Friday, May 12, 2017

Keeping Politically Current



Because of the high-speed train-wreck in Washington, and because of the slow-motion ship-wreck in Madison, Wisconsin progressives must keep-up with the latest political news. However, none of us has unlimited time to devote to current events. We have our lives to live, our careers to focus on, and our families to occasionally acknowledge.

We all must make the most efficient use of the time we spend absorbing the news. We must seek-out the best, most condensed, and most reliable news sources. All political geeks have their own favorite TV news broadcasts, newspapers, blogs, and pod-casts. Today, I would like to share some of my favorites that are focused on national politics. A future blog will cover especially useful sources for state and local politics.

Websites- My two favorite progressive websites are Daily Kos and Huffington Post. Both are excellent portals for connecting to other media sources. Daily Kos carries reader-submitted blogs without editing, so the quality of the writing is variable. Daily Kos is useful because some of the blogs summarize articles in top-notch newspapers, like the New York Times and Washington Post, that give very limited free web access. They also have a handful of paid staff writers. For example, Joan McCarter does a great job in covering the GOP attempts to destroy the American health care system.

I have followed HuffPost for years. This site has a professional staff of decent writers, who cover politics in almost real-time. Huffington also links to important stories in high-quality, non-fake media sources. They serve as a one-stop source for links to progressive columnists in top newspapers.

There are a zillion progressive Facebook sites that specialize in sensationalist click-bait stories. You know, the kind where some Republican is EVISCERATED, or HUMILIATED, or SCHOOLED and has a MELTDOWN. These stories invariably end-up a big nothing-burger. However, even though the stories are unreadable, the pictures and clever made-up captions are often funny and worth a quick look. I follow Occupy Democrats, Americans Against the Republican Party, and Hate Liberals? Bite Me. You probably have your own favorites.

TV- The only political TV show that I watch faithfully is Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Rachel continues to bring a great in-depth approach to her stories. Unfortunately, most of the rest of MSNBC is becoming unwatchable. Chris Matthew's pomposity, along with their new stable of right-wing blowhards like Gretta Van Susteren, Nicholle Wallace, and Joe Scarborough don't bode well for the future of the network.

Video Blogs-I regularly listen to video blogs by two progressive pundits. Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, and current Stanford professor, is very good. His Facebook page lists stories from only the highest level, most trusted, news sources. Most weeknights, he does a "Resistance Report", in which he calmly and sagely comments on recent political news.

At the other end of the emotional scale, but no less smart, is Keith Olbermann. The former MSNBC host does a political video rant most week nights on GQ, the men's fashion website. Olbermann's show, called The Closer, is guaranteed to make you angry, make you sad, or spur you to political action. He ends each episode by urging people to "Resist !"

Cartoons-My favorite political cartoonist is Clay Bennett, who publishes in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He has been especially clever in his coverage of Trump. If you "like" Clay's Facebook page, his new cartoons are posted on your newsfeed.

Columnist- Of all of the liberal columnists, my favorite has to be Jonathan Chait, who writes for New York Magazine. Chait covers a wide range of political issues. Every one of his articles is clear, well thought-out, and very well written. Chait is also on my FB newsfeed.

Those are my favorite progressive sources of national political news. You might already follow some of these, and have many favorites of your own. How do you spend your on-line, political information time?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Political Triage


Yesterday's House vote to steal healthcare from millions of Americans made one thing perfectly clear. We must take back the House in 2018. We cannot allow this slithering mass of helminths to spoil all that is good about America. All progressive hands need to be on deck for the next House election cycle.

2018 will give us a golden opportunity to throw the smirking GOP Congress out on their social-Darwinist butts. The President's party has historically lost Congressional seats during mid-term elections, and next year should be no different. The record-breaking unpopularity and incompetence of their fearless leader only makes our job easier.

I would like to boot-out every single Republican who voted for this bill. However, to regain Congress, we need to play it smart. We need to spend our limited efforts and campaign cash where they will do the most good.

Many of us live in Congressional districts where no amount of effort on our parts will change the outcome of our local House race. Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan will easily win Milwaukee and Madison. Jim Sensenbrenner will win his Waukesha and Washington County-based district. But those of us that live in these three districts can greatly affect the outcome of the five other Wisconsin House elections. Our calls and door-knocks and dollars could make all the difference in electing additional Wisconsin Democrats to Congress. They could make all the difference in the taking-back the House.

Several national organizations assist people in overwhelmingly red or blue districts who want to have an impact on next year's Congressional elections. Swing Left is targeting 65 close Congressional races for 2018. The organization matches activists with races where they can meaningfully get involved as volunteers or as donors. Unfortunately, none of Swing Left's targeted seats are in Wisconsin.

Just as groups like Swing Left help to direct money and volunteers to where they will make the most national impact, we could and should do the same within our state. At the risk of angering many, I believe that we should put less effort into those races that we have no chance of losing and those that we have no chance of winning. Instead, we should focus on the races that are in the middle. We should focus where we have the best and most reasonable chances of pulling-off a gain. This sort of political triage will give us the most realistic chance of election eve pick-ups for the progressive cause.

Below, I list the eight Wisconsin congressional districts, along with the 3-election average winning margin (for 2012, 2014, and 2016). For comparison, I also include the Cook Partisan Voting Index, an indicator of the relative partisan lean of each district.

District      Incumbent           Margin % (Ave 3 elections)     Cook PVI

    1              Ryan                     25.0 R                                       R+5
    2              Pocan                   36.9 D                                       D+18
    3              Kind                     20.6 D (Ave of 2)                      Even
    4              Moore                   55.9 D                                      D+25
    5             Sensenbrenner     38.0 R                                      R+13
    6             Grothman              20.5 R                                      R+8
    7             Duffy                     18.7 R                                      R+8
    8             Gallagher               22.5 R                                      R+7

It is no big surprise that Pocan and Moore (Districts 2 (Madison) and 4 (Milwaukee)) are safe for the Democrats. This is an instance of the GOP's partisan redistricting jamming as many Democratic voters as possible into just a few districts. These districts shouldn't require large investments of volunteers or campaign money to remain in progressive hands. On the other hand, Dems must play strong defense to hold Kind's 3rd District, a district that Trump won by 4%.

Sensenbrenner's 5th district, with a 38% R margin, is even more lopsidedly Republican than Madison is Democratic. In the bluest of election tidal waves, we stand little chance of flipping the 5th. Democratic volunteer efforts and cash are much better spent going after the weakest Republicans-Duffy, Grothman, and Gallagher. A flip of 11.3% of voters from R to D would turn any of these three districts blue. Such a flip is within reason when we consider the "yes" votes by these three heartless buffoons on the Trumpcare bill, as well as Trump's own deep unpopularity.

As much as I would love to see Lyin' Ryan return to Janesville, such a defeat is much less likely than Democratic pick-ups in Districts 6, 7, or 8. Instead of a big, expensive, and likely futile effort to unseat the smirking Eddie Munster, we should work smart and do all we can to demote him to Minority Leader.


 

Friday, April 28, 2017

The House Anti-Science Maniacs


There are numerous reasons that people Marched for Science last week. Many of us feel the need to defend science against an unprecedented assault by a wave of know-nothing politicians. For example, the President has packed the Executive Branch with the wackiest gang of science deniers, creationists, polluters, and education profiteers imaginable.

However, that doesn't tell the whole sad story. Congress has its own gang of anti-science maniacs. Perhaps the craziest of all is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith's powerful Committee makes US science policy and controls the purse-strings for a slew of agencies, including NASA, DOE R&D, the National Science Foundation, STEM education, EPA research, and the National Weather Service.

Chairman Smith has used his position to conduct a personal war against climate science. He issued subpoenas for e-mails from NOAA climate scientists. He accused government scientists of falsifying data. He used the official Science Committee Twitter account to publicize anti-science articles from alt-fact Breitbart. Several times, he gave keynote speeches at climate-change denial conferences sponsored by the Koch-and-Exxon-funded Heartland Institute.

Smith is certainly no moderate. He was one of the first Congressmen to endorse Trump for President. He was one of the earliest supporters of the presidential candidate who tweeted that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese to make us less competitive. In January, Smith spoke from the House Floor, "Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth."

In a Heartland keynote speech in March, Lamar Smith spoke to the global-warming denying attendees: "Next week we’re going to have a hearing on our favorite subject of climate change and also on the scientific method, which has been repeatedly ignored by the so-called, self-professed climate scientists."

True to his word, on March 29, Smith wasted taxpayer money by holding a hearing on "Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method". For his sham of a hearing, Smith invited three global warming skeptics to testify. In the interest of "balance", he also invited one proponent of current scientific consensus on climate change. If Smith had invited speakers in actual proportion of scientific viewpoint, he would have had his three skeptics and ninety-seven scientists convinced of the fact of human-caused global warming.

Smith, who has absolutely no scientific training, led-off the proceedings by lecturing the audience on his view of the scientific method, claiming "Much of Climate Science today appears to be based on exaggerations, personal agendas, and questionable predictions, (rather) than on the scientific method." In Smith's world, the only scientifically-valid research agrees with the climate-change denial myths peddled by his corporate donors. (by the way, Smith has received more than $700,000 from the oil and gas industry over his career.)

Dr. Michael Mann, the sole witness defending the overwhelming consensus of scientific thought on global warming, was repeatedly attacked and bullied by all eight of the Republican Congressmen who spoke at the hearing. The three climate change deniers were given softball questions and treated with deference.

The entire Science and Technology Committee is an embarrassing sham. Of the twenty-two Republicans on the 38-member Committee, fully eighteen are declared climate change deniers. The other four committee Republicans have voiced more nuanced stances on the subject. Typical of the GOP members are:

Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who stated, "Some politicians and bureaucrats believe in whatever theory gives them an opportunity to take money from the energy sector and spend it themselves in the name of saving the planet."

Jim Banks (R-IN), who is quoted saying, "I believe that climate change in this country is largely leftist propaganda to change the way Americans live and create more government obstruction and intrusion in our lives."

Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), who said, " I do not think that humans have a significant impact on climate. The federal government should stop regulating and stomping on our economy and freedoms in the name of a discredited theory.

Remember, these scientifically-illiterate politicians are the people who make US Science policy and fund government-sponsored research. The House Committee is full of shills for energy companies and fossil-fuel front groups. They are willing to ignore the truth in order to keep those campaign contributions coming in. The Committee is a national embarrassment. 

Global warming is real, human-caused, and is having adverse effects on us, our economy, and our planet. Both the Trump administration and the House Science Committee, as chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith, have declared war on the peer-reviewed research of climate scientists. In the formulation of US policy, fringe views that support a corporate agenda are being allowed to trump real science. That is just one of many reasons to keep Marching for Science. 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

March for Science-Milwaukee 2017




My wife and I were among the massive numbers of people around the world who marched for Science on April 22. We took part in the Milwaukee event, which started at 2:00PM downtown in Red Arrow Park. Speakers went for about an hour, followed by a two-mile march to the County Museum and back again. The crowd was estimated by the organizers to be more than 3,000 people (I think it was more).

Because the march coincided with Earth Day, many of the attendees came with the environment as their main focus. Others were concerned about the current administration's outright rejection of science, scientists, and adequate science funding. My own reasons are outlined in my entry of March 30, "Why I Will March for Science."

Unlike most recent protests, there wasn't a great deal of anger expressed by the participants. The mood was more of frustration and resignation at the stupidity of current national and state decision-makers.

The chants were a little lame. (Give me a P...an H...a Y...an S...an I...a C...an S... What's that spell?). The skies were a beautiful blue and the temperature a comfortable 52 degrees. The standard marching gear was science-themed T-shirts, light jackets, and a smattering of lab coats (I dug-out my own for the occasion).

During the event, I kept wondering how we have arrived at this low point in our nation's history. How did we get to the point where we feel that we must defend science from our political leaders? Why is a March for Science even necessary? How did we elect a President that makes his decisions based on the mandates of big oil and coal rather than on facts? How did we elect a Vice President that rejects the foundation of modern Biology? Are we headed towards a new Dark Age?













Thursday, April 13, 2017

Well, You Know, We Don't Want to See It Changed



The US Constitution describes two ways that amendments can be made. The first way- the route by which all 27 existing amendments have been enacted- requires a 2/3 approval by Congress, followed by ratification by 3/4 (38) of the states. The state approvals are granted by state legislatures.

The second, untested way to amend the Constitution is to have the legislatures of 2/3 (34) of the states call for a Constitutional Convention that would propose amendments. Any amendments coming out of such a Convention must then be approved by 3/4 of the states. This unproven method is currently advocated by Tea Party groups and the right-wing ALEC organization, in an attempt to bypass the US Congress in implementing a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment.

