Friday, August 12, 2022

A President Who Gets Things Done!


 

Partisan Hostility Grows in the United States

 



The charts above are from a survey done by the Pew Research Center between June 27th and July 4th of a nationwide sample of 6,174 adults, with a 1.8 point margin of error.

How It Started / How It's Going

 Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

About 262,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week


The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that about 262,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on August 6th. Here is the official Labor Department statement:

In the week ending August 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 262,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 12,000 from 260,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 252,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 7,250 from 254,750 to 247,500.

You Can't Please Some People

 Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.

Trump's Claim Of Persecution Is His Favorite Weapon


Immediately upon learning of the FBI search at Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump claimed he was being persecuted. Claiming persecution is his favorite weapon -- and his favorite choice to fund raise (which he is already doing). Of course, he's not being persecuted, but the claim works with those who still support him after all of his criminal conduct.

The following is part of an op-ed in The New York Times by Charles M. Blow: 

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday — an extraordinary event in the history of the United States — the former president and his allies immediately began to howl that Trump was being persecuted.

Trump issued a statement that said his “beautiful home” was “currently under siege, raided and occupied” and “nothing like this has ever happened to a president of the United States before.” Left out of this victimhood framing was that this wasn’t so much an action but a reaction — a reaction to a president corrupt on a level this country has never seen before.

Trump wrote in his statement, of course referring to himself in the third person, that “the political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years” and “it just never ends.”

The pivotal word there was “persecution.”

Persecution is a powerful social concept. It moves people to empathize with and defend those perceived to have been wronged. It rouses righteous indignation. And it produces the moral superiority of long suffering.

For instance, central to the story of the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — is the presence of persecution and the ultimate overcoming of it.

The origin story of America itself is of a country born of religious persecution as a group of English separatists searched for a place where they could experience religious freedom.

And many of the most celebrated historical figures around the world — Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — were persecuted.

Throughout history, political persecutions of whole populations have led to ghastly crimes against humanity. Some continue to this day, like China’s oppression of the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang being subjected to internment camps and forced sterilization. . . .

But alongside these stories of actual persecution are scoundrels pretending to be persecuted, activating the same defensive human instincts in people that genuine accounts do.

I would argue that the entire MAGA movement was born of Trump weaponizing the siege ideology held by many Americans — white replacement theory, immigrant invasion and loss of culture — and framing himself as their messiah and potential martyr. . . .

On Monday, Trump once again claimed that efforts to hold him accountable were evidence of political persecution, and his followers rallied to his defense.

In fact, reports like one from Reuters on Tuesday claim that the search of Trump’s home may actually have boosted him, placing him in his “political sweet spot,” allowing him to play victim of “institutional forces” — the Deep State — “at a time when his grip on the party appeared to be slipping.”

For Trump, the politics of persecution is both his security blanket and his weapon of choice.

Hiding Behind The Fifth

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

The Largest And Least Productive Industry In History


 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Trump Says Innocent Don't Plead Fifth - Then Pleads Fifth


 

The Jan 6th Committee Has Not Changed American Minds


The chart above is from the Monmouth University Poll -- done between July 28th and August 1st of a nationwide sample of 808 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

If this poll is to be believed (and it is a fairly reliable poll), then the televised hearings of the January 6th committee has not changed many minds. While millions watched the hearings, they were evidently the people who had already made up their mind.

The chart below is also from this poll.



Raid

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.
 

The GOP Flip-Flops To Oppose Law And Order


The Republican Party likes to call itself the "law and order" party. But they now show they were not really serious about that. They only support the law when they think it should be used against Democrats. But they don't think it should apply to them -- especially the orange demagogue.

The following op-ed is by Steve Benen at MSNBC.com:

If there was one thing Republicans cared about six years ago, it was how high-ranking officials dealt with classified materials. In fact, as recently as 2016, the GOP was certain — that is, the party at least pretended to be certain — that politicians disqualify themselves from positions of authority when they put documents at risk.

And so, now that Republicans have learned that Donald Trump allegedly took highly sensitive classified materials to his golf resort, one could imagine the party expressing outrage with the former president. After all, given the GOP’s recent history of passionate feelings on the subject, it stands to reason that Trump may have crossed an intolerable line.

But that would assume that the Republican Party’s principles and standards are consistent. They are not. On the contrary, GOP officials aren’t outraged with Trump, they’re outraged with federal law enforcement for even considering the possibility of holding Trump accountable for his alleged actions.

There’s regular ol’ hypocrisy and then there’s nuclear-grade hypocrisy. I’m reminded of this New York Times report from February, shining a light on Republicans who were “once so forceful about the issue of mishandling documents.

Several Republicans who once railed against Mrs. Clinton’s document retention practices did not respond Thursday to questions about Mr. Trump’s actions. Others who had been directly involved with investigating Mrs. Clinton declined to discuss the specifics except to suggest, without evidence, that the National Archives and Records Administration was treating Mr. Trump more harshly.

That was six months ago. The problem is far more acute in the wake of the FBI showing up at Mar-a-Lago yesterday.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, Republicans, with varying degrees of hysterics, made Hillary Clinton out to be a literal criminal who put the United States at risk. During the presidential campaign, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan went so far as to formally request that the Democrat be denied intelligence briefings — insisting that her email practices, which were the subject of an FBI investigation, were proof that she mishandled classified information and therefore couldn’t be trusted.

To this day, rabid Republican activists will reflexively chant, “Lock her up!” at the mere mention of Clinton’s name because she allegedly failed to properly deal with classified materials.

And now many of those same Republicans say they don’t much care. Indeed, the only thing many in the GOP appear to care about this morning is condemning federal law enforcement for taking the issue seriously.

Some might suggest that GOP voices have flip-flopped, conveniently changing their minds. But that gives the Republicans playing this game far too much credit: The problem is not that the GOP took the issue of document retention seriously before, only to later shift their position; the problem is that the party only pretended to care about the issue in the first place.

The Tool Needed At Mar-A-Lago

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.
 

Don't Go Back To Superstition

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

College Football Pre-Season Poll


 

The Abortion Issue Will Have Big Impact On 2022 Election


The chart above is from the new ABC News / Ipsos Poll -- done on August 5th and 6th of a nationwide sample of 665 adults, with a 4.2 point margin of error.
 

The GOP Just Doesn't Care

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

Trump Says Mar-A-Lago Search Was Like Watergate


On Monday, the FBI conducted a day-long search of Mar-A-Lago. Predictably, Donald Trump blew a fuse! He claimed it was unnecessary and politically motivated. He even went so far as to compare the search of his Florida home to the break-in at the Watergate Building -- asking, "What's the difference between this and Watergate?"

Of course, there is a huge difference. The burglary of the Watergate Building was a crime. The search of Mar-A-Lago was not. The search was a legal action done with a warrant (approved by the head of the FBI and signed by a federal judge). The warrant would not have been issued unless the judge was convinced there was credible evidence of a crime and information regarding that crime was contained in Mar-A-Lago (and could be destroyed if the search was not conducted).

Here is what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote about the search:

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” Donald Trump raged today after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida and broke open a safe, apparently looking for documents that Trump illegally took from the White House.  

To set the record straight. Trump is no longer president of the United States. He’s a normal citizen. He may believe he’s still president because he never conceded the 2020 election, but he lost that election. As a result, he is subject to the same search-and-seizure provisions, under court supervision, as is anyone else. 

Trump may be correct that no former president has ever before been subject to an FBI search, but, then again, nothing like Trump has ever before happened to the United States. No former president has ever attempted a coup to remain in office.

Trump claims that the search of Mar-a-Lago was intended to stop him from running for president in 2024. 

There is no way the search could stop him from running, unless, perhaps, the search turns up even more evidence that he participated in an “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States – in which case, pursuant to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress might move to disqualify him from running. But it’s far from clear that even such a congressional resolution would trigger Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

On the other hand, if a grand jury determines that Trump broke the law and decides to indict him, the Justice Department could take him to court, where a jury could decide he is guilty. The court conceivably could send him to prison. This would make it difficult, although not impossible, for him to run for or be re-elected president. 

