Monday, April 24, 2017

War


Trump's Incredible Hypocrisy On Immigration

(This caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

Trump campaigned for months by demonizing undocumented immigrants, and he has continued his war on them since being elected. He wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico (even though undocumented immigration is currently about a net zero -- with as many leaving as are entering), and he wants to deport those currently living and working in the United States.

He gives a couple of reasons for this. First, he claims they are criminals and boost crime in the United States. That's a ludicrous notion, since all studies have shown that undocumented immigrants have a significantly lower rate of committing crimes than citizens of this country.

Second, he claims those undocumented workers are taking good jobs that Americans would like to have. That's also a ludicrous claim. Most of the undocumented workers don't have the education or skills necessary to take good jobs away from American citizens. The jobs they are filling are back-creakingly difficult, dirty, sometimes dangerous, and very low-paying jobs that American citizens don't want. By taking these jobs, those undocumented workers are actually helping the American economy (and also help it by the money they spend and taxes they pay in this country). These people are a net positive in this country.

There is a group of immigrants that do take good-paying jobs in this country that citizens would love to have. They are the nearly half a million legal and documented immigrants brought to this country by corporations under the H-1B visa program. The offending corporations will tell you that they can't find enough Americans with the education and skills necessary for those jobs. They are lying. They bring in the foreign workers because they can pay them many thousands of dollars less than they would have to pay an American (up to 40% less).

Those foreign workers either don't mind working for less (because they have fewer opportunities in their home country) or they can't complain (because their visa would be revoked and they would be replaced by a different foreign worker). In short, these workers are being brought in because they can be abused easier than American workers.

What would Trump like to do about these H-1B workers who actually take good jobs away from American citizens? He wants to increase the number of them that can be brought in. This shows just how hypocritical Trump is about immigration. He complains about immigrants taking good American jobs, but demonizes the wrong group while encouraging the importation of foreign workers that actually do take the good jobs that Americans want.

Don't let Trump fool you on the immigration issue. He doesn't care about saving good American jobs. He's just playing politics with immigration, and feeding voter misconceptions to further his own ends.

Not An Immigrant

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

Two New Polls On Trump's (Low) Job Approval




The polls just keep coming on Trump's job approval -- which is really more disapproval than approval. The latest poll to verify that is the NBC News / Wall Street Journal Poll (whose results are shown in the charts above). The poll was done between April 17th and 20th of a random national sample of 900 adults, with a 3.3 point margin of error.

It shows that 64% of the public believes Trump is off to a fair/poor start in his presidency, while only 35% believe he has gotten off to a great/good start. And 54% of the public disapproves of the job he is doing, while only 40% approve of it -- a 14 point gap in approval. Those are some pretty terrible numbers, and they show Trump is still struggling to get the country behind him.

The chart below is from a new ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between April 17th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,004 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error. It compares Trump's 100 day approval with that of President Obama. The numbers are not even close. The voters overwhelmingly approved of President Obama, while overwhelmingly disapproving of Donald Trump.


Having A Blast

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

In Honor Of National Poetry Month


I doubt that most Americans realize it, but April is National Poetry Month. And in honor of that, the YouGov Poll questioned 5,858 adults on April 20th to find out if they have actually read any poetry. The chart above shows the percentage of those polled who say they've read some of the more famous poets.

I was surprised that so many Americans said they have read some of this poetry -- although I suspect that most are simply relating the poetry they were required to read in high school (since the four most widely read are also the four most commonly taught in schools -- Poe, Shakespeare, Frost, and Dickinson).

The three charts below break down that readership by sex, age, and political affiliation.




Too Far

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Terrorism Growth And Global Climate Change Are Connected


The images above (from the World Preservation Foundation) show the drought situation in the world, and how the global climate change will affect it for the rest of this century. The world's scientists have been warning us for years that the effects of global climate change will be serious, but our political leaders continue to ignore them.