In late March, a set of bills passed through a joint committee in the Wisconsin legislature that would add our state to the list of 29 calling for a new Constitutional Convention. After Wisconsin, only four more states would be needed to initiate the radical step that would open-up our US Constitution to a frightening and potentially disastrous re-write.

I have two problems with this development. First, I do not believe that we should have an amendment mandating a balanced budget at all. Second, if we must have such an amendment, a Constitutional Convention is a dangerous way to do it.

I don't know anyone who believes that our country should run budget deficits in perpetuity. We should and must get our fiscal house in order. We know how to do it. We did it within recent memory. We had our last balanced budgets in 1998-2001, under President Clinton. However, I question the wisdom of doing it through a Constitutional Amendment.

Unless we resort to bookkeeping tricks, a balanced budget Constitutional Amendment will be catastrophic to our economy. Instead of gradually and wisely growing out of our debt problem, (as we have been doing the last eight years), it would impose immediate and drastic financial shocks to the nation. It would be a Sequester on steroids. Austerity did not work in Europe and it won't work here.

In addition to the self-imposed financial shocks, a Balanced Budget Amendment would remove the flexibility that government has to even-out the economic cycle. We should run surpluses during good times and stimulate the economy during bad times. A Balanced Budget Amendment would force government to raise taxes and slash government at the worst possible time, during a recession.


An amendment would cause problems when we are faced with war or major calamity. We should not be forced to starve children to pay for clean-up of a new, New Madrid earthquake or a war with Belgium.

OK, so you are not convinced. You still believe that we must have a Balanced Budget Amendment to force our government into fiscal sanity. If we really have to enact such an amendment, let's do it the old fashioned way, the careful and deliberate way that has worked for all 27 of our current amendments. Let's do it by involving our elected representatives in Congress.

A new Constitutional Convention runs the risk of a "run-away" situation, in which the unelected delegates go way beyond the original intent of the meeting. While the delegates are convened, why not propose a bunch of other amendments? How about a "person-hood" amendment? Or a rewrite of that pesky First Amendment? Or a repeal of the Second? And Congressional term limits? Why not simply start from scratch?

Barry Goldwater opposed such a Convention, saying, "[I am] totally opposed [to a Constitutional Convention]…We may wind up with a Constitution so far different from that we have lived under for two hundred years that the Republic might not be able to continue.” Anton Scalia put it a little less eloquently, "I certainly would not want a Constitutional Convention. I mean whoa! Who knows what would come out of that?"

The Wisconsin GOP-sponsored bills would have the delegates to this important Convention be unelected political appointees. Three would be named by the State Senate President, three by the Assembly Speaker, and one by the Governor. If formed today, the seven-member Wisconsin delegation would be 100% Republican. So much for representative government.

A Constitutional Amendment for a balanced budget is a well-meaning and naive dream, with likely dire consequences for our economy. Instead of allowing us to gradually grow out of the deficit problem, it would impose an austerity death spiral. And convening a Constitutional Convention to get us there is another dangerous proposition. 


Rather than adding a new amendment to impose a balanced budget, we should re-evaluate the policies that got us here in the first place. We should elect politicians who will increase revenues, trim the bloated military budget, and promote wise economic growth policies. The current GOP Congress and the Trump administration are going in exactly the opposite direction.




Thursday, April 6, 2017

W.O.W. Counties Regain Scarlet Rankings



Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee counties have long been the three most Republican counties in Wisconsin. For example, in 2008, John McCain won the counties with 64.1, 62.3, and 60.3% of the vote, respectively. Similarly, Mitt Romney won the counties in 2012 with 70.0, 66.8, and 64.6% of the vote.

This trend held true in off-years, too. In the 2014 gubernatorial election, Walker carried Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee counties by 75.9, 72.5, and 70.0%. As usual, the three counties ranked as the first, second, and third most Republican counties in the state.

However, last year's presidential election was unusual in many ways. The GOP's highly-flawed candidate was not as popular in the three-county region as in many other parts of the state. Trump received 28,893 fewer W.O.W. votes than Mitt Romney. This huge drop-off by the GOP candidate at least temporarily unseated the W.O.W. counties as the reddest in Wisconsin.