We don’t know yet what the FBI agents who searched Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago today were looking for, but in January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that National Archives officials said should have been turned over when Trump left the White House. Evidently, more boxes were missing. 

We also know that a federal grand jury in Washington has been gathering information about efforts by Trump, along with his lawyers and enablers, to try to use fake electors to block Joe Biden from formally becoming president after the 2020 election. As part of that investigation, authorities have begun examining Trump’s actions, seeking to discover what instructions he gave to subordinates, according to people familiar with the investigation.

In today’s statement, Trump claimed that “such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” If he was referring to the assault he instigated on January 6, 2021, against the United States Capitol, he is partly correct. Had that assault been successful, the United States could indeed have become a broken, Third-World country.

Today’s search of his home, however, was done with a warrant and approved by a court. It occurred under the law.

But America might still become a broken, Third-World country, due to Trump’s and other Republicans’ continuing efforts to sow doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election. During a speech on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Trump reiterated his claim that the 2020 election “was rigged and stolen and now our country is being systematically destroyed,” despite the fact that sixty federal judges, some appointed by Trump, concluded that the election was not rigged and stolen and that Trump’s own Department of Justice came to the same conclusion. Trump, however, has systematically tried to destroy our country. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke at that same conference last Saturday. Orban has turned Hungary into a Third-World autocracy. This is what Trump wants for the United States. He and his Republican enablers are still at it. 

We have only one bulwark against this menace. It is called the rule of law. Finally, it seems, on the basis of today’s search of Mar-a-Lago, that bulwark is being utilized.

The Cost

 Political Cartoon is by Matt Davies in Newsday.

A Corporatocracy Is NOT A Democracy


 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Capitalism


 

Republicans Deny Affordable Insulin To Millions

These two paragraphs are from The Washington Post.

Millions of Americans have Type I Diabetes. For them, insulin is a life-saving drug. But the greedy drug companies have raised the price of insulin many times over the years -- and that price is so high that many cannot afford the needed drug.

Some are trying to ration the bit of insulin they are able to buy -- taking less than the prescribed amount of skipping shots. They hope to make the drug go further. But this is putting their medical condition in jeopardy. And I don't think it's an exaggeration to say some are dying by doing this.

But what choice do they have. The drug companies are not going to lower the price unless they are forced to do it. To them, profits are more important than the lives or health of American citizens. It's greed gone crazy, and it's dangerous.

Democrats in the Senate tried to fix this last weekend. They included a $35 cap on insulin in the Inflation Reduction Act. That would make insulin more affordable to all those who need it. Unfortunately, the Senate Republicans agree with Big Pharma that profits are more important than lives. Using an arcane Senate rule, they stripped the $35 cap on insulin out of the bill -- and then voted down a Democratic effort to put it back in the bill.

The cap remains for those on Medicare. But millions of Americans are not old enough to be on Medicare. They still need the insulin though, and they will still have to pay the outrageous price demanded by the drug companies -- if they can afford it. If they cannot afford it, they could die quickly, or die more slowly by trying to ration the amount they could afford.

Republicans have once again shown that they don't care about Americans -- unless they are rich white men.

Trying To Hide The Fascism

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

Republicans Attended Elite Schools & Learned Nothing


Republicans like to call Democrats "elite", knowing it will be taken as an insult for their base voters. But the truth is that as many Republicans in Congress (if not more) attended elite colleges. They just didn't seem to have learned anything from that.

Following is part of an op-ed by Robert Reich: 

The original justification for elite higher education in the United States was to train the future leaders of American democracy. As Charles W. Eliot, who became president of Harvard in 1869, noted, Harvard existed to inculcate the ideals of “service and stewardship.”

Since then, Harvard has produced eight US presidents; Yale, five. (Stanford can boast Herbert Hoover, if it feels compelled to do so.)

Elite universities have also produced a disproportionate number of senators and representatives from both parties. In fact, Republicans elected to the Senate over the last decade are more likely than their Democratic counterparts to have attended Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford.

So how to explain Elise Stefanik, Harvard class of 2006, now the third-ranking House Republican, who recently called the January 6 hearings a “partisan witch hunt,” voted to invalidate the 2020 election, and has repeated Trump’s Big Lie of election fraud?

Or Josh Hawley, Stanford class of 2002 and Yale Law class of 2006, now senator from Missouri, who in December 2020 became the first US senator to announce plans to object to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, then led Senate efforts to overturn the Electoral College vote count, and fist-bumped the rioters on January 6?

Or Ted Cruz, Princeton class of 1992 and Harvard Law class of 1995, now senator from Texas, who in late 2020 joined in John Eastman’s and Trump’s plot to object to the election results in six swing states and delay accepting the Electoral College results on January 6, potentially enabling Republican state legislatures to overturn them?

And how to explain a new crop of Republican senate candidates?

JD Vance, Yale Law class of 2013, now Republican candidate for the Senate from Ohio, has claimed that there “were certainly people voting illegally on a large-scale basis” in the 2020 election. When asked earlier this year if the 2020 election was “stolen,” he said, “Yeah, I do.”

Blake Masters, Stanford class of 2008 and Stanford Law class of 2012, now the Republican candidate for the Senate from Arizona, has declared in campaign ads that “Trump won.” He promotes rightwing “replacement theory” – that Democrats favor illegal immigration “so that someday they can ‘amnesty’ these people and make them voters who they expect to vote Democrat.”

These alumni of America’s finest institutions of higher education haven’t adhered to their alma maters’ ideals of service and stewardship of American democracy. In fact, they’re actively wrecking American democracy.

Nor can these elite graduates claim they don’t know any better. Most third-graders can distinguish a lie from the truth.

No, these scions of the most prestigious halls of American academe are knowingly and intentionally abetting the most dangerous attack on American democracy since the Civil War.

Whatever did they learn from their rarified education? Obviously, zilch.

Running From The Twister They Created

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.
 

COVID-19 Is Still With Us And Still Killing Americans




 

Monday, August 08, 2022

The IRA Is Not A Cure-All - But It's Better Than Nothing


 

Most Say Replace Electoral College With Popular Vote



The charts above are from the Pew Research Center -- from a survey done between June 27th and July 4th of a nationwide sample of 6,174 adults, with a 1.8 point margin of error. 

Rebranding

Political Cartoon is by Matt Davies in Newsday.
 

46% Say They Would Vote For A Third Party (But They Won't)


Former Democrat Andrew Yang and former Republican Christine Todd Whitman have formed another political party. They believe it is time for a third party. Of course, this ignores the fact that there are already several "third parties" -- the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the American Independent Party, the Constitution Party, and several others.

They are calling their new party the Forward Party, and are hoping it will appeal to moderates. But so far, the party has no platform or stated beliefs (other than to give Americans more choices in elections). They hope to have events in a dozen cities this Fall to roll out a platform. The problem with that is that there's no issues that are considered thoroughly moderate. Each issue they claim will immediately be labeled as either on the left or the right, and moderates will quickly become disenchanted.

As the chart above shows, about 46% of the public say they would vote for a third party (Economist / YouGov Poll done between July 30th and August 2nd of a sample of 1,500 adults with a 3 point margin of error). But that has not been what has happened in our history. Third parties, even established ones like the Green and Libertarian parties, don't get enough votes to matter much.

I think this new party will get few votes, if it can even get candidates on the ballot by November. I think they are shooting for the 2024 election, but if they survive that long, they'll be unlikely to make much difference.

The problem they face is that very few voters are really independents. Most, if they are not members of one of the two major parties, at least lean strongly toward one of them. Voters will have two fears that will keep them from voting for the new Forward Party. First, they will be afraid of wasting their vote in a hopeless endeavor. Second, they will be afraid that voting for a third party will allow the major party they like the least to win -- whether it be the Democrats or Republicans.

The Forward Party is not a terrible idea. We could use another party near the middle now that the Republican Party has become extremist. But it's an idea that will fail. While they complain, Americans like their two-party system.

GOP Trades One Mistake For Another

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.
 

Faith Means Not Wanting To Know

 

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Republicans Are Open About Wanting A Theocracy


 

Over 70% Say Alcohol Bad For People/Society - 67% Drink It




 These charts are from a Gallup Poll -- done between July 5th and 26th of a nationwide sample of 1,013 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Trickle Down

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.
 

Inflation Reduction Act Will Help Control Climate Change


One of the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, currently being considered in the U.S. Senate, will do several things in addition to reducing inflation. One of those things is to fight global climate change.

Here is what Bill Gates thinks of that provision in the IRA: 

Turn on the evening news and it immediately becomes clear that Americans are experiencing the effects of climate change. Extreme heat and drought are affecting tens of millions of people, as floods and wildfires ravage communities from Appalachia to California. In the coming days, Congress has the opportunity to face down the climate crisis while strengthening our country’s energy security, creating opportunities for businesses and improving the lives of Americans. We can’t afford to miss it.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 may be the single most important piece of climate legislation in American history. It represents our best chance to build an energy future that is cleaner, cheaper and more secure. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia deserve a lot of credit for reaching this agreement, as do countless others. Many business leaders and activists I’ve gotten to know through Breakthrough Energy, the climate organization I founded in 2015 to accelerate the clean energy transition, have worked relentlessly for decades for this moment. But although it appears the legislation will pass, success is not guaranteed, so it’s critical to keep pushing for it. Let me explain why.

Many of the technologies we’ll need to reach net-zero emissions don’t exist, are in early stages of development or are still too expensive to scale up. At the same time, more mature technologies like solar, wind and electric vehicles must be deployed more quickly in more places. Through new and expanded tax credits and a long-term approach, this bill would ensure that critical climate solutions have sustained support to develop into new industries.

These incentives would also provide the private sector with the confidence to invest for the long term. This legislation would begin to transform the parts of our economy that are hardest to decarbonize, like manufacturing, which we must do to reach net-zero emissions. As many Americans face summer blackouts, power shortages and high electricity bills, these measures would help build a modern, reliable power grid so all can have access to affordable, abundant and clean energy.

With those incentives and investments, this bill would catalyze a new era of American innovation. The ability of America’s universities and industries to innovate remains second to none, yet the country risks falling behind as other countries race to build their own clean energy economies. This legislation would help turn American energy innovations into American energy industries and unlock huge economic opportunities in the energy market. If it becomes law, few nations would have the capacity for producing homegrown clean energy like the United States. America could quickly become a leader in the deployment of clean energy at the scale required.

American businesses are ready for this change. I’ve spoken with corporate leaders who are eager for our government to act. Many have made big climate pledges and invested significant amounts in clean energy, both because they care about making good on their promises and because it’s good business. Even more businesses are waiting on the sidelines for a strong signal from government that clean industries are a solid long-term investment. Passing the Inflation Reduction Act would send that message and enable private capital to supercharge our clean energy future with even greater confidence.

With President Biden’s signature, this legislation would jump-start and support clean energy industries that could create millions of jobs, many in communities that have been built by fossil fuels. In fact, many of the most promising technologies in the clean energy economy will require similar skills and expertise possessed by today’s coal, oil and gas workers. This will help ensure a fair transition.

Solving climate change is perhaps the hardest challenge humanity has ever faced. It will require fundamentally transforming how we power our communities, move goods, build things, heat and cool buildings and grow food — basically how we do everything. We need to do it rapidly with a cohesive and coherent plan if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The country has an opportunity to set an example by offering a vision of what’s possible — and then by making it happen. By passing this legislation, Congress would mark a moment when, despite the many challenges facing the nation, lawmakers in Washington acted with ambition and foresight to build a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future. Let’s get it done.