Saturday, April 21, 2018

They Are Coming (But Not For Your Guns)


Trump Did Collude With Russia To Affect The 2016 Election

(Cartoon image is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.)

Donald Trump has repeatedly denied that he colluded with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He has called it a hoax and a witch hunt and fake news. But no matter how much he claims there was no collusion, he can't get rid of the accusation -- or convince most Americans it didn't happen.

That's because he is lying. He did collude with Russia, and we see more evidence of it all the time. The latest is the verification of another part of the Steele dossier. That dossier had said that Michael Cohen had visited Prague in 2016 and met with the Russians. Cohen vehemently denied it. He lied. Special Prosecutor Mueller now has evidence that Cohen did indeed visit Prague at the time in question.

Why is this important? Because Cohen didn't work for the Republican Party or the presidential campaign, or the Trump family. He worked only for Donald Trump. He was Trump's "fixer" -- the man Trump trusted to handle delicate issues. If Cohen went to Prague and met with Russians (and we know he did), then it had to be on the instruction of Donald Trump -- and no one else.

And that is not all. NBC News is reporting that the Center for American Progress has documented that Trump's family members and campaign aides met with Russians at least 70 times. SEVENTY TIMES! That's an incredibly large number of meetings, and knowing Trump's propensity for micromanagement, is it reasonable to believe that all of these meetings were done without the knowledge or without instructions from Trump himself?

Trump likes to brag that the House Intelligence committee found no evidence of collusion. What he won't tell you is that the committee only examined people who would uphold their view that collusion did not occur -- and they failed to interview over 80% of people making those 70 meetings with Russians. It was not an investigation. It was a white wash.

Did Trump's family members meet with Russians without Trump's knowledge and approval? Did his campaign officials? If you are naive enough to believe that, then I have some oceanfront property in the Texas Panhandle that I'll sell you real cheap!

Of course there was collusion -- collusion between Trump and Russian officials. There is just too much evidence now to deny that.

In A Fix

Political Cartoon is by Steve Kelly in the New Orleans Advocate.

More Evidence That A Blue Wave Is Forming


If someone suggested a couple of years ago (or even months) that a Democrat might be elected to the U.S. Senate from the state of Arizona, they would have been ridiculed. After all, Arizona has been a pretty safe state for Republicans for quite a while now. But this new poll shows that the once unthinkable could actually be happening.

It shows that Democrat Krysten Sinema is currently leading all three of the Republicans running for their party's nomination. She leads Martha McSally by 6 points, Kelli Ward by 10 points, and Joe Arpaio by 26 points.

And before you go thinking that this is a poll that really doesn't represent Arizona voters, the poll included 12% more Republicans than Democrats (which is about the percentage that Republicans out number Democrats in the state).

The poll also asked Republicans who they would prefer represent them, and none of the three has majority support. Ward has 36%, McSally has 27%, and Arpaio has 22%. If it doesn't change, there will have to be a run-off decided by the supporters of Arpaio.

The final chart could give us a clue as to why the Republicans are polling so poorly right now. Donald Trump (the leader of their party) is viewed more unfavorably than favorably by 13 points (43% to 56%) -- a pretty shocking number for a red state.

It's still early and things could change. And the election will depend on how many people the Democrats can get to the polls, and who the Independents support. But right now, it looks like that blue wave may be real in Arizona.

These charts are from an ABC15 / OH Predictive Insights Poll -- done on April 10th and 11th of a random sample of 600 Arizona adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.




And It Just Gets Dirtier

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

These 10 Charts Show Texas Is Changing











Texas is a red state. No Democrat has won a statewide office in more than two decades, and the Republicans have been able to easily sell their right-wing agenda. But that may be changing. If this poll is correct (and I believe it is), then Texas voters are beginning to think about some of the lies told by Republicans, and they are starting to reject them.

The 10 charts above (from a new Quinnipiac Poll) reflect the change that is happening, and some of them may surprise you. For instance:

* Texans oppose the 2017 GOP tax law by a 2 point margin.
* Texans support legal abortion by a 19 point margin.
* Texans support legalizing marijuana in small amounts for personal use by a 27 point margin.
* Texans support requiring a background check for ALL gun buyers by an 89 point margin.
* Texans support a nationwide ban on selling assault weapons by an 11 point margin.
* Texans believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay and given a path to citizenship by a 34 point margin.
* Texans support the DACA regulation that allowed those who came here as children to stay by a 64 point margin.
* Texans say undocumented immigrants do NOT take jobs away from citizens by a 33 point margin.
* Texans say undocumented immigrants are NOT more likely to commit crimes than citizens by a 43 point margin.
* Texans oppose building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico by a 10 point margin.

This should worry the hell out of Republicans. It means their lies are starting to be rejected by Texas voters, and considering the demographic change the state is experiencing, that rejection will only increase.

Texas still has more Republicans than Democrats, and Republicans still have an advantage in the coming election. I think Democrats will make some progress, but state government is likely to still be controlled after this election. But how much longer will that happen?

Texas is changing. It will go purple and then blue. The only question is how long will that take to happen. This poll shows it may be sooner than some people think.

The charts above were made from information contained in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between April 12th and 17th of 1,029 Texas voters, with a margin of error of 3.6 points.

A New Senate Rule

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Emma, Jaclyn, Cameron, Alex, And David


Time Magazine has published its list of the 100 most influential people in 2018, and making that list this year are five students from Parkland Florida (Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind). One of my favorite people wrote the article for their inclusion on the list.

Barack Obama writes:

America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern. We mourn. Offer thoughts and prayers. Speculate about the motives. And then—even as no developed country endures a homicide rate like ours, a difference explained largely by pervasive accessibility to guns; even as the majority of gun owners support commonsense reforms—the political debate spirals into acrimony and paralysis.
This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account.
The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.
But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.
The power to insist that America can be better.
Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers.
Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating.
But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow.
Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.

The View From Outside

Political Cartoon is by Stephane Peray at cagle.com.

Get Over It


Friday, April 20, 2018

What Happened To Democracy ?


Poll Shows O'Rourke Closing The Gap On Cruz In Texas



It's been over 20 years since a Democrat won a statewide race in Texas -- or even came close to winning. But if this poll is correct, that has changed.

The charts above are from the newest Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between April 12th and 17th of a random sample of 1,029 Texas voters. with a margin of error of 3.6 points.

A few months ago, the thought that Ted Cruz might lose his senate seat in the November election was just a dream of Democrats. Even though I liked the Democratic candidate, Beto O'Rourke, I stated on this blog that if he won it would be a minor miracle. It looks like I may have underestimated his chances.

The poll shows O'Rourke trails Cruz by only 3 points (47% to 44%) -- a gap that is within the poll's margin of error. It's been a long time since a statewide Democrat was polling that well, and should energize the state's Democrats to do even more.

It is the second chart that's should make Democrats very happy. While most Texans know Cruz, they are split on whether they view him favorably or unfavorably (46% to 44%). While O'Rourke is viewed favorably by only 30%, there are 53% of Texas voters who say they just don't know him well enough to know if they view him favorably or unfavorably. That means he has a lot of room for improvement, and if he is able to adequately introduce himself to Texas voters, might actually win in November.

The good news is that he has a little over 6 months to accomplish that. I think he's a good candidate and campaigner, and most Texans will like him if they get to know him better. O'Rourke has about %8 million on hand (about the same as Cruz has), but he will probably need more to convince Texas voters that he would be good for them. I do like the fact that, unlike some Democrats in the past, he's not restricting his campaign to Democratic areas (like urban centers and South Texas). He's following a 254 county campaign strategy.

If you would like to help O'Rourke fund his introduction to Texas voters, you can go here. (NOTE: He is not accepting any PAC or super-PAC money -- only donations from individuals.)

Justice (Trump-Style)

Political Cartoon is by Patrick Chappate in the New York Times.

Why Are The Republicans Such Big Climate Change Deniers?







The charts above reflect information in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between April 15th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

It shows that the American public has substantial majorities believing global climate change (commonly called global warming) is real and is caused by human activity (59%), are concerned about that change (63%), believe there is a consensus among scientists on it (57%), and believe it will  effect them in their lifetimes (55%).  Those are some fairly impressive numbers, and it has been that way for many months now.

That brings me to my question -- Why does the Republican Party officials continue to deny global warming is happening or is caused by human activity? One might think that, with the electoral wave building against them, they should want to be seen as being on the side of the public majority -- but they aren't, and show no sign of changing.

We can get a clue from the tax plan they passed a few months ago. While claiming they were passing a plan that would help all Americans, they actually approved a plan that gave about 82% of all benefits to the richest Americans. This is nothing new. The Republicans like to pay lip service to ordinary Americans (especially at election time), but when they act it is to reward the rich and the corporations at the expense of all other Americans.

The same is true on environmental issues (including global climate change). They claim to be protectors of the environment, but all of their actions have been to make the environment dirtier to protect and enhance the profits of corporations (and their rich investors). That's why Trump (with the blessing of congressional Republicans) pulled this country out of the Paris Accord, and why he chose anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt to head the EPA (with the blessing of Senate Republicans).

The real constituency of the Republican Party's elected officials is the rich (and they corporations controlled by the rich). They have decided that everything must be done to enrich corporations and investors, even if that hurts other Americans, destroys the environment, and leaves our descendants with a much less inhabitable world.

It is just one reason, among many, why the Republicans must be voted out of power in November.

