Friday, September 22, 2017

We CAN Afford It

Trump Speaks To The U.N. - And Proves Himself A Fool

(Image is from the Facebook page of a friend.)

There's an old saying that a man can let people think he's a fool, or speak and remove any doubt. A couple of days ago, Donald Trump spoke to the United Nations -- and removed any doubt that he's a complete and utter fool.

There were a lot of foolish things he said -- from threatening war with several countries to telling the U.N. he would always put the U.S. first (regardless of how that might affect the rest of the world). But perhaps the stupidest thing he talked about was the Iranian Agreement.

He said it was a bad agreement because the United States got nothing from the agreement -- an agreement that benefitted only Iran. And he gave the countries of the world the distinct impression that he was going to rescind that agreement. That simply makes no sense.

What was the most important thing the United States wanted from the agreement with Iran? Wasn't it to stop Iran from trying to develop a nuclear weapon? That was not only accomplished, but Iran also agreed to let international inspectors check to make sure they are complying with the agreement -- and even the U.S. government admits that they have been complying. That sounds to me like the United States (and other countries) got exactly what they wanted from the agreement.

White House aides are now saying that Trump is either getting ready to ask Congress to rescind the agreement, or ask our allies to re-nogiate the agreement (and re-institute sanctions to try and force Iran to comply).

The latter is simply not going to happen. Iran has said it will not re-nogiate the agreement, and our European allies don't want that either. As long as Iran complies with the agreement (as it is currently doing), our allies will not try to re-nogiate it or put any sanctions back on Iran.

That means the U.S. will be acting unilaterally if they rescind the agreement. And it will accomplish only one thing -- to show the world that the United States cannot be trusted to keep it's word. It will make it much harder for the United States to make any kind of agreement or treaty in the future -- because other countries could not be sure the U.S. would abide by it (especially while Trump is in the White House).

In displaying his ignorance and incompetence to the U.N., Trump has made the world a much more dangerous place -- because the country once the leader of the free world (U.S.) can no longer be trusted.


Political Cartoon is by Phill Hands in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Public Still Doesn't Think Trump Is Honest & Trustworthy

This chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,292 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3 points.

It shows that only 30% of Americans think Donald Trump is honest and trustworthy, while a majority of 51% say he is NOT honest and trustworthy -- a negative gap of 21 points. And every single demographic group has more people believing he is dishonest than honest.

Good People

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Public Trusts Judicial Branch - But Not Executive & Legislative

This chart is from the Gallup Poll -- with the latest survey being done between September 6th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,022 adults, with a 4 point margin of error. It shows a significant majority of Americans (68%) trusts the judicial branch of our government. The executive (45%) and legislative (35%) branches don't fare so well -- with both garnering only the trust of a minority of Americans.

What A Choice!

Political Cartoon is by Tom Tales in The Washington Post.

Insurance Companies Join Those Opposing Trumpcare

The image above is no surprise. Everyone but the rich and Republicans oppose the Senate GOP's latest effort to repeal Obamacare (the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare plan). Now even the private insurance companies are coming out against the plan. Here is a small part of an article by Robert Pear in the New York Times:

The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market.
In the face of the industry opposition, Senate Republican leaders nevertheless said they would push for a showdown vote next week on the legislation, drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. . . .
The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.
“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”
America’s Health Insurance Plans was even more pointed. The legislation could hurt patients by “further destabilizing the individual market” and could potentially allow “government-controlled single payer health care to grow,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, the president and chief executive of the association. Without controls, some states could simply eliminate private insurance, she warned.
Insurers had been reluctant to speak out against the Republicans’ previous proposals in hopes that the White House and Congress would agree to stabilize insurance markets by providing critical funding for subsidies aimed at low-income Americans. But with hopes of securing that money before they finalize their rates virtually extinguished, insurers have less to lose by coming out against the proposal.
And many within the industry are worried that the next two years will be chaotic, with little support for the current market while states scramble to come up with a new way for individuals to buy policies.

Raising The Dead

Political Cartoon is by Gary Varvel in the Indianapolis Star.

For My Fellow Whites

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Pluralities View Both Parties As Too Extreme Politically

The two political parties seem to both want to become more extreme in their views. Many Democrats want their party to move further to the left, and many Republicans want their party to move further to the right. Both seem to think that is the way to appeal to the American voter. They both could easily be wrong.

