Monday, April 23, 2018

Motivated Only By Profit


The Best Candidate Is NEVER A Republican

 I have been voting for slightly over five decades now, and I can honestly say I have never voted for a Republican (and I never will).

That statement shocks some people. Those are the people who think they are superior citizens because they say "I vote for the best candidate -- not the party". I say BULLSHIT! If you ever voted for a Republican, then you did not vote for the "best candidate". The one exception to this is if you are rich and vote in your own interest -- because the Republican Party favors the rich to the detriment of all other Americans.

That has been true all of the 20th and 21st centuries. At the dawn of the 20th Century, the Republican Party was firmly in the hands of the richest Americans (i.e., the "Robber Barons"). Their economic idea was that whatever was good for the rich and the corporations was good for all Americans (commonly called the "trickle-down" theory). Of course, it didn't work. The rich just hoarded the wealth created, and shared none of it. That led to an economic disaster (now known as the "Great Depression").

The Democrats cured that economic mess by passing Social Security, a minimum wage, and taxing the rich. A few years later they passed Medicare and Medicaid, and passed other measures to help the poor and disadvantaged.

But the Republican Party never gave up on their failed "trickle-down" theory. With the election of Ronald Reagan (and more power in Congress), they returned to it. And since then, worker wages have stagnated while the rich enjoyed a huge boost in their already high income. This has created an enormous gap in wealth and income between the richest Americans and the rest of the population -- a gap that has grown as big as it was just before the Great Depression -- and it continues to grow (boosted by the recent tax cuts for the rich).

A vote for the Republican Party is a vote to continue the "trickle-down" economics, and invite another economic disaster. The Democrats want a fairer economy -- one that benefits all Americans, and not just the rich. They know that money in our capitalist economy flows up to the rich. It does not trickle down to everyone. They know that their must be regulations on capitalism to make it beneficial to all. The rich must pay their fair share of taxes, and so must corporations. Unions must be protected and encouraged, because that is the only real protection that workers have. They want a livable wage to let all workers provide for their families with depending on government. And they want to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and programs that help the poor and disadvantaged in our society.

But the Republicans are wrong about matters other than economics also. They are the anti-immigrant party -- even though this nation was built (and is still sustained) by immigration. And they would limit the rights of everyone but white males. It is thanks to Democrats that minorities, women, homosexuals, and non-christians have more rights today than ever before (although true equality has still not been achieved). More needs to be done, but Republicans will never do it. Democrats will. A vote for the Republican Party is a vote against equal rights and opportunity for all Americans.

There are many other differences between the parties, but that should be enough to show that the Republican Party's beliefs and agenda are disastrous for this country. At this point, some might say that not every Republican agrees with every part of that agenda, and some vote against it at times. But that's a fairly rare occurrence. The members of both political parties, especially in these partisan times, vote at least 95% of the time with their own party's agenda. And even a "good" Republican, will vote against what's best for most Americans 95% of the time. Is it really acceptable to you to vote for a candidate that votes for your interests only 5% of the time?

Democrats are not perfect, and after electing them, voters need to keep their feet to the fire. But they are many times better than Republicans. That's why I truly believe that the worst Democrat on the ballot is better than the best Republican.

The best candidate is NEVER a Republican!

Shooting Gallery

Political Cartoon is by Bill Schorr at cagle.com.

Trump Is Destroying The U.S. Reputation In Latin America




Why did Donald Trump decide to skip the Summit of the Americas recently, and send the vic-president instead. The charts above could be a big clue. Most of the people in Latin America do not like or trust Donald Trump.

These charts use information from a survey of seven important Latin American countries (Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela) by the Pew Research Center in 2017. Note in the top chart, huge majorities in all those countries have no confidence that Trump will do the right thing regarding world affairs.

That lack of trust and confidence in Trump has resulted in a much less positive view of the United States in all of those countries.

In other words, Trump is trashing the reputation of the United States with our Latin American neighbors -- just like he has done in the rest of the world.

Trump's "Twitter"

Political Cartoon is by Pierre Ballouhey at cagle.com.

GOP Tax Law Claims Are Not Evidence-Based

(Photo from npr.org is by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images, and shows Republicans celebrating the passage of their new tax law.)

The Republicans made a lot of claims about their new tax cut law. They said it was a middle class tax cut. That was exposed as untrue, since over 80% of the tax cuts go to corporations and the richest Americans. Then they said the middle class would benefit because much of that money would trickle down to them in the form of higher wages and massive new job creation. Neither has happened. The truth is that the GOP's claims are specious, and not backed by evidence.

Here is part of an article on this by Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair at the Economic Policy Institute:

The TCJA is generally not defended on the grounds that it will boost demand. The reason why is clear: the tax cuts that make up the bulk of the TCJA—tax cuts for the rich and big corporations—are by far the weakest fiscal stimulus to aggregate demand. High-income households are more likely to save the money they receive from a tax cut than low- and moderate-income households. This means that much of the TCJA will end up as savings in the pockets of rich households rather than a boost to aggregate demand. Corporate tax cuts don’t rate any better on this core, for the same reasons. In the short run, the benefits of corporate tax cuts flow to shareholders. The top 1 percent owns 40 percent of total stocks. In short, corporate rate cuts are simply tax cuts for the rich by another name. Tax cuts for low- and middle-income households would have provided about three times as much bang for the buck as the TCJAs tax cuts for the rich and big corporations, as would have increases to income support programs or infrastructure spending.
All of this is why defense of the TCJA (and tax cuts for rich people generally) assume the economy is not demand-constrained and is already at full employment. In this case, the claim is that cuts to the corporate rate give companies higher after-tax profits with which they can pay dividends to shareholders. This increases corporations’ incentive to undertake investment in new plant and equipment. And because the increase in the post-tax return to capital owners’ savings induces households to save more (or attracts more savings from abroad), these desired new investments can be financed without being choked off by rising interest rates. The resulting increase in capital investment gives workers more and better tools to work with, which boosts labor productivity and eventually wages.
This all makes sense in theory, but as we’ve long detailed, the real-world  evidence doesn’t support that cuts to corporate income taxes will help typical American families. The reason for this in today’s economy is simple: post-tax returns to capital investment have been at historic highs for years now, yet capital investment lags. Increasing post-tax returns just does not seem to loosen any serious constraint on economic growth.
Even worse for the TCJA, however, is that the previous analysis assumes that these tax cuts to corporate income tax rates were paid for and do not add to the federal budget deficit. But as we all know now, the TCJA was not paid for. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the TCJA will add almost $1.9 trillion to deficits over 10 years. In the previous analysis, the boost to post-tax profit rates increased the incentive for private households to save, and this allowed new investments to be financed without pushing up interest rates. But for this to be true, it isn’t enough that just private savings increase—overall national savings must increase to keep interest rates from rising in the face of higher investment demand. The increase in federal budget deficits caused by the TCJA reduces public savings, and this would offset the effects of increased private savings. This means that if the economy genuinely is at full employment (as most TCJA proponents claim), then its failure to pay for the tax cuts will lead to higher interest rates that will choke off any investment incentive the TCJA provides.
There is simply no way to make a case that the TCJA was good economics relative to any plausible alternative. It has exceedingly low bang for the buck as a stimulus measure. Tax cuts that went disproportionately to low- and middle- income households, instead of to the rich and big corporations, or increases in government spending would have stimulated the economy by about three to five times as much.

No Longer Even A Pretense

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

Tax Cuts For Rich Do Not Help The Economy


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Evangelical Hypocrisy


Presidential Job Approval After 456 Days In Office


The chart above (using info from fivethirtyeight.com) shows each president's job approval after he had been in office for 456 days. It is an average of the polls taken. For the first time of his administration, Trump is not the lowest rated. His 40.3% is 3/10 of a point higher than Carter's 40%.

That should not be any cause for celebration for Trump though. Carter's 40% showed his presidency was in trouble -- and Trump's 40.3% shows his administration remains in deep trouble.

Flying Monkey

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

There Is An Anti-Incumbent Mood In The Country This Year


The chart above is from the Gallup Poll. It shows the feeling among the public at this time of the year regarding off-year elections for Congress from 1994 to 2018. The latest survey was done between April 9th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,510 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.

Note that there is currently a fairly strong anti-incumbent sentiment. About 26% say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected, and only 51% say their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. Those numbers should worry Republicans the most, since they have the largest number of incumbents (and other polls have shown they are being blamed for congressional dysfunction).

We could easily be looking at another year like 2010, when control of Congress flipped. In fact, the 2010 numbers looked slightly better for incumbents that 2018 numbers do.

Message

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Evangelicals Traded Religion For A Socio-Political Agenda

(Cartoon image is by Drew Sheneman in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.)

Evangelism is defined as spreading the gospel of christianity. In today's America, evangelicals are still trying to spread the word, but it's no longer the word of religion. It's a right-wing socio-policital agenda -- which has little to do with the teachings of their Christ. This has been happening for a while, but there support for Donald Trump makes clear that they have chosen politics over religion.

Here's part of a very good article by Hollis Phelps on the subject for Religious Dispatches:

There’s no doubt that evangelicalism seems to have an image problem, especially since its overwhelming alliance with Trump. In the minds of many outside the fold, evangelicalism no longer represents a specific religious position centered on sin and the need for individual salvation but rather a self-serving, power-hungry political movement that will side with the devil himself for the sake of political pragmatism. . . .

It would be wrong to paint all evangelicals with the same brush. Evangelicalism is and will remain a complex socio-political movement propped up by a religious rhetoric that emphasizes individual piety, but its adherents aren’t all the same. Indeed, some of Trump’s most vocal critics come out of evangelicalism.

That said, given the consistency with which white evangelicals as a whole have lent their support to Trump—and right-wing candidates and policies more generally—it’s far past time to own up to the fact that the image is, in many respects, the reality.

Well-intentioned evangelical leaders may not like to hear that, but it remains the case that an overwhelming majority of evangelicals continue to support Trump and his policies. Sure, they may have issues with his moral center, or lack thereof, but they’re willing to overlook all this for the sake of political expediency, for promises of “religious freedom,” and the hope of a judiciary stacked with conservative judges.

This is because, at the end of the day, evangelicalism isn’t really about personal values but, rather, social and political conversion and control. Little has changed, in this sense, since the days of Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority (as Daniel Schultz rightly pointed out recently on RD).

The Trump era, then, does not create a new problem for evangelicals and their image; it’s simply casting a very bright light on what has always been there, at least for the past forty years or so. . . .

I applaud those evangelicals who want to think honestly about the movement’s current image in the Trump age. But appealing to some “pure” form of the faith beyond its supposed political corruption—beyond the racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and the like that even critics of paper over—isn’t the way to go.

Not only do such appeals represent little more than nostalgia-laden theological desires that have little to do with what goes on on the ground, but they also ignore the fact that the line between religion and politics is flimsy at best, if not entirely non-existent. Evangelicalism, in its current manifestation, isn’t a religion that has been corrupted by its entry into politics but is, rather, a social movement that works through a specific type of politics. The substance of that politics has been clearly on display for some time now. Trump and his evangelical allies didn’t invent it; they only exacerbated it.

If evangelicalism ever wants to play a more positive role in social and political life, perhaps it’s time its leaders acknowledge that its public image isn’t a “grotesque caricature,” but the thing itself. 

What Would It Take ?

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at jensorensen.com.

Malevolent Gods


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.