Sunday, July 22, 2018

Morality And Religion Are Not The Same


Republicans Are Alone In Their Love Of Donald Trump






These chart use information in the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3.2 point margin of error.

They show that Trump is still extremely popular with the base of the Republican Party. But that popularity doesn't extend to the rest of the country, with both Democrats and Independents giving him very low marks.

That's not going to help his fellow Republicans this November, or his chance of being re-elected in 2020.

No Values Detected

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

GOP Policies Creating A New "Gilded Age" Of Inequality



The charts above show the ratio of the average income of the 1% to the average income of the bottom 99% in the United States and in each individual state. For instance, the average income of the 1% in the United States as a whole is 26.3 times as much as the average income of everyone else in the country (the bottom 99%). The information comes from a new report on income inequality in the United States by the Economic Policy Institute. I recommend you read the report, if you want to understand what's happening in this country.

From 1973 to the current time, the income inequality has been growing in this country. This is due to Republican economic policies that favor the richest Americans to the detriment of all other Americans. Those policies have created a new Gilded Age of inequality that is surpassing the old Gilded Age of the 1920's. That old Gilded Age led directly to the Great Depression. Are the Republicans setting the country up for a repeat of that?

It doesn't have to be this way. Between 1928 and 1973, the inequality between the top 1% and the bottom 99% was decreasing. It was decreasing because tax policy, unionization, and a rising minimum wage was creating an economy that was fairer to everyone. Unfortunately, when the Republicans seized power, they changed those policies, reversing the trend toward less inequality.

I believe these current GOP policies (commonly called "trickle-down" policy) is leading this nation toward disaster. At best, it will turn us into a nation of "haves" and "have-nots", and at worst will lead us into another Great Depression. It must be changed. But the only way to do that is to vote the Republicans out of power -- and the sooner the better.

Trump's Vision Vs. Reality

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) in The Economist.

Press Coverage Helps Trump's Slanted View Of Terrorism

(Graphic image is from The Guardian.)

Donald Trump would have us believe that terrorism is the exclusive province of muslims. That is why his only move to stop terrorism is to ban muslims from entering the United States. The truth is that Americans are much more likely to be the victims of terrorists that are home-grown non-muslims (such as white supremacists, KKK, or nazis). In fact, between 2008 and 2016 twice as many terrorist acts were committed by white and right-wing terrorists than by muslim terrorists.

How has Trump been able to so easily get away with this lie? The American news media must accept the blame for a large part of that. As the graphic above shows, terrorist acts by a muslim receive a lot more news coverage than terrorist acts by a non-muslim (105 headlines to 15 headlines). That's according to new research from the University of Alabama, which will be in a future edition of Justice Quarterly.

If the public reads or watches a lot in the media about muslim terrorists, and very little about other terrorists, it is easy for them to think (wrongly) that most terrorism comes from muslims.

The media needs to do a much better job.

All The President's Men

Political Cartoon is by Bill Schorr at cagle.com.

Trump Just Doesn't Believe In Democratic Values

(Cartoon image is by Petar Pismestrovic at cagle.com.)

Have you wondered, as I have, why Donald Trump is attacking our democratic allies and cozying up to autocrats around the world? Does Putin have something he's holding over Trump? Andrew Sullivan, in New York Magazine, offers a simpler answer -- Trump is being Trump (a person who does not believe in democratic values and institutions). Here is just a part of the excellent article he wrote:

Everything Trump did in Europe — every horrifying, sick-making, embarrassing expostulation — is, in some way, consistent, and predictable, when you consider how he sees the world. It’s not a plan or a strategy as such. Trump is bereft of the attention span to sustain any of those. It is rather the reflection of a set of core beliefs and instincts that have governed him for much of his life. The lies come and go. But his deeper convictions really are in plain sight.

And they are, at root, the same as those of the strongmen he associates with and most admires. The post-1945 attempt to organize the world around collective security, free trade, open societies, non-zero-sum diplomacy, and multicultural democracies is therefore close to unintelligible to him. Why on earth, in his mind, would a victorious power after a world war be … generous to its defeated foes? When you win, you don’t hold out a hand in enlightened self-interest. You gloat and stomp. In Trump’s zero-sum brain — “we should have kept the oil!” — it makes no sense. It has to be a con. And so today’s international order strikes Trump, and always has, as a massive, historic error on the part of the United States.

There’s nothing in it for him to like. It has empowered global elites over national leaders; it has eroded national sovereignty in favor commerce and peace; it has empowered our rivals; it has spread liberal values contrary to the gut instincts of many ordinary people (including himself); it has led the U.S. to spend trillions on collective security, when we could have used that wealth for our own population or to impose our will by force on others; it has created a legion of free riders; it has enriched the global poor at the expense, as he sees it, of the American middle class; and it has unleashed unprecedented migration of peoples and the creation of the first truly multicultural, heterogeneous national cultures.

He wants to end all that. He always hated it, and he never understood it. That kind of complex, interdependent world requires virtues he doesn’t have and skills he doesn’t possess. He wants a world he intuitively understands: of individual nations, in which the most powerful are free to bully the others. He wants an end to transnational migration, especially from south to north. It unnerves him. He believes that warfare should be engaged not to defend the collective peace as a last resort but to plunder and occupy and threaten. He sees no moral difference between free and authoritarian societies, just a difference of “strength,” in which free societies, in his mind, are the weaker ones. He sees nations as ethno-states, exercising hard power, rather than liberal societies, governed by international codes of conduct. He believes in diplomacy as the meeting of strongmen in secret, doing deals, in alpha displays of strength — not endless bullshit sessions at multilateral summits. He’s the kind of person who thinks that the mafia boss at the back table is the coolest guy in the room.

This is why he has such a soft spot for Russia. Its kleptocratic elites see the world in just the same way. And if you wanted to undo the international system created by the U.S., an alliance with Russia is the first step you’d take. Aligning with Moscow against London, Berlin, and Paris is critical to breaking up multilateral institutions like the E.U. and NATO. Trump is not reticent about this. His trip to NATO included the first-ever threat by a U.S. president to walk away from it entirely, and to condition Article 5 on prompt payment of dues. His visit to the U.K. began with an attempt to undermine the government of Theresa May for her attempt to prevent the hardest of Brexits. He backs the new populist anti-immigrant government in Rome, because it too threatens a common European migration policy. And he is indifferent to Russian meddling in Western elections and media because it is designed to aid exactly those forces that Trump supports, from Brexit to Le Pen, and the Trump wing of the GOP (which is now, of course, simply the GOP).

Why are we then searching for some Rosetta stone to explain his foreign policy? Some evidence of his being a Russian asset? Some bribe? Some document or email proving his fealty to Moscow? Yes, it’s perfectly possible that he knowingly accepted Russian help in defeating his opponent in the last election, and is even now encouraging Russia to help him again. But that’s simply the kind of unethical thing Trump has done for years, without batting an eyelid. He sees no more conflict here than he did in seeking Russian funding and German loans for his businesses. . . .

This is not treason as such. It is not an attack on America, but on a version of America, the liberal democratic one, supported by one of the great parties in America. It is an attack on those institutions that Trump believes hurt America — like NATO and NAFTA and the E.U. It is a championing of an illiberal America, and a partnering with autocrats in a replay of old-school Great Power zero-sum politics, in which the strong pummel and exploit the weak. Trump is simultaneously vandalizing the West, while slowly building a strongman alliance that rejects every single Western value. And Russia — authoritarian, ethnically homogeneous, internally brutal, internationally rogue — is at its center. That’s the real story of the last week, and at this point, it isn’t even faintly news.

Oops!

Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News Journal.

The Most Self-Damning Thing


Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Shameful Choice


Trump Is Not Smart Or Competent - But He Is Stubborn

(Cartoon image is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.)

Donald Trump is not an intelligent man. We know that by the people who knew him in the past. His college teacher called him the dumbest student he had ever had. And we know that Trump is not competent to hold the job he has. One just has to look at his huge list of failures. After calling himself the great dealmaker, he has yet to complete a single deal for this country.

But he is stubborn, and is utterly incapable of admitting he made a mistake and correcting that mistake. His rampant narcissism precludes the possibility of that.

A few weeks ago, Trump started a trade war with several entities (China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union). He was certain that he could bully those countries into doing what he wanted by imposing tariffs on some of the goods they sell to this country. It hasn't worked.

Those countries simply responded with equal tariffs on American products. Now farmers, companies, and consumers are beginning to hurt in this country. A smart person would realize he had made a serious mistake, declare victory in the trade war, and remove the tariffs. Trump is not doing that. He's now threatening to up the $34 billion in tariffs on China to about $500 billion -- which would cover everything China sends to the U.S. (probably with the exception of the goods Trump and Ivanka get made in China).

Who will pay this new tariff? The American consumer. But Trump is too stupid to realize he's just levying a tax on Americans (and driving many of his farm supporters out of business).

Then we have his embarrassing (and possibly treasonous) behavior in Helsinki. After attacking our best allies, he fawned all over Vladimir Putin -- the most dangerous dictator in the world. He said the United States was to blame for not getting along with Russia, ignoring all the aggressive actions by that country (including attacking our country during the 2016 election season with computer hackers). Once again, he shared his doubt that Putin had instructed his military intelligence to launch the computer attack on the U.S. -- even though our intelligence agencies showed him proof that this happened a couple of weeks before he was sworn in.

He received serious blowback for his embracing on Putin. But he couldn't admit his mistake. Even when he tried to admit that Russia had attacked the U.S., he added "but it could have been someone else". Now he is compounding his mistake by announcing he has invited his buddy (Putin) to visit the White House this Fall. Is he going to repeat the same mistakes he made in Helsinki? It's very likely.

The crazy part is that he's doing all this just before an election. His stubborn narcissism keeps him from understanding that he's hurting the chances of a lot of Republicans running for office, and increasing the chances of Democrats flipping Congress. If I was a Republican running for office, I would be quaking in my boots watching Trump.

Spineless

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Support For Legalizing Marijuana Continues To Grow










These charts were made using the results of a recent Morning Consult Poll -- done between June 28th and July 3rd of a national sample of 2,202 adults, and has a margin of error of 2 points.

It shows that the support for the legalization of marijuana in the United States continues to grow. Currently about 63% of registered voters support legalization, while only 26% oppose it. And all genders, age groups, races/ethnicities, income levels, education levels, regions, community types, religions, and political affiliations have majorities in favor of legalization -- including 51% of Republicans and 54% of evangelicals (two groups that have been opposed in the past).

It's time to stop punishing those who use marijuana recreationally. It's time to legalize it. And it's also time to tax it at both the state and federal level. Marijuan is the least dangerous of all drugs, and it makes no sense to keep it illegal.

Putin's Pet

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

The Destiny Of America Lies In Our Hands


The combination of a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress has caused serious damage to the United States. They have damaged Obamacare and caused insurance premiums to skyrocket, passed a tax bill that will substantially increase the income/wealth gap, ballooned the budget deficit to about a trillion dollars a year, installed Supreme Court justices that put right-wing ideology above human rights, ignited a hideous border policy that separates parents and children, instituted trade tariffs that hurt American citizens, damaged our relationship with our allies while fawning over Russia, violated the Iran nuclear weapons treaty, and damaged our planet's future by withdrawing from the Paris Accords.

It's has left this country in a real mess. But this is not the time to give up. This is the time to dig in and fight harder, because the future of the United States still rests in our hands. Here is what Dan Rather says must be done to fix the mess we're in:

"So what do we do now?" 
It is the question of the moment, and all the moments that have led up to now, and the ones that are sure to follow. So many of you have approached me in public to ask this query with pleading eyes and grimaces of disgust. It is echoed in thousands of your comments online, and in my own mind as well. As the wheels of our democracy wobble and spin into greater surreal dangers, there is a struggle to turn outrage into action. . . .
I am not an oracle, philosopher or an activist, just a simple reporter who got lucky. Whatever passes for wisdom I can dispense is mostly a product of age and circumstance. I have seen a lot, moments of pain and of triumph. I firmly believe the writing of the future chapters of America's destiny still lies in our hands.
Any advice must begin with a favorite personal mantra: in a democracy revenge is best served at the ballot box. The stakes of the upcoming election cannot be overstated. So vote. And organize. And make your voices heard. Work on getting others to the polls. Show the world what the "silent majority" really thinks of our current state of affairs. 
We must protect a free and independent press as a check on corruption and power. This is essential. When the President goes on an anti-press diatribe - subscribe. If you have the means, support working journalists, especially at the local level. Subscribe to that paper, or magazine. Urge others to do so. This has a cascading effect. Trust me on this one. 
Reach out to those who need help, preferably beyond your own immediate circle. Acts of kindness, empathy, and justice towards your fellow citizens (and people around the globe) reaffirms the bonds of our common humanity which the cynical forces of destruction are actively seeking to undermine. 
More generally, we must face down this debasement of American ideals. We cannot allow the gas lighting to detract from our own self-knowledge. We cannot forget who WE are. Take heart in the lessons of history, of improbable successes in forging paths of greater tolerance, inclusion, and justice. Remember that the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the civil rights protesters, the LGBTQ activists, the environmentalists, and so many other improbable actors secured great victories - some of which are now being threatened. But they understood that progress was often slow, painful, and uneven. It requires grit and determination. And so it does in this moment as well. 
Do not minimize the power you have or the allies to the cause. Those who do not wish to see America succumb to hatred, who do not wish to undermine the world order, who do not believe cruelty is a governing strategy - this is the MAJORITY. No matter how loud are the contrary voices, do not confuse decibel level with a broadness of support. Discouragement is their most potent weapon.
We Americans have many faults, but by and large we have not been quitters. We have faced seemingly impossible tasks with can-do naïveté. We have tackled great challenges. Our win-loss record on this score is pretty impressive. We are an improbable nation of diversity and freedom. That is being challenged. But the battle is far from lost. A victory for the forces of goodness and justice, for sanity and facts, is not beyond our grasp. I would argue it is there for the taking if we believe and are willing to fight for it.

Owned

Political Cartoon is by Stephane Peray at cagle.com.

Lies They Tell


Friday, July 20, 2018

Symbols Of Hate


Public Doesn't Like Current Electoral Process In The U.S.

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “American elections are fair and open”


Do you agree or disagree with the following statements:


 “Recently a political committee aligned with one of the nation’s top leaders accepted over $24 million from a single individual. The donor is anonymous, and the law permits that. Which statement comes closest to your views?”


 Do you think the Supreme Court should…


The University of Virginia Center for Politics recently commissioned the Ipsos Poll to do a survey on the thoughts of Americans about the current electoral process. The results are in the charts above, and they show many people would like to see some changes.

About 43% of Americans say our elections are not free and fair, while only 51% say they are. That's a problem. Why do they feel this way? Because they think the rich and corporations are being allowed to buy too many elections.

About 87% say political ads on TV should be required to say who paid for the ad, and 86% say the same of internet ads. About 75% say interest groups should have to follow the same campaign/election laws that political candidates must follow. About 72% don't like political donations being kept secret, 52% want donors to political organizations to be disclosed, and 48% would like limits placed on the amount super-PACs can raise and spend.

Fealty

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

Public Doesn't Like How Trump Handled Helsinki Summit



It's now been several days since Trump met in secret with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, and both the American public and the U.S. government (and military) still has no idea what went on in the meeting. What we do know is that Trump was fawning all over Putin in the press conference that followed it. And he made it clear that he prefers the company and friendship of the Russian dictator to that of any of our best allies. It was an embarrassing and frightening spectacle to behold.

What did most Americans think about Trump's performance in Helsinki? They didn't like it. Two polls have now been released about the Helsinki meeting. In the first, 55% of adults, 83% of Democrats, and 53% of Independents said they disapproved of how Trump handled himself in Helsinki. In the second, 58% of adults, 91% of Democrats, and 62% of Independents disapproved.

There was only one group that approved of Trump's performance in Helsinki -- Republicans. In the first poll 68% approved, and in the second poll 79% approved. That makes me wonder if there's ANYTHING Trump could do that the Republican base would not approve of.

The CBS News Poll was done on July 17th and 18th of a national sample of 1,007 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.

The Axios / SurveyMonkey Poll was done on July 16th and 17th of a national sample of 2,100 adults, and has a 3 point margin of error.

Planting The (Russian) Flag

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

The Tools Trump Uses To Create Confusion & Hide The Truth

(This caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

The truth is like kryptonite to Donald Trump, and he does his best to keep it hidden. He knows that the truth would be disastrous for his administration. How does he do that?

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured) says Trump has 5 tactics he uses to do that. He writes:

Trump uses 5 tactics to create a fog of confusion and bewilderment, so we don’t pay attention to the real damage he’s doing – undermining our democracy; rewarding the rich and hurting the working class, middle class, and the poor; stoking hatefulness; and undercutting America’s standing in the world. 
1. His first tactic is to distract us – dominate the news with tweets and rants, accusations, who he’s fired, who he’s insulted, what he’s demanded. He wants us to be so preoccupied with all this that we lose sight of the big picture.
2. His second tactic is to divide and conquer, pitting groups against each other, riling up his base, stoking racial tensions, and vilifying opponents. He targets transgender people in the military. Goes after athletes – mostly black – who won’t stand for the anthem. Fuels fears of immigrants and foreigners, of liberals and Democrats. This way, public dialogue and discussion becomes so angry, bitter, and vitriolic that we end up shouting at each other instead of seeing the damage Trump is actually doing.  
3. His third tactic is to lie and distort. He generates a torrent of “alternative facts” so we become disoriented and confused. Asserting that 3 to 5 million people fraudulently voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election, with no evidence they did. That unauthorized immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate number of murders and rapes. That climate change isn’t caused by people. His goal is for us to lose confidence in the truth so we can’t be sure of what he’s doing.  
4. Fourth: conjure up conspiracies. He fuels paranoia about a “deep state” that’s intent on removing him from office, engaged in a “witch hunt” to undermine him, plotting to impeach him. But he never identifies who or what this “deep state” actually is. The mere assertion of a conspiracy is enough to generate suspicion, erode trust in the political system and in the media, and sow doubts about anyone who criticizes him or any findings that could show he acted illegally. 
5. Fifth and finally: accuse the accusers. He alleges that others are doing what he is in fact doing. When the media catch him in a lie, he accuses them of disseminating fake news. He allows corporate lobbyists to run departments and agencies, and then accuses critics of being part of the Washington swamp. He seeks to cover up whatever he and his aides did with Russian operatives, and then accuses investigators of a being involved in a coverup. 
These 5 tactics are all designed to hide what Trump is actually doing so we don’t mobilize against him. Be aware. Don’t allow Trump’s fog to cloud the truth.

A Spy In The NRA

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Rank Hypocrisy


Thursday, July 19, 2018

If You Want To Understand


What Did Trump Agree To In Secret Meeting With Putin ?

(Cartoon image is by Arend van Dam at cagle.com.)

While Donald Trump bragged about what a good meeting with Vladimir Putin, he said nothing about reaching any agreement with the Russian leader. Instead, he left the impression that the two men had a friendly talk, and that talk had (in Trump's opinion) established a new and friendlier relationship between the two countries.

But Russia seems to have a different opinion of what happened in the secret Helsinki meeting. Here's what Russian military spokesman Major General Igor Kosashenkov said on Tuesday (the day after the secret meeting):

"The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in the sphere of international security achieved at the Helsinki summit." 

WHAT AGREEMENTS? Were agreements reached on international security that Trump doesn't want the American people to know about? Has Congress been informed about these agreements? If not, then why not?

If any agreements were reached in that secret meeting, even agreement in general terms, it should not be kept secret between Trump and the Russians. Did Trump give away something he shouldn't have? Did Trump give Putin a free hand in Syria? Did he assure Putin we wouldn't act to protect some of our Eastern European NATO allies? Did he agree to something else equally nefarious?

I would say that its time for Trump to tell Americans what went on in that meeting, but frankly, Trump can't be trusted to tell the truth about it. He has shown himself to be a prolific and consummate liar.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) has come up with what is probably the only way to find out what happened in the secret Helsinki meeting. She wants to subpoena the U.S. translator that was in the meeting to testify before Congress under oath.

Some people won't like that, but in my opinion, the meeting shouldn't have been held in secret to begin with. Top aides or cabinet members should have been in the room to curb Trump when his incompetence got out of hand -- and make sure any agreements reached were in the best interests of the United States.

This is especially important in light of the fact that most Americans don't trust Trump's judgement. As the chart below shows, only 35% of Americans think Trump exercises good judgement, while 50% thinks he does not -- a gap of 15 points.

The chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,272 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.2 points, and for registered voters is 3 points.


Air Force One

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

U.S. Public Likes Foreign Leaders More Than Trump


The orange narcissist living in the White House is not going to like these poll results. It seems that Americans like several foreign leaders more than they like Donald Trump -- Justin Trudeau of  Canada (by14 points over Trump), Theresa May of Great Britain (by 12 points), Emmanuel Macron of France (by 11 points), and Angela Merkel of Germany (by 8 points). While those four leaders have a much higher favorable rating than unfavorable, Donald Trump's rating is up-side down by 10 points (favorable 42% to unfavorable 52%).

This information is from the new Economist / You Gov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,272 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.2 points, and for registered voters is 3.0 points.

Played

Political Cartoon is by Mark Streeter in the Savannah Morning News.