If these polls are correct (and there's no reason to believe they're not), then a plurality of voters already see both political parties as too extreme. In the Morning Consult Poll, about 43% see the Democratic Party as being too liberal. And an equal 43% see the Republican Party as being too conservative.

The results of the new YouGov Poll is similar -- with 37% viewing the Democrats as too liberal and 36% viewing the Republicans as too conservative.

This leaves many voters in a quandary -- which party do they vote for, since they see them both as being too extreme? We know that most Democrats will vote for their own party, and most Republicans will vote for their own party. But neither has enough members to carry the 2018 election. That election, like most elections in this country, will be determined by Independents (most of whom are moderates).

I know my progressive brothers and sisters will not like this, but those Independents will mostly go for the party they see as the more moderate party. If the Democrats want to win in 2018, just being against Trump is not going to be enough. They must be viewed as the moderate alternative to extremist Republicans. And winning is the only thing that matters.

The Politico / Morning Consult Poll was done between September 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,292 registered voters), with a 3 point margin of error.

The Time Is Now

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at

Two New Polls Show A Plurality Want Single-Payer

A couple of days ago, I brought you the results of a recent Rasmussen Poll showing that a plurality of Americans (48%) would support a single-payer health insurance system, while 36% would oppose it and 16% are unsure about it. Now two new polls have been released on the question, and both also show pluralities supporting single-payer.

The Politico / Morning Consult Poll was done between September 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2 points. It shows 49% support it, while 35% oppose it and 17% are unsure.

The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,292 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error. It shows 40% support and 29% opposition, with 31% being unsure.

While it is gratifying that support is growing in the U.S. for a single-payer system, and now a plurality support the concept -- that is not sufficient for Congress to seriously consider it.

We know their will be no single-payer system passed while the Republicans control Congress (and likely won't even be a vote on it). Republicans don't believe decent health care is a right of all citizens. They consider it just a product to be purchased by those who have the money to buy it.

So the first thing that must happen is to flip Congress to control by the Democrats. Until that happens, single-payer will just remain an unattainable dream. But even that will not be enough. The problem is the unsure voters -- 16% in Rasmussen, 17% in Morning Consult, and 31% in YouGov. The Democratic politicians will be afraid those unsure voters will decide a single-payer system went too far -- and punish them at the polls the same way they did after the passage of Obamacare.

Single-payer will only happen when a clear and significant majority ask for single-payer (probably at least 60%). Public opinion is moving in the right direction, but much more remains to be done.

More Lives Than A Cat

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.

Public Is Still Convinced Trump Will Get Us Into A War

The chart above reflects the results from the Economist / YouGov Poll. It is a weekly poll, and I went back to show how the country feels about Trump and war. By picking up the poll every two weeks, it is clear that a majority of the public, since Trump was sworn in, believes Trump will get us into a new war --either out of ignorance or because he thinks a war will make him more popular.

Currently, about 57% of the population thinks it is likely Trump will get us into a new war, while only 25% thinks that is unlikely. And after Trump bombastic speech to the United Nations, that 57% could well be right.

Trump threatened to completely destroy North Korea and wants to withdraw from the Iranian treaty (which they are abiding by). Both of those threats make the world a more dangerous place. Hopefully, the Pentagon and the State Department can talk him out of war with either of those nations -- wars that would kill hundreds of thousands of people, and have little likelihood of success.

But he also threatened "action" against a third nation -- Venezuela. He would have you believe that Venezuela is ruled by a tyrant who opposes democracy. That is simply not true. Venezuela's president was elected in a democratic election, and he actually got a significant majority of the votes (unlike Trump himself). The truth is that Trump (and other American presidents) are unhappy with Venezuela because they kicked out American corporations and nationalized their natural resources (oil).

Trump has already made it clear that he represents corporations -- not the American people. And I'm afraid he could decide that Venezuela would be the best place to have a war -- thinking it would be an easier target than North Korea or Iran, and would allow him to put a right-wing government in power there (that would welcome back American corporations. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the likeliest place for a Trump war is Venezuela (even though they pose no danger to this country).

I think Trump is itching to wage war somewhere. Am I right? What do you think?

Will The Monster Live ?

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Koterba in the Omaha World-Herald.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Not An Intelligent Species

GOP Still Doesn't Care About The Health Of Citizens

(Cartoon image is by Bob Englehart.)

The zombie Republican "health care" bill has come back again. I put it in quotation marks because it's not really a health care bill at all. It's just another attempt to cut spending so huge tax cuts can be given to the rich and the corporations (the only entities the congressional Republicans care about).

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) hasn't scored the bill yet, but it doesn't take a genius to see it would take health insurance away from millions of American citizens. In fact, it's even worse than the other really bad plans the Senate Republicans came up with, because it just turns health care over to the states.

If you have any doubts about whether this is a bad bill or not, just look at those who have already come out against it:

AMA (American Medical Association)
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
NCBH (National Council for Behavioral Health)
ALS Association
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Arthritis Foundation
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Family Voices
JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
Lutheran Services in America
March of Dimes
National Health Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Organization for Rare Diseases
Volunteers of America

And the governors of 10 states:

And I'm sure this list will grow much larger before the bill is voted on. This is a really bad bill, and it will hurt many millions of Americans. It must be defeated.

Whining Through The Ages

Political Cartoon is by Barry Deutsch at

The Minimum Wage Won't Buy Decent Housing In Any State

The national minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour ($15,080 a year). The Republicans will tell you that is enough, and the minimum wage does not need to be raised, because that wage is only paid to teenagers working part-time (and living with their parents). In fact, some congressional Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage and let employers pay even less than the $7.25 an hour.

THEY ARE LYING! The truth is that a significant majority of minimum wage workers are adults who are trying to support a family -- and that minimum wage is forcing them to live in poverty (even though they work hard at a full-time job). Further, nearly 25% of the American workforce works for the minimum wage, or very close to it. These workers work as hard as anyone in this country, but they are abused by their employers -- and the congressional Republicans think there's nothing wrong with that.

The chart above (found at the Huffington Post) shows how much hourly income would be required to rent a decent 2 bedroom apartment in each state. Note that a minimum wage income would not be sufficient for that in any of the 50 states. To have enough income left over for other expenses, it is recommended that only 30% of income be spent on rent -- but a minimum wage worker would have to spend far more than that.

And it doesn't get any better when other expenses are considered. A minimum wage worker must spend far too high a percentage of their income for all of them (clothing, transportation, food, etc.). And we know that the minimum wage has about 35% less buying power than it did in 1968 (meaning a minimum wage worker can only purchase 65% of what that same worker could purchase in 1968).

This is unacceptable. No one who is willing to work hard at a full-time job should have to live in poverty. The minimum wage clearly needs to be raised to a livable level.

Golf (Mueller-Style)

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at

Median Income Rises - Still Below 2007 Level In 27 States

The chart above, from the Economic Policy Institute, shows the percentage rise in income in each of the 50 states. Here is what David Cooper and Julia Wolfe at EPI had to say about the income rising:

State income data from the American Community Survey (ACS), released today by the Census Bureau, showed that from 2015 to 2016, median household income rose moderately across the country, with all but 7 states and the District of Columbia posting gains in inflation-adjusted household income. The ACS report showed a 2.1 percent increase in inflation-adjusted median household income for the country as a whole—an increase of $1,157 in the annual income of a typical U.S. household. This is similar to, albeit slightly lower than, the 3.2 percent increase in household income that the Census Bureau’s reported earlier this week using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The ACS and CPS have different samples and cover a somewhat different timeframe, which can lead to slightly different estimates.
In 2016, median household income ranged from $41,754 in Mississippi (17.5 percent below the median for the country) to $78,945 in Maryland (37.0 percent above the median for the country.)
From 2015 to 2016, the largest percentage gains in household income occurred in Idaho, where the typical household experienced an increase of $2,922 in their annual income—an increase of 6.0 percent. Massachusetts (5.3 percent), Oregon (4.9 percent), North Carolina (4.4 percent), Arkansas (4.3 percent), and New Jersey (4.1 percent) all had increases of 4 percent or more. Twelve other states (Nevada, California, Utah, South Carolina, Washington, Georgia, Rhode Island, Alaska, Maryland, Arizona, Indiana, and Nebraska) experienced income growth that exceeded the national average. Median household income was essentially unchanged over the year, after adjusting for inflation, in 4 states (Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Montana), and it declined in 5 states (New Hampshire, Delaware, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Louisiana) and the District of Columbia. The states with the largest percentage declines—North Dakota at 1.1 percent, Wyoming at 1.8 percent, and Louisiana at 2.5 percent—are all states whose economies are heavily dependent upon energy production. Thus, it is likely that these declines are the result of falling energy prices, which slowed economic growth in these states.
While the widespread income gains in 2016 are welcome news, it is clear that we still have more work to do to fully recover from the Great Recession. Median household incomes in most states remained below to their pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation. In 2016, there were 27 states in which inflation-adjusted median household income was lower than it was in 2007. Moreover, there are 23 states in which household incomes were still lower in 2016 than they were in 2000—more than 15 years without improvement in living standards for typical households in these places. Policymakers should continue to pursue policies—like raising the minimum wage and expanding the right to overtime—that boost incomes, and the Federal Reserve should keep its foot off the brakes until the recovery reaches working people in every state and every sector of the economy.

