America at risk …

Two ticky dicks ...

May 12, 2017 Update

Trump Shifts Rationale for Firing Comey, Calling Him a ‘Showboat’

FBI agent groups dispute Trump’s rationale for Comey firing

In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.

Five Contradictions in the White House’s Story About Comey’s Firing

Trump’s warning to Comey deepens White House crisis

Spicer won’t comment on whether Trump recorded Comey

Trump has a long history of secretly recording calls, according to former associates

Source: Comey is ‘not worried about any tapes’

May 11, 2017 Update

Acting F.B.I. Chief Contradicts White House on Russia and Comey

Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry

Trump On Firing Comey: ‘It Was Set Up A While Ago’

President Asked Comey If He Was Under Investigation

In interview, Trump contradicts Pence on Comey

Acting FBI director contradicts Trump White House on Comey, Russia probe

May 9, 2017 Original Post

So there you have it.

Trump was warned by his predecessor not to hire Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser. He hired the man anyway.

His White House lawyers were warned by the Acting Attorney General that Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians because he lied to the Vice President and the Russians knew that.

But Trump fired the messenger instead and waited eighteen days to fire Flynn.

And now Trump has fired the FBI Director looking into his administration’s ties to the Russians.

The White House spin is that there is no cover-up involved; that it’s time to move on from that investigation even though Federal prosecutors have just issued grand jury subpoenas to Flynn associates seeking business records as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling into last year’s election.

“The decision by a President whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter.”

Strong words indeed from Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. But I agree.

This is far too serious a matter to be left to Trump. There is clearly a need for the appointment of a special prosecutor to lead the Russia investigation and take the matter out of the hands of Trump’s Justice Department minions.

The New York Times is also correct in its editorial on this matter.

“This is a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history. The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the F.B.I.’s ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates. There is no guarantee that Mr. Comey’s replacement, who will be chosen by Mr. Trump, will continue that investigation; in fact, there are already hints to the contrary.”

People can continue supporting Donald Trump if they choose. But now they will have to do so knowing full well that Trump put the national security of the United States at risk by hiring Flynn. He compounded the threat to our national security by then not promptly firing the man when warned.

Now they will have to support Trump knowing the man is trying to derail an investigation that goes to the heart of our security as a nation.

Donald Trump is a festering, narcissistic, cancer whose only loyalty is to himself, not to the country. He is a threat to the United States and he must not be permitted to continue endangering America’s national security with impunity.

Welcome not just to a constitutional nightmare but to America at risk.

Weekly Toon …

You lose ...

Stuart Carlson, whose work is featured here, is our winner, but there were simply too many great cartoons about the GOP’s big healthcare victory this week to select just a single winner. Let’s start by adding two more from Clay Jones, more of whose work you can see here.

But they finally got all the votes they needed ...

No CBO report before the vote, but perhaps we'll get one next week ...

Next up are three from Mike Luckovich, the editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was definitely on a roll this week and pulled no punches. More of his toons can be found here.

Loved this one because it's all too true ...

You'll definitely need bigger pools to keep your head above water under this bill ...

The real grim reaper is the one in the suit and tie at the left ...

Nick Anderson currently draws cartoons for the Houston Chronicle, which features his work here.

All the benefits, none of the costs, that's the American way ...

Here’s a take from Adam Zyglis, the editorial cartoonist for the Buffalo News. Catch more from Zyglis here.

rest in peace, sucker ...

Steve Sack draws cartoons for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His work is featured here.

But the GOP stopped counting ordinary Americans a long time ago

And we’ll finish up with a great toon from Robert Ariail, the editorial cartoonist for The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, whose work appears here.

One can only hope this toon will prove prophetic. But I’m inclined to believe that Republicans can do anything without suffering any consequences; and in any event any congressional losses they suffer won’t make a difference for the tens of millions of Americans who will be worse off or dead under this bill.

The truth is that everything bad in this bill doesn’t happen all at once. Its effects roll out over a longer period. Here’s one scenario worth considering.

Because the pain comes in doses, small at first and only gradually picking up steam, it’ll probably be easy for House Republicans to avoid taking responsibility for what they’ve done. They’ve blamed everything under the sun on Obama up until now. I imagine they’ll blame any health care disasters on Obamacare for years to come.

And they’ll probably get away with it because the Republican party is the master of political propaganda in America. They’ve proven repeatedly they know how to fool people.

If only ...

So there you have it, ten toons, a veritable toon-a-rama this week on one of the most consequential issues of our time. Remember to make your voice heard down the road by voting against the Republicans.

They screwed you on healthcare. They’ll screw you on taxes. That what Republicans do; unless you’re rich or powerful, of course.

But, then again, why should they take you seriously when they can do whatever they want without ever suffering any serious consequences.

Republicans Wins, America Loses …

Lots of kids actually do have preexisting conditions ...

So there you have it.

