing by 12 points (39% to 51%).

Does Jones really lead the race right now. I don't know -- it's a small sample (500 registered voters) and probably has a large margin of error. But it is an encouraging sign for Democrats.

Trump's Trip Highlights

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Donald Trump Is Still A Very Unpopular President





These charts are from a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between November 7th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,377 voters, with a 3.8 point margin of error.

They show that Donald Trump is still extremely unpopular with the voting public. Only 35% approve of his job performance, while 58% disapprove. In addition, 58% say he is not honest, 59% say he doesn't care about average Americans, and 62% say he doesn't share their values.

And these numbers are not getting any better for Trump. His presidency is in deep trouble.

Crime Scene

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

Campaign Finance Laws & Court Decisions In Modern Era

The following examination of laws and court decisions regarding campaign finance is from the Center for Public Integrity: