Weekly Toon …

More than a wink, it was an endorsement!

Just when you think Donald Trump can’t sink any lower the man finds new ways to do so. First he failed to condemn the behavior of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and members of the Ku Klux Klan for their behavior in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday. Trump argued that many were to blame for what happened.

Then on Monday he read a statement that did condemn the hate groups. But he quickly backed off the following day at a press conference in which he said blame for the violence should be shared between the hate groups and those gathered to protest their presence.

Both sides contained “very fine people,” he said, revealing his true character in the process.

Key administration officials remained silent throughout, including, among others, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn, all of whom are Jewish, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.

Let’s be clear. Very fine people would never join hands with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and members of the Klan. Very fine people would never stand by silently while others with whom they were marching chanted “Jews will not replace us” or “blood and soil.”

There is no moral equivalence between those who preach hate or drive cars into a crowd injuring and killing others and those who protest the people doing this.

For that reason alone it was heartening to see many Republicans pushing back against Trump. Speaking to local media in his home state of Tennessee, Senator Bob Corker admonished Trump for his response to the weekend violence and said the president “has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.”

“I think our president needs to take stock of the role that he plays in our nation and move beyond himself, move way beyond himself, and move to a place where daily he wakes up thinking about what is best for our nation,” Corker added. “Helping inspire divisions because it generates support from your political base is not a formula for causing our nation to advance, our nation to overcome the many issues that we have to deal with right now.”

“He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today,” Corker continued. “He’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that. And without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

“The president has not yet, has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

Other Republicans spoke up as well. “There are not two sides to bigotry and there are not two sides to hatred,” former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “If you choose to march with the flag that symbolizes the slaughter of millions of people, there are not two sides to that.”

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, excoriated Trump for his equivocating response to the violence and urged him to apologize in remarks posted on Facebook.

“In homes across the nation, children are asking their parents what this means. Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?”

And don’t be fooled. The removal of Steve Bannon changes nothing. The cesspool that passes for Trump’s brain is still there, still sucking up to people who made their anti-Americanism all too evident last weekend in Charlottesville.

Our runner-up for the week is still another commentary on Trump’s moral depravity.

Weekly Toon …

How comforting ...

Now there’s a comforting thought indeed from Rick McKee, the staff cartoonist for the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle. You can find more of his cartoons featured here.

North Korea poses a serious test and this editorial from the Washington Post and article by Charles Krauthammer, with whom I rarely agree, are well worth reading. But it’s a column by Michael Gerson that may be the scariest.

By all indications, Trump lives in the eternal now of his wants and compulsions. He combines a total ignorance of the past with a total confidence in his instincts. Now, in the first crisis not of his own making, he must produce traits of leadership he has not exhibited before: judgment, prudence and wisdom. His default mind-set is not only indifferent to these traits but also antithetical to them.

You can read the entire column here.

Our runner-up for the week is an interesting but quite startling commentary on Republican voters.

Are Trump’s lies different?

I thought they came standard ...

Fabrications have long been a part of American politics. Politicians lie to puff themselves up, to burnish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds, including sexual affairs. (See: Bill Clinton.) Sometimes they cite false information for what they believe are justifiable policy reasons. (See: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam.)

But President Trump, historians and consultants in both political parties agree, appears to have taken what the writer Hannah Arendt once called “the conflict between truth and politics” to an entirely new level.

Read more of that interesting article I’ve quoted from above by following this link. And just so you know here’s a spoiler alert to the question that headlines this posting.

If only by volume alone, the answer is yes. But it’s more than just a question of volume as this article and this one make clear.

Weekly Toon …

Trump, the man who loved bitching about Obama taking vacations, is finally on vacation himself. I was hoping that would provide the rest of us a much needed respite from the man’s lies, lies cartoonist Jeff Stahler nails in the above cartoon.

But Trump even lies about taking a vacation. Indeed, nothing that ever comes out of his mouth is the unvarnished truth. It’s more about his neediness. In any event, you can catch more of Stahler’s work here.

Our runner-up is a look at the past week from Tom Tomorrow. After looking at it again, it seems like a year to me.

Weekly Toon …

Trump will throw anyone under the bus ...

President Trump’s outrageous claim Wednesday that transgender service members were a burden on the nation was crude and simplistic, and it seemed to catch the Pentagon by surprise.

By contrast, the friend-of-the-court brief filed by Justice Department lawyers in a gay man’s employment discrimination lawsuit was detailed and dispassionate. Yet it, too, belies Trump’s assurances in last year’s campaign that he cares about “our LGBTQ citizens.”

You can read the rest of this Los Angeles Times editorial by following this link. It compliments our toon of the week from an old favorite, Tom Toles, whose work is featured here.

I’ve discussed Trump’s attack on transgender people more in this previous post. But that wasn’t the only shot the Trump administration took at the LGBTQ community this week. In addition to the L.A. Times editorial you can read this article to learn more.

By now it should be apparent to even the most dense that Trump has no enduring loyalty to anyone except himself. If he’s willing to humiliate his Attorney General, which he did all week, and toss his chief of staff under the bus (as he did on Friday), why would anyone who is a member of the LGBTQ community believe the man is – or could ever be – a friend?

That’s just plain stupid.

Our runner-up for the week is a fascinating exploration of Trump’s brain. David Horsey captures it perfectly.

