Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Jeff Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

Quote Of The Day

The simple truth is that the Republicans welcomed a foreign government interfering in the election on their behalf. They knew and they were happy about it and they are now doing everything in their power to cover it up. There is no other way to look at it. 
Republican leaders were so hungry to kill people on Medicaid, bankrupt the middle class and give tax cuts to their millionaire friends that they knowingly allowed a foreign government to help that corrupt, incompetent imbecile into the White House. Think about that.
I feel sick. 
 Us, too.

Numbers Don't Lie (Unlike Trump)

Some numbers collected over the past couple of days:

-- 200, the number of jobs cut at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, where pathological liar and con man Donald "Rump" Trump promised them "jobs" five months ago;

-- 600 +, the number of jobs cut at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, where Rump supposedly made a "deal" to keep the jobs in Indiana;

-- 110, the jobs being lost at Rexnord, also in Indiana, which Rump claimed in December were staying;

-- Ford announcing it would be making the new Focus not in the U.S., but in China, after Rump claimed credit in January for keeping the jobs in the U.S. (bye-bye 700 jobs); and

-- 45%, the percentage of people who say they're more likely to believe former FBI Director James Comey than Rump (22%)

And some general advice on people and numbers: you can fool some of the people all of the time (e.g., Rump's base), and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

BONUS:  The New York Times is keeping track of the deluge of lies Rump has told just since taking the oath of office in January. Mindboggling.

Your Three Minute Primer On The Senate TrumpCare Bill

National asset Sen. Chris Murphy (D- CT) lays out the main horrors in the dog's breakfast TrumpCare bill in about three minutes.  For when you're still deciding whether or not to get involved.

Here, once again, is the link to your TrumpCare tool kit.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Chris Britt, Creators Syndicate)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Weekend Music

The superlative, soon- to- be 91 Tony Bennett (born Anthony Benedetto) was just announced as the 2017 winner of the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress, which is given "to a composer or performer for their lifetime contributions to popular music."  A true Renaissance man, Bennett's contributions over his more than 70- year career are both qualitative (just listen to the man!) and quantitative (70 albums, 13 Grammys, Kennedy Center Honors, etc.). But we also love him because he's a mensch - a good Democrat whose philanthropic, civil rights, and humanitarian efforts have been widely praised, and whose musical gifts he readily shares with fellow artists. To honor his latest achievement, we've got to go with a composition by George and Ira Gershwin that, as with most other songs he's covered, Bennett effortlessly owns.  Hope you enjoy.

Today's Tweets: McConnell's Party Room Readied

Disabled Americans who rely on Medicaid were hustled away from amoral conniver Mitch "Missy" McConnell's office yesterday so that he wouldn't see them.

Tech Companies Sell "Rope" To Russia

Western tech companies have agreed to demands by the Russian government to review the source codes for their cyber security products sold in Russia such as firewalls and anti-virus applications, ostensibly to assure Russia that Western intelligence agencies haven't planted any "backdoor" viruses or other means to infect their own security systems. This is certain to give Russian cyber experts valuable information about vulnerabilities in our own cyber security software systems at a time when we face cyber attacks -- political and economic -- from bad actors like Russia, North Korea and China. The tech companies include Cisco, IBM, Hewlett Packard, McAfee and SAP, who are eager to sell their products in the Russian market despite the obvious gift to Russian cyber intelligence officials:
"U.S. officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products' source code, because of fears it could be used in cyber attacks. But they say they have no legal authority to stop the practice unless the technology has restricted military applications or violates U.S. sanctions....The demands are being made by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which the U.S. government says took part in the cyber attacks on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The FSB, which has denied involvement in both the election and Yahoo hacks, doubles as a regulator charged with approving the sale of sophisticated technology products in Russia." (emphasis added)
One U.S. company, Symantec, has refused to comply with Russia's demands. Last Monday, man-for-all-jobs Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner presided over a meeting of tech and communications executives, including Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. It would have been an opportune time for Kushner to have addressed that particular matter of complying with the demands of a hostile foreign power on the part of some present, but he likely doesn't see Russia as "hostile" to his business and family interests, much less his country's.

An old quote, variously attributed to Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin seems apt here:
“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

The Time To Stop TrumpCare Is Now

Folks, if you haven't put the TrumpCare tool kit into practice, time may be running out faster than you think.

Steve Benen clues us in on the tactic Republicans will use to fast track their "tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of keeping America healthy" bill:
... A House Republican told a reporter from The Hill last yesterday that if the Senate bill passes next week, the House will simply pass that version “as is,” sending it on to Donald Trump for a presidential signature. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who almost single-handedly rescued his party’s far-right health care initiative, confirmed to a Washington Examiner reporter that there would be no conference committee if the bill clears the Senate. 
This is no small detail. We’re looking at a landscape in which the Senate will vote next week, and if it passes, House Republicans will almost certainly act quickly to rubber-stamp that legislation – at which point, it’s game over. 
At the risk of sounding overdramatic, the next six days will dictate the health security for tens of millions of Americans. If the Republican plan isn’t stopped over the next week, it won’t be stopped at all.  (our emphasis)
Judd Legum has a pretty readable summary of this travesty of a bill, if you want to see what a mean, afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable piece of Republican income redistribution looks like.

Let's get to work!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

President Obama On The Senate TrumpCare Bill

President Obama weighs in on the Senate TrumpCare bill:
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today. 
I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did. 
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course. 
Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams. 
And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past. 
We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it. 
That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse. 
But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system. 
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely. 
Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation. 
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings? 
To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need. 
That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family. 
After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
We're glad he's adding his moral authority to this, even now. But will any Republican Senator's heart be softened by this message? (Spoiler alert: No.) Meanwhile, Charles Pierce has a message for Trump voters, which we heartily endorse.

Today's Cartoon Threefer - Harming Americans

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(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Tweeting The Senate TrumpCare Bill


The video prompted even Mrs. Alan Greenspan to say it was "a brutal image for Republicans and supporters of this bill."

Intel Chiefs: Trump Wanted Us To Refute Collusion Charge

When Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Director of the National Security Agency Admiral Mike Rogers testified earlier this month before the Senate Intelligence Committee, they made news by declining to describe their conversations with Putin loyalist and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump as to whether they were asked by Rump to publicly declare there was no collusion with Russia. Now, it's being reported that, in closed testimony before the Senate investigators and Special Counsel Mueller, both Coats and Rogers have acknowledged that Rump "suggested" that they speak out against the collusion charge publicly. That information confirms a pattern of behavior by Rump, most notably toward former FBI Director Comey, to misdirect or derail the investigation into his and his campaigns dealings with Russia. It certainly bolsters the credibility of Comey's testimony that Rump told him that he "hoped" Comey would drop the investigation into disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into obstruction of justice by Rump focused on Rump's conversations about the investigation with Comey, and now, Coats and Rogers.

Don't Let Them Get Away With It (UPDATED)

Today is the day the draft TrumpCare bill that 13 white male Senate Republicans have been crafting in secret, without hearings or expert counsel, will be revealed.  It will be the first time the public, as well as their Republican and Democratic colleagues, will see the tax- cut- for- the- rich- disguised- as- health- insurance- reform bill. The draft purportedly mirrors much of what's in the "mean" (quoting D.J. Trump) bill passed by the Republican sociopaths in the House in May, with fillips like an extended timeframe for the Medicaid expansion phase out to appease spineless Republicans like Sens. Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy and Dean Heller. We're confident that the bottom line, which will be confirmed once the Congressional Budget Office does its analysis, will be higher premiums and loss of coverage for millions, all to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. In other words the perfect dystopian Republican "solution."

Meanwhile, we certainly hope you've had a chance to voice your opinion to your Senator (especially if he or she is a Republican).  It's never too late to make a difference.

The TrumpCare tool kit developed by the Center for American Progress makes it as quick and easy as possible. Now, there is anecdotal evidence that the anti- TrumpCare calls/ emails/ etc., are starting to build:

The next 10 days will be critical.  They think they can get away with passing this monstrosity before people catch on to the damage it will inflict. We need to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen.

Make them own this.

UPDATE:  You can read the "discussion draft" bill, embedded here.

Stephen Colbert On The Senate Republicans' TrumpCare Bill

Here's Stephen Colbert's take on Senate Republicans' "frantic scramble" to pass their TrumpCare bill before July 4: