Sunday, December 31, 2017

Decency Precedes Religion

Most Think Race Relations Are Worse Under Trump

Donald Trump has said he wants to be a "uniter". That may be the most hypocritical thing he has ever said. He campaigned as a racist and bigot, and since being sworn in, he has governed as a racist and bigot. He has not only denigrated minorities in this country, but has also said that racist nazis are "good people" -- and has even tweeted as truth many lies he found on white supremacist websites. The truth is that Trump has made racial divisions in this country worse -- not better.

These charts are from a survey done by the Pew Research Center between November 29th and December 4th of a random national sample of 1,503 adults (with a 2.9 point margin of error).

The top chart shows that a significant majority of Americans believe there are strong racial conflicts in this country. And the bottom chart shows that a larger percentage think things are getting worse than did just a little over a year ago.

Trump has made race relations worse. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, since he is an unapologetic racist -- and always has been.

New Year / Old Problem

Political cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

Some Of Those Parting With Us In 2017

Here are some notable people who we lost in 2017:

1/16 -- Gene Cernan (astronaut)
1/25 -- John Hurt (actor)
1/25 -- Mary Tyler Moore (actress)

2/7 -- Richard Hatch (actor)
2/25 -- Bill Paxton (actor)
2/26 -- Judge Joseph Wapner (TV judge)

3/6 -- Robert Osborne (historian and TV host)
3/18 -- Chuck Berry (musician)
3/19 -- Jimmy Breslin (columnist)
3/21 -- Chuck Barris (game show host)

4/6 -- Don Rickles (comedian)
4/11 -- John Warren Geils (musician)
4/12 -- Charlie Murphy (comedian)
4/22 -- Erin Moran (actress)

5/14 -- Powers Booth (actor)
5/18 -- Chris Cornell (musician)
5/23 -- Roger Moore (actor)
5/26 -- Jim Bunning (baseball player)
5/26 -- Zbigniew Brzezinski (presidential advisor)
5/27 -- Gregg Allman (musician)
5/28 -- Frank Deford (sports journalist)

6/8 -- Glenne Headey (actress)
6/9 -- Adam West (actor)
6/16 -- Stephen Furst (actor)

7/15 -- Martin Landau (actor)
7/20 -- Chester Bennington (musician)
7/21 -- John Heard (actor)
7/26 -- June Foray (vocal actress)
7/27 -- Sam Shepard (actor)

8/8 -- Glen Campbell (musician)
8/19 -- Dick Gregory (social activist, comedian)
8/20 -- Jerry Lewis (comedian)
8/24 -- Jay Thomas (actor)

9/3 -- Walter Becker (musician)
9/8 -- Don Williams (musician)
9/12 -- Edith Windsor (gay rights activist)
9/13 -- Frank Vincent (actor)
9/15 -- Harry Dean Stanton (actor)
9/19 -- Jake LaMotta (boxer)
9/19 -- Bernie Casey (football player, actor)
9/27 -- Hugh Hefner (magazine publisher)
9/30 -- Monty Hall (TV host)

10/2 -- Tom Petty (musician)
10/6 -- Ralphie May (comedian)
10/8 -- Y.A. Tittle (football player)
10/16 -- Roy Dotrice (actor)
10/24 -- Fats Domino (musician)
10/24 -- Robert Guillaume (actor)

11/6 -- Dick Gordon (astronaut)
11/7 -- Roy hallway (baseball player)
11/9 -- John Hillerman (actor)
11/12 -- Liz Smith (columnist)
11/18 -- Malcom Young (musician)
11/19 -- Della Reese (musician, actress)
11/21 -- David Cassidy (actor)

12/21 -- Dick Enberg (sports broadcaster)
12/28 -- Rose Marie (actress, comedian)

2017 (In Hats)

Political Cartoon is by Tim Eagan at

Trump Tells 25 Lies In 30-Minute NY Times Interview

(Image of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

Donald Trump has lied every single day he's been in office. He is the most dishonest president this country has ever had, and he's on target to tell 2,000 lies in his first year in office. But he outdid himself in his recent interview with the New York Times, telling 25 obvious lies in only 30 minutes (nearly one lie for every minute of the interview). Here are the obvious lies counted by The Toronto Star:

1) “But I think it’s all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it … Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion.”
Democratic members of Congress have not said en masse that they are convinced that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Some have acknowledged that they have not seen evidence of collusion, but they have pointed out that the investigation is ongoing. 
2) “And you’re talking about what Paul (Manafort) was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months? ... Three and a half months.”
Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for just under five months, from March 28, 2016 to his resignation on August 19, 2016.
3) “I saw (Democratic Sen.) Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.”
Trump appeared to be referring, as he has in the past, to a November CNN interview with Feinstein — in which she did not declare that there is no collusion. Feinstein was specifically asked if she had seen evidence that the Trump campaign was given Democratic emails hacked by Russia. “Not so far,” she responded. She was not asked about collusion more broadly, and her specific answer made clear that she was referring only to evidence she has personally seen to date, not issuing a sweeping final judgment.
4) “She’s (Feinstein) the head of the committee.”
Feinstein, a Democrat, is not the head of any committee: Republicans control Congress and thus lead the committees. She is the ranking member — the top Democrat — on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
5) “So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion … starting with the dossier.”
The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the dossier produced by a former British spy about alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump’s administration, seeking to turn the “collusion” allegation around on its opponents, has argued that the dossier, which was funded in part by the Clinton campaign, amounts to the “Clinton campaign colluding with Russian intelligence.” This is absurd on its face. Russian intelligence favoured Trump and tried to damage Clinton, U.S. intelligence agencies say; the British ex-spy was simply using Russian sources — who have not been identified — to attempt to figure out how Trump’s campaign was linked to the Russian government. Such research is not illegal or deceitful, and it does not come close to qualifying as the type of possible “collusion” investigators are probing with regard to the Trump campaign: coordination with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the election.
6) “ … it’s very hard for a Republican to win the Electoral College. O.K.? You start off with New York, California and Illinois against you. That means you have to run the East Coast, which I did, and everything else. Which I did and then won Wisconsin and Michigan. (Inaudible.) So the Democrats. … (Inaudible.) … They thought there was no way for a Republican, not me, a Republican, to win the Electoral College … The Electoral College is so much better suited to the Democrats (inaudible).”
This claim that the Electoral College is tilted in favour of Democrats — and that “they” think it is impossible for a Republican to win the election in 2016 —- is obvious nonsense. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans. 
7) “They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the Electoral College.”
Democrats, of course, did not invent the “Russian story” for electoral purposes, nor is it a “hoax.” U.S. intelligence agencies say that the Russian government interfered in the election for the purpose of helping Trump win; that Russian interference was the original story, and Democrats were talking about it well before Election Day. Perhaps Trump is correct that there was no illegal collusion between his campaign and the Russians, but this matter is being investigated by a special prosecutor appointed by his own deputy attorney general, not “Democrats,” and many senior Republicans believe the investigation has merit.
8) “They (Democrats) thought it would be a one-day story, an excuse, and it just kept going and going and going.”
This is simple nonsense. Democrats did not think that the question of Russian interference in the election on behalf of Trump, or the question of the Trump campaign’s relationship with those efforts, would be a “one-day story.”
9) “Just so you understand. When I endorsed him (Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange), he was in fifth place. He went way up.”
Strange was in second place in both polls taken in the week prior to Trump’s endorsement, according to RealClearPolitcs’s poll tracker. Strange was in first place in the poll prior to that.
10) “I was for Strange, and I brought Strange up 20 points ….almost 20 points.”
Not even close. Here’s what happened. Strange was in the middle of the Republican primary’s five-candidate first round when Trump endorsed him. In the last poll taken before Trump’s endorsement, Strange was down by eight points to Roy Moore. In the first poll after the endorsement, Strange was up three. So, even though the polls were taken by different firms, Trump can arguably claim credit for a temporary 11-point bump. However, Strange immediately fell back down big, and he ended up losing the first round by six. So, at best, Trump brought Strange up two points, from down eight to down six. If you look solely at polls of the head-to-head Moore-Strange matchup, the story is even worse for Trump: Strange was down two points in the last preendorsement poll, then down 19 points in the first post-endorsement poll. He ended up losing by 9.
11) “Luther Strange was brought way up after my endorsement and he almost won.”
We’ve already addressed the falseness of Trump’s claim that Strange was “brought way up after my endorsement.” It’s also false that Strange “almost won.” Strange lost the runoff by 9.2 percentage points, 54.6 per cent to 45.4 per cent. 
12) “Almost won. … He (Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange) lost by 7 points, 7 or 8 points.”
Strange lost by 9.2 percentage points.
13) “I feel that I have to endorse Republicans as the head of the party. So, I endorsed him (Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore). It became a much closer race because of my endorsement. People don’t say that. They say, ‘Oh, Donald Trump lost.’ I didn’t lose, I brought him up a lot.”
There is no evidence at all that Trump brought Moore “up by a lot.” Moore led Democratic candidate Doug Jones in four of the six polls taken in the week before Trump’s endorsement. He ended up losing.
14) “The problem with Roy Moore, and I said this, is that he’s going to lose the election … And I wish you would cover that, because frankly, I said, ‘If Luther doesn’t win, Roy is going to lose the election.’”
Trump never declared that Moore was “going to lose the election.” His actual statement was not nearly so definitive: “Roy has a very good chance of not winning.”
15) “Michael, we have spent, as of about a month ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East. And the Middle East is worse than it was 17 years ago. … (Inaudible.) Seven trillion.”
