Weekly Toon …

Now that congressional Republicans and President Trump are on the verge of passing tax legislation that will greatly exacerbate income inequality in America, we can expect Congress to sneak off for the holidays before returning sometime in January.

Count your blessings, people 🙂

Once Congress does return, however, expect a steady drumbeat of comments from Republicans to the effect that spending is out of control, especially spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Tom Toles, more of whose work can be found here, captures this nicely in that cartoon up above.

We’ll be told we simply cannot afford to continue these programs at their current levels; that something needs to be done and that what needs to be done is to cut spending on programs that actually benefit ordinary Americans rather than the rich and the powerful.

Coming from people who’ve never met a tax cut for the wealthy they didn’t favor or spending on the military no matter how wasteful and misguided, this is chutzpah, of course; and it’s not at all clear the Republicans will succeed in their efforts to scale back these important programs.

That’s not because they don’t want to. Paul Ryan and House Republicans would clearly like to do cut these programs deeply. But Republican control of the Senate is far shakier and Senate Republicans may not have the stomach for that kind of fight heading into the 2018 election.

Still, you never know so keep an eye on your wallet, folks. Having filled the pigsty for their corporate and wealthy supporters, Republicans will be looking for any opportunity they can to stick it to ordinary Americans.

Our runner-up for the week does a nice job of capturing another issue we will be seeing more of in 2018, i.e., a stepped up Republican effort to discredit Robert Mueller and the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

It’s been apparent for some time now that both Donald Trump and the tea party conservatives are determined to bring Mueller down no matter what it takes. We’ve already seen a stepped up effort to do this, including a ridiculous charge this weekend that Mueller received transition team emails illegally.

But what else do you expect from people who put their own interests and the interests of their party above those of their country?

Whether these Republicans succeed remains to be seen. Richard Nixon had many supporters among congressional Republicans right up until the very end I’m told and that was more than four decades ago when partisanship was less intense than it is today.

The point is, Mueller may not survive and we may never know the full extent of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But we know enough already from the indictments that have already taken place to know that Donald Trump is a liar and that there clearly was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

The facts are there for anyone at all interested in examining them so I hope you’ll keep that in mind when you vote next year, people.

In any event, this will probably be our last weekly toon for 2017 … and perhaps for the indefinite future as well. 2018 will be a critical year for America and it’s time for everyone to start organizing for the fight to save our country from the disastrous future it is rapidly speeding toward under Trump and the Republicans.

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Praise the Lord …

And hopefully next year as well ...

By the slimmest of margins a plurality of voters in Alabama seem to have decided that being a Democrat is marginally better than being a bigoted, creepy, hypocrite who likes dating and molesting fourteen year old girls, among others.

Congratulations Alabama!

Weekly Cartoon …

empty chairs or empty head?

Jack Ohman, the author of the above cartoon (more of whose work can be found here), probably never intended it as such, but I think it’s the perfect commentary on Donald Trump’s announcement this week that he recognizes Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and plans to move the U.S. embassy there.

Some have tried to spin the announcement as an effort by Trump to jump-start peace talks between the two sides, but that’s a rather bizarre interpretation in my opinion. How does giving away one of the only cards you hold with the Israeli government do that?

And coming a few days after endorsing three anti-Muslim videos posted to the Internet by a fringe group of Western racists, an action that drew the immediate condemnation of the British Prime Minister? And while he was also defending his anti-Muslim travel ban before the Supreme Court?

As one observer noted: “In our wired world, these insults were quickly known to every Palestinian in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip … to every intellectual and political leader in Egypt and Jordan and Lebanon — indeed, the whole Arab world …. Trump’s insults were known among supporters of the Palestinian cause around the Mediterranean, in Europe, in North America, in Asia. Does Trump think they will ignore his opportunistic hate-mongering? Laugh it off?”

No, as with most things Trump, that announcement had nothing at all to do with substance. Trump doesn’t do substance. It was about pleasing rich and powerful donors like Sheldon Adelson and Trump’s supporters in the evangelical Christian and Jewish communities.

That and giving the middle finger to the American foreign policy establishment who rightly despise the man for the damage he does to U.S. credibility abroad every day. Most of all, it had nothing to do with promoting peace in the region or American interests. Trump doesn’t have have a clue about either of those things.

I’m sure Trump feels proud of himself for all the attention he grabbed, but he just made every American who travels to the region a target and more so than they already are. But what else would you expect from a man who has nothing but contempt for those who are poor, stateless and non-white?

Oh, and one other thing; did you happen to notice the stampede of Washington Democrats rushing to condemn the announcement? Chuck Schumer perhaps? Didn’t think so. There’s a reason for that.

Our runner-up for the week puts an issue of interest to the gay community in the right perspective. That the Supreme Court is even considering the case is beyond belief. That it may well find a way to overturn long-standing legal precedent to put gay people in their place even less so.

In any event, we’ll find out sometime around the middle of the next year what the Justices really think.

Weekly Cartoon …

December 5, 2017 Update

For all you Blake Farenthold fans out there, here’s an interesting update you might find informative.

The woman who won the financial settlement against him for sexual harassment, the settlement YOUR taxpayer dollars were used to pay, apparently saw her career and future in politics implode after it became known she had filed the complaint against Blake.

Since the summer of 2014, when she says Farenthold fired her for raising concerns about a hostile work environment, [Lauren] Greene has been unable to land a full-time job. She’s making $15 an hour working temporary gigs for a homebuilder. She baby-sits on the side to earn extra cash.

Her family has had to support her financially. And Greene, now 30, has left D.C., with no illusions that she will ever work in politics again.

You can read more about what happens when you stand up to dudes like Blake here. It’s not just the taxpayers that end up getting screwed. The woman who told the truth gets screwed while Blake continues to serve in Congress and no one calls for his resignation.

Sweet, Blake, sweet!

December 3, 2017 Original Post

THE NATIONAL debt is $20 trillion and rising. That is the highest it has been as
a slice of the economy since 1950. Now the Senate has approved a tax plan that would make the problem substantially worse while widening inequality and reducing access to health-care coverage. The current generation will pay. The next will pay more.
Read the entire editorial here.

That cartoon above from Tom Toles seemed appropriate with Senate Republicans now having passed their tax cut proposal.

No one had an opportunity to read the Senate bill before it passed, of course, so God only knows what the final legislation will look like. The House and Senate will have to reconcile their differences, but will likely do so quickly and provide even less time to consider whatever they agree on.

Personally I’m keeping my sights aimed low, but I’m a confirmed pessimist when it comes to Congress these days and not the only one. So who knows? Maybe the final bill will force Representative Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to repay the $84,000 in taxpayer dollars he used to settle a sexual harassment complaint against him by his former communications director.

What? You thought Congress would actually make one of their members pay for stuff like that out of their own pocket, not from your tax dollars? Oh my, my, my! Congressional Republicans have nothing but contempt for you, foolish child. Of course it was only $84,000 and what’s $84,000 compared to a trillion or more in added debt from the GOP tax cut proposals after all?

All kidding aside, though, Blake is an interesting dude. He’s still another one of those wonderful gifts Texas has bequeathed the nation. And he’s actually quite a swinger as you can see from this picture of him taken with a lingerie model back in 2010.

Blake also once tweeted something all of us have wondered about: “Why do terrorists hate airplanes? Why not drivers licenses offices or the IRS?”

Our runner-up for the week is a nice take down of a sewer rat who has plagued our political system for several years now. How anyone can support someone like this is hard to believe, but it’s nice to see the man exposed for the fraud he is.

Of course, being a fraud is no big deal for members of Congress. You’ll still be able to make a tax deductible charitable contribution to Project Veritas because that’s not one of the things either House or Senate Republicans were interested in reforming as part of their tax bills.

World AIDS Day …

The Trump administration is proposing a reduction in funding and a shift in strategy in the fight against global AIDS that together would increase infections, cost lives and threaten the extraordinary progress of the past 15 years.

That’s not me talking. That’s Michael Gerson, a conservative who writes for the Washington Post, and you can read more of his article here if you’re interested in understanding just what Trump is doing to unravel the progress the world has made in recent years.

I encourage you to do so because today is World AIDS Day, but you would hardly know it if you looked to the White House for leadership on the global pandemic that still confronts us.

Unlike tax cuts for the rich, the powerful, and himself, AIDS is an issue Trump could care less about. So it’s that much more important for the rest of us to remind ourselves that the struggle against HIV and AIDS is far from over.

Weekly Toon …

Still another Republican sell out of ordinary consumers ...

On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai officially put the federal government’s net neutrality rules on the fast track for extinction. If the move goes through as expected, that means that by the end of January, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon will be allowed to charge websites to reach users at faster speeds, essentially slowing down access to websites that can’t afford those fast-lane prices—a tiered internet that the current rules preclude.

You can read the entire article here. And in case you’re wondering, my websites will not be among those that can afford fast-lane pricing.

Not many cartoonists are commenting on this latest effort to kill off net neutrality so the one above by Pat Bagley will have to do for now. You can view more of his toons here.

I realize that net neutrality is not the sexiest issue in the world, but it’s one that will profoundly affect most people once it is gone. And it’s still another example of how Republicans are willing to sell out ordinary consumers in order to benefit rich and powerful corporations like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon in order to curry favor and campaign contributions.

And speaking of Republican efforts to raid your wallet, check out our runner-up for the week. It’s one of those two for the price of one cartoons I love so much.

Weekly Toon …

I haven’t had too much to say about the GOP tax cut bills currently working their way through Congress because the House and Senate proposals are complex and also differ in important ways.

Here is a good summary of what’s in the House-passed bill if you’re interested. And this article explains how the Senate bill differs in key ways.

Neither bill is good for the American healthcare system, which is why I like that cartoon by Rick McKee of The Augusta Chronicle featured above so much. But their poisons differ in that regard.

Unlike the proposal working its way through the Senate, the House bill would not eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, i.e., the so-called individual mandate that Republicans think Americans dislike intensely.

That may not be entirely true, however.

Whether true or not, it is indisputable that eliminating the mandate as the Senate bill does would free up a lot of money that could be used to increase the size of the tax cuts. However, doing that would also undermine Obamacare and result in millions of Americans not having health insurance within a few years (13 million according to the Congressional Budget Office).

The House-passed bill does eliminate the current deduction for medical expenses on the other hand. It isn’t a tax break used by most people because it requires a person’s medical expenses to be greater than 10 percent of their adjusted gross income.

For those who do take it, however, the deduction can be crucial and its elimination could have devastating consequences. With our luck we could end up with both proposals when the House and Senate sit down to iron out their differences!

Beyond healthcare, both bills have some things in common although the details may differ. Both will increase the Federal deficit massively in coming years. But deficits only matter when the Democrats are power, of course; not when the Republicans are in charge.

Both bills definitely favor large corporations more than individuals; and to the extent individuals benefit, the bills tilt toward the rich and the powerful rather than the poor and the middle-class. Despite what he says, Donald Trump could benefit greatly.

But we’ll never know, of course, because Trump refuses to release his tax returns. And speaking of Trump, can you believe it was only a little more than a year ago that he was elected? Our runner-up for the week takes note of that.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I’ll be thankful for at all when I celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday. I do hope you have much to celebrate, however.