My own Washington County, I am ashamed to say, was the 3rd most Trump-loving county in Wisconsin, giving Trump 67.4% of our vote. We trailed only low-population Florence (71.5% Trump) and Taylor (69.5% Trump). Still, Washington was dethroned from being the top Republican vote percentage county. We could hold our heads at least a little higher.

Waukesha County was certainly not a citadel of Trumpism. Giving Trump 60.0% of its vote, Waukesha was only the 22nd trumpiest county in the state. And at least for the 2016 presidential election, Ozaukee County was downright purple. At 55.8%, they were only the 40th most Trump-loving county.

The question remained, were the 2016 presidential results a mere aberration, or are they indicative of a trend? Could W.O.W. county residents have finally wised up? Could the voters of the Milwaukee suburbs be starting to become less overwhelmingly red? The answer came this week, in the vote for State Superintendent.

Although the election for State Superintendent is supposed to be non-partisan, it was anything but. Moderate incumbent, Tony Evers ran against a Republican-backed challenger, Lowell Holtz. Holtz was clearly a wing-nut candidate. He wanted to abandon state curriculum standards. He was in the pocket of the school profitization industry. He even celebrated the confirmation of the uniquely unqualified Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

Holtz was endorsed by a raft of county Republican parties. He was endorsed by the far right Wisconsin Family Action PAC. He was endorsed by some of the looniest politicians in Madison, including Representatives Andre Jacque, Bob "Gunnin'"Gannon, Ozaukee Patriot member Dan Knodl, and Janel Brandtjen. He was endorsed by former Representative, one-time State Superintendent candidate, and frequent national embarrassment, Don Pridemore.

So despite the race being non-partisan in name, it was clearly a proxy Democrat vs Republican contest. The moderate Evers won handily, with 70 percent of the vote. Despite the common wisdom of progressives doing poorly in low-turnout elections, Evers carried the day. Evers remains a voice of reason to defend our public schools against the worst intentions of the extremist Governor and wacko Legislators.

But how did the W.O.W. counties vote? They regressed to their former behavior. In this highly partisan, formally non-partisan election, the three counties once again were the reddest in the state. In fact Washington County (which voted 53.6% Holtz) and Waukesha County (which voted 51.3% Holtz) were the only two counties in which the GOP-backed candidate won. They thereby returned to being the #1 and #2 reddest counties. Ozaukee, in which Holtz received 46.6% of the vote, is again the #3 most Republican county.

So despite a temporary bout of sanity, a presidential election in which Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee Counties were not the three reddest counties in Wisconsin, we relapsed. Tuesday's election once again bestowed on the Milwaukee suburbs the disgrace of being the most Republican region of the state. 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why I Will March for Science


On April 22, people across America will take to the streets in support of science. I will be one of them. (I already designed my geeky sign, shown above !) Milwaukee is one of the cities to host a march, with details on the local event to be found here and here.

During most of my life, there has been little reason to hold a march in support of science. Being anti-science would have been like being against motherhood and the flag. Politicians of all ideologies knew the importance of science to our county's well-being, and they supported it accordingly. However, the current regime in Washington has changed all that. Never before has there been such a concerted effort by know-nothing politicians to cut science funding and to erode American scientific leadership.

For example:

  • Global warming deniers now hold power in Congress, the White House, and all Cabinet departments. Anti-science politicians are putting gag orders on scientific results related to climate change. They are defunding world-class research related to global warming in department after department. 
  • Our Secretary of Education and Vice President want to spend taxpayer money on the teaching of religion, in the guise of so-called "Creation Science". If successful, this effort will create a nation of scientific illiterates.
  • America draws the best scientific brains from all over the world to study in our universities, to work in our research facilities, and to start high tech companies. Current xenophobic policies by this administration are causing bright people to reconsider coming here, harming US scientific leadership. 
  •  Our President believes wild pseudo-science conspiracy theories and will base national policy on those beliefs. He has already set-up a commission on vaccine safety, headed by a well-known anti-vaxxer. What is next, a commission on Chem-Trails? On astrology? On Bigfoot? 
  •  The administration plans to woefully defund science. In addition to defunding climate research, the recent budget takes an axe to medical research, earth science, and energy programs. The cuts will have a catastrophic and long-lasting effect on US efforts in these important fields.

But why does our government need to fund a strong scientific effort? If we are to remain a great country, America must maintain our leadership in science and spin-off technologies. Technical leadership is just as important to our international power and prestige as more tanks and cruise missiles.

Science and spin-off technologies provide lots of good, high-paying jobs. Where would America be without strong research-intensive industries like automotive, chemical, aerospace, and petroleum? Where would we be without robust scientific and industrial efforts in electronics, biotech, and robotics?

Science provides us with a better quality of life. Technology derived from scientific research betters the human condition. Without wise investment in research, America would be functioning at a third-world level. Without modern medicine, agriculture, and transportation, life in the United States would best be described by the Hobbsian "poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

And finally, science is important for it's own sake. We have a responsibility to our civilization to keep advancing human knowledge. To constantly push back the frontiers of darkness. To know more things about more things. Even if there is never a practical pay-off, we must satisfy the basic human need to know how the universe started, how it works, and our role in it.

So, that is why I am marching next month. I love my country and want to keep it great through governmental investment in scientific research. I want to see us continue to benefit economically from the spin-offs of science. I want the quality of human life to continue to improve through science. I want to see us continue to advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge. I hope you agree and I hope to see you at the march!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump's Plummeting Poll Numbers


I grew up in one of the most Republican parts of one of the most Republican states in the country. I was a small-town Hoosier. Local Democratic office holders there are rarer than sasquatches . My home county is so deeply red that it went 74% for Trump to 21% for Clinton.

However, even in a county that is redder than every single county in Wisconsin, redder than any US state, there are a few progressives. After all, one-in-five people voted for Hillary. One of my Facebook friends, a former high school classmate, is one of those progressives. Last weekend, he had had enough. He posted:

"Sorry about the rant, but I am tired of Donald Trump and his lies. How much longer do we have to put-up with this clown? His new budget cuts money for Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels! This group does a lot of good feeding the hungry. Although you wouldn't know it by looking at me, I have missed a few meals in my life due to various circumstances. This country is the wealthiest on earth and we can afford to feed everyone. Maybe we can spend a little less on Trump's security in Florida and New York, and more on the important programs that help needy people. End of rant. Thank you."

The surprise is not that my friend posted this tirade against Trump. After all, he has always been on the liberal side. The shocking thing was the overwhelming response to his post. Despite living in the ultimate Trump country, despite having most of his FB friends from the same area, he received tons of "likes". Almost every one of the many comments to his post were supportive of his anti-Trump viewpoint.

It appears that even in the reddest parts of Trump country, many people are getting fed-up. The rosy vision that candidate Trump sold these people is not the reality that they are seeing. Instead of draining the swamp, Trump is stocking it with billionaire gators and Goldman-Sachs piranhas.

To be fair, there is at least one pro-Trump hold-out in my hometown. There is at least one person who would probably follow Trump even after he "shot someone in the middle of 5th avenue". The sole negative comment to my friend's post went, "Don't care. Hilary is a nasty bitch and should be shot in front of a firing squad. I don't know how stupid you people are, thinking Russia changed our mind. Hillary did the shit she did. If Russia uncovered it, that's great." Every village needs an idiot.

I know that this is anecdotal evidence. However, the growing anti-Trump sentiment in the reddest parts of Indiana echos the recent opinion polls that show Trump's popularity falling off a cliff. He has horrible numbers, bouncing around in the upper 30's. Trump is setting new presidential unpopularity records, at a time that he should still be in his honeymoon period.

There are plenty of reasons that Trump's popularity is lower than hemorrhoids and bee stings. He alienates our closest allies. The train-wreck of Trumpcare is good for no one. The ham-handed implementation of his Muslim ban shows the gross incompetence of his team. Seemingly, everyone in his campaign is linked to shady Russian operatives. A constant stream of easily-disproved lies rolls out of his mouth.

However, the thing that hits home the hardest is probably Trump's mean-spirited budget. In order to get big sums to spend on the senseless Wall and a few more cruise missiles, Trump's budget guts research, environmental protection, and arts funding.

But most damning cut of all, the cut that typifies Republican philosophy, the cut that drove my friend to rant on Facebook, is the cut to Meals on Wheels. Even in the reddest parts of the country, the well-being of old people is important. Videos of starving seniors will hurt Trump's plummeting poll numbers more than anything.