Weekly Toon …

Shame!

“The price of freedom” is how former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly described the recent massacre in Las Vegas, the deadliest shooting spree in modern American history. That must be comforting to those who were killed or wounded in this most recent tragedy – and to their friends and families as well.

The sock puppet better known as Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that now is not the time to be talking about gun control; and she may actually be right about that. If we had been talking about gun violence before this latest mass killing took place it might have helped.

While it’s definitely too late now for those who were slaughtered mercilessly, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start talking immediately about what we should do now. And I do mean now – right now! Not tomorrow or the day after or sometime in the future when the congressional enablers of these murderous rampages would prefer.

We’ve already heard and will continue to hear the usual canards; for example, the argument that nothing we do will make any difference. Tell that to Australia, which enacted tough gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and has yet to see a repeat.

David Fitzsimmons, the editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star, gets it right in that cartoon featured above. You can take a look at more of his work here. Our runner-up for the week also gets it right as well.

Will anything ever change? Unless you – and the vast majority of Americans who want to do something – weigh in personally with your elected representatives and use your voice and your vote to make a difference, not a chance.

But, hey, my thoughts and prayers are with you as we try to forget just how stupid we are as a people.

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Despicable Donald …

despicable donald at work ...

For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application.

Trump’s message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no.

As mentioned before, despicable Donald’s determination to destroy the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – has been evident since the day he took office. He and his cronies have repeatedly threatened to withhold cost-sharing payments from insurers, something that has already driven premiums up substantially in many places and caused some insurers to throw in the towel entirely.

Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services has cut the open enrollment period in half; slashed the budget for advertising encouraging people to enroll by 90 percent, and used some of what was left to create videos meant to discourage people from getting insurance.

HHS has also canceled contracts with community groups that assist people in the process of signing up for Obamacare, which can be complicated at times. And, in an especially creative move, HHS will also be shutting down healthcare.gov every Sunday except for one during open enrollment period for maintenance.

Trump has been able to largely hide behind others in doing all of this. But as the story quoted above makes clear, it’s Trump himself that’s the driving force seeking to deprive Americans of their health insurance coverage. You can read the entire article here.

And this being Friday, of course, it was a perfect opportunity for Trump to escalate his attacks against women; in this case by getting HHS to promulgate rules that will deprive hundreds of thousands of women of the free contraceptive benefits available under Obamacare.

You can read more about that here and here.

What kind of President takes delight in doing things like this? The title of this post says it all.

Weekly Toon …

If anyone had any remaining doubt – and Matt Wuerker, the Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist for Politico, whose work is featured above and here as well certainly doesn’t – Donald Trump proved again this week just what a contemptible human being he is.

That he has no business being President of the United States has been obvious to anyone with a brain for a long time. But it’s not just his stupidity that makes Trump unqualified to be President. It’s his contempt for fundamental American values.

It’s never about doing the right thing for America with Donald Trump. It’s about what benefits him personally as in the tax legislation he introduced this week from which he will reap a windfall amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even as much as a $1.1 billion, despite his blatant lies to the contrary.

Or it’s about pandering to his racist and bigoted supporters as his repeated attacks on NFL players exercising their First Amendment right to protest social injustice in America made clear. In this case it was also about distracting attention from still another round of catastrophic failures.

These include the demise of the latest GOP effort to deprive millions of Americans of health insurance, something Trump promised he would keep trying to do until he finally succeeds. What kind of human being delights in deliberately making things worse for tens of millions of Americans because it will erase the legacy of a man Trump despises?

There was also his inept response to the disaster in Puerto Rico and inability to drag “Big Luther” Strange across the victory line in Alabama against a religious wacko who hates gay people, among others.

Then there was his ridiculous son-in-law who stupidly registered as a woman when he signed up to vote and still hasn’t corrected the mistake. Talk about voter fraud! Even worse, we also learned Kushner insisted on using private e-mail to conduct official business after being warned explicitly by the NSA not to do so.

Will Kushner ever be held responsible for anything he does?

One would of thought he would have gotten the message from Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton for the same thing. But that’s Trump and his spawn. One set of rules for themselves, another for everyone else.

There’s also all those Trump appointees like Tom Price who think being a public servant entitles them to squander public money traveling on private jets at the expense of the taxpayers.

Not a good week at all for Trump or his administration so going after the NFL players at a time when the lives of Puerto Ricans are in jeopardy is hardly surprising.