Hoax ?

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at

The GOP's Platform

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Capitalism And Fascism

There Must Be NO Litmus Test To Be A Democrat

I have been a Democrat for a long time now, and I'm proud of that. But there is an element in the party right now that wants to limit who can be a Democrat -- and what kind of candidate can run on the party's ticket. I think that's a big mistake.

The party has always been the "big tent" party. It encompasses progressives, liberals, moderates, and yes, even some conservatives. That makes for some lively discussions and arguments in party circles and conventions. But that is a good thing. Democrats are thinking people, and thinking people will disagree from time to time. It is through these discussions and arguments that the party develops its agenda -- hopefully one that a majority of Americans can agree with and support at the ballot box.

Like tha cartoon above, some today think there is only one way for the party to progress and win -- to agree with them. They say they won't support a Democratic candidate that doesn't agree with their views. I think that's a recipe for defeat.

I am a progressive, and I wish the public would agree with me on everything. But I am also a realist, and I know that's not going to happen. Most voters are moderates. They want progress, but they want to do it in small steps -- making sure this step works before taking another. Those, on both the left and right who want drastic change, are not going to appeal to most voters. That is just a fact of American politics. And a party that embraces extremism is going to chase away voters.

It is silly to say you can't support a Democrat who doesn't agree with you on everything. Frankly, I've never found a candidate who I agree with on everything. I supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, but there were things I disagreed with him about. I supported Clinton in 2016, but I disagreed with her about some things. There is no "perfect" candidate. But I do know this -- any Democrat on the ballot, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative is better for this country than any Republican on the ballot.

I will be voting for every Democrat on the ballot in 2018 and 2020, and I will apply no "purity test" on them. If we want to win (and I believe we must win in 2018 and 2020 for the good of this country), then we must be the big tent party -- the party that reaches out to all voters (and not just those who agree with us).

Over the years, I have argued with moderates and conservatives in the party. But I don't condemn them. That's because I know they will do as I do, and mark their ballot for Democrats (even those they don't completely agree with). Like me, they are good Democrats and the party is better for having them as members.

With Trump in the White House and Congress controlled by Republicans, it has never been more important for Democrats to stick together. Don't give up your views, but once candidates are chosen to represent the party, vote for them -- all of them.

Troll Farm

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Nearly Half Of Americans Support Single-Payer

The chart above represents the public's current feeling about a single-payer health care system (Medicare for All). It is from a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on September 12th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

It is both good news and bad news. The good news is that support for a single-payer health care system is growing, and now encompasses nearly half of the population (48%). The bad news is that 48% support is not enough to convince most of our politicians to pursue a path to single-payer.

I think it will take at least 60% to get Congress to take single-payer seriously. That means there is still a lot of work to be done by supporters of the concept.

Drilling The Piggy

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

Americans Are Very Dissatisfied With Their Government

The charts above are from a new Gallup Poll -- done between September 6th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,022 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.

It shows that about 71% of the public is not satisfied with how this country is being governed, while only 28% are satisfied. The second and third charts give us a clue as to why they are dissatisfied. They don't approve of the job either Congress or the president is doing.

A Life Well Lived

Political Cartoon is by Mark Streeter in the Savannah Morning News.

Chronic Pathological Liar

Monday, September 18, 2017

It Ain't The Poor And Elderly

The U.S. Is The Most Unequal Of The Developed Nations

These charts reflect information in a report by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. It shows that the United States is leading the developed world in inequality of wealth. The top 1% in the U.S. controls 41.8% of the nation's total wealth, leaving the other 99% to divide up 58.2% of the wealth. The next closest nation is Germany, where the top 1% controls 24.5% of that nation's wealth.