Too close for comfort …

Repeal and replace the twit ...

The Republican effort to deprive millions of Americans of health insurance in order to finance tax cuts for the rich — an effort opposed by doctors, nurses, public health professionals, and a strong majority of the American people — failed early this morning.

It failed by the slimmest of margins, a single vote, and only because three GOP Senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona — joined every Senate Democrat in voting against the final Republican proposal.

The three GOP heroes deserve our gratitude, as do the 48 Senators who caucus with the Democrats and also voted against this misguided proposal. Many others deserve to be remembered for supporting a bill they knew was wrong.

Lindsay Graham of South Carolina called the stripped-down GOP proposal a “disaster” and a “fraud,” but voted for it nonetheless (as did Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who had earlier threatened to vote against the bill for the same reason).

Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — whose state has benefited enormously from the Affordable Care Act and who famously declarted she “didn’t come here to hurt people” — also voted for the bill, one that would quadruple the number of uninsured in West Virginia.

Rob Portman of Ohio, who cultivates an image as a moderate, praises Medicaid and talked big about the defects of Republican health plans, also voted for that bill knowing full well the number of uninsured in Ohio would triple.

Dean Heller of Nevada, who had earlier projected independence because of the devastation the GOP proposls would have visited on Nevada, fell into line, an obedient lapdog intimidated into silence by Donald Trump. Threatened with a primary next year, Jeff Flake of Arizona did so as well.

In short, it wasn’t just the bill that was a fraud. A lot of those who had earlier spoken out against the GOP effort turned out to be frauds as well by falling into line when Mitch McConnell cracked the whip. None of these people have any business being in the United States Senate.

After the bill failed, 51 to 49, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, pleaded for a new bipartisan process to improve the nation’s health care system. John McCain did so as well.

“We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people,” McCain said in a statement after the vote. “We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”

But others, most notably Donald Trump, were having having none of it.

And make no mistake. Trump and his Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, can and already have done a lot of damage to Obamacare as this article makes clear in nauseating detail.

It’s hard to say definitively that the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is completely dead. For the moment at least, however, it’s deader than it’s ever been up until now.

Mitch McConnell said on the floor that it was time to move on. He also said “Our only regret is that we didn’t achieve what we hoped to accomplish.”

Think about that. McConnell’s only regret is that he failed to deprive millions of Americans of their health insurance!

Sunday will be the 52nd anniversary of President Johnson signing the bill into law that created the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Happy birthday indeed, Medicaid and Medicare, at least for now.

Some questions …

I have some questions for those who claim to be gay and Republican.

Do you support Donald Trump’s decision today to ban transgender people from serving in the military? Did you support his earlier decision to rescind protections put in place by President Obama prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students?

Do you still think Donald Trump is a friend of the LGBTQ community, someone worthy of your support and your vote?

If you do, you’re pathetic.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted today. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

It’s a lie, of course. The Pentagon spends more, ten times as much, on erectile dysfunction meds than it does on transgender services. But telling the truth has never been Donald Trump’s strong suit. In addition to avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War because he had bone spurs, the man is a chronic liar.

One immediate question is why Trump made the announcement today? It’s hard to say for sure, but one commentator suggests that this has something to do with Trump’s efforts to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.

Just as Donald Trump is experiencing an unexpected backlash from his conservative base of supporters for his withering attacks on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, comes his tweetstorm in which he says he will mercilessly ban transgender people – who’ve been serving openly in the military since President Obama lifted the ban on open service last year – from serving any longer.

You can read the full analysis here and there definitely seems to be some truth to it.

Still another interesting take sees the decision as part of a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of Trump’s campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat.

Read more about that here.

Whatever the reason or reasons, the decision is being widely condemned. The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest medical society, said “there is no medically valid reason” for the ban. “Transgender individuals are serving their country with honor, and they should be allowed to continue doing so.”

John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, opposed the decision and took issue with how it was announced. “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

And the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Jack Reed, noted that Trump made his decision public on the anniversary of Harry Truman’s order desegregating the United States military.

“President Trump is choosing to retreat in the march toward equality,” Senator Reed said.

“This was a divisive political move that exposes the president’s lack of faith in the professionalism of our armed forces,” Reed added, calling on Trump to review the facts and reverse his decision. “In the land of the free and the home of the brave, every American who is brave enough to serve their country should be free to do so.”

Meanwhile, at the White House, the sock puppet otherwise known as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, threatened to end the daily press briefing because she was unable to answer reporters’ questions about how Trump came to the decision, why he announced it over Twitter, whether the Defense Department was involved or whether Trump was failing to live up to his campaign pledge to defend LGBT Americans.

Or perhaps more important still, whether the decision was politically motivated. Of course, we already know the answer to that, don’t we?

The decision comes one day after the Republican-dominated state Senate in Texas passed a bill that would force transgender Texans to use bathrooms of the gender on their birth certificates rather than the one they identify with.

But apparently our gay Republican friends continue to live in their fantasy world, one where everything is going just swimmingly for the LGBTQ community under the GOP!

To put it simply, transgender Americans have served and are continuing to serve courageously in our military. “I came from a long line of people who have served in this country,” said Machinist Mate First Class Monica Helms. “To have someone say to me, I’m not worthy to be allowed to serve, simply because I’m different, is a horrible and bigoted way of looking at things.”