Anti-EPA

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.

White Evangelical Support For Trump Is At An All-Time High

This chart is from a recent Public Religion Research Institute Poll -- done between March 14th and 25th of a random national sample pot 2,020 adults (including 364 white evangelicals). The margin of error for the entire poll is 2.6 points. No margin of error was given for just white evangelicals.

We now know that Donald Trump is a consummate liar (having lied over 2,400 times since being sworn in), is a serial adulterer, a misogynist who sexually assaults women, a racist who has further divided the country, a man who doesn't pay his bills and cons consumers through fraudulent businesses, an official who has funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into his own businesses, a person who rewards the rich and corporations while hurting the poor and disadvantaged, and has shown he is not averse to breaking promises and agreements he has made.

In short, Donald Trump is the most corrupt and immoral president in modern American history.

That's why I was amazed that white evangelicals supported him in such large numbers in the last election. None of these things come as a surprise, and anyone could know that by looking at his past history. This is the group that claims to have "family values", and want people to believe their values are superior to those of other Americans.

But they ignored those values by giving Trump the support of about 68% of their members in the 2016 election. And since then, that support has not declined -- but has grown to a record 75%.These people have abandoned their religious beliefs and values to support an immoral politician that promised to support their bigoted social agenda.

I don't ever want to hear the word "values" from a white evangelical again. They have no values.

White Privilege

Political Cartoon is by Christopher Weyant in The Boston Globe.

Congress Must Act To Protect Mueller (And Our Democracy)

 (These caricatures of Robert Mueller and Donald Trump are by DonkeyHotey.)

Can a president obstruct justice by firing officials who are investigating possible wrongdoing by him?

Many of us thought that question had been answered a few decades ago, when Richard Nixon tried to do that and was forced out of office because of it. But it seems that too many people refuse to learn from history -- and don't realize the danger of allowing any president to have that kind of power. Allowing a president to quash investigations of himself by simply firing those doing the investigation would give that president dictatorial power -- and it would be a serious blow to our system of checks and balances, which protects our democracy.

Trump has already fired two heads of the FBI in an effort to protect himself, and had to be talked out of trying to fire Robert Mueller last December. Many believe he will try again to fire Mueller, and obstruct justice.

Sadly, the current Republican-controlled Congress is doing nothing to protect Special Investigator Robert Mueller (and the rule of law). Would they be so slow to act if a Democrat was in the White House and tried to obstruct justice? Of course not. They need to rise above party politics and protect our democracy, even though the current resident of the White House is a member of their own party.

This is not just the belief of left-wingers like myself. Consider this editorial from the editorial board of the conservative Bloomberg News:

It's well past time for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stand up and protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian sabotage of the 2016 presidential election.
McConnell this week said that even if a bipartisan bill to protect Mueller emerges from the Senate Judiciary Committee, he will block a vote. “We’ll not be having this on the floor of the Senate," he said.
The proposed bill, authored by two Democrats and two Republicans, provides for expedited judicial review in the event the special counsel is fired. It would allow the special counsel to challenge any termination that he believes was not executed for good cause.
McConnell and Ryan, whose respective bodies have exercised almost no oversight of an executive branch that careens from one scandal to the next, publicly insist that there is no reason to shield Mueller's investigation into relations between President Donald Trump's allies and foreign operatives.
This is nonsense. After numerous indictments and guilty pleas already obtained by Mueller, and a related investigation that led to a raid last week by federal agents on the office, home and hotel room of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the president continues to attack the Mueller investigation, calling it  "fake and corrupt" and a "total witch hunt."
Trump long ago sought to derail Mueller, ordering White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to tell the Justice Department to shut down the investigation. McGahn rightly refused.
Trump's eagerness to escape scrutiny does point to a problem with legislation to protect Mueller: The president would likely veto any such measure. Nonetheless, as he rages against the rule of law, Congress should acknowledge its duty to uphold it. One veto-proof way would be a sense-of-Congress resolution to put lawmakers on record in support of letting Mueller complete his investigation. Such resolutions have been used in the past to signal congressional resolve. Though lacking the power of law, a resolution would draw a line and warn the president not to cross it.
Enough with the stalling. Failure to act could be the prelude to a constitutional crisis. Ryan and McConnell must protect Mueller's investigation.

Trump's Pet

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

The Big Con


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sad Excuse For A President


No! Donald Trump's Job Approval Is NOT Improving!



I have heard some pundits on cable news recently remarking that Donald Trump's job approval has improved recently. That's wishful thinking on their part. They are talking about a point or two in some polls -- movement that is within the margin of error of the polls. Their has been no significant improvement in Trump's job approval for months.