There is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project; that report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise $4 trillion by 2053. Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued a month before Trump made this remark, put the current total at $4.3 trillion, and the total including estimated future costs at $5.6 trillion.
16) “I know more about the big bills. … (Inaudible.) … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes.”
There is no way to conclusively demonstrate that this false, but it’s so ridiculous that we are going to take a rare liberty and declare it false anyway. Trump has consistently misstated the details of major bills, spoken only in generalities about the health bill (“fantastic health-care”), and brushed off almost all specific questions. Whatever one thinks of Obamacare, Barack Obama demonstrated a vastly greater understanding of the nuances of his bill than Trump did about any version of the Republicans’ proposed replacement bills.
17) “I believe we can do health care in a bipartisan way, because now we’ve essentially gutted and ended Obamacare.”
Gutted? Perhaps. Trump repealed a central pillar of Obamacare: the “individual mandate,” a requirement that Americans obtain health insurance or pay a financial penalty. The law might now experience new problems. But Trump is wrong, again, to claim that he has already “ended” Obamacare. The individual mandate is a key part of Obamacare, but it is far from the entire thing. Trump did not touch Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people, the federal and state Obamacare marketplaces that allow other uninsured people to buy insurance, and the subsidies that help many of them make the purchases. Nor did he touch various Obamacare rules for the insurance market, like its prohibition on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. The very day after the tax law passed, the government announced that 8.8 million people had signed up for coverage through the federal marketplace, down by only 0.4 million from last year despite Trump’s efforts to dissuade people from signing up.
18) “Now here’s the good news. We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people.”
This has not happened. Trump issued an executive order on Oct. 12 to ask his Secretary of Labor to propose regulations to allow more employers to make use of “association health plans.” But the actual change has not actually been made yet, noted Timothy Jost, an expert on health law as an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University — so even if millions of people will eventually use these plans, they have, obviously, not been able to do so yet.
19) “We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch.”
The move toward association health plans is not going to be a bill at all, let alone a “big bill.” This “would be a change in regulation or guidance,” not legislation, Jost noted.
20) “Chain migration and the lottery system. They have a lottery in these countries. They take the worst people in the country, they put ‘em into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States…’” 
This is, as always, an inaccurate description of Diversity Visa Lottery program. First, the lottery is run by the State Department, not conducted in foreign countries. Second, foreign governments do not toss their worst citizens into the lottery to try to dump them on the United States: would-be immigrants sign up on their own, as individuals, of their own free will.
21) “Last year, we had a trade deficit with China of $350 billion, minimum.”
Trump would have been correct if he had said “$350 billion, maximum,” and specified he was talking about trade in goods alone, but not when he simply says “$350 billion, minimum”: the actual U.S. deficit with China was $347 billion if you exclude trade in services, $310 billion all things considered, according to the U.S. government’s own Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 
22) “ … and, you know, I have — what do have now, John, 158 million, including Facebook, including Twitter, including Instagram, including every form, I have a 158 million people.”
Even if you’re counting generously, Trump does not have that many followers on social media. Adding up his Twitter account (45 million followers), his Facebook account (23 million followers), the White House Facebook account (8 million followers), his Instagram account (8 million followers), the White House Instagram account (4 million followers), the official “POTUS” Twitter account (22 million followers), and the official “POTUS” Facebook account (2 million followers), Trump is at 112 million followers. Since many of these people undoubtedly follow him on more than one platform, the total number of actual humans is even further below 158 million.
23) “You know, it’s easier to renegotiate it if we make it a fair deal because NAFTA was a terrible deal for us. We lost $71 billion a year with Mexico, can you believe it?”
Even if you only count trade in goods alone, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico is not that large: it was $64 billion in 2016, $60 billion in 2015, $55 billion in 2014 and $54 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. government’s own Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and it has not exceeded $67 billion since 2007. Further, when trade in services is included, the 2016 deficit was $56 billion. 
24) “Seventeen billion (trade deficit) with Canada — Canada says we broke even. But they don’t include lumber and they don’t include oil. Oh, that’s not. … (Inaudible) … My friend Justin he says, “No, no, we break even.” I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not including oil, and you’re not including lumber.” When you do, you lose $17 billion.”
According to the U.S. government’s own Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. had a trade surplus of $12.5 billion with Canada last year when services trade was included. Even counting goods trade alone, the Trade Representative says the deficit was $12.1 billion, not $17 billion.
25) “I’m the one that saved coal.”
The coal industry has not been “saved,” and to the extent it rebounded modestly in 2017, market forces, not Trump, were the main reason.

Tiny Hands / Big Lies

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

The Religious Freedom Scam

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Register! Vote!

The Public's Predictions For 2018 Are Not Great

This chart is from the Gallup Poll. The poll was done between December 4th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,049 adults, with a 4 point margin of error. The predictions for 2018 contained in the poll were not good. About 79% said it would be a troubled year, full of international discord -- only 19% said it would be a peaceful year. Poll respondents were pretty equally split on whether it would be an economically prosperous year or not, and whether American power will increase or decline.


Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in the Tulsa World.

2017 Saw Trump Damage U.S. Reputation In The World

The chart above is from