Paul Ryan and House Republicans jammed through a repeal of Obamacare today and replaced it with a bill that will cause tens of millions of American to lose their health insurance; a bill that will jack up premiums for those most in need in order to finance tax cuts for the rich, the powerful and freeloaders who game the system.

It’s also a bill that would let states eliminate essential health services so insurance companies can offer deceptive policies that take your money without covering much of anything; and a bill that will price many American with preexisting conditions out of the market with or without high risk pools and tax sudsidies.

This is serious, people. People will die because of this bill and not just a few. There will be a lot of people who die, including kids (as David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times captures so well in that cartoon above).

If you want to know how your congress critter voted, you can check here. But basically it was a vote along party lines; Democrats opposing and Republicans supporting the GOP bill. Yeah, sure, technically there were twenty Republicans who opposed the proposal.

Most only did so because they’re from competitive districts and were concerned about the political consequences of supporting the GOP proposal. Hypocrites like Barbara Comstock of Virginia; she voted no, but never seriously spoke out against the bill or lifted a finger to prevent it from passing.

The truth is Obamacare wasn’t broken in any important way that couldn’t be fixed if Republicans genuinely cared about improving our healthcare system.

They don’t.

They only cared about winning and they did.

But will you end up the loser?

House Republicans think they can have their cake and eat it to. That they can go back home and tell their conservative supporters they voted to repeal and replace Obamacare with a bill many of them believe the Senate will save them from; a bill they’re hoping will never become law.

A bill the consequences of which will take time to become fully apparent if it does become law. They’re hoping you won’t connect what happened today with what might take place in a few years.

This is the cynicism into which the Republican Party has degenerated.

Republicans like to say votes have consequences. Let’s hope so. It’s the Republicans who now own the broken healthcare system they’re moving to create. If you have a father or mother, sister or brother, or some other relative or friend who ends up worse off if anything like this bill becomes law, you have a chance to weigh in.

The 2018 elections aren’t too far away. If you don’t like what happened, you should vote against every Republican.

Collectively, they need to be held to account for what they did today. They screwed the American people.

From bad to worse …

Mr. Ayn Rande strikes again ...

Like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are alive and well thanks to the efforts of House conservatives and one self-proclaimed Republican moderate, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey.

But if you were hoping the new proposal would be an improvement, you’ll be disappointed. It still includes all the bad things in the original Republican bill the Congressional Budget Office skewered.

  • At least 24 million Americans will still lose their insurance, including those who choose not to buy it because they can no longer afford it. But that number will almost certainly climb higher still under the new GOP bill.

  • Higher premiums for older folks remain part of the proposal, but will go higher still under the new conservative revision.

  • Higher deductibles are still there as well, as is the $880 billion cut to Medicaid to free up money for tax cuts for the rich and powerful.

The new, more conservative proposal, keeps all of these features, but adds others that make it worse. It would allow states to reduce or eliminate essential medical benefits, for example; things like emergency services, maternity care, and mental health and substance abuse services, among others.

It would also let states allow insurers to charge any rate they want for older people. Obamacare capped this at a 3:1 ratio; the original GOP proposal would have changed that to 5:1. But the new amendment would allow states to pick a higher ratio still if they like.

By also permitting states to eliminate essential health benefits, another cost-saving measure, the new proposal would go a long way to bringing back the days when insurance plans took your money but covered almost nothing of consequence.

Finally, the new proposal would also make insurance unaffordable for many people with pre-existing conditions. Oh sure, the Republicans deny that. They talk about high-risk pools subsidized by the Federal government.

But like everything the Republicans say, it’s almost certainly a lie.

As Rep. Billy Long (R-Missouri) put it: “I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with preexisting conditions would be covered. The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that preexisting conditions would be covered and affordable.”

In case you were wondering, Long is no closet liberal. He won his first election in 2010 by pledging to fight “government-run healthcare;” and he has won reelection every two years since then by telling voters he was “fighting to repeal Obamacare.”

Remember the good old days when Trump promised us better coverage at a cheaper price with everyone covered? Well now, with Trump in office and Paul Ryan riding herd, you can look forward to worse coverage at higher prices with tens of million losing insurance.

A bill that provides greater access to the healthcare system by kicking tens of millions of people off the insurance rolls? Better care by taking away essential services? More affordable care by jacking up premiums for those who need it the most?

Now there’s a bill that George Orwell and Ayn Rand can get behind with enthusiasm!

Of course, everyone seems to think Senate Republicans will save the day if their House colleagues end up passing this absurdity. But then again hardly anyone thought Trump would ever be elected President and look what that got us.

Weekly Toon …

It's one of those rare toofers :-)

I was looking for a cartoon this week that would provide some commentary on Trump’s first hundred days in office. I found this one, our runner up for the week, which sums up the man pretty well.

But in the end it was impossible to resist the one I finally selected above from Bill Bramhall, the editorial cartoonist for the New York Daily News. You can find more of his work featured here.

What I like about this cartoon is that you get two for the price of one. On the one hand, it’s a quiet commentary on who will benefit from Trump’s tax plan. But it’s also an incisive take on the all too pervasive tendency of politicians, whatever their stripe, to cash in once they leave office.

Yeah, sure, Wall Street may not be buying very much since Obama will never hold office again. But don’t kid yourself. By accepting an obscene sum of money for a speech, Obama debases the office he once held and sets a terrible example for anyone considering public service.

Public service is about serving, not using what you learned while serving to cash in. Or perhaps I should say that’s what public service should be about, not what it apparently is.

Collecting royalties for a book you wrote is one thing; and I might have considered cutting Obama a break if the money for his speech was being donated to charity. But that’s not the case. This is Obama showing he’s just like most politicians, all too willing to cash in on the office he held for his own personal benefit.

Pathetic!

Kit barfs.

The White House Grifters …

the three pigs ...

April 28, 2017 Update

They dress nice and probably smell good and most of them don’t even muss the furniture. Wealth gives them the patina of respectability — the American reflex of deference to the rich. But make no mistake: The Trump family and assorted cronies are using the highest office in the land to stuff their pockets.

That’s how a column by Timothy Egan I read today in the New York Times begins. The column, entitled White House of Grifters, made me laugh because it makes many of the same arguments I did in this post, but probably in a somewhat more thoughtful way.

In any event, I thought I would pass it along. It’s well worth reading; and since I’m back here posting today, I thought I would toss in this Tom Toles cartoon from the Washington Post as well. I thought it sums things up pretty well.

Isn't that the truth?

April 27, 2017 Original Posting

As a rule, Republican presidents like offering tax cuts, and President Trump is no different. But the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.

You can read more of this New York Times editorial here.

In their infinite wisdom, enough people in enough states put Donald Trump in the White House last year. And because the man has no shame, no ethical standards, and is perfectly fine with nepotism, he brought his daughter and son-in-law along as well.

Without a doubt, the Trumps are the most shameless and corrupt family to ever occupy the White House. Unlike the Clintons or Obama, who waited until they had left office to cash in, Trump and his family are determined to extract every filthy dime they can from their time in office.

Ivanka Trump wins three new trademark rights for her line of handbags, jewelry and spa services from China on April 6, the very day she and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife at dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Just coincidence? Only an idiot would believe that.

Scores of other trademarks from which she will personally benefit are pending for her company in at least 23 other countries, including China, Canada, Mexico, Russia and Australia. Want to take a bet on how many will be approved? And this is a woman who goes around pretending to be a public servant? She’s a greedy joke.

Jared Kushner reportedly owns or has a stake in nearly 300 different assets or companies collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars that classify as pass-through businesses; businesses that would benefit greatly from the tax reductions the Administration outlined yesterday. Another coincidence? Give me a break!

And what about the Donald himself?

We won’t know for sure because the man refuses to release his tax returns and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, another Goldman Sachs plutocrat, now says he never will. So much for the pretense that withholding his returns had something to do with being audited; apparently it doesn’t.

Like I said, without seeing those returns, we may never know the full extent of the personal greed and rapaciousness that will be served by the tax bill he plans to send to Congress.

But we know the man is already profiting from the Presidency as foreign potentates line up to visit his hotel in Washington, his resort in Florida, and the many other properties he should have divested himself from completely before taking office.

We know his tax plan would eliminate one provision without which Trump would have paid less than 4 percent in taxes in 2005. With it, he paid 25 percent.

And we also know that he will benefit personally a lot more than you will from his tax plan because that plan is an irresponsible, shameless, budget-busting gift to plutocrats like himself.

Is any of this illegal? Who knows? But don’t expect the Justice Department to go after Donald, Ivanka, and Jared any time soon. They work for the man, not for you. For what it’s worth, however, the man they work for and his spawn are pigs in my opinion; pigs who deserve the contempt of the American people.

But instead it’s likely Americans will stand by like the sheep they are while Trump, his family, and other plutocrats rape the U.S. Treasury and the American taxpayer for every dime they can extract. That may be all well and good for them.

But it doesn’t change the fact that the Trumps are a family of grifters and you’re the people they’re raping.

Weekly Toon …

And now playing in the White House itself ...

“I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Donald Trump in an interview with The New York Times, April 5, 2017

We’re back once again with a cartoon from Pat Bagley, the editorial cartoonist for the Salt Lake Tribune whose work we’ve featured previously. You can view more of Bagley’s cartoons here.

Not suprising, I suppose, that Bill O’Reilly would get an endorsement from Donald Trump, a man caught on tape saying things like the following.

  • “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”

  • “I did try and fuck her. She was married.”

  • “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

  • “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Of course, we have to cut Trump a break because the man is a genuine American patriot as this week’s runner-up cartoon from Mike Luckovitch captured so well.

What a splendid example the man set for all those kids at the Easter Egg Roll. Republicans would have lynched Obama if he ever did something like that, but that’s what makes hypocrisy so much fun.