But eighteen tweets in eleven hours attacking lazy people of color from the safety and comfort of his New Jersey golf resort while 95% of the people in Puerto Rico are still without power and struggling? That’s a bit much even for Trump.

That he took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is irrelevant to Trump. The man is only in his element when he’s stirring up hatred. He thrives on being a divider, not a uniter. At a minimum, he panders to the racists and bigots who remain his core supporters – and why not? He’s one himself.

Trump reportedly has also been mocking John McCain, who is dying of cancer. To call Trump a jerk is an insult to jerks. If anyone deserves a prolonged and cruel death, it’s Trump himself for all the hatred he’s sown and disgrace he’s brought on our nation.

But this is what Trump wants, of course. He wants to drag us down into the gutter with him; to sink to his contemptible level. Better to simply call the man out for what he is and get on with the business of protecting America against his bigotry.

And, speaking of bigots, our runner-up for the week does a nice job of capturing the essence of still another bigot – one Trump has no problems endorsing or campaigning for now that his supporters have made clear what they stand for.

Not surprising considering they’re two peas in a pod.

Weekly Toon …

Obamacare repeal could spell the death of your health insurance ...

I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks and haven’t had time to write anything about the latest GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That being the case, this toon from Gary Varvel, the editorial cartoonist for the IndyStar, will have to do for now.

You can see more of Varvel’s work here and watch this cartoon take shape by viewing this video to see an artistic genius at work.

When I wrote the initial draft of this post much earlier in the week, it seemed likely that the Republicans would be able to pass their latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. But with both Rand Paul and John McCain definitely opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill and Susan Collins (R-Maine) leaning against it, that seems somewhat less likely now.

I’d be a lot more comfortable if both Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) came out against the bill (as they did against earlier versions); and it wouldn’t surprise me if the bill still passed because there’s plenty of time to change it to win over the needed votes.

For the time being, all I’ll say is that Graham-Cassidy is a very bad bill indeed, much like the GOP’s previous repeal measures. You can read more about why that is here, here, here, and here.

Our runner-up for the week from Pat Bagley addresses the same subject, but in a much more pointed and direct way. As I’ve said before, where you stand on the question of healthcare says everything about who you are as a person.

Weekly Toon …

Me neither ...

I didn’t really have much time to check out the toons this week. But the one above hit home, at least for me. It comes from Signe Wilkinson, the first female recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. She’s best known for her work in the Philadelphia Daily News and you can check out more of her toons here.

I’ve never been able to afford an iPhone and it looks like Apple has still another winner in that regard with its latest version. Some people say that’s the whole point; that Apple is only interested in appealing to those who have money to burn. But, hey, if a phone is your status symbol, so be it.

Our runner-up for the week is a biting commentary on the Equifax data breach. Do you think our government cares? Do you think anyone will go to jail for this?

Don’t hold your breath!

What a disgrace!

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government rescinded a visiting fellowship offered to Chelsea Manning, the former military intelligence analyst who spent seven years in prison for leaking classified government secrets, after the university faced forceful backlash from CIA Director Mike Pompeo among others.

“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Douglas W. Elmendorf, the school’s dean, wrote in a 700-word statement released shortly after midnight Friday.

You can read more here, here, and here.

The only mistake here is Harvard’s for ever hiring someone like Elmendorf who doesn’t have a spine or even the smarts to realize how badly he’s damaged the Kennedy School’s reputation by this shameful decision. Sadly, I’m about to take off on a trip so I don’t have time to discuss this in more detail.

But it’s a disgrace and Harvard ought to be ashamed of itself for giving into this kind of pressure from an intelligence community that has repeatedly demonstrated its complete lack of intelligence.

But, then again, Harvard loves witch hunts.

Weekly Toon …

Rick McKee, the editorial cartoonist for the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle, captured my feelings exactly in the above cartoon. You can find more of his work featured here.

Is it just me or is anyone else tired of Hillary’s efforts to cash in on one of the most pathetic political campaigns in modern times? It seems everyone is to blame for her loss except Hillary herself.

Get over it, girl, and stop bothering the rest of us with your incessant whining!

Our runner-up for the week is a commentary on still another political scumbag, Steve Bannon. You’ve had your fifteen minutes of fame, Steve. Now crawl back into the swamp that spit you out.