Note in the top chart that Trump's approval has been in the 38% to 41% range for the last three months,  and currently he has a negative approval rating of 15 points. And in the second chart, we see that almost all groups have larger disapproval numbers than approval numbers. The only group that has a bigger approval number is those over 65 -- and that is only by 2 points.

This remains a presidency in deep trouble.

These charts reflect information in the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between April 15th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

The Noose Tightens

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

Undocumented Immigrants Pay Billions In U.S. Taxes

(This cartoon image is by Martin Sutovec in The Mercury News.)

Americans have just finished paying their income taxes for last year, and this is the time you hear a lot of right-wingers whine about undocumented immigrants.

They would have you believe they come to this country and become a burden on American taxpayers -- sucking up benefits without paying for them. The truth is just the opposite. They don't qualify for those benefits, but pay billions of dollars to fund them.

Yes. Undocumented immigrants do pay taxes -- billions of dollars in taxes. Here is an estimate of the taxes they pay:

$23.6 billion in income taxes
$11.7 billion in state and local taxes
$9 billion in payroll taxes (Social Security/Medicare)

That's a total of about $44.3 billion in taxes. Kicking them out of the country wouldn't save tax money -- it would cost us tax revenues! And who do you think would have to make up those lost taxes? With the Republicans in power, it certainly would not be the rich or corporations. It would be ordinary Americans (including the foolish people who want to deport undocumented workers).

Trump Gets Tough

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

Are We Looking At The End Of Trump's Presidency ?

(Photo of Donald Trump was found at deadline.com.)

Sources say Trump is apoplectic over the search warrants served against his lawyer, Michael Cohen. And he should be. If anyone knows "where the bodies are buried", it's Cohen -- and he kept documents and tapes (presumably to cover himself). Those documents and tapes could well be the final death knell of the Trump administration.

Adam Davidson believes we are now "in the end stages of the Trump Presidency". Here is just a part of the excellent op-ed he wrote for The New Yorker.

This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth. I know dozens of reporters and other investigators who have studied Donald Trump and his business and political ties. Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved.

However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. . . .

The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad global operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations. . . .

There are important legal questions that remain. How much did Donald Trump and his children know about the criminality of their partners? How explicit were they in agreeing to put a shiny gold brand on top of corrupt deals? The answers to these questions will play a role in determining whether they go to jail and, if so, for how long.

There is no longer one major investigation into Donald Trump, focussed solely on collusion with Russia. There are now at least two, including a thorough review of Cohen’s correspondence. The information in his office and hotel room will likely make clear precisely how much the Trump family knew. What we already know is disturbing, and it is hard to imagine that the information prosecutors will soon learn will do anything but worsen the picture.

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Another Witch Found

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

History Repeating Itself


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Incompetent


Barbara Bush


I am saddened by the death of Barbara Bush at the age of 92. As far as Republican First Ladies go, she was probably the best. She did the job with dignity and humor, and loved her family and country. That's not a bad legacy at all.

Wrong

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

The Narcissist-In-Chief Is Not Going To Like This Poll



The YouGov Poll surveyed the citizens of 35 different countries on who they admire the most. Here is the methodology they used:

In December YouGov gathered open-ended nominations from panellists across 35 countries, asking them simply: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” These nominations were then used to compile a list of the 20 men and 20 women who received the most nominations and were nominated in at least four countries. An additional 10 popular local figures were added to the lists for individual countries. 
Over the beginning of the year we then used the lists to poll each of the 35 countries asking two questions: “who do you truly admire?”, where respondents could make multiple selections, and “who do you MOST admire?”, where they could only pick one. These two numbers were combined into a percentage share of admiration, displayed to the right of each name in the first graphic and table below, which shows the full results for every country including local celebrities and public figures.
The results for those countries is shown in the charts above. Bill gates was the most admired man because he finished in the top four in every country, while Barack Obama finished low in China and Russia. Obama actually was most admired in 19 countries, while Gates finished first in 6 countries.
Note that Donald Trump did not do well in the survey. While Obama finished second with 9.7%, Trump was far behind in 17th place with 2.1%. Perhaps even more embarrassing for Trump is the fact that he finished behind Obama in 34 of the 35 countries -- and in most he was far behind (seee second chart).
The only country that rated Trump higher than Obama was Russia, and that was only one place better (Trump finished in 11th and Obama in 12th there).
Among women, Michelle Obama finished in second place with 8.0%. Angelina Jolie was first with 8.2%. Melania Trump did not finish in the top 20.
The chart below shows the rankings in the United States. Trump's supporters were able to get him up to second place (10.7%) -- but he was still 13.3 points behind Obama (24%). Michelle Obama finished first among women with 13.2%). Oprah Winfrey was second with 6.9%. Melania Trump finished in 10th with 3.6%.
Trump has done his best to destroy the legacy of the Obama's, but they remain far more popular than he is -- both in the United States and in the world.