Saturday, January 20, 2018

Modern GOP


GOP Refuses To Pass DACA - Shuts Down The Government


The chart above is from a new ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between January 15th and 18th of a random national sample of 1,005 adults, with a margin of error of 3.5 points. It shows who the public blames for the shutdown of the government. It's not surprise that Republicans blame the Democrats, while Democrats blame Trump and the Republicans. The interesting part is who the Independents blame, and that's Trump and the Republicans by a 21 point margin.

The sad part is that the shutdown was not necessary. All the Republicans had to do was include in the continuing resolution a provision making DACA once again the law of the land. They have been talking for days now about how they want to pass DACA, but when they had the chance they refused to do it. The truth is that they don't care about the Dreamers. They just want to use them as hostages to try and force Democrats to pass other immigration measures (such as building a wall and stopping "chain-immigration" -- measures that are not needed and would be bad for the country).

How long will the shutdown last? Which side will blink first? I hope it's not the Democrats. Time is running out for the Dreamers as 122 lose their protected status each day -- and they will all lose that status in the first part of March. The Democrats need to stand fast, and pass no continuing resolution that doesn't include re-instating DACA. I'm proud that the Democrats took a stand Friday night. Now they need to follow through.

But as intransigent as the congressional Republicans have been, this government shutdown has to be laid at the feet of Donald Trump. He bragged during the campaign about what a great negotiator he was, but has been an absolute failure at negotiating anything once sworn in.

Last week, he said he would sign any deal brought to him. But when Democrats and Republicans agreed on a deal that could pass Congress (including DACA, stronger border security, and some money to start Trump's wall), Trump changed his mind and refused to accept the deal. Then yesterday, Minority Leader Schumer thought he had worked out a deal with Trump, only to have the White House call a couple of hours later to say the deal was off.

Trump has shown both parties in Congress that he cannot be trusted. If he gives his word, he will probably change his mind. He has left Congress unable to figure out just what it is he wants. They are realizing that all it takes to get Trump to change his mind is a little flattery and a whisper that his base won't like something. This is a failure of leadership -- and that lack of leadership will make it harder for Congress to finally reach a deal to end the shutdown.

This whole mess just illustrates that even though the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, they are incapable of governing.

A Year Of Trump

Political Cartoon is by Jos Collignon at cagle.com.

Military/Defense Spending Should NOT Be Increased


While watching the Senate debate on the continuing resolution to keep from shutting down the government, I heard many senators (from both parties) talking about how we need to "rebuild" our military. For that purpose, they want to once again increase the military budget. I disagree.

Look at the chart above showing military spending in billions of dollars. Note that the United States already spends far more than any other nation does on defense/military spending. In fact, you can combine the spending of the next 11 biggest spenders (both friends and enemies) and you would still not quite equal the spending of the United States.

How can it be that we spend so much more than any other country and still have a military that needs to be rebuilt? That makes no sense. We are spending enough to have the readiest and most capable military in the world -- and if we don't have that, then it is obvious that money for defense is being spent poorly (or wasted).

And that is exactly what is happening. Money is being wasted on things that do not contribute to our national defense. A prime example is that the U.S. is operating about 900 military bases around the world.Do we need 900 military bases around the world to defend our country? Of course not. We could cut that number by half (or even three-quarters) without affecting our national defense at all.

If we really need to rebuilt our military (or increase its readiness), we could easily close many (if not most) of those bases, and redirect those funds to rebuilding the military or its readiness.

We also waste money by pumping billions into the military-industrial complex for weapons that do not work and for weapons the military has said it doesn't want or need. Too much of this money doesn't help the military or national defense, but just goes to fatten the bank accounts of corporations.

We already spend enough to have the best military and national defense in the world. We do NOT need to spend more. We just need to stop funneling unnecessary money into the military-industrial complex and operating bases that are not needed for our defense. We need to spend smarter -- not spend more!

Dreamers

Political cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons at the Arizona Daily Star.

Trump Has Lowest Approval Of Any President After 1 Year


The chart above shows the average poll job approval of all presidents since World War II after they had been in office for 365 days. Note that Donald Trump has the lowest approval of any president, and the only one whose approval was below 40%. If he doesn't turn this around fairly quickly, he's going to have no coattails for Republicans to cling to in the elections later this year.

The chart was made using information at fivethirtyeight.com.

