Friday, September 30, 2016

The First Victim

We Are Not Enemies - We Are All Americans

The photo at left (from NBC News) is of passengers on the train that crashed in Hoboken trying to move to safety. I was struck by a comment made by several of the crash survivors -- that they were surprised at strangers coming forward to help them after the crash.

I thought that was a rather sad comment, since it shows that they didn't think most people would jump to help in an emergency. I wonder if that's the view that most Americans have these days.

We get a lot of bad news from our media. Sometimes it seems like that's the only kind of news they report (both on the local and national level). Add to this the growing partisanship in our politics over the last few years, and one would be excused in thinking that Americans hate each other, and would not lift a finger to help someone else.

I don't think that's true. Most Americans are decent and law-abiding people -- and they are good people who would step forward to help others in any kind of tragedy. And they would do that regardless of the race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views of the victims. I really believe that.

There is nothing wrong with being passionate about our political views. In fact, I recommend it because that is the heart of a good democracy. But we must remember -- we are not enemies. We are all Americans, and we are in this together. It's not all or nothing when stating our opinions. We need to remember that we all want what's best for the country, and that reasoned compromise is not a bad thing. In fact, it's what has usually moved our country forward.

Let me also say -- If you are a Democrat or Republican (or Green or Libertarian) and you don't have some friends in those other parties, you are missing out on knowing some really good and nice people -- and you are part of the problem. We can fight for our views without dividing our country into groups that hate each other.

We are enriched by our diversity -- both in people and in political views. It's OK to disagree with someone else, but it is not OK to mistreat that other person because they disagree with us. You don't have to agree with someone to like and help them. That's just common decency.


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

Gallup Is The 6th Straight Poll Saying Clinton Won Debate

In the last couple of days, I have brought you five scientific polls -- all showing the voters who watched the debate thought Hillary Clinton was the definite winner. Now there is a sixth poll verifying that.

The Gallup Poll was done on September 27th and 28th of a random national sample of 1,020 debate watchers, with a 4 point margin of error. This poll had Clinton winning by a 34 point margin (61% to 27%).  Even 28% of Republicans thought she won the debate (along with 92% of Democrats and 59% of Independents).

The poll viewers also thought Clinton understood the issues better (+36), appeared more presidential (+32), was more likable (+19), and was more inspiring (+12).

CEO Without Shame

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

New Poll Shows Debate Helped Clinton In Swing States

Public Policy Polling has done a post-debate survey in five major swing states. It shows Clinton with a lead in all five states -- Colorado (+6), Florida (+2), North Carolina (+2), Pennsylvania (+6), and Virginia (+6).

The poll shows that in those swing states Clinton was widely viewed as the winner of the first debate, more prepared to be president, having best temperament for presidency, and most trusted with nuclear weapons. Donald Trump wins in only one category -- most likely to start a nuclear war.

Public Policy Polling interviewed likely voters on September 27th and 28th on behalf of Action Fund. There were 694 respondents in Colorado, 826 in Florida, 861 in North Carolina, 886 in Pennsylvania, and 811 in Virginia. The margins of error for the surveys are +/-3.7%, +/-3.4%, +/-3.3%, +/-3.3%, and +/-3.4% respectively. 



Trump Check

Political Cartoon is by J.D. Crowe for the Alabama Media Group.

Trump Is Wrong - Border Cities Are Not Dangerous

Donald Trump is still trying to scare Americans by lying about immigration and our border cities. He continues to say immigrants are flooding across the border, even though the current rate of undocumented immigration is near zero. And he wants us to believe those undocumented immigrants have turned our border cities into dangerous, crime-ridden areas.

That is not true, as FBI crime numbers show. Actually, the cities on or near the U.S./Mexico border are some of the safest cities in the country.

The following is an editorial from the El Paso Times:

The FBI reported this week that violent crime increased by 4 percent nationally between 2014 and 2015, driven in large part by increases in gun violence in some major U.S. cities.
One area that defied this trend, without any real attention, was urban areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Violent crime in U.S. urban areas on the Mexican border declined by 7 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to an El Paso Times analysis of the FBI data, which is based on reports provided by local law enforcement agencies across the country.
This is not a new development. Crime rates in U.S. communities along the Mexican border have been lower than comparable cities away from the border for many years. But that fact is usually drowned out by politically driven rhetoric that paints the border as a war zone.
Violent crime in El Paso, long among the safest of major U.S. cities, declined by almost 7 percent. In Las Cruces, violent crime dropped by more than 9 percent.
Texas officials may try to tie the drop in crime to the so-called “border surge” started in 2014 after families and children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America flooded to the Rio Grande Valley in search of safety.
Any such claims would be questionable at best. First, crime in border areas has been on the decline for many years before the so-called surge. Second, the drop in violent crime is just as pronounced in places like El Paso, Las Cruces, and Yuma, Arizona, which did not see an increase in National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in 2015.
The low and declining crime rates along the border have many causes. Research has shown that immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to participate in crime. And the federal government has dramatically increased the numbers of law enforcement forces it has placed on the border in the past decade.
That latter fact is often ignored in conservative circles, where it is an article of faith that the Obama administration has failed to secure the border. This has been particularly true in Texas, where DPS is proposing another 39 percent increase in funding for border security, even though the agency has provided no real data showing that its increased spending is having any impact.
While the Republican-dominated state leadership was posturing on border security during the 2015 legislative session, Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs like Carrolton, Grapevine and Frisco were undergoing double-digit increases in violent crime. In Lubbock, violent crime went up 12 percent.
This is not to suggest that the DPS flood troopers into the Metroplex or to Texas Tech. But the latest national crime statistics are yet another reminder of how skewed rhetoric can lead to misguided policy. A decision to direct law-enforcement resources to the border is, by definition, a decision not to place those resources elsewhere.
The latest crime statistics are yet another reminder that political rhetoric about the U.S.-Mexico border bears little resemblance to reality.
(The caricature above of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)


Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Teach How To Think

Politically Gutless Congress Overrides President's Veto

On Wednesday, most members of Congress displayed their political cowardice for all to see.

President Obama had vetoed a bill that would allow 9/11 victims (who have already been compensated by our government) to sue the government of Saudi Arabia in an American court. There was good reason for the veto. The bill would set a very bad precedent in allowing law suits against other countries, and open the door to other countries and/or their citizens to file the same kind of suit against the United States government or its citizens.

The bill basically opens a Pandora's box of craziness, and would be devastating to U.S. diplomatic efforts. Supporters of the silly bill have said the bill just applies to Saudi Arabia for this one incident. That is rather disingenuous. It sets a precedent that could be extended to other nations or any nation. Why should any country believe we won't do the same thing to them? Why should they hesitate to file their own suits against the U.S.?

This same line of thought could justify law suits by the governments or citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq against the U.S. government or its soldiers. Actually, the list is endless.

Why did these lawmakers override the president's veto? One reason -- political cowardice. This is an election year, and they know that a lot of voters won't understand the dangers of this bill (but just feel sorry for the 9/11 victims). Those representatives and senators who voted to override were really voting their own electoral self-interests -- putting their own job above what's good for the country.

These politicians (and voters) supporting the override are going to be shocked and angry when this boomerangs back to hurt this country (and it will) -- but they will have only themselves to blame.

The Senate vote 97 to 1 to override. Senator Harry Reid was the only senator to vote NO. Senators Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine dodged the vote by hitting the campaign trail. All other senators, both Republican and Democratic, voted to override.

The House voted 348 to 77 to override. Voting NO were 59 Democrats and18 Republicans. I applaud all of them for voting for what's right instead of what's politically expedient.

NOTE -- The photo above is from C-SPAN.

Asset ?

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Two More Polls Show Clinton Was The Debate Winner

Yesterday, I brought you the results of three scientific polls showing the public thought Hillary Clinton was the winner of the first presidential debate -- the CNN Poll (Clinton 67% - Trump 27%), the YouGov Poll (Clinton 57% - Trump 30%), and the Public Policy Polling survey (Clinton 51% - Trump 40%).

Now a fourth poll has been released. It is the Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done on September 26th and 27th of random national samples of 1,421 registered voters (and 1,253 likely voters), with a margin of error of 3 points.

This poll also had Hillary Clinton as the winner of the first debate (Clinton 49% - Trump 26%). The debate didn't change a lot of minds though (see bottom chart). Only 9% said the debate had changed their mind about who to vote for, while 81% said it had not changed their mind. But in an election this close, a swing of 9% could be huge.


A fifth poll has also been released now. It is the NBC News / SurveyMonkey Poll -- done on September 26th and 27th of a random national sample of 7,541 likely voters, with a margin of error of 1.6 points. The results of that poll are in the charts below. Hillary Clinton was also viewed as the winner of the debate in this poll (Clinton 52% - Trump 21%).

Entertainment ?

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

% Of Voters Wanting A Split Government Has Dropped

A few years ago, there was a significant margin of voters that thought it was a good idea for the presidency and Congress to be controlled by different parties. The idea was that each could rein in the other, and prevent extremist policies (from the left or the right) to be enacted. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. What has happened is basically gridlock, where nothing gets done to solve the nation's problems.

And it looks like the public is finally getting the message. While 26% of the public wanted a split government in 2004, now only 20% say that's a good idea. And the same reluctance to split the government between the parties is evident in two political groups -- Democrats (32% in 2004 to 14% in 2016),  and Independents (30% in 2004 to 27% in 2016). Only Republicans have shown a slight increase in the desire for split government since 2004 (17% to 19%) -- probably because they think they will lose the presidential election this year.

The chart above was made from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between September 7th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,020 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Without Value

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

And Yet Another Conservative Newspaper Endorses Clinton

Following the lead of the Dallas Morning News and the Cincinnati Enquirer (and other papers), the traditionally conservative Arizona Republic has, for the first time, abandoned the Republican Party and endorsed a Democrat for president. Here is what their editorial board has written:

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
This year is different.
The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.
The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting.
Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not.
Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. Donald Trump does not.
Clinton knows how to compromise and to lead with intelligence, decorum and perspective. She has a record of public service as First Lady, senator and secretary of state.
She has withstood decades of scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians. The vehemence of some of the anti-Clinton attacks strains credulity.
Trump hasn’t even let the American people scrutinize his tax returns, which could help the nation judge his claims of business acumen.
Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton has flaws. She has made serious missteps.
Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State was a mistake, as she has acknowledged. Donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of State raise concerns that donors were hoping to buy access. Though there is no evidence of wrongdoing, she should have put up a firewall.
Yet despite her flaws, Clinton is the superior choice.
She does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies. Her approach to governance is mature, confident and rational.
That cannot be said of her opponent.
Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down.
Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads.
That’s beneath our national dignity.
When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.
Clinton has argued America’s case before friendly and unfriendly foreign leaders with tenacity, diplomacy and skill. She earned respect by knowing the issues, the history and the facts.
She is intimately familiar with the challenges we face in our relations with Russia, China, the Middle East, North Korea and elsewhere. She’ll stand by our friends and she’s not afraid to confront our enemies.
Contrast Clinton’s tenacity and professionalism with Trump, who began his campaign with gross generalities about Mexico and Mexicans as criminals and rapists. These were careless slaps at a valued trading partner and Arizona’s neighbor. They were thoughtless insults about people whose labor and energy enrich our country.
Trump demonstrated his clumsiness on the world stage by making nice with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto only a few hours before appearing in Phoenix to deliver yet another rant about Mexican immigrants and border walls.
What’s more, Arizona went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels. It led our state to SB 1070, the 2010 “show me your papers” law that earned Arizona international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration.
Arizona understands that we don’t need a repeat of that divisive, unproductive fiasco on the national level. A recent poll shows Arizonans oppose both more walls and the mass deportations Trump endorses.
We need a president who can broker solutions.
Clinton calls for comprehensive immigration reform, a goal that business, faith and law enforcement leaders have sought for years. Her support for a pathway to citizenship and her call for compassion for families torn apart by deportation are consistent with her longtime support for human rights.
As secretary of state, Clinton made gender equality a priority for U.S. foreign policy. This is an extension of Clinton’s bold “women’s rights are human rights” speech in 1995.
It reflects an understanding that America’s commitment to human rights is a critically needed beacon in today’s troubled world.
Trump’s long history of objectifying women and his demeaning comments about women during the campaign are not just good-old-boy gaffes.
They are evidence of deep character flaws. They are part of a pattern.
Each of those comments show a stunning lack of human decency, empathy and respect. Taken together they reveal a candidate who doesn’t grasp our national ideals.
Many Republicans understand this. But they shudder at the thought of Hillary Clinton naming Supreme Court justices. So they stick with Trump. We get that. But we ask them to see Trump for what he is — and what he is not.
Trump’s conversion to conservatism is recent and unconvincing. There is no guarantee he will name solid conservatives to the Supreme Court.
Hillary Clinton has long been a centrist. Despite her tack left to woo Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton retains her centrist roots. Her justices might not be in the mold of Antonin Scalia, but they will be accomplished individuals with the experience, education and intelligence to handle the job.
They will be competent. Just as she is competent.
Trump’s inability to control himself or be controlled by others represents a real threat to our national security. His recent efforts to stay on script are not reassuring. They are phony.
The president commands our nuclear arsenal. Trump can’t command his own rhetoric.
Were he to become president, his casual remarks — such as saying he wouldn’t defend NATO partners from invasion — could have devastating consequences.
Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, a thug who has made it clear he wants to expand Russia’s international footprint.
Trump suggested Russia engage in espionage against Hillary Clinton — an outrageous statement that he later insisted was meant in jest.
Trump said President Obama and Hillary Clinton were “co-founders” of ISIS, then walked that back by saying it was sarcasm.
It was reckless.
Being the leader of the free world requires a sense of propriety that Trump lacks.
We understand that Trump’s candidacy tapped a deep discontent among those who feel left behind by a changed economy and shifting demographics.
Their concerns deserve to be discussed with respect.
Ironically, Trump hasn’t done that. He has merely pandered. Instead of offering solutions, he hangs scapegoats like piñatas and invites people to take a swing.
In a nation with an increasingly diverse population, Trump offers a recipe for permanent civil discord.
In a global economy, he offers protectionism and a false promise to bring back jobs that no longer exist.
America needs to look ahead and build a new era of prosperity for the working class.
This is Hillary Clinton’s opportunity. She can reach out to those who feel left behind. She can make it clear that America sees them and will address their concerns.
She can move us beyond rancor and incivility.
The Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

What Unions Have Done For You

Political Cartoon is by Barry Deutsch at

It's Good Economics (And The Right Thing To Do)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How To Create A Terrorist

Presidential Debate Viewership Sets A New Record

I wrote a post a few days ago in which I shared a poll saying the probable debate viewership would be between 64.3 and 106 7 million. I expressed my doubts that there would be that many viewers (even the lower figure of 64.3 million). I wasn't just wrong -- I was spectacularly wrong!

The initial Nielsen rating numbers show that over the 13 networks they count, there were about 84 million viewers -- more than ever before for a presidential debate (the old record being 80.6 million in 1980). And that number doesn't include C-SPAN, online viewers (YouTube had around 2.5 million by itself), or those who watched in groups at parties, bars, restaurants, or work.

The chart above shows the viewers (in millions) on the major broadcast and cable networks.

Nielsen also reported that there was very little drop-off as the debate progressed. Almost all of the viewers that tuned in watched the entire debate. It seems that in spite of what the media has been telling us (that most voters are turned off by the choice being Clinton or Trump), there is a huge interest in this election. I hope that translates into a huge turnout on election day in November.


Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Debate Watchers Say Hillary Clinton Won The Debate

Donald Trump is going around after the debate saying he won, and that all the polls say he won. He has to be living in some alternate universe, because that simply is not true. The first poll released after the debate was the CNN Poll. That poll showed viewers thought Clinton won by 62% to 27%. However, CNN admitted that the poll had too many Democrats in it (41% of the 521 watchers).

But two more polls have now been released, and they are both weighted more scientifically. They are the Public Policy Polling survey (done of 1,002 debate watchers, with a 3.1 point margin of error), and the YouGov Poll (done of 1154 adults, 57% of which watched the debate, with a 3 point margin of error).

