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.

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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.”

Weekly Toon …

Perhaps no one will care by the time it's gone ...

The truth can’t be repeated often enough: The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which held its first meeting last week, is a sham and a scam.

It was born out of a marriage of convenience between conservative anti-voter fraud crusaders, who refuse to accept actual data, and a president who refuses to accept that he lost the popular vote fair and square.

It is run by some of the nation’s most determined vote suppressors, the kind who try to throw out voter registrations for being printed on insufficiently thick paper or who release reports on noncitizen voting that are titled “Alien Invasion” and illustrated with images of U.F.O.s.

Its purpose is not to restore integrity to elections but to undermine the public’s confidence enough to push through policies and practices that make registration and voting harder ….

As Tom Toles suggests in our toon of the week, still another foundation of our democracy is under assault by Donald Trump and much of the Republican party. It’s the right to vote, to throw out the rascals. In a representative democracy like ours, the right to vote is the only real check ordinary people have on those in power.

But it’s a right that is under assault these days as the New York Times documents in this excellent editorial that I’ve excerpted above. If you care about your rights – and given how few people vote, many obviously don’t – you need to read the whole thing.

Our runner-up for the week is still another testimonial to what working for Donald Trump can do for you.

The seeds of dictatorship …

Don't be surprised if it happens ...

In less than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump found a way to impugn the integrity and threaten the livelihoods of nearly all of the country’s top law enforcement officials, including some he appointed, for one simple reason: They swore an oath to defend the Constitution, not him.

For a president who sees the rule of law as an annoyance rather than a feature of American democracy, the traitors are everywhere. Read the rest of this excellent editorial here.

Donald Trump’s contempt for the basic norms of a democratic society and the rule of law are becoming more and more worrisome with each passing day. It’s not just his willingness to attack anyone he perceives to be a threat to himself or to his family, which the New York Times rightly condemns.

But when combined with reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post that his lawyers are looking for ways to discredit the work of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, or perhaps even to fire him, you have to wonder whether we are headed toward a constitutional crisis.

We’re not there yet, but we’re definitely spiraling down that road. Trump is no longer just a narcissistic fool. He is becoming a malignant cancer on the American body politic.

Let Obamacare fail?

It could have been different ...

After Donald Trump won the presidency, many Americans despondently wondered whether facts mattered anymore.

Trump, after all, won the presidency despite a constant stream of falsehoods. He launched his political career with a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace and just kept on lying, about almost every imaginable subject. He also admitted to being a sexual molester. He refused to release his tax returns, unlike every other modern nominee. And yet he was elected president of the United States. There was, and still is, ample reason for despondence.

But the events of the past few months, and especially the last few days, offer some reason for encouragement. They have demonstrated that facts still matter and that truth has some inherent advantages over falsehood. That’s the No. 1 lesson to take from the collapse of the Republican health care bills.

You can read more of David Leonhardt’s excellent commentary here.

Is this it then? Has the GOP effort to deprive millions of Americans access to affordable health care in order to fund a tax increase for the rich and powerful reached the end of the line?

Who knows.

If we have, however, it’s ironic that the final death knell was dealt by three female GOP Senators: Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

After the House passed its healthcare proposal earlier this year, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, put together a group of Senators to come up with the Senate’s response.

Not surprisingly, Democrats were frozen out. Only Republicans would be allowed to decide. But McConnell also chose to ignore the Republican women; and now, apparently, they’re ready to veto his last ditch effort, one that involves repealing Obamacare without replacing it with anything at all.

Of the many GOP proposals put forward this year, this is the cruelest one of all as the Congressional Budget Office has already documented. Talk about cynical. But then cynical and cruel is what so-called GOP leaders specialize in.

“Let Obamacare fail,” President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, then reiterated still later in the day, putting his own ego above the pain and suffering millions of Americans would experience if Obamacare fails.

Has there ever been a more cynical abdication of Presidential responsibility?

What Trump demonstrated once again is that he is completely indifferent to the consequences that will result from sabotaging the individual health insurance market.

But here’s the rub. Trump and his Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, have broad discretionary authority that can be used to deliberately sabotage the program if they decide to do so.

And they may very well do that.

The truth is, Trump has never cared one iota about what was in any of the GOP healthcare bills. He just wanted a victory.

What a sad, pathetic and disgusting specimen this man is!

But Trump’s tweet should also remind us that nothing is ever final in Washington. There is a lot the GOP can do to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. So the answer is no; as much as we might like the debate about healthcare to be over and done, it isn’t.

The question is whether there are enough responsible members of the GOP to work with the Democrats to produce a healthcare proposal that would actually improve healthcare for ordinary Americans?

Let’s hope so.

Otherwise things could get very bad in the months ahead if Trump and Price do what they say they plan to do.

Weekly Toon …

The truth ... finally :-)

It’s easy to see why Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants the TV cameras off during her White House news briefings.

There is, for one, the matter of her boss constantly proclaiming things that range from the inexplicable to the patently wrong. There’s also the metastasizing Russia scandal, which keeps rendering previous Trump … statements inoperative, as Richard Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler used to say.

But above all is a more simple explanation: Sanders has no earthly idea what’s going on in the White House she purports to represent.

Even though they’re hard to beat if you love buffoons and grifters, it gets a little tiresome and repetitive running cartoons every week aimed at Donald Trump and his immediate family. That’s especially true when you realize just how many clowns have actually degraded themselves to work for Trump.

That certainly includes the sock puppet otherwise known as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who some people allege is an actual human being. One wonders if they’ve ever had to sit through one of her robotic performances.

Whether they have or not, her knowledge of what’s actually going on in the White House was discussed earlier this week by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in that column excerpted above. You can read the entire column here if you want.

The column pairs nicely with our toon of the week from Ann Telnaes, whose editorial animations and cartoons are featured in a variety of different newspapers. You can also visit her web site here.

Our runner-up for the week comes from Chip Bok. Just remember, folks, it’s not going to happen because Donald Trump promised it wouldn’t in one of those tweets of his.