Evangelical Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Another Survey Shows Dems Hold Advantage In 2018



These charts are from a new Pew Research Center's latest survey. It was done between January 10th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,503 voters, with a margin of error of 2.9 points.

It shows the Democrats with a 14 point advantage (53% to 39%) when voters were asked which party's candidate they would vote for in their own congressional district. That's significant. But preference and actual voting results do not always mean the same. Democrats have a real opportunity in 2018 -- but only if they work hard and get their voters to the polls.

The second chart shows another Democratic advantage. Democrats are more excited about voting this year than Republicans by 11 points (69% to 58%). That's different than most recent elections, where Republicans held the advantage in enthusiasm.

Gatekeeper

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The "Pain And Suffering Index" Is High For Many In U.S.

(The photo of Dan Rather is from his Facebook page.)

Donald Trump likes to brag about how well the Sack Market is doing. That is good for the rich, but has little to do with the lives of most Americans. Dan Rather thinks we should be considering something different -- the Pain And Suffering Index of ordinary Americans. He writes:

President Trump and his allies like to crow about the record highs in the stock market. But what if there was a different kind of index with which we could take stock of the health of our republic? Let's call it a pain and suffering index. How would that be doing today?
Is it a bull market or a bear market for the anxiety of the hundreds of thousands of "dreamers" who fear for their future as Washington plays political games? What is the value of the stock of hardship for the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who are still living without electricity - or those others still suffering in the wake of natural disasters in the US Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, and the wildfire (and now mudslide) regions out West? What would we see if we could measure the stock of the millions of Americans of the Muslim faith who wonder if this nation still believes in religious freedom, or those immigrants from countries who the President disparaged with profanity? What about the millions of Americans who worry about losing their newfound health insurance? Or the vast majority in this country who understand that the future of this planet is at risk with climate change?I think it's fair to say that the stocks in safety and security plummeted recently in Hawaii when it seemed that a nuclear weaponized missile was hurtling their way. 
The list could go on and on. I personally feel it every day. And I know that I am much more fortunate in my circumstances than most of my fellow citizens. Even though I am a newsman I wake up each morning with a certain dread at what new crisis or catastrophe broke overnight. I know that when someone asks me, "have you heard the latest?" my heart skips a couple beats. Each buzz of the phone leads to a brief gasp of "oh no." 
There is an onslaught of negativity, norm breaking, and recklessness. I think even some of Mr. Trump's most ardent supporters feel the shattering of a sense of peace. Judging from the campaign rallies, that's what they seemed to be voting for. Well here we have it.
All I can hope and believe is that, as with business cycles, this cycle of pain will pass. Sadly, for some, they will lose their life savings of peace of mind in the process. It will be up to the rest of us to rebuild an economy of trust, empathy, and healing. 
I have found myself trying to take many more walks lately - even in the cold of a New York City winter. I breath in and deeply. And the stock ticker of anxiety fades for a while. I can remember a time when we had a president who didn't seem to cast a shadow over almost every recess of our minds - and I can picture a future where the stocks of sanity and equilibrium are once again in ascendence.

Trump Apologists

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

Look At Where The Country Is Now


Friday, January 19, 2018

Figure Out A Way


Public Gives Obama More Credit Than Trump For Economy


Donald Trump continually brags about how good he has been for the economy. He would like Americans to think the economy wasn't improving until he became president, and that he is wholly responsible for the current improved economy.

But the American people aren't buying what he's trying to sell them. They know that it was President Obama who turned the economy around, and that Trump has done nothing to change that. About 56% of the public gives Obama a great deal/moderate amount of credit for the current economy, while 49% say the same about Trump. That's a 7 point gap in favor of President Obama. That has to be a dagger through the heart of the narcissist currently occupying the White House.

The chart shows the results of a recent Gallup Poll -- done between January 8th and 14th of a random national sample of 1,499 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.

Lies

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at miltpriggee.com.

Global Approval Of U.S. Leadership Dropped Under Trump



These charts are from a newly-released Gallup Poll. They questioned approximately 1,000 people in each of 135 different countries, and the margin of error is about 2 points. The poll shows that in the last year (since Trump took office) there has been a sharp drop in the number of people that approve of United States leadership on world problems.

Under President Obama, the approval of U.S. leadership was 48% worldwide, and disapproval only 28% -- a healthy positive gap of 20 points. But under Trump, that approval has dropped by 18 points to about 30% (even lower than the global disappointment with George W. Bush), a disapproval has climbed to 43% -- resulting in a negative gap of 13 points.

The world believes Trump when he says "America first", and they no longer believe the United States can provide leadership that is fair to all parties. They believe Trump will toss them under the bus to get a few more dollars for American corporations.

And it gets even worse. The United States was the most trusted leader under President Obama. Under Trump, they finish in third.

2016 leadership approval:
United States..........48%
Germany..........41%
China..........31%
Russia..........26%

2017 leadership approval:
Germany..........41%
China..........31%
United States..........30%
Russia..........27%

To be blunt -- Donald Trump has seriously damaged the reputation of the U.S. among the people of the world, and he has ceded world leadership to other countries.

Fake News Winner

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Most Voters Don't Want Oprah Winfrey To Run For President



There is still talk on social media (and on cable news) about the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for president. What does the general public think? Do they want to see Winfrey run? If this poll is to be believed (and I think it should be), then the answer is NO.

By a 35 point margin, all registered voters say they do not want Winfrey to run for president, and when only Independents are queried, that margin rises to 36 points. Even Democrats are opposed -- by a 5 point margin.

The poll then put Winfrey head to head in a primary run against four other Democrats who might run in the Democratic primary. The second chart shows those result (with only Democrats being questioned). Winfrey would do well against Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, but there are a lot of undecideds in those match-ups. She doesn't do nearly as well against the two current favorites -- losing to Bernie Sanders by 9 points and to Joe Biden by 23 points.

This is the Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between January 11th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,993 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

Dream Ignored (By Republicans)

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Trump responsible For Decline In Freedom (U.S. & World)



Freedom House has released its annual report on freedom. Sadly, 2017 was not a good year. Freedom declined in the world, and in the United States -- and the primary reason was Donald Trump. Here is part of their report concerning the United States:

A long list of troubling developments around the world contributed to the global decline in 2017, but perhaps most striking was the accelerating withdrawal of the United States from its historical commitment to promoting and supporting democracy. The potent challenge from authoritarian regimes made the United States’ abdication of its traditional role all the more important.
Despite the U.S. government’s mistakes—and there have been many—the American people and their leaders have generally understood that standing up for the rights of others is both a moral imperative and beneficial to themselves. But two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a global recession soured the public on extensive international engagement, and the perceived link between democracy promotion on the one hand and military interventions and financial costs on the other has had a lasting impact.
The Obama administration continued to defend democratic ideals in its foreign policy statements, but its actions often fell short, reflecting a reduced estimation of the United States’ ability to influence world events and of the American public’s willingness to back such efforts.
In 2017, however, the Trump administration made explicit—in both words and actions—its intention to cast off principles that have guided U.S. policy and formed the basis for American leadership over the past seven decades.
President Trump’s “America First” slogan, originally coined by isolationists seeking to block U.S. involvement in the war against fascism, targeted traditional notions of collective global security and mutually beneficial trade. The administration’s hostility and skepticism toward binding international agreements on the environment, arms control, and other topics confirmed that a reorientation was taking shape.
Even when he chose to acknowledge America’s treaty alliances with fellow democracies, the president spoke of cultural or civilizational ties rather than shared recognition of universal rights; his trips abroad rarely featured any mention of the word “democracy.” Indeed, the American leader expressed feelings of admiration and even personal friendship for some of the world’s most loathsome strongmen and dictators.
This marks a sharp break from other U.S. presidents in the postwar period, who cooperated with certain authoritarian regimes for strategic reasons but never wavered from a commitment to democracy as the best form of government and the animating force behind American foreign policy. It also reflects an inability—or unwillingness—by the United States to lead democracies in effectively confronting the growing threat from Russia and China, and from the other states that have come to emulate their authoritarian approach.
The past year brought further, faster erosion of America’s own democratic standards than at any other time in memory, damaging its international credibility as a champion of good governance and human rights.
The United States has experienced a series of setbacks in the conduct of elections and criminal justice over the past decade—under leadership from both major political parties—but in 2017 its core institutions were attacked by an administration that rejects established norms of ethical conduct across many fields of activity. President Trump himself has mingled the concerns of his business empire with his role as president, appointed family members to his senior staff, filled other high positions with lobbyists and representatives of special interests, and refused to abide by disclosure and transparency practices observed by his predecessors.
The president has also lambasted and threatened the media—including sharp jabs at individual journalists—for challenging his routinely false statements, spoken disdainfully of judges who blocked his decisions, and attacked the professional staff of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He signals contempt for Muslims and Latin American immigrants and singles out some African Americans for vitriolic criticism. He pardoned a sheriff convicted of ignoring federal court orders to halt racially discriminatory policies and issued an executive order restricting travel to the United States from a group of Muslim-majority countries after making a campaign promise to ban all foreign Muslims from the United States. And at a time when millions around the world have been forced to flee war, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing, President Trump moved to implement major reductions in the number of legal immigrants and refugees that the United States would accept.
The president’s behavior stems in part from a frustration with the country’s democratic checks and balances, including the independent courts, a coequal legislative branch, the free press, and an active civil society. These institutions remained fairly resilient in 2017, but the administration’s statements and actions could ultimately leave them weakened, with serious consequences for the health of U.S. democracy and America’s role in the world.

He Just Keeps Lying

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

They Are Frightened


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Our Responsibility



Public Doesn't Think Trump Will Go Down As A Good Prez


This newly released poll asked respondents to rate the last seven presidents. It is the Economist / YouGov Poll that was done between January 14th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.3 points.

I'm still surprised at how many people think Ronald Reagan was a good president. About 56% said he was an above average president (the only president receiving a majority of above average votes). People still don't understand that it was Reagan that sowed the seeds of economic disaster that came to fruition in George W. Bush's second term. It took a few years for the disaster to happen, but that doesn't change the fact that it was Reagan's implementation of "trickle-down" economic policy that started the nation on the course to the Great Recession.

Barack Obama (42%) and Bill Clinton (39%) are the other two presidents to have above average as their highest percentage. Both Bushes and Carter go down as average.

It's Donald Trump that takes the biggest hit. A majority of 51% rate him as a below average president, while only 39% rate him as average or above average.

Cognitive Test

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Biden Is Most Popular Of Possible Presidential Candidates




I found these numbers interesting, and thought you might also. They are from the new Quinnipiac University Poll done between January 12th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,212 voters, with a 3.4 point margin of error.

There's still a couple of years before voters need to seriously consider who they want for president in 2020. That's a lot of time, and lots could happen to she things up between now and 2020.

But if we had to decide right now, Joe Biden is in a very good position. The public views him favorably by a 24 point margin. He is followed by Bernie Sanders with a 10 point margin and Oprah Winfrey with a 14 point margin. Kirsten Gillibrand is not known by enough of the public to have a good rating. And Donald Trump, who will probably be the GOP nominee, is upside-down with a 20 point negative margin.

Biden is also the only candidate to have more saying they would be inclined to vote for him than not. All of the other candidates are in negative territory on that question -- including Sanders and Winfrey. And Biden also leads all the other when you consider just Democrats and Independents (which would give him the inside track to get the Democratic nomination).

Voters might have a different attitude by 2020, but at least for right now, Joe Biden is the person to beat.

NOTE -- Other possible Democratic candidates (Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, etc.) were not included in this poll. I wish they had been, because it would be interesting to see how they rate with the public.

Excellent Health ?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Public Sees Trump As Racist, A Divider, And Doing Poor Job

 



These charts reflect information in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between January 12th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,212 voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

They show Trump still has not improved his job approval numbers. They currently stand at 38% approving and 57% disapproving -- a negative gap of 19 points.

But it's worse than that. By a 21 point margin, Americans think Trump respects whites more than he respects people of color. By a 23 point margin, they think his recent remarks about immigrants from certain countries were racist. And by a 33 point margin, they believe he has been more of a divider than a uniter.

That tells me that not only does the public think Trump is doing a poor job, but they also think he is a racist.

Then we have the chart below. Respondents were asked if Trump was mentally stable. They split on that, with 45% saying yes and 47% saying no.

These are some terrible numbers, and unless he does something to improve them, he's going to be a serious drag on the Republican ticket in November.


Statue Of Racism

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Trump Has The 4 Warning Signs Of A Budding Tyrant

(This image of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

The following is just a small part of an excellent article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. It should scare the hell out of you (and make you determined to vote blue this November).

Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:
1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 
2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 
3. He or she tolerates violence. 
4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.
“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors at Harvard, write in their important new book, “How Democracies Die,” which will be released next week.
“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.”
We tend to assume that the threat to democracies comes from coups or violent revolutions, but the authors say that in modern times, democracies are more likely to wither at the hands of insiders who gain power initially through elections. That’s what happened, to one degree or another, in Russia, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, Hungary, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Poland and Peru.

Sh*t-House President

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Proud To Be A Liberal


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Never Be Fearful


Number Of Uninsured Americans Has Risen Under Trump


The chart above reflects the numbers in a newly released Gallup Poll. It was done between October 1 and December 31st of 2017 of a random national sample of 25,072 adults, with a margin of error of only 1 point. It compares the number of uninsured Americans in the 4th quarter of 2016 (Obama;s last year in office) with the 4th quarter of 2017 (Trump's first year in office).

Note that the percentage of uninsured Americans has risen since Trump took office by 1.3% (from 10.9% to 12.2%), reversing a trend of several years that had the percentage decreasing. And there was a rise in the percentage of uninsured in every income, racial, and age group but one -- those over 65 who are covered by Medicare (and Trump and the congressional GOP are laying plans to cut Medicare).

That 1.3% may not sound like much, but in a country with a population of over 323 million people, that translates to about 4 million people. That's a lot of people who no longer have any health insurance -- and Trump's policies are just beginning to disrupt the insurance market. I expect there will be millions more who've lost their insurance at this time next year.

Least Racist ?

Political cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

The Voters Grade Trump On His First Year In Office


This chart uses information contained in a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done on January 4th and 5th of a random national sample of 1,988 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error. Those voters were asked to grade Trump on how well he did in his first year in office -- with "A" being excellent and "F" being a failing grade.

All voters gave Trump the following:
A = 18%
B = 17%
C = 14%
D = 11%
F = 35%

The demographic breakdown is shown in the chart above -- with A/B (good grades), C (average), or D/F (poor grades).

Not Using The Code Words

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Corruption Is Alive And Well In The Trump Administration

(Cartoon image is by Mark Bryan.)

It didn't take corporations, organizations, foreign powers, and politicians long at all to discover the way to influence Donald Trump -- appeal to his naked greed. Direct payments to Trump are illegal, but since Trump did NOT divest himself of his businesses, there is an easy way to funnel money to him -- just put that money into his businesses. While that may not be directly illegal (but should be), it does make his administration easily corruptible. And that is exactly what's happening. Consider this from Public Citizen:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 60 trade groups, companies, religious groups, charities, foreign governments, interest groups and political candidates are spending money at President Donald Trump’s properties, a new Public Citizen report finds.
The report, “Presidency for Sale,” documents 64 instances in which Trump’s sprawling set of businesses has resulted in a unique set of conflicts that previously were unimaginable for the president of the United States. Those spending money at Trump hotels, golf courses, restaurants and real estate developments around the world include:
  • 35 political candidates or political organizations;
  • 16 trade or interest groups;
  • 4 charities, including one run by Trump's son Eric;
  • 4 foreign governments;
  • 3 religious groups;
  • 2 individual companies; and
  • 1 college football team.
“Donald Trump entered office with the most blatant and potentially corrupting conflicts of interest in the history of American politics, and things only got worse from there,” said Robert Weissman, Public Citizen’s president. “Business is booming at the Trump International Hotel in D.C., not because of the d├ęcor, but because corporations and foreign governments want to curry favor with the president.”
The information in this report comes from news stories as well as Federal Election Commission (FEC) records for political expenditures above $100 including events, food, lodging, rent and travel expenses at Trump properties. The full spreadsheet with sources is available here. Companies with major financial interests at stake with the federal government have been big users of Trump properties.
Corporate interests that have held or are planning to hold events at Trump-owned locations include the National Mining Associationthe U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GEO Group, a private prison company that benefited from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversal of an Obama-era decision to phase out private prisons and held its annual leadership conference at the Trump National Doral golf resort in Florida.
GEO Group donated $225,000 to a super PAC supporting Trump, despite a federal ban on political donations by government contractors, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center.
Meanwhile, foreign governments, including Saudi ArabiaMalaysia and Kuwait haven't hesitated to book rooms and hold events at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, effectively paying tribute to Trump by frequenting his properties. U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) all have held fundraisers at Trump properties, and many more lawmakers have held smaller events.
Trump’s political organization also has spent substantial sums at Trump properties, with five Trump-affiliated groups spending nearly $750,000 at Trump properties in the first three quarters of 2017, according to a Public Citizen analysis of FEC data.
“Donald Trump is a man who is easily flattered,” said Alan Zibel, the report’s author and research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project. “Corporations and foreign governments know the best way to get on his good side is to open up their wallets at one of Trump’s many businesses.”

Oops!

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

A Threat To The Republic