The top chart is the PPP survey. It shows that 51% of watchers think Clinton won, while 40% think Trump won. The second chart is all of the YouGov respondents. They had Clinton winning by 34% to 18%. The third chart is only those who watched the debate (by YouGov). It has Clinton winning by 57% to 30%.

The question now is -- Can Trump improve his performance in the final two debates? I'm not so sure he can. He doesn't seem to have the ability to control himself when challenged. He gets flustered, and resorts to being a bully.

Frightening (For Trump)

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Fact-Checkers Expose Donald Trump's Debate Lies

From CBS News:

TRUMP STATEMENT: “We defend Japan. We defend Germany. We defend South Korea. We defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service. And we’re losing a fortune. That’s why we’re losing. We lose on everything. All I said is that it is very possible that if they don’t pay us, because this isn’t 40 years ago… they may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out.”
FACT CHECK: According to the Wall Street Journal, South Korea paid about $866.6 million in 2014 to the U.S. for the American military presence in the country (which is meant to deter North Korea). That’s about 40 percent of the total cost.
For Japan this year, the country actually covers 90 percent of the cost of Japanese nationals employed by U.S. military bases, including most of the utility costs, rent, and noise abatement. Altogether, the Japanese pay $4 billion of U.S. “base-related expenses.”
TRUMP STATEMENT: “She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue, they’re untrue and they’re misrepresentations and I will tell you this, Lester, it’s not nice and I don’t deserve that.
FACT CHECK: This is partially false. Clinton has not yet spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” on advertising – she has spent just about $100 million overall. Clinton spent $109.4 million on ads through Sept. 13, according to Bloomberg, compared to Trump’s $18.7 million. A Politico article from Aug. 23 cited data from Advertising Analytics as saying that 55 percent of Clinton’s ads were attacks on Trump and 45 percent were positive spots.
TRUMP STATEMENT:  ISIS has “oil all over the place, including the oil, a lot of the oil, in Libya.”
FACT CHECK: According to a Bloomberg analysis, Libyan oil fields and pipelines are controlled by a combination of the Government of National Accord, allies of the Tripoli Petroleum Facilities Guard, and the Libyan National Army (and groups aligned with them).
Claudia Gazzini, a Tripoli-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, told the Washington Post that it was simply not true that the Islamic State has control of any Libyan oil.
TRUMP STATEMENT: “Well, it’s very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and a very close friend of Secretary Clinton, and her campaign manager, Patty Doyle, went to—they were in the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard, and you can go look it up and you can check it out, and if you look at CNN this past week, Patty Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, a highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it, they were pressing it very hard, she failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn’t fail, I got him to give the birth certificate.”
FACT CHECK: This has been Trump’s line since the “birther” issue resurfaced this fall, but Clinton’s campaign has repeatedly denied being involved. Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, told Wolf Blitzer a volunteer forwarded an email promoting “birtherism” and that that person was fired. “The campaign nor Hillary did not start the ‘birther’ movement, period, end of story,” Solis Doyle told CNN, saying the volunteer’s actions were “beyond the pale” and that Clinton called Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to apologize.
Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton confidante but not a current campaign staffer, denies ever contacting McClatchy; the former McClatchy bureau chief, James Asher, recently said he clearly recalled the conversation with Blumenthal.
TRUMP STATEMENT: “My lawyers say don’t do it. In fact watching the shows, reading the papers…almost every lawyer says you don’t release your returns until the audit is complete. When the audit is complete I’ll do it.”
FACT CHECK: In the letter from Trump’s lawyers released by his campaign, they do NOT say the taxes should not be released. Trump’s tax returns from 2002 through 2008 are closed administratively by agreement with the IRS. Audits for years 2009 and forward are ongoing.
An IRS spokesperson also told the Washington Post that nothing — including an audit “prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.” 
TRUMP STATEMENT: “You want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it.”
FACTCHECK: Clinton has said she no longer supports TPP. During a Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas last October, Clinton said that as secretary of State she’d “hoped it would be the gold standard,” but that when the full details of the deal became available it didn’t “meet [her] standards.”
“My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans. And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, ‘this will help raise your wages,’” she said. “And I concluded I could not.”
TRUMP STATEMENT: “So Ford is leaving. Their small car division is leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan. Leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving, and we can’t allow it to happen anymore.”
FACT CHECK: “Their small car division is leaving” – This part is true, but Ford says it will affect “zero” U.S. jobs.
“Over the next two to three years, we will have migrated all of our small-car production to Mexico and out of the United States,” said Ford Motors CEO Mark Fields, at a daylong investor conference in Dearborn, Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press.
But this will, according to Fields, not result in any job loss in the U.S. Earlier this month, on Sept. 15, 2016, CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Fields, “So it is not true that Ford will be, quote, ‘firing all of its employees in the United States?’ Will Ford cut any U.S. jobs as a result of this move? One? Any single one?”
“Absolutely not. Zero,” Fields responded. 
And from Politifact:

Trump: "They're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China."
Earlier this year, Trump claimed that "we’ve rebuilt China." This is an overly simplistic description of the economic relationship between the two countries.
Experts told us China’s rapid economic growth can be largely attributed to its in-house reforms and inclusion in global trade. The United States can take some, but certainly not all, of the credit for the latter. We rated Trump’s claim Half True.
Trump: "My father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that's worth many, many billions of dollars, with some of the greatest assets in the world."
Since Trump has yet to release his tax returns, it’s hard to gauge just how much money Trump started with and how much he has now.
The "very small loan" Trump was referring to was $1 million from Trump’s father, Fred, to finance his Grand Hyatt hotel in 1978. (At this point, Donald Trump was already president of his father’s real estate company.) But Fred Trump made out many other loans to his son until his death in 1999, including a $70 million construction loan for the Grand Hyatt and a $3.5 million casino chip loan to bail out Trump’s struggling gaming empire, the Washington Post Fact-Checker reported.
Trump: "I did not" say that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
Trump did say this in a tweet four years ago. Though he’s since described the tweet as a "joke" and hasn’t pushed the exact theory since, he has repeatedly called climate change a "hoax" in speeches, tweets and media appearances. And he has said as recently as Jan. 18, 2016, that action on climate change "is done for the benefit of China."
Trump: The Obama administration "has doubled" the national debt in eight years.
PolitiFact Virginia rated a previous version of this claim Half True. While Trump’s figure is correct, he leaves out some key points.
First, Obama is not the only one responsible for the added debt; Congress has to approve as well. Second, the recession that began before Obama took office in 2009 cut government revenues and led to some of the higher debt incurred during the president’s term.
Trump: "You will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the Federal Election Commission" to see the financial disclosure form than by looking at tax returns.
The financial disclosure form Trump is referring to is legally required and extensive. But we found little evidence to support Trump’s argument that the financial disclosure allows observers to "learn more" than they would from a tax form. Tax filings include additional financial information that are not found on other financial disclosures.
His claim rates False.
Trump: Top Clinton advisors "were pressing" birther movement stories "very hard."
Trump invoked Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal and 2008 campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle as evidence.
A reporter has claimed Blumenthal pushed the birther story to him in the heat of the Democratic primary that year. But Blumenthal denies it, and the reporter acknowledged he has nothing in writing. Doyle suggested on CNN that the campaign fired a volunteer for forwarding an email that promoted the "conspiracy" but later clarified that the conspiracy was about Obama’s religion, not birthplace.
We rated Trump's claim False.
Trump: "I've been saying for a long time, and I think you'll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil -- and we should have taken the oil -- ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income."
Trump is right that he’s been floating this proposal for a long time, and that oil is a big revenue source for the terrorist group. But when we looked at whether the United States should take the oil, experts told us the idea is not only an endorsement of imperialism, but it’s nonsensical and illegal with massive practical challenges.
Trump: "I'm all for NATO. But I said they have to focus on terror, also. And they're going to do that. And that was — believe me — I'm sure I'm not going to get credit for it — but that was largely because of what I was saying and my criticism of NATO."
This is False. The change he referred to was the creation of a new intelligence post — an incremental change in how the alliance addresses terrorism. It’s been engaging in counter-terrorism measures for more than 30 years.
Trump: "China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea."
During a Republican primary debate, Trump claimed China has "total control" over North Korea. That’s Mostly False. Though China does have significant economic ties to North Korea, Trump is exaggerating the amount of leverage it has. The fact that North Korea conducted a nuclear test over the strenuous objections of China suggests that Beijing lacks anything approaching "total control" over North Korea.
Trump: The Obama administration’s payment to Iran was "one of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody's ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash, obviously, I guess for the hostages. It certainly looks that way."
We rated a previous claim from Trump — that the $400 million was "ransom" — Mostly False. On the same day as several American prisoners were released, the United States paid Iran $400 million. But experts told us this wasn’t ransom.
Iran had a legitimate claim to the money,because the United States owed it to Iran as part of a resolution to a decades-long financial dispute.

Not Presidential

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

Dan Rather's Comments On The Clinton/Trump Debate

From the Facebook page of Dan Rather:

Ladies and gentlemen, whatever civility once existed in our politics is tonight officially dead. Never in the history of televised debates have we witnessed such a show. And that’s what the Donald wanted. A show. He got it, but will he be seen as the hero or the villain? 
If you are a fan of Hillary Clinton, I suspect you are thrilled with her poised and confident performance. Perhaps her crowning line was “I prepared for this debate and I'm prepared to be President”. If you are a fan of Donald Trump, his quarrelsome, no-holds-barred approach, often facts be damned, will likely in turn have thrilled you. The question is what does everybody else watching think and how many impressionable voters remain?
Taking a snapshot of the debate stage this evening, two candidates behind podiums, each representing one of the major political parties, it would seem to be the latest chapter in our quadrennial dance with democracy. But experiencing the event, in sound and motion, it was of course anything but. 
From the very beginning, the body language tonight was striking. HIllary Clinton, the first woman ever to be on this stage was calm and substantive. Donald Trump interrupted often and slouched and sneered as he turned to address her. This is what Trump’s fans like about him, playing the alpha male at all costs. Clinton seemed completely unflustered, which is what her fans love about her. How this all plays to the majority of viewers and voters at home will be in the eyes of the beholder. 
But I was surprised by how much this man who has made so much of the means of television spent not looking into the camera, but preoccupied with his adversary. Trump came across as amped, a pacing tiger ready to pounce on every answer. His Interruptions suggests little regard to the rules. He’s itching for a fight...Wants to swing wildly.
At one point early in the debate Clinton, after multiple factually questionable assertions by Trump said, "I have a feeling by the end of this debate I'll be blamed for everything that ever happened," Clinton said. Trump replied, “Why not?” That about summed it up. 
Clinton clearly wanted to get under Trump’s skin. She attacked him for getting a hefty amount of money from his dad, challenging the narrative that he was a self-made man. And then attacking his business practices. The headline she was aiming for is Donald the Deadbeat. And then on the issue of Trump’s unreleased tax returns, when Clinton says that was because he may not have paid any taxes, Trump responded, “that makes me smart.” Expect to hear more about this. 
Clinton was clearly the policy expert, nimbly jumping from topic to topic, policy to policy. But she was also much more able to paint a big picture than I have seen in times past. I thought she was particularly effective on the issue of race and especially the birther lie against President Obama. She had the facts on her side, but also it was an effective appeal to fire up her base. 
In the end, more than all of the specifics, I was struck by how unprecedented was the overall tenor - matching that of the campaign. We once held certain truths to be "self-evident" - that "all men are created equal" and "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These were the lofty ideals that served as a rallying cry for the founders of these United States to choose liberty over tyranny. The man who wrote these words, Thomas Jefferson, and his compatriots were imperfect and in some cases deeply flawed men. Yet their idealism fixed a North Star in our democratic firmament that has guided our ship of state ever since, with some very noted moral detours. Now I fear that the tide of progress is rapidly receding with the fierce undertow of a looming tsunami. 
Our Founders believed in reason and the power of intellect. Donald Trump made clear tonight by his wilful ignorance of important issues that he does not. Our founders feared the accumulation of power, they loathed vanity, and tried to build in protections against the demagogues who would appeal to mankind's basest instincts. Donald Trump relishes in all of these impulses. For him they are instinctual and a prescription for success. 
To call Trump a con man, as many have, is a disservice to the art of the con. By its definition a con requires deceit. But Trump has not tried to hide his lies or the sheer unrealistic audacity of his cartoonish policy positions. He has asked the American people to bet on him. The fact checkers will certainly weigh in. The pundits will have their say. But the voters have all the information they need. The judgement is in their - or more accurately our - hands.

Tax Evading Tycoons

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Masses (And Truth)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Way It's Always Been

My Initial Take On The First 2016 Presidential Debate

(The photo of Clinton and Trump at the debate is from

The first presidential debate is over. My initial reaction is that Hillary Clinton did much better than I expected her to do -- and Donald Trump did much worse than I expected him to do. I thought Trump would try to act more presidential, and refrain from his urge to go off on tangents. But evidently, Trump really can't control himself.

Trump continually interrupted Clinton during her allotted time, making snide remarks and trying to steal her time. Clinton did not do that. Perhaps most important, Clinton answered every question asked of her, while Trump answered almost none of the questions directed to him -- probably because he had no answer for many of those questions. Instead, he tried to turn every question into an opportunity to attack Clinton.

The most amusing moment of the debate was when Trump tried to question Clinton's temperament, saying she was the one with a temperament problem. It was amusing because the hour and a half debate showed just the opposite. Clinton was composed and rational, while Trump was manic and argumentative.

In short, the first debate was a huge victory for Hillary Clinton -- and it wasn't even close.

After The Debate

Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette.

Racism Exhibited By Young People Is Very Disappointing

From Think Progress:

School officials are investigating a group of white North Dakota college students after they posted a picture of themselves in blackface with the caption “Black lives matter.”
According to Raw Story, a group of female students at the University of North Dakota (UND) are facing potential reprimand after the image was uploaded to Facebook. The incident comes just days after three other white UND students reportedly stole the phone of an African American student, locked her out of her own dorm room, took a picture of themselves laughing, and then posted the image to Snapchat with the caption “Locked the black bitch out.”
“I am appalled that within 48 hours two photos with racially-charged messages have been posted on social media and associated with the UND campus community,” university president Mark Kennedy, according to Raw Story. “It is abundantly clear that we have much work to do at the University of North Dakota in educating our students, and the entire university community on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and respect for others.”
Wearing blackface, once common among turn-of-the-century performers who mocked black people in their shows, is now widely condemned as racist. Yet the practice has become a major issue on college campuses: just this month, a student at Quinnipiac University was expelled for posting a Snapchat photo of a white woman in blackface with the caption “black lives matter,” as was a white Kansas State University student who posted a Snapchat image of white students flashing faux gang signs while wearing dark facial masks with the caption “finally feels good to be a n***a.” Similarly, students at Fairfield University were heavily criticized in February for hosting a “ghetto” party; although no one was reported as wearing blackface, attendees wore baggy clothes and held bottles of 40 oz. Coors Light.

Obviously, we have a serious problem with racism in this country, and sadly, it is not just among older Americans who grew up under a racist system. It seems that those older Americans have been pretty effective in teaching some young people that racism is acceptable.

This is not true of all young people. In fact, I believe the younger generation (commonly called "millennials") are the least racist generation this country has ever had. They give me hope that someday, probably long after I am dead, this country might finally stamp out racism.

For a while after the upheaval of the 1960s and the passage of the three Civil Rights Laws, it was not socially acceptable to be openly racist. They racists did not go away, but they went underground and only expressed their sick views to others that shared them. That gave the illusion that this country had progressed further in establishing equality that it really had done.

But those racists were horrified at the election of President Obama. They came out from under their rocks in droves, and once again started to proudly and openly display their sick views. They became even bolder when they realized that the Republican Party had nominated a presidential candidate who agreed with their racist views. Now they seem to have passed on their depraved views to at least a small portion of our newest generation.

I hope these young people will realize the error of their thinking as they grow older. If not, they will pass their racism on to another generation of Americans -- and that is unacceptable.