Friday, March 23, 2018

Easy To Buy

Trump's New Appointment Moves The U.S. Closer To War

The chart above is from the Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between March 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points. It shows that a majority of Americans (53%) think it is likely that Donald Trump will get this country into another war.

They could be right. Trump has made threats toward both Iran and North Korea (and Venezuela), and has given the impression that he is itching to attack one of those countries -- most likely North Korea. A war would not only satisfy his narcissistic tendencies (thinking he knows better that everyone else (including the Pentagon and foreign policy experts), but I think he believes it would take everyone's mind off the Russian investigation and get the people behind him.

Until now, there have been cooler heads in the White House that have talked him out of such a foolish notion. But he has fired Tillerson and McMasters, and replaced them with Pompeo and John Bolton. Bolton (pictured) will be the new national security advisor -- one of the closest people to Trump.

That's bad. It's bad because Bolton is a war lover. He hate's the Iran treaty (and wanted to bomb Iran) and has already made a case for attacking North Korea preemptively. Bolton won't talk Trump out of starting a war. He'll talk him into it!

The world just became a more dangerous place, and the United States just moved a giant step closer to a new war (in spite of the fact that we still have two that we haven't finished). And Congress can't prevent this from happening. Bolton's new job doesn't require Senate confirmation, and Trump has to power to start a war without congressional approval.

Chipping Away

Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at

Some Reasons Why Trump Is So Unpopular With Public

Donald Trump is the most unpopular president since World War II, and after 14 months in office he seems to be unable to change that perception. Why is this true?

The charts above can give us a clue as to why this is true. Americans think Trump is dishonest (by a 19 point margin), think he does not share their values (by a 22 point margin), are embarrassed to have him in the White House (by a 20 point margin), and do not think he's a good role model for children (by a 38 point margin).

He's not going to win over the American public until he changes those perceptions. But he seems not to care. He continues to lie, display an amazing arrogance, and support policies that most people don't like.

The charts reflect information in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done March 16th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,291 voters, with a 3.3 point margin of error.

Looking The Other Way

Political Cartoon is by Drew Sheneman in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Most Feel Trump Would Not Help Their GOP Candidate

Donald Trump has said he is ready to hit the campaign trail to campaign for Republican congressional candidates? The question is -- would he help or hurt those candidates by coming to their district to campaign for them.

Trump is deeply unpopular in the country, and his job approval ratings have been upside down since he was sworn in. And every candidate he has supported has lost since he became president -- the most recent being the Republican in Pennsylvania running in a supposedly safe Republican district. Trump seems to have no coattails for GOP candidates to cling to, and his endorsement may hurt them more than help them.

That is what a new political poll shows. A plurality of 40% of voters say a visit by Trump would hurt the congressional candidate in their district, and another 21% say it would have no effect at all. Only a tiny 28% say it would help (and I suspect that 28% are Trumpistas who would vote Republican whether Trump came or not).

Those GOP candidates have a decision to make. Do they want to invite him to their district and tie themselves solidly to him, or do they want to keep him away? I think as the election draws nearer we will see many of them trying to separate themselves from Trump.

The chart above uses information from a recent Rasmussen Poll -- done on March 13th and 14th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

An Abstract Concept

Political Cartoon is by Trevor Irvin at

The Worst Divide In U.S. Is Created By Economic Inequality

(This image is from CNN Money.)

There are many divisions in the United States, but perhaps the most important, the most damaging to the country, is the economic inequality -- the divide between the rich and the rest of America. This economic inequality is destroying the middle class and turning the country into a nation of "haves" and "have-nots". It's giving this richest nation a developing nation status.

Consider this article by Yossarian Johnson at The Intellectualist:

America divided – this concept increasingly graces political discourse in the U.S., pitting left against right, conservative thought against the liberal agenda. But for decades, Americans have been rearranging along another divide, one just as stark if not far more significant – a chasm once bridged by a flourishing middle class.
Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, believes the ongoing death of “middle America” has sparked the emergence of two countries within one, the hallmark of developing nations.
In his new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Temin paints a bleak picture where one country has a bounty of resources and power, and the other toils day after day with minimal access to the long-coveted American dream.
In his view, the United States is shifting toward an economic and political makeup more similar to developing nations than the wealthy, economically stable nation it has long been.
Temin applied W. Arthur Lewis’s economic model – designed to understand the workings of developing countries – to the United States in an effort to document how inequality has grown in America.
The parallels are unsettling. As noted by the Institute for New Economic Thinking:
In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration – check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.
Temin describes multiple contributing factors in the nation’s arrival at this place, from exchanging the War on Poverty for the War on Drugs to money in politics and systemic racism. He outlines the ways in which racial prejudice continues to lurk below the surface, allowing politicians to appeal to the age old “desire to preserve the inferior status of blacks”, encouraging white low-wage workers to accept their lesser place in society.
“We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone – including some of the rich people,” he laments.
The antidote, as prescribed by Temin, is likely a tough sell in today’s political climate.
Expanding education, updating infrastructure, forgiving mortgage and student loan debt, and overall working to boost social mobility for all Americans are bound to be seen as too liberal by many policy makers.
Until the course is changed, he warns, the middle class will continue to fade and America will remain unsustainably divided.

Love Song

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

An Ugly Club To Be In

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Shameful Statistic

Public Doesn't Want Trump To Fire Robert Mueller

Donald Trump is running scared as Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller gets closer to finding all the skeletons in Trump's dark and nasty closet. He has fired James Comey and Andrew McCabe in an effort to obstruct the investigation, and now many feel that Mueller may be next on the chopping block.

That would be a serious mistake. The public would not approve of that, and that move would be viewed as obvious obstruction. About 55% of Americans say Mueller should NOT be fired, while only 16% think he should be fired. Trump seems to think as president he can do whatever he wants. But if he fires Mueller, he would be making a huge mistake -- one that could lead to the end of his presidency.

The chart above is from the Rasmussen Poll -- done on March 19th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

The Foolish 40%

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

Most Say Trump Not Doing Good Job (And Is Dishonest)

These charts are from the Economist / YouGov Poll -- with the latest being done between March 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Trump has been upside-down in job approval all year. The closest he has come to approval is a negative 7 points back in February. Currently he has a negative 15 points.

The third and fourth charts give us a pretty good reason why -- the public simply does not think he is honest and does not trust him. He currently has a negative 26 point gap in honesty.

I don't think Trump will be able to improve his job approval, because he cannot talk without lying. It's just against his nature to tell the truth.


Political Cartoon is by Randy Bush in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Democrats And Republicans Disagree On Issues Of Morality

A few days ago I showed you a chart about what actions Americans consider moral or immoral. I once again dress this subject, but this time I show you the difference between Democrats and Republicans on morality. They are close on a few issues, but on most issues the Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether an action is moral or not -- with the biggest differences being on use of marijuana, hunting animals for sport, LGBT relations, abortion, divorce, and the death penalty.

The chart is from information contained in an Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between March 10th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3.1 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Robert Ariail in The State.

Liar Or Unqualified ?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Never Before

The Real Statistics On Food Stamp Recipients

The Republicans want Americans to believe that most people who receive SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) are Blacks and Hispanics -- and that they are people who are too lazy to work. It's a racist view designed to appeal to their racist base of voters. There's only one problem. It simply is not true.

The biggest group racially that get SNAP benefits are Whites -- about 40.2%. That's more than Blacks and Hispanics combined -- about 36%. In addition, nearly half (44.8%) of those families have children, while another 20.3% are disabled and 17.4% are elderly.

As for the ridiculous charge of being "lazy", about 31.2% of those families had earned income (they were working for poverty pay),  23.6% were receiving Social Security, and 19.9% were getting disability income (SSI) -- for a total of 74.7%.

These are not people wanting to sponge off the government. These are people who need a little help. They should not be demonized for political purposes.

The charts above are from The Huffington Post.

Pipeline To Power

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Cuomo Will Have A Celebrity Opponent In NY Dem. Primary

It's official now. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will have a celebrity opponent when he runs for re-election in the state's Democratic primary. The challenger is actress Cynthia Nixon (best known for playing Miranda on the TV show "Sex and the City").

However, in spite of her TV fame, most voters don't really know Ms. Nixon. And a new poll shows she is far behind Cuomo. She trails him among all Democrats by a whopping 45 points (Cuomo 63% - Nixon 18%). She's got a lot of ground to make up, and only three months to do it. The primary for New York is on June 26th this year.

The numbers in the charts above are from a new Siena College Poll -- done between March 11th and 16th of a random sample of 772 registered voters in New York. The margin of error is 4 points. Only the 47% that were Democrats were polled for these charts.


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

What Is Trump Afraid Stormy Daniels Will Say ?

(This  caricature of Stormy Daniels is by DonkeyHotey.)

The media is full of the story about the affair Donald Trump had with porn star Stormy Daniels. I'm not sure it matters much, since the right-wing evangelicals have already said they don't care -- that it doesn't offend their "Family values". But I am starting to wonder just what Trump is trying to keep hidden.

Trump originally tried to claim that the affair didn't happen. That was ridiculous, but his first response to any accusation is to lie. No one actually believes the affair didn't happen now.

* Daniels told friends about the affair as it was happening.
* Daniels took a lie detector test, and passed it, back in 2011.
* Trump's attorney paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about the affair right before the 2016 election.

And now, Trump and his lawyer have moved Daniels' lawsuit from state to federal court (where it could be handled in secret) -- a move that amounts to an admission by Trump that the affair happened. Which brings up the question -- why is he still fighting so hard to keep details about the affair secret? If Americans know the affair happened (and they do), then why the secrecy?

Is he afraid Daniels will tell the world that he's a bad lover? Is he afraid that she will say he is sexually inadequate (or has "tiny hands")? Is it something worse -- some kind of perverse sexual behavior such as having prostitutes pee on him (remember the infamous Russian tape)? Whatever it is must be something that Trump would be embarrassed about, or he wouldn't waste time fighting it when he has far worse problems to worry about (Mueller investigation, possible criminal charges, impeachment, etc.).

When the Daniels story first appeared, I thought it was a bunch of nothing, and not worth the media hype about it. I'm starting to change my mind. If Trump is trying to hide some dirty secret, I'd like to know what it is.

Trump's Bracket

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy at

GOP Tax Cut Making The Rich Richer - Not Helping Workers

When the GOP passed its new tax cut law (and Trump signed it), Democrats warned it was not going to help middle class (or working class) workers -- but would only help the rich to get even richer. And that is exactly what is happening.

Republicans promised that corporations would use their huge tax cut to create jobs and raise the wages of their workers. We were warned by corporate moguls that would not happen -- that most of the money they saved would be used to buy back their own stocks (thus inflating the price of those stocks).

The Republicans ignored the honest statements from corporations, and promised workers they would get the biggest benefits from the tax cuts. They lied. The corporations are now doing exactly what they said they would do -- using most of their tax cut to buy back their own stocks.

Here is how former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured) explains what is happening:

Trump and Republicans branded their huge corporate tax cut as a way to make American corporations more profitable so they’d invest in more and better jobs. 
But they’re buying back their stock instead. Now that the new corporate tax cut is pumping up profits, buybacks are on track to hit a record $800 billion this year. 
For years, corporations have spent most of their profits on buying back their own shares of stock, instead of increasing the wages of their employees, whose hard work creates these profits. 
Stock buybacks should be illegal, as they were before 1983. 
Stock buybacks are artificial efforts to interfere in the so-called “free market” to prop up stock prices. Because they create an artificial demand, they force stock prices above their natural level. With fewer shares in circulation, each remaining share is worth more.     
Buybacks don’t create more or better jobs. Money spent on buybacks isn’t invested in new equipment, or research and development, or factories, or wages. It doesn’t build a company. Buybacks don’t grow the American economy.
So why are buybacks so popular with Corporate CEOs?
Because a bigger and bigger portion of CEO pay has been in stocks and stock options, rather than cash. So when share prices go up, executives reap a bonanza. The value of their pay from previous years also rises – in what amounts to a retroactive (and off the books) pay increase on top of their already outrageous compensation.
Buybacks were illegal until Ronald Reagan made them legal in 1982, just about the same time wages stopped rising for most Americans. Before then, a bigger percentage corporate profits went into increasing workers’ wages. 
But since corporations were already using their profits for stock buybacks, there is no reason to believe they’ll use their tax windfall on anything other than more stock buybacks.
Let’s not compound the error. Make stock buybacks illegal, as they were before 1982.


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

Don't Put Up With It

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Greedy Truth

Dems Generic Ballot Advantage In Average Of Polls

These charts are from RealClearPolitics. It shows the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot for Congress in all the latest polls. The polls' average shows an advantage of 8.2 points.


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

Should CEO Make More Than 1,000 Times A Worker's Pay ?

(Cartoon image is by Daryl Cagle at

We know that thanks to the Republican "trickle-down" economic policy (the idea that what's good for the rich is good for everyone) this country is becoming a very unequal place. Since that policy was initiated in the 1980's, the income of the rich has risen dramatically while worker wages have remained stagnant (and even lost ground when inflation is considered). This has created a vast gap between the rich and the rest of America -- a gap as large as it was just prior to the Great Depression, and a gap that continues to grow.

While workers continue to struggle, corporate CEO's are making a killing. We had been estimating that they make hundreds of times more than the average worker in their company. We now learn that was an underestimate. They make over a thousand times more. Consider this from The Guardian:

The CEO of Marathon Petroleum, Gary Heminger, took home an astonishing 935 times more pay than his typical employee in 2017. In other words, one of Marathon’s gas station workers would have to toil more than nine centuries to make as much as Heminger grabbed in just one year.
Employees of at least five other US firms would have to work even longer – more than a millennium – to catch up with their top bosses. These companies include the auto parts maker Aptiv (CEO-worker pay ratio: 2,526 to 1), the temp agency Manpower (2,483 to 1), amusement park owner Six Flags (1,920 to 1), Del Monte Produce (1,465 to 1), and apparel maker VF (1,353 to 1). 
These revelations come thanks to a new federal regulation that requires publicly traded US corporations to disclose, for the first time ever, how much their chief executives are making compared with their median workers. The disclosures are just now starting to flow in. 
Up until this year, comparisons of CEO and worker pay have had to rely on the average take-homes of US workers overall – not the pay of workers at individual corporations. Those generalized figures helped us track the soaring trajectory of executive compensation at big US corporations, from 30 times average worker pay in the 1960s to over 300 times more recently. 
But headlines around those average figures did next to nothing to slow our CEO pay-hike express. Will the release of the ratios at individual corporations make any more of a difference?
Corporate America must surely think so. Ever since 2010, the year Congress plugged a ratio disclosure mandate into the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, corporate lobbyists have been scheming to delay and repeal that mandate’s implementation. But responsible investors and other activists rallied and kept the mandate in place. 
The new ratios offer a benchmark for corporate greed that exposes exactly which firms are sharing the wealth their employees create and which aren’t, knowledge we can use to impose consequences on the corporations doing the most to make the United States more unequal.
Congress should have acted to fix this. But they did just the opposite. They cut taxes radically for corporations and the rich -- a move that will increase CEO and management salaries while doing little to nothing for workers. And while the Republicans are busy giving more to corporations, they refuse to raise the minimum wage (which remains far below a livable wage).

Is this the kind of country you want to live in -- a country that gives a few enormous wealth while insuring that workers fall further behind every year? If not, then you need to vote the Republicans out of power this November. They have made it very clear they have no intention of changing their economic policy that favors the rich and punishes everyone else.


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

Trump Is Running Scared - Issues Tweet Full Of Lies

Donald Trump is running scared. He knows the Mueller investigation is closing in on him, and that the firings of Come and McCabe have backfired -- making him look like he is trying to obstruct justice. Now he has tweeted about Mueller -- trying to convince people that the Mueller investigation is unfair, and just a political attempt to hurt the Trump administration. The problem is that the tweet is full of inaccuracies. It's just another attempt by Trump to lie to cover his own butt.

here are 5 lies included in the tweet according to NBC News:

1. The probe started after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had testified before Congress two months earlier that his agency had been investigating allegations that Trump's 2016 campaign might have contacts with Russian entities. Mueller was appointed as special counsel by the No. 2 official in Trump’s Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein.

2. While Trump said there “was no crime,” the Mueller probe has charged 19 different individuals with crimes, including Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) and 13 Russian nationals. In addition, five individuals have pleaded guilty, including Trump’s former national security adviser (Michael Flynn), a former top Trump campaign and transition official (Rick Gates) and a former Trump foreign-policy adviser (George Papadopoulos).

3. Although Trump says there was “no collusion,” that’s not exactly what Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee concluded. “What we said … is that we found no evidence of it,” Rep. Michael Conaway said on “Meet the Press” yesterday, explaining that saying “no evidence of collusion” is different than saying there was “no collusion.” Conaway also admitted that Democrats on the committee have a different opinion on collusion. “The collusion issue, we found no evidence of it. The Democrats think they have. They've not shared that with us,” he said.

4. While Trump said that the Russian investigation was based on “a fake dossier,” both Democrats and Republicans have admitted the original inquiry began with George Papadopoulos’ conversation with an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok,” February’s memo by Rep. Devin Nunes’ staff said.

5. And although Trump says the FISA wiretap of former Trump advisor Carter Page was surveillance of his campaign, the FISA court order to begin surveillance on Page took place after Page LEFT THE CAMPAIGN, the Washington Post writes.

Stormy Cloud

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

Solution, Scapegoat, And Sacrificial Lamb

Monday, March 19, 2018

Education Is Powerful

Our Parents Would NOT Recognize This Republican Party

(Cartoon image is by Joe Heller at

What has happened to the Republican Party? That party once produced presidents like Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower -- men that Americans could respect. That party once was a bastion of true conservative principles. It is no longer a party of either great leaders or solid principles. That party has changed radically, and would not be recognized by our parents and grandparents.

The Republican Party used to claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility. They wanted to hold down government spending, balance the budget, and keep the national debt at a reasonable level (if not altogether eliminated). Today's Republican Party respects none of that. They have increased spending and cut taxes (for the rich and corporations), and they have waged a seemingly endless war without providing a method to pay for it.

The result is that we will have a trillion dollar deficit this year, and will add a trillion dollars to the national debt for the next ten years. They have thrown conservative economic principles and fiscal responsibility out of the window. They are now the party of big spending and huge debt.

The Republican Party used to be staunch defenders of the FBI and our intelligence agencies. And they would spring to defend them at the slightest appearance of criticism. Even during the Watergate years, the Republicans were quick to defend the FBI.

That is no longer true. Now they have a president that, to defend himself from investigation, has viciously attacked the FBI and its leaders, accusing them of engaging in a conspiracy against him. And the Republican Party is backing his attacks on those agencies, and questioning the service of individuals who have given many years in service to this country. They are tearing down the agencies they once could be counted on to support.

The Republican Party once proudly called themselves the party of "family values".  And to defend those values, they attacked politicians who erred sexually and stood firm against social change. Now they have elected a president who is a serial adulterer, brags about sexually assaulting women, gleefully attacks women, minorities, immigrants, and anyone who disagrees with him. He is a man without values, but that is OK with Republicans who have tossed their family values under the bus to defend him.

The Republican Party once considered themselves the defenders of this country from the menace of Russia. They considered Russia to be the primary danger facing the United States. Now they have a president who is soft on Russia and its dictator (Putin). He refuses to criticize Russia or impose sanctions against them. And the Republican leaders defend his actions -- even though Russia has interfered in our elections, attacked our electrical power grids, and threatened us with a new generation of nuclear missiles. They are now appeasers -- willing to follow this president in knuckling under to the Russian threat.

The Republican Party once had leaders (Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan) who understood that military-style assault weapons had no place in civilian society. Now they have been bought by the NRA, and won't even support background checks for all gun buyers. American lives are not as important to them as NRA money and support.

I'm not sure at this point whether the Republican Party even has beliefs and values anymore. They no longer seem to respect our democratic values, our constitutional rights, our governmental institutions, or the need to compromise for the good of the country.

Not His Lawn

Political Cartoon is by Matt Davies in Newsday.