And in the U.S., the top 10% controls 77.2% of the nation's wealth, leaving 22.8% of the nation's wealth to be divided among the bottom 90% of the population.

These charts clearly show what the Republican "trickle-down" economic policy has done to the country. While the rich are doing very well under that policy, the bottom 90% are not. And sadly, the Republicans now want to cut taxes for the rich (and corporations), creating an even bigger wealth gap between the rich and the rest of America.

The last time wealth equality was this far out of whack was in the 1920's, and that resulted in the Great Depression. We were warned that another one may be on its way by the Bush Recession, but it doesn't look like our politicians were listening.

We are becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. We must close this wealth (and income) gap or we are courting another economic disaster. No economy can survive such wealth inequality.

Not Working

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.

45% Think Tax Cuts Help The National Economy

The chart above reflects the results of a recent Rasmussen Poll -- done on September 4th and 5th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error. It shows that 45% of Americans believe tax cuts help the economy, while 55% either believe they don't or are unsure as to whether they do or not.

Who is right? Well, the "unsure" people are right -- because this question can't be answered without knowing who is going to get the tax cuts.

If the rich get the bulk (or all) of the tax cuts, then the economy will not be helped. These people already have the money to buy anything they want, and giving them more will not increase the amount they buy. It will just fatten their bank accounts, and even if they did buy more, there aren't enough of them to significantly affect the national economy.

If the tax cuts go to the working and middle classes, then the answer is Yes. The economy will be stimulated (rising demand and creating jobs) because they comprise many millions of people -- and when they spend more, the economy is spurred and demand is increased.

Tax cuts might or might not help the economy. It all depends on who gets the cuts.

The Power Is Out

Political Cartoon is by Kirk Walters in the Toledo Blade.

Poverty Rate Falls By 0.7%, But Is Still Far Too High

The following is from the Economic Policy Institute:

The American Community Survey (ACS) data released today shows that the decline in the national poverty rate was felt in nearly every state. The poverty rate decreased in 43 states and remained unchanged in three states. While there were slight increases in the poverty rate in four states and the District of Columbia, the only statistically significant increase occurred in Vermont. In only two states, Louisiana and Mississippi, was the poverty rate above 20 percent.
Overall, the national poverty rate, as measured by the ACS, fell 0.7 percentage points, to 14.0 percent. Oregon saw the largest decline in its poverty rate (-2.1 percentage points), followed by Arkansas (-1.9 percentage points), Alabama (-1.4 percentage points), Hawaii (-1.3 percentage points), Montana (-1.3 percentage points), and South Carolina (-1.3 percentage points). There were increases in poverty in Vermont (1.7 percentage points), the District of Columbia (1.3 percentage points), Louisiana (0.6 percentage point), Oklahoma (0.2 percentage point), and Wyoming (0.2 percentage point). In Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia the rate remained essentially unchanged between 2015 and 2016.
Income growth at the national level and an increase in the number of jobs pulling workers off the sidelines accounted for a drop in the poverty rate in many states. While the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25, many states and localities have increased their minimum wages, which helps lift workers out of poverty. At the same time, government programs including Social Security, refundable tax credits, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are directly responsible for keeping tens of millions out of povertyacross the country. A significant drop in the poverty rate for the second year in a row is a positive sign, but lawmakers should be careful to protect these recent gains with policies that raise wages for working families.
Republicans will probably celebrate the drop of the poverty rate in this country. But the drop was insignificant -- only 0.7% (less than a single percentage point). And 14% of Americans continue to live below the poverty rate (over 45 million people). Is that acceptable in the richest nation in the world? 
It seems to be acceptable for the Republicans. They are getting ready to give more money to the rich (through tax cuts) and pay for it by cutting the government programs that help those living below the poverty line. They will tell you that the poor will always be with us, and poverty can't be eliminated. That's just not true. It's just an excuse for their efforts to do nothing for the poor, while giving more to the rich.
Poverty is man-made, and if they had the generous spirit and political will, men could eliminate it -- giving all people a decent life. This will never happen as long as the Republicans control our government. They are too invested in trying to convince gullible Americans that giving more to the rich will help everyone (the failed "trickle-down" theory).
There is only one way to return this country to a sane and fair economic policy -- one that significantly lowers the percentage living in poverty -- and that is to vote the Republicans out of power in 2018 and 2020.

Immigration Camp

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Oppressed (Not)