Tuesday, August 04, 2015

What "Trickle-Down" Economics Has Accomplished

Public Wants Minimum Wage Raised (But By How Much?)

The charts above show the federal poverty levels for families with from one to eight members, and the wages that would be paid to a worker at various levels of a minimum wage. A casual glance of those charts will show the inadequacy of the current minimum wage ($7.25 an hour). The current minimum wage would keep a single worker above the poverty line, but that is all. A family of two or more would still be living in poverty if paid the minimum wage.

The Republicans would like for you to believe that the only people working for a minimum wage are teenagers (who live with their parents and are only working for some spending money). That is an outrageous lie. The huge majority of those currently working for minimum wage are adults, and many of them are supporting a family (including many single women with children who cannot have a second family income).

Because they cannot support their families at a decent level (since they are living below the poverty level), many of these families are also getting some government benefits (such as food stamps or housing assistance). Republicans want to cut those benefits, even though these people are working hard and doing their best for their families -- and those same Republicans want to keep the minimum wage at the current level (or eliminate it completely).

I, along with many Democrats and progressives, would also like to see these families removed from government assistance roles -- but without hurting them or their children. The way to remove them from those roles is not in cutting benefits, but in raising the minimum wage to a level that would let these hard-working people support their families in a decent manner -- a level that would raise them out of poverty.

I think most Americans are in favor of raising the minimum wage. Most polls have shown that. The question is how much it should be raised. President Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. That would be $18,720 a year. It would lift a family of two out of poverty, but that's all. Most families living on minimum wage would still be living in poverty.

Congressional Democrats have proposed raising it to $10.10 an hour (or $21,008 a year). That would lift families of three or less out of poverty. I think that's still not good enough. It would leave too many hard-working people and their families (family of four or more) still in poverty.

The figure being discussed the most these days is $15.00 an hour. That is less than the minimum wage would be if it had been allowed to rise with inflation, but it is a reasonable figure. And it would raise most families (up to families of five, and nearly six) living on a minimum wage income out of poverty (and take them off government assistance role, saving taxpayers millions of dollars). It is not an unreasonable figure, and in fact, some cities around the country have already raised their minimum wage to that level (and it has not hurt business or caused lay-offs).

The problem is that Republican officials will never agree to that. That's is an important reason why the 2016 election is so important. They must be denied the White House -- and enough of them must be kicked out of Congress to allow a decent minimum wage to be passed. And regardless of what the Republicans say, a decent minimum wage would benefit all Americans. It would increase business sales and profits (as minimum wage workers spent their increased wages), it would increase employment as businesses hired to meet the new demand for their goods/services, and it would significantly decrease the amount of tax money needed to help the poor.

The YouGov Poll recently surveyed Americans on their thoughts about raising the minimum wage. They queried 1,000 randomly chosen adults between July 23rd and 27th, with a margin of error of 3.9 points. The charts below show their acceptance of the two most discussed level to raise the minimum wage ($10.10 hr. and $15.00 hr.). A majority would support $10.10 an hour, and a plurality would support $15.00 an hour.

Mission Impossible

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Three New National Polls Verify Lead of Trump And Clinton

Only a couple of days away from the Republican debate, three new national polls have been released on voter presidential preference. I don't know if they'll be used to determine who gets to participate in the GOP debate (only Fox News knows that), but they could since all are fairly respected surveys.

The NBC News / Wall Street Journal Poll was done between July 26th and 30th of a random sample of 252 Republicans, and has a margin of error of 6.17.

The Quinnipiac University Poll was done between July 23rd and 28th of a random national sample of 710 Republicans, with a margin of error of 3.7 points. They also surveyed 681 Democrats about their presidential preferences, and that had a 3.8 point margin of error.

The Monmouth University Poll was done between July 30th and August 2nd of a random national sample of 423 registered Republican voters, and has a margin of error of 4.8 points.

While the numbers are different in the three GOP polls, they all agree on one thing -- there are only three major candidates, with Trump leading and Bush/Walker fighting for second. All other candidates trail these three by a significant margin.

The chart below shows the results of the Democratic part of the Quinnipiac survey. It contains no surprises. Hillary Clinton has a 38 point lead over Bernie Sanders, and a 42 point lead over Joe Biden. O'Malley and Webb each got a single point, while Chafee couldn't even do that.

New (And More Applicable) Symbol

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz in Daily Kos.

White House Statement On The New "Clean Power" Plan

(This image of a U.S. coal-burning power plant is from greenpeace.org.)

On Monday, President Obama announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is instituting tough new pollution standards for power plants in the United States. The plan will not only help to protect the world from the disastrous effects of climate change, but will also improve the health and safety of American citizens (by cleaning up the air we must breathe).

The Republicans have already started whining about the plan, which is no surprise, since they consider the campaign donations they will receive from the power industry much more important than citizen safety or the impending climate change disaster.

Before the media gives those Republican lies too much air time, I thought we should see what the real facts are about this new plan. Here is part of the statement released by the White House press office:

The final Clean Power Plan takes into account the unprecedented input EPA received through extensive outreach, including the 4 million comments that were submitted to the agency during the public comment period. The result is a fair, flexible program that will strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy. The Clean Power Plan significantly reduces carbon pollution from the electric power sector while advancing clean energy innovation, development, and deployment. It ensures the U.S. will stay on a path of long-term clean energy investments that will maintain the reliability of our electric grid, promote affordable and clean energy for all Americans, and continue United States leadership on climate action. The Clean Power Plan:   
  • Provides Flexibility to States to Choose How to Meet Carbon Standards: EPA’s Clean Power Plan establishes carbon pollution standards for power plants, called carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance rates. States develop and implement tailored plans to ensure that the power plants in their state meet these standards– either individually, together, or in combination with other measures like improvements in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The final rule provides more flexibility in how state plans can be designed and implemented, including: streamlined opportunities for states to include proven strategies like trading and demand-side energy efficiency in their plans, and allows states to develop “trading ready” plans to participate in “opt in” to an emission credit trading market with other states taking parallel approaches without the need for interstate agreements. All low-carbon electricity generation technologies, including renewables, energy efficiency, natural gas, nuclear and carbon capture and storage, can play a role in state plans.
  • More Time for States Paired With Strong Incentives for Early Deployment of Clean Energy: State plans are due in September of 2016, but states that need more time can make an initial submission and request extensions of up to two years for final plan submission.  The compliance averaging period begins in 2022 instead of 2020, and emission reductions are phased in on a gradual “glide path” to 2030. These provisions to give states and companies more time to prepare for compliance are paired with a new Clean Energy Incentive Program to drive deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency before 2022.
  • Creates Jobs and Saves Money for Families and Businesses: The Clean Power Plan builds on the progress states, cities, and businesses and have been making for years. Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by half and wind is increasingly competitive nationwide. The Clean Power Plan will drive significant new investment in cleaner, more modern and more efficient technologies, creating tens of thousands of jobs. Under the Clean Power Plan, by 2030, renewables will account for 28 percent of our capacity, up from 22 percent in the proposed rule. Due to these improvements, the Clean Power Plan will save the average American nearly $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and save consumers a total of $155 billion through 2020-2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes.
  • Rewards States for Early Investment in Clean Energy, Focusing on Low-Income Communities: The Clean Power Plan establishes a Clean Energy Incentive Program that will drive additional early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency. Under the program, credits for electricity generated from renewables in 2020 and 2021 will be awarded to projects that begin construction after participating states submit their final implementation plans. The program also prioritizes early investment in energy efficiency projects in low-income communities by the Federal government awarding these projects double the number of credits in 2020 and 2021. Taken together, these incentives will drive faster renewable energy deployment, further reduce technology costs, and lay the foundation for deep long-term cuts in carbon pollution. In addition, the Clean Energy Incentive Plan provides additional flexibility for states, and will increase the overall net benefits of the Clean Power Plan.
  • Ensures Grid Reliability: The Clean Power Plan contains several important features to ensure grid reliability as we move to cleaner sources of power. In addition to giving states more time to develop implementation plans, starting compliance in 2022, and phasing in the targets over the decade, the rule requires states to address reliability in their state plans. The final rule also provides a “reliability safety valve” to address any reliability challenges that arise on a case-by-case basis. These measures are built on a framework that is inherently flexible in that it does not impose plant-specific requirements and provides states flexibility to smooth out their emission reductions over the period of the plan and across sources.
  • Continues U.S. Leadership on Climate Change: The Clean Power Plan continues United States leadership on climate change. By driving emission reductions from power plants, the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Clean Power Plan builds on prior Administration steps to reduce emissions, including historic investments to deploy clean energy technologies, standards to double the fuel economy of our cars and light trucks, and steps to reduce methane pollution. Taken together these measures put the United States on track to achieve the President’s near-term target to reduce emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and lay a strong foundation to deliver against our long-term target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The release of the Clean Power Plan continues momentum towards international climate talks in Paris in December, building on announcements to-date of post-2020 targets by countries representing 70 percent of global energy based carbon emissions. 
  • Sets State Targets in a Way That Is Fair and Is Directly Responsive to Input from States, Utilities, and Stakeholders: In response to input from stakeholders, the final Clean Power Plan modifies the way that state targets are set by using an approach that better reflects the way the electricity grid operates, using updated information about the cost and availability of clean generation technologies, and establishing separate emission performance rates for all coal plants and all gas plants. 
  • Maintains Energy Efficiency as Key Compliance Tool: In addition to on-site efficiency and greater are reliance on low and zero carbon generation, the Clean Power Plan provides states with broad flexibility to design carbon reduction plans that include energy efficiency and other emission reduction strategies.  EPA’s analysis shows that energy efficiency is expected to play a major role in meeting the state targets as a cost-effective and widely-available carbon reduction tool, saving enough energy to power 30 million homes and putting money back in ratepayers’ pockets.
  • Requires States to Engage with Vulnerable Populations: The Clean Power Plan includes provisions that require states to meaningfully engage with low-income, minority, and tribal communities, as the states develop their plans. EPA also encourages states to engage with workers and their representatives in the utility and related sectors in developing their state plans.
  • Includes a Proposed Federal Implementation Plan: EPA is also releasing a proposed federal plan today. This proposed plan will provide a model states can use in designing their plans, and when finalized, will be a backstop to ensure that the Clean Power Plan standards are met in every state. 
Since the Clean Air Act became law more than 45 years ago with bipartisan support, the EPA has continued to protect the health of communities, in particular those vulnerable to the impacts of harmful air pollution, while the economy has continued to grow. In fact, since 1970, air pollution has decreased by nearly 70 percent while the economy has tripled in size. The Clean Power Plan builds on this progress, while providing states the flexibility and tools to transition to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity.
And Here are some of the myths and facts about the new plan:

Myth: Carbon pollution standards will destroy jobs and hurt the economy.

Fact: Americans know we can cut pollution and protect the health of our kids while creating jobs.

Myth: Carbon pollution standards will cause Americans’ utility bills to spike.

Fact: Cutting carbon pollution will help eliminate waste and save families money on their electric bills.

Myth: Carbon pollution standards will hit low-income communities the hardest.

Fact: EPA’s Clean Power Plan will protect the health of low-income communities and help them save on their energy bills.

Myth: This administration is waging a war on coal.

Fact: For years, the President’s political opponents have been blaming him for market trends that started well before the President took office.

Myth: This rule threatens the reliability of Americans’ electricity.

Fact: This flexible proposal allows states to implement the standards without impacting reliability.

Myth: The Clean Power Plan is regulatory overreach.

Fact: The Clean Power Plan is clearly consistent with EPA’s legal authorities

Myth: The final Clean Power Plan drops energy efficiency.

Fact: Investment in energy efficiency will be a powerful strategy for compliance under the final Clean Power Plan.

Myth: Climate change isn’t real.

Fact: Climate change is real, it’s happening now, and it’s affecting every region of the country.

Inadequate Excuses

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

A Very Good Question

Monday, August 03, 2015

Hillary On "Trickle-Down"

Clinton Leads All Others In Non-PAC Campaign Donations

There are two different kinds of money going to affect our election campaigns. The first is money donated directly to a candidate's campaign. This money must come from an individual (rather than a corporation) and there is a limit on how much can be donated. In addition, the name of the donor must be reported.

The other kind of money is that coming from PACs, SUPER-PACs, and other organizations. Many times the donor's name is kept secret (dark money), and there is no limitation on the amount of money that can be given. This money can be spent to further a candidate's campaign, but supposedly the candidate has no control over how that money is spent (and if you believe that, I have some ocean-front property here in Amarillo that I'll sell you real cheap).

The two Democrats leading the race for that party's nomination are the candidates with the most individual donations directly to their campaigns. Hillary Clinton is first with $45.7 million, and Bernie Sanders is second with $15.2 million. Republican Ted Cruz is third with $14.3 million, and Republican Jeb Bush is fourth with $11.4 million.

But when you add in the money from other sources (like PACs and SUPER-PACs), the funding numbers change radically. Jeb Bush streaks into the lead with $120 million, and Hillary Clinton is second with $67.8 million. Third place goes to Ted Cruz with $52.5 million, and fourth to Marco Rubio with $42 million.

These numbers are reported by the New York Times (who got them from reports to the Federal Election Commission).

Word Balloon

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Latin America Agrees - U.S. Should End The Cuban Embargo

 (This cartoon on Cuban embargo is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.)

Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro negotiated a return to normal diplomatic relations between the two countries. And last month each nation officially opened an embassy in the other country. But one thing the president did not do was end the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

That embargo has now been in effect for over 50 years. It was instituted to put economic pressure on Cuba, and force it to change their government (to one more compliant with U.S. government policies and U.S. corporate greed). To say it has not worked would be an understatement -- and the other nations of the world long ago abandoned it. They all now trade with Cuba as though the embargo did not exist. That includes the nations in this hemisphere, especially the Latin American nations.

Latin American nations have tried to convince the United States for many years to allow Cuba into the Organization of American States (OAS), and to normalize relations with Cuba. Those goals have now been accomplished. All that really remains to be done is to end the embargo on trade with Cuba.

The reason President Obama couldn't end the embargo is because that embargo was imposed by Congress -- and only Congress can remove it. Unfortunately, Congress is controlled by right-wing Republicans -- and they still think they can gain politically from continuing the embargo (especially among their xenophobic base).

Latin American nations disagree. They want the embargo to end. The Pew Research Center surveyed at least 1,000 citizens in each of five of the largest and most powerful Latin American nations, and they found huge majorities of citizens in those nations want the United States to end the embargo against Cuba. They see it as divisive and counterproductive. The results of that survey are illustrated in the chart below:

Gift For Medicare (From GOP)

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Clinton And Trump Far Ahead In Latest National Poll

Yesterday, I posted the results of the One America / Gravis Marketing Poll on the standing of the presidential candidates in Iowa. Now that same poll has released the national results of their survey (done on July 29th of a random national sample of 1,555 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2.5 points).

The results for Democrats nationwide is not surprising. The survey just reflects what other polls have shown for many weeks now -- that Hillary Clinton has the support of a significant majority of Democrats (54.9%). Bernie Sanders is second with about 18.4% -- about 36.5 points behind Clinton.

I don't know why, but the poll included Elizabeth Warren -- even though she has made it clear numerous times that she is not a candidate (and will not be a candidate in the 2016 election). It doesn't really matter though, because if none of those supporting her wound up voting for Clinton (which I would doubt), Clinton still has a majority.

On the Republican side of the ledger, Donald Trump is still leading the field of GOP candidates -- and may have extended his lead. This survey puts his support at 30.8% -- 17.5 points ahead of Jeb Bush (13.3%) and 18.3 points ahead of Scott Walker (12.5%).

We are only a few days away from the first nationally televised Republican debate, and it will be interesting to see if that debate affects Trump's numbers. For the first time, he will be onstage with the other leading candidates. Will the comparison help or hurt him?

(NOTE - The caricatures of Clinton and Trump above are by DonkeyHotey.)

Here are the results of the One America / Gravis Marketing Poll:

Lady Justice

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

All Workers Deserve A Livable Wage (And All Means ALL)

I firmly believe that anyone willing to work hard for a living should be paid a livable wage. No worker should be forced to live in poverty just so a greedy corporation (or business owner) can pad their profits -- and any business that can't afford to pay workers a livable wage, probably shouldn't exist.

Recently, fast-food workers in New York City won a $15 an hour wage. That won't make any of them rich, but it will lift many out of poverty. It should happen all across this country, but we still hear many, especially Republicans, whining that the minimum wage shouldn't be raised (and some want to do away with the minimum wage completely). I find that to be a ridiculous, immoral, and unsupportable position.

Recently a paramedic named Jens Rushing addressed the new fast-food worker wage on his Facebook page, and what he had to say makes a lot of sense. His statement was reposted on the website Addicting Info. I think everyone needs to read what he had to say, so I post it below.

(NOTE -- The image of workers above is by cartoonist Angelo Lopez.)

Cash Or Charge

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

Thomas Paine

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Terrifying And Absolutely Vile

Clinton Would Still Beat Any Of The GOP's Candidates

The chart is made from information contained in the new McClatchy / Marist Poll -- done between July 22nd and 28th of a random national sample of 1,249 adults, with a margin of error of 2.8 points.

The Republicans have been telling lies about Hillary Clinton for months now (because they are terrified that she will be the Democratic nominee). It's not working. She could still beat any of the Republican candidates -- including their new superstar, Donald Trump.

Birds Of A Feather

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Clinton & Bush Released Tax Returns - Why Hasn't Trump?

Last Friday, Hillary Clinton released the last eight years worth of tax returns for her and her family. It shows that she and Bill earned about $141 million dollars (an adjusted gross income of $139.1 million) during that eight year period -- and they paid about $43 million in federal income taxes. Over the eight year period, that's an effective tax rate of about 31% (and an effective tax rate of 35.7% for just last year). They gave $15 million to charity over the eight year period.

Jeb Bush has also released tax returns -- for the last 33 years (although many of them were already public). Bush made $7.4 million in the last year, and over the 33 year period paid an average tax rate of about 36%. Like the Clinton's, he and his wife are multi-millionaires.

I don't have much of a gripe about the tax rates paid by both of these candidates. They both paid a far higher rate than middle income Americans, and the rate being less than the top rate can easily be accounted for by charitable deductions. It's far different than the 13% tax rate paid by Mitt Romney (on an income of more than $20 million a year).

The question I have is -- why hasn't Donald Trump released his tax returns for the last few years? He claims to be a serious candidate, and in fact, is leading in all the national polls. Isn't it time he revealed the tax rate he has been paying?

The only clue we have to his tax rate comes from his own lips, in an interview with CBS News back in 2011. At that time he claimed to be paying an effective tax rate of 17%. Is that the real figure? Is it even lower? Why won't he release the returns? Is he afraid he'll garner negative publicity (like Romney did in 2012) by admitting he's paying a lower effective rate than a middle income taxpayer?


Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

New State Presidential Polls - Illinois, Iowa, And Florida

These are the latest state polls for the party nominations for president. For the Republicans, Scott Walker leads in Illinois -- but Donald Trump is not doing badly. He is in second place, 5 points behind Walker and 7 points ahead of Jeb Bush (who finished in third). Things are different in Iowa and Florida. In Iowa, Trump has a 15.5 point lead over second place finisher Walker. In Florida, Trump has a 6.1 point lead over Bush (who finished in second).

For Democrats, the Illinois and Iowa polls show Hillary Clinton maintains a significant lead over Bernie Sanders -- by 37 points in Illinois, and by 26.8 points in Iowa. The Florida poll did not survey Democrats.

The Illinois poll is by Public Policy Polling. It was done on July 20th and 21st. The queried 369 Republicans (moe of 5.1 points) and 409 Democrats (moe of 4.9 points).

The Iowa survey is the One America / Gravis Marketing Poll. It was done on July 29th, and contained 277 Republicans (moe of 6.5 points) and 236 Democrats (moe of 6.4 points).

The Florida results are from the St. Pete Poll. It was done between July 18th and 28th and surveyed 1,902 Republicans, with a 2.2 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Warren Defends Planned Parenthood & Asks You To Help

(This photo of Senator Elizabeth Warren is from her own website.)

The congressional Republicans are at it again -- demonizing Planned Parenthood, and trying to cut off all funding for it. They try to paint PP as an organization that just exists to promote abortions. They know it's not true, and they know that defunding PP would cause many thousands of women to go without medical care. They just don't care. They are playing politics to please their ignorant base voters.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of those fighting to protect Planned Parenthood, and she urges all of us to join her in that fight. Here is her latest missive to her supporters:

The Republicans have a plan. Just look at the facts:
  • In 2013, Republicans threatened to shut down the government unless they could change the law to let employers deny women access to birth control.

  • In 2015, Republicans held hostage an easy-to-pass bipartisan bill to stop human trafficking, demanding an unprecedented expansion of anti-abortion restrictions to cover new funds for providing assistance to trafficking victims.

  • Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times, including the portions that require insurers to cover contraception – and stop them from charging women more.  

  • In state legislatures, Republicans have passed nearly 300 new restrictions on abortion access in the past five years – more than 50 this year alone.
So let’s be really clear about something: The Republicans’ scheme to defund Planned Parenthood isn’t some sort of surprised response to highly edited videos. 

Let’s call out the Republican vote to defund Planned Parenthood on Monday for exactly what it is: Another piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated right-wing attack on women’s rights. And I’m sick and tired of it.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a big deal. Whatever your age, wherever you live, I guarantee that you know someone who has used a Planned Parenthood health center.

No one may mention it at Thanksgiving dinner or post it on Facebook, but look at the facts: One in five women in America is a Planned Parenthood patient at least once in her life. Every single year, nearly 2.7 million people show up for help at Planned Parenthood.

Why do so many people use Planned Parenthood? Because they are nonprofit doctors’ offices – more than half are in rural or medically underserved areas.

Young people go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. Women who can’t get appointments anywhere else go to Planned Parenthood for affordable Pap tests and cancer screenings. Couples go to Planned Parenthood for STD treatments or pregnancy tests. And yes, 3% of patients visit Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion with a doctor who will show compassion and care for a woman who is making one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz may think it’s fun to play politics with these people to score points with presidential primary voters, but this isn’t a game. This is about cancer. This is about HIV. This is about birth control. This is about access to basic medical care.

The Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood is a Republican plan to defund women’s health care. Join me now to say enough is enough.

I stand with Planned Parenthood. I fight for my daughter, for my granddaughters, and for people all across Massachusetts and all across this country. We cannot let the Senate Republicans defund Planned Parenthood.

Thank you for being a part of this,


War (On Science)

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

A Fairy Tale

Saturday, August 01, 2015

In A Nutshell

Hillary Clinton Should Have Answered The Question

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am a die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton. I made a promise to some people important to me that I would support her if she ran in 2016, and nothing that has happened since then has made me think I should break that promise. I think she's a good progressive (not perfect but good), and I think she'd make a very good president.

But I also think she made a serious mistake in a New Hampshire town meeting a few days ago. She was asked a question, and instead of answering it, she side-stepped it.

I understand the question was posed by a Republican, and was probably designed to trip her up. That doesn't matter. It was a issue-oriented question, and she should have answered it without any quibbling.

A man asked her:

"As president, would you sign a bill, yes or no please, in favor of allowing the Keystone XL pipeline?"

And she said:

"I am not going to second guess (President Barack Obama) because I was in a position to set this in motion. I want to wait and see what he and Secretary Kerry decide."
"If it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question."
That is not a good answer. In fact, it's not an answer at all. It was not an unfair question. It was a question on an issue that is important to many Democrats. If she wasn't running for president, her statement might have been appropriate, but she is running for president -- and voters deserved to hear what she would decide on the matter. It may not be an issue by the time she takes office (as I hope), but her answer could let voters know how she might decide on something similar as president.

We are not Republicans, who love to vote for candidates who lie, quibble, or try to placate with bumper sticker slogans. We are Democrats -- and we expect an honest answer to any issue-oriented question. We expect our candidates to tell us the truth (even if it's a truth we won't like very much).

This is not a deal-breaker for me. I am still solidly in Hillary's camp. But I think she made a serious mistake by not answering the question -- and I hope she doesn't make this a habit.

(The caricature of Hillary Clinton above is by DonkeyHotey.)

Fighting Progress

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Bernie Says NO To An Independent Run For President

We've heard a lot recently about Donald Trump possibly running for president as an Independent if he "isn't treated fairly" by Republicans. That thought has Republican leaders scared to death. Trump couldn't win, but he could drag away enough teabagger support to give the Democratic nominee an easy path to the White House.

Democrats have had a similar nightmare scenario. It is the thought that Bernie Sanders might run as an Independent if he doesn't win the Democratic nomination. Although he trails Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, he does have a lot of hardcore supporters -- and it's not unimaginable that they would abandon the Democratic Party to support him as an Independent.

Fortunately (for Democrats), that's not going to happen. Speaking in Washington last Thursday, Sanders said he would not run as an Independent if he doesn't win the Democratic nomination. Here is what he said:

“I would not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican president.”

“As I was contemplating what I’d do, one decision I had to make was, there were a lot of people telling me to run as an Independent. They said the Republican Party is an extreme right-wing party, and the Democratic Party is too conservative, too cozied-up to big money … and that I should run outside of the two party system.”

“I thought about it. But I reached the decision … that the only way at this particular moment in history that we could run an effective campaign was within the Democratic primary and caucus system.”

Although I support Hillary Clinton for the nomination, regular readers of this blog will know that I have an immense amount of respect for Bernie Sanders. I think the senator from Vermont is one of the two best senators we have in Washington -- and this decision of his has just heightened my respect for him (something I didn't think was possible).

Bernie Sanders will support the nominee of the Democratic Party, even if it is not him. He knows how important it is to keep an extremist Republican out of the White House in 2016. I hope his supporters (especially the die-hard "Hillary-haters" among them) have the same love for this country that Sanders does. I hope they understand that he is right, and we must unify behind the winner of the nomination to defeat the Republican candidate. It's just too important to stay home (or vote third-party) this time.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking any supporter of Bernie Sanders to abandon his candidacy. I think all Democrats and progressives should vote their conscience and support the candidate of their choice -- and if you support Sanders, that is fine. But once the nomination is settled, it won't be a time for sour grapes. This election is just too important.

(The image of Bernie Sanders above is by DonkeyHotey.)

Cooler Heads ?

Political Cartoon is by Jack Ohman in the Sacramento Bee.