While ignoring the worsening climate situation (which will negatively affect a growing number of people), our leaders do want to stem terrorism. Sadly though, they fail to see that the two issues are connected -- as the climate deteriorates, more people will be drawn to terrorism (seeing it as their only way to their families survival with dwindling water resources). A comprehensive program to stop terrorism must include reasonable measures to stop global climate change (and sufficient help to those already affected by that change).

The following is a thought-provoking article by Natasha Geiling at Think Progress on the connection between climate change and terrorism:

Climate change-fueled natural disasters and resource shortages will strengthen recruiting efforts of terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, according to a new report commissioned by the German government.
“As the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which non-state armed groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS operate,” the report, issued by the think tank Adelphi, said in its executive summary. “Climate change contributes to creating a fragile environment in which these groups can thrive.”
Terror groups, according to the report, are increasingly using natural resources — like water — as a “weapon of war.” In 2015, for instance, ISIS closed the gates of a dam to more easily attack enemies downtstream. ISIS has also used water to flood areas to force people to leave their homes, making an area more susceptible to territorial control. Climate-fueled resource scarcity, the report argues, will likely only contribute to the power of non-state armed groups that control a particular resource.
The report also points to diminishing natural resources as fueling an environment ripe for terror recruitment. Africa’s Lake Chad, for instance, provides economic livelihood for nearly 80 percent of the population that lives in its basin. As the lake shrinks, economic opportunities for people in that area also decline, making the population susceptible to recruitment by Boko Haram.
“Livelihood insecurity and lacking economic opportunities seem to provide a fertile ground for non-state armed groups,” the report said. “While a direct causal link between unemployment and participation in violence is disputed among scholars, there is research showing that precarious situations with little socio-economic prospect, including situations of unsteady or underpaid employment, can drive people to join armed groups.”
The report also concludes that climate change contributes to an environment of fragility, by exacerbating conflicts around natural resources and food security. That environment, in turn, creates a kind of environment where terror groups can operate more easily. Sometimes, when a government appears slow to respond to a natural disaster, a terror group will capitalize on perceived state weakness, or corruption, and move to fill the void left by a state government.
In Syria, for instance, prolonged drought beginning in 2007 had a devastating impact on farmers and the state’s agricultural sector. Widespread food shortages caused mass migration from rural Syria into its cities, forcing an overcrowding that only served to further exacerbate existing resource shortages and grievances with the Syrian government.
“Amongst the chaos and instability brought about by fighting between the government, the Free Syrian Army and rebel groups, terrorist groups such as ISIS were able, later in 2014, to easily gain control over large parts of contested territory,” the report found. “Although ISIS had already been present in Iraq, it could only expand its influence to Syria when the country was pulled into a civil war.”
This report is hardly the first to note the connection between climate change and the creation of environments that fuel terrorism. Scholars from the Center for Climate and Security argued in 2012 that human-caused climate change made the drought in Syria more likely, contributing to the unrest that eventually sparked the Syrian Civil war. And for years, the U.S. Department of Defense has formally classified climate change as a “threat multiplier,” noting that it will only exacerbate conflict by creating resource scarcity.
President Donald Trump, however, does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. His CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, refused to talk about the connection between climate change and national security during his confirmation hearing, arguing that his role would be “so different and unique from that.”
At least one member of Trump’s cabinet accepts the national security risks associated with climate change, however. In written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that climate change “is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” and noted that it is important for military operations to take climate change into account in their planning.
In his March 28 executive order rolling back U.S. climate policies, however, Trump did away with an Obama-era executive order directing federal agencies to take climate change into account when crafting national security plans and military operations.

Ready To Rumble

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

Act Of Rebellion


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gods


Which Party Is Trusted More On Issues Facing The U.S.



Which party is trusted more on the issues? It turns out that depends on which issue you are talking about. At least according to this survey done by the Pew Research Center between April 5th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,501 adults (with a 2.9 point margin of error).

The public trusts the Republicans more on terrorism (by 12 points), gun policy (5 points), economy (3 points), and trade (3 points).

They trust the Democrats more on government spending (8 points), immigration (11 points), foreign policy (13 points), education (16 points), health care (19 points), abortion (20 points), and environment (31 points).

The public is split on who they trust more on taxes (Republicans 44% to Democrats 43%). That one point difference is well within the survey's margin of error.

This split probably helps to explain why the public has such a poor view of Congress. They simply don't trust either party on all the issues.

Science March

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

Trump Continues To Have Significant Job Disapproval


Since being sworn in, Donald Trump has been unable to come close to job approval by a majority of Americans. His current job approval is 40% and disapproval is 56% -- a gap of 16 points. That's not good. I think Trump figured he would gain approval as he stayed in office, but that is just not happening.

Why do Americans disapprove of him. Is it his personal qualities, or his stance on the issues. The two charts below show it is a combination of both. Most people don't like his personal qualities, and they also oppose his stance on the issues. This is still a presidency in deep trouble.

All of these charts were made from information in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between April 12th and 18th of a national sample of 1,062 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.



Campaign Worker

Political Cartoon is by Jaume (Kap) Capdevila at cagle.com.

The GOP Dilemma In Trying To Replace Obamacare

(Cartoon image is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.)

Evidently the first attempt to "repeal and replace" Obamacare was enough to convince Republicans that they have no workable plan. Trump, along with some GOP leaders are trying to resuscitate their terrible plan now.

They put themselves in a bad situation with years of attacking Obamacare -- and assuring the public they could pass a better plan (which would offer cheaper and better insurance to everyone). But they have been unable to come up with any plan that would even come close to doing that.

Here is Paul Krugman's take on the GOP's dilemma, in his New York Times column:

Imagine a man who for some reason is determined to stuff a balloon into a box — a box that, aside from being the wrong shape, just isn’t big enough. He starts working at one corner, pushing the balloon into position. But then he realizes that the air he’s squeezed out at one end has caused the balloon to expand elsewhere. So he tries at the opposite corner, but this undoes his original work.
If he’s stupid or obsessive enough, he can spend a long time at this exercise, trying it from various different angles, and maybe even briefly convince himself that he’s making progress. But he’s kidding himself: No matter what he does, the balloon isn’t going to fit in that box.
Now you understand what’s happening to G.O.P. efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans have spent many years denouncing Obamacare as a terrible, horrible, no good law and insisting that they can do much better. They successfully convinced many voters that they could preserve the good stuff — the dramatic expansion of coverage that has brought the percentage of Americans without health insurance to a record low — while reducing premiums, shrinking deductibles and, of course, doing away with the taxes on high incomes that pay for the program.
Imagine a man who for some reason is determined to stuff a balloon into a box — a box that, aside from being the wrong shape, just isn’t big enough. He starts working at one corner, pushing the balloon into position. But then he realizes that the air he’s squeezed out at one end has caused the balloon to expand elsewhere. So he tries at the opposite corner, but this undoes his original work.
If he’s stupid or obsessive enough, he can spend a long time at this exercise, trying it from various different angles, and maybe even briefly convince himself that he’s making progress. But he’s kidding himself: No matter what he does, the balloon isn’t going to fit in that box.
Now you understand what’s happening to G.O.P. efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans have spent many years denouncing Obamacare as a terrible, horrible, no good law and insisting that they can do much better. They successfully convinced many voters that they could preserve the good stuff — the dramatic expansion of coverage that has brought the percentage of Americans without health insurance to a record low — while reducing premiums, shrinking deductibles and, of course, doing away with the taxes on high incomes that pay for the program.
And each time the plan turns out to have a fatal flaw. Millions will lose coverage; or they’ll keep coverage, but it will become so threadbare it’s almost worthless; or premiums will skyrocket for the most needy unless vast sums — hundreds of billions of dollars — are devoted to those high-risk pools.
The important thing to remember is that these problems don’t keep popping up because the people devising the plans are careless, and keep forgetting crucial issues. They’re popping up because the G.O.P. is trying to stuff a big balloon into a small box, and every time you squeeze it somewhere it inflates someplace else.
And because the task Republicans have set for themselves is basically impossible, their ongoing debacle over health care isn’t about political tactics or leadership. Even if Donald Trump were the great deal maker he claims to be, or Paul Ryan the policy wonk he poses as, this thing just can’t work.
The only way Republicans might have been able to do what they promised would be if they had some way to make health care much cheaper. That would in effect let some air out of the balloon, and maybe make it possible to get it into the box after all. But they don’t.
The truth is that while Republicans have portrayed Obamacare as a crazy, inefficient scheme, it has in fact been much more successful at containing costs than even its proponents expected.
There are some things we could do that would probably make it even cheaper, but they would all involve moving left — say, introducing a public option, or going all the way to single-payer. The G.O.P., which is determined to move right instead, reducing the public sector’s role, has offered no reason for anyone to believe that it could do better.
All of this raises the obvious question: If Republicans never had a plausible alternative to Obamacare, if this debacle was so inevitable, what was the constant refrain of “repeal and replace” all about?
The answer, surely, is that it began as a cynical ploy; at first, the Republicans hoped to kill health reform before it really got started. And now they’ve trapped themselves: They can’t admit that they have no ideas without, in effect, admitting that they were lying all along.
And the result is that they just keep trying to stuff the balloon into that box.

The Same Qualifications As Trump

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

Marlene


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Our System


Democrats Have A Wealth Of Possibilities For 2020

Caroline Kennedy - former ambassador to Japan

Elizabeth Warren - senator from Massachusetts

Kirsten Gillibrand - senator from New York

Tammy Duckworth - senator from Illinois

Al Franken - senator from Minnesota

Cory Booker - senator from New Jersey

Andrew Cuomo - governor of New York

Martin O'Malley - former governor of Maryland


There are some who think the Democratic Party doesn't have a viable candidate to run for president in 2020. I think that's a ridiculous assertion. Democrats have a wealth of possible candidates. The eight listed above are just those that quickly came to mind -- and any of them would make a much better president than the current occupant of the White House. Do you have a favorite -- maybe someone I have failed to list here? If so, I would love to hear it.

NOTE -- You may notice that Bernie Sanders is not on my list. That's because he's still saying he is not a Democrat. He actually repeated that assertion this month (April 2017). If he's too ashamed of the party to proudly wear it's label, then he should not be considered as it's candidate. The leader of the Democratic Party should be someone proud to be a Democrat.

Karma

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

Would Trump Shut Down Government Over Border Wall ?



There is only a week until the government runs out of money. If that happens, the government will be shut down until Congress and the president can agree on a continuing resolution to fund government operations.

The good news is that there seems to be progress in Congress on a continuing resolution. That resolution would include slightly more money for the military, some money for border security (electronic surveillance, not a wall), and no huge cuts in domestic programs. Such an agreement would be a win for both parties in Congress.

The Republicans could brag they got more money for the military, increased border security, and avoided a shut down. The Democrats could claim support for the military, a blocking of the border wall, and avoiding a shut down. It would allow the government to keep functioning, and prevent the open revolt of either party's base voters. And it's probably the best option that can be achieved right now.

But there's a fly in the ointment -- Donald Trump. Trump has had a dismal first 100 days in office, and he's itching for some kind of win. He's demanding that the continuing resolution contain billions of dollars for the border wall -- something that would be very unlikely to pass the Senate.

The question now is just how serious is Trump about using this continuing resolution to fund his silly border wall. If a fairly clean continuing resolution (as described above) passes Congress, would he veto it? Is he willing to shut down the government to get his wall funded right now? Could he take the heat that would come with such a veto?

As the chart above shows, right now the public would blame Congress if the government is shut down (38% blaming congressional Republicans and 32% blaming congressional Democrats), while only 15% would blame Trump. But if the Congress passes a fairly clean continuing resolution and it is vetoed by Trump, that would change dramatically. Trump would instantly get the blame for the government shut down, and the onus would be taken off members of both parties in Congress.

And that would be especially true if the primary factor was a failure to fund the border wall. As the second chart above shows, the public is solidly against building the border wall, and they are not going to be happy about shutting down the government to build it.

If Congress is smart (which I admit is a questionable assumption), then they will call Trump's bluff and pass a clean resolution. I don't think he's got the guts to veto it and take the full blame for a government shut down. And if he does, he'll quickly back down once he realizes he is shouldering all of the blame for that shut down.

NOTE -- The charts above are made from information in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between April 12th and 18th of a random national sample of 1,062 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

Earth Day I

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

2nd Poll Shows 6 Out Of 10 Support Marijuana Legalization



Yesterday, I showed you a CBS News Poll that showed 61% of Americans supported the legalization of marijuana. Now a second poll has been released that verifies that finding. It is the Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between April 12th and 18th of a random national sample of 1,062 voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

This poll shows that 60% of Americans now favor legalization of marijuana, while only 34% oppose it. That's a huge gap of 26 points. And an even larger percentage (73%) say the federal government should not try to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized the use of marijuana.

Americans are beginning to realize that the government has been lying to them about the "dangers" of marijuana for decades now.

Earth Day II

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

Sanders Is NOT A Democrat And Is NOT Helping The Party

The following is part of a post by David Speakwell at Speakwell Pages. I agree with every word he has written.

I’ve finally come to a decision on Senator Sanders of Vermont.

Sanders is in it for Sanders. Tom Perez is the latest victim of his manipulation. Tom Perez most likely thought he was doing the right thing. There is a rift in the Democratic Party. I can just see ole Tom mulling the idea over in his head. 

A unity tour! That’s the ticket! I’ll show everyone that the DNC is willing to make nice with Sanders and work together. We’ll be a big tent party going forward with room for all Democrats.

Great idea Tom, one problem though.

Nobody told Sanders.

You can’t have a Democratic Unity Tour when one half of the tour doesn’t consider himself a Democrat. 

During the middle of the tour, this happened,
"No, I'm an Independent," Sanders said when asked by MSNBC's Chris Hayes whether he now identifies as a Democrat.

Whaaaaaaaat? Sanders ran for President as a Democrat. During the primaries, campaign manager Jeff Weaver (who has been elevated to work for the DNC) assured people that Sanders “would remain a Democrat after the election.”

So much for remaining a Democrat. 

Tom Perez, you poor fool. You’ve been had, you’ve been taken, and royally fooled. Sanders spun a story for you that you swallowed hook, line and sinker. On the Democrat’s dime you’ve toured a man around the country that has no interest in helping the Democratic Party. He’s interested only in helping himself. Didn’t see the devil coming did you Tom? 

Sanders has zero interest in a successful big tent Democratic Party. Sanders’s only interest is in Sanders’s own brand of progressivism. Woe be to anyone that disagrees with him and his zealots.

Here is another great example of Sanders “helping.” Democrat Jon Ossoff is currently battling to win Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in a special election. The seat was once held by Newt Gingrich and has been Republican controlled since the 1970’s. Ossoff is within a couple percentage points of flipping the seat. 

Sanders has to stick his nose in when asked if Ossoff was progressive.

“I don’t know,” Sanders told the The Wall Street Journal “If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat. Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not,” the 2016 presidential candidate added.


First of all, did Sanders forget that he ran as a Democrat? Apparently using the party’s resources and name wasn’t enough to make him a Democrat. Such hypocrisy. Secondly, why do you need to cast doubt on a guy who is sooooo close to flipping a Republican seat? Because it’s all about Sanders. Ossoff’s election is likely to be incredibly close, I hope Sanders’s fanatics don’t stay home because of his backhanded comments. 

I just can’t take it anymore. I’m tired of Sanders attacking the Democratic Party. I’m tired of Sanders and his sycophants attacking Democrats that they think aren’t good enough and I’m tired of Sanders sticking his nose into the Democratic Party when he can’t even bring himself to say that he is a Democrat.

If you want a say in family business you should be a part of the damn family. When the family makes big decisions, like where to go on vacation, they don’t give the old man who lives down the block a vote. 

I followed the career of Senator Sanders for years before he ran for President. I really liked the guy. I thought he was great for Vermont. His treatment of HIllary Clinton and the Democratic Party has turned my thinking around 180 degrees. 

For the longest time I avoided saying anything negative about Sanders because early on, there was a chance that he could have been the Democratic candidate for President. I would have supported him and voted for him without misgiving.

But time went on and Hillary clearly had the nomination sewn up. Sanders still didn’t stop. He undermined her at every turn and only begrudgingly and half-heartedly supported her nomination. The very fanatics he created refused to back Democrats against Trump. 

I couldn’t decide for the longest time whether he meant well and was kinda clueless or whether he was actually trying to do harm to the Democratic Party.

I’m convinced now that he means to do the Party harm. 

I’m convinced that Sanders hates the big tent Democratic Party. In his mind, moderate Democrats and conservative Democrats aren’t welcome. He talks a big game about independents but again, he’s only interested in independents that share his personal ideology.

The Democratic Party is too big and too broad to take down all at once so he’s worrying at it. He’s sunk his teeth into our neck. He and his followers doggedly cling to our vitals, tightening their grip. 

Poor Tom Perez, he tried to get them off nicely.

They aren’t going to let go Tom.

You can’t have unity when one-half of the tour isn’t really interested in working with anyone else. There is no compromise in Sanders and his followers.

I’m a progressive that wants to work with everyone. We forget sometimes that representatives are supposed to represent the place they come from. Sanders represents Vermont well, but Sanders style progressivism isn’t a good fit for West Virginia or South Dakota. Democrats around the country should be a good fit for their own homes. Sanders unbending purity philosophy can’t accept that. That’s why he has to criticize candidates like Ossoff and what is good for the Democratic Party be damned. 

I can’t be silent any longer. Being tolerant of Sanders and his grandstanding has only emboldened him and made the situation worse.

I want a party that respects ideological differences and gets things done. Purity is a luxury we can’t afford.

Earth Day III

Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.

Beware


Friday, April 21, 2017

The Greatest Weapon


100 Day Job Approval Of Any Post-World War Presidents


The chart above is made from information in the Gallup Poll. Gallup polled Americans on presidential job approval for the first 100 days in office after their election, and these figures represent an average of approval ratings during that 100 days. The latest poll was conducted between January 20th and April 19th of a random national sample of 45,111 adults, and has a margin of error of only 1 point.

Note that only one president has scored less than 55% job approval. That's Donald Trump, who scored a dismal 41% -- 14 points below any other president. There's still time for Trump to rehabilitate his presidency -- after all, the approval ratings of some of the presidents on the chart changed radically after they had been in office for a while. But he's shown no clue as to how to correct his presidential ship, and I don't think his narcissistic personality would allow him to admit any change is needed anyway.

Johnson and Ford were not included in this survey, since they spent their first 100 days in office without being elected to the position.

Running

Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at cagle.com.

A Couple Of Good Early Indicators For Dems In 2018


These charts are from a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done on April 17th and 18th of a random national sample of 648 registered voters, with a 3.9 point margin of error.

In the generic congressional vote (top chart), it shows voters preferring Democrats over Republicans by a 6 point margin (47% to 41%). Of course, it's a year and a half until the next election and a lot could change. But right now the voters don't like what they're seeing in the Republican-dominated 115th Congress.

Perhaps more important, the Democratic voters are more excited about voting in 2018 -- by an 11 point margin over Republican voters (bottom chart). That could also change, but I doubt it will. The Democrats are looking to clip Trump's wings, and the best way to do that is to defeat some congressional Republicans in 2018.