Thursday, August 17, 2017

Can You Spot the Pattern Here?

Ben Jennings, The Guardian

“Blowhard,” by David Plunkert—The New Yorker,
August 28, 2017

The Economist, August 19-25, 2017

Der Spiegel, August 19, 2017

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Yes, They Went There!

The New York Daily News is mocking Trump in a very big way for his support of right-wing congressional legislation that calls for cutting legal immigration in half, by accepting applicants only on a merit-based system for their job skills, education, and ability to speak English.

READ MORE:Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half,” by Peter Baker (The New York Times).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

GOP Plans Would Make Lives Worse, Says Obama

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement earlier today, via Facebook, in response to the Senate Republicans’ newly announced scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and replace it with a regressive, financially unsustainable, and hastily assembled (in secret!) plan that has the potential to steal health care insurance away from more than 20 million Americans, while giving yet another tax break to the wealthy minority among us.

As the ever-astute Steve Benen remarks in The Maddow Blog, “The Democrat’s 1,000-word statement is worth reading in its entirety, and it clearly has more than one audience in mind. Part of Obama’s message clearly intends to encourage health care advocates and their allies to remain engaged and fight to prevent the nation from falling backwards. But the other part of the message appears to be a challenge to Republican policymakers to do the right thing.”

Here is Mr. Obama’s message in its entirety:
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.
(The boldfacing is mine, for emphasis.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dead of Summer

Today is the first full day of summer 2017—a perfect occasion to revisit Killer Covers’ extensive selection of vintage crime-fiction fronts linked to this season. Artists represented include Barye Phillips, Robert Bonfils, Robert McGinnis, Paul Rader, Mitchell Hooks, Charles Copeland, J. Oval, George Ziel, Harry Barton, and Charles Binger.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

“The End of a Once-Great Era” of U.S. Leadership

MSNBC political blogger Steve Benen, remarking on Donald
Trump’s decision today
to pull the United States out of the two-year-old Paris Agreement on global climate change:
When the Paris accords were reached, the world looked to the United States to help lead the way, and the Obama administration was eager to carry the mantle. We vowed to work cooperatively with international partners, and in the process, we persuaded developing nations – many of which have economic incentives to pollute more, not less – to do the right thing. So many countries signed on to the agreement precisely because they saw American leadership at work.

Today, Trump told the world that ours is a country that won’t honor its commitments, won’t make decisions based on reason or evidence, and won’t even try to serve as a global leader anymore.

Let’s say Americans tire of Trump’s ridiculousness and elect a new president in 2020. It’s easy to imagine, in early 2021, that new president turning to the global community with fresh and heartfelt assurances. “Don’t worry, Trump is gone,” he or she will say. “You can trust the United States once more.”

But at that point, many around the world will choose not to listen – in part because they’ll have just seen an ignorant American president who thumbed his nose at 195 countries, deliberately abandoning our unique responsibilities, and in part because they’ll have no way of knowing when the American electorate might again elect someone of Trump’s ilk.

We’ve taken great pride in the modern era of our president being the Leader of the Free World, and today effectively marked the end of a once-great era. Donald J. Trump has managed to betray the climate, the world, America’s standing, and his own legacy in one fell swoop.

History will not be kind.
READ MORE:The World Is Better Off If We Leave the Paris
,” by Susan Matthews (Slate); “Everything Conservatives Said About the Paris Climate Agreement Is Already Wrong,” by Jonathan Chait (New York).

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thank You So Much, Mr. President!

READ MORE:The Most Successful Democrat Since FDR,” by David Leonhardt (The New York Times); “The ‘Most Successful’ Dem President Since FDR Ends on a High Note,” by Steve Benen (The Maddow Blog); “The Time Has Come to Say Goodbye to Obama. ‘Godspeed, Brother. You Did Us Proud,’” by Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald); “Thanks for Everything, President Obama. We’re Going to Miss You,” by Kevin Drum (Mother Jones); “Missing Barack Obama Already,” by Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times); “A Presidential Giant Exits the Stage,” by Steve Benen (The Maddow Blog); “How the Presidency Changed Obama,” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis (The New York Times); “How the Presidency Changed Obama,” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis (The New York Times); “My President Was Black,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic); “To Obama with Love, and Hate, and Desperation,” by Jeanne Marie Laskas (The New York Times Magazine); “Lessons Taught: Obama’s Legacy as a Historian,” by Jennifer Schuessler (The New York Times); “Pete Souza’s Intimate Portraits of the Barack Obama Years,” by William Boot (The Daily Beast); “Goodbye to All That: What We’ve Learned from Obama’s Presidency,” by Julie Azari (Vox); “The Challenge Posed by Obama’s Calm, Dignified Competency,” by Nancy LeTourneau (Washington Monthly); “The Literary Dividing Line Between Trump and Obama,” by Steve Benen (The Maddow Blog); “Every Book Barack Obama Has Recommended During His Presidency,” by Ruth Kinane (Entertainment Weekly); “Obama to the Press: ‘America Needs You,’” by James Warren (Poynter); “Obama Granted Clemency Unlike Any Other President in History,” by Charlie Smart (FiveThirtyEight); “Obama Has Now Granted 212 Pardons, and More Commutations Than Any President in U.S. History,” by Jen Kirby (New York); “Saying Goodbye: President Obama, Michelle Obama Thank America in Farewell Posts,” by Matthew Rozsa (Salon).

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year, Everybody!

The New Yorker, December 31, 1938, with art by Rea Irvin.

Let’s hope 2017 brings better luck to all of us than American and international observers have been predicting. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Too Late Already

I, for one, am tired of hearing people say we should give Trump a chance as president. Sorry, but ... no. I don’t base my opposition to Trump merely on the fact that I believe he will be a lousy, corrupt politician. I base it on the fact that he’s already proven himself to be a poor excuse for a man. He’s bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic, and a serial sex predator; he’s a greedy, bullying would-be autocrat with a narcissist complex; he’s a congenital liar, a con man, and he thinks Americans are too stupid to realize that he’s pulling the wool over their eyes, that he has no intention of doing anything he promises. I wouldn’t want Trump in MY house, much less the White House. So, no, I won’t give him a chance. In my book, he’s already shown himself unworthy of one.

Friday, November 25, 2016

What Every Trump Voter Should Hear

“I tried to be polite, but now I just don’t give a damn. Because let’s be honest, we don’t live in polite America anymore. We live in grab-’em-by-the-pussy America now. So thank you for that.”


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I keep hearing that people who voted Trump into office shouldn’t be universally denigrated, because many of them supported him for reasons other than the hatred and arrogant disregard for others that he demonstrated. OK, I can have sympathy for them.

But while all of that may be true, it’s also true that every one of those people who voted for him now OWNS what Trump will do next, whether it’s stealing health care coverage away from 20 million Americans, forcibly deporting millions of undocumented immigrants from our shores, working to undermine and then destroy Medicare and Social Security, banning abortion, undermining efforts necessary to rein in climate change, abrogating international treaties and leaving the United States with fewer and fewer allies it may need in case of attack, or ignoring the Constitution in his efforts to curb press freedoms and limit free speech. Some voters may have somehow succeeded in ignoring or dismissing the clear and present danger bigoted billionaire Trump represented, but that does not absolve them of blame for the damage he and his fellow Republicans intend to do to America’s future.

READ MORE:Screw Your Feelings, Trump Voters,” by Aleksandar Hemon (Slate).

Disaster in the Making

This word will be much in use over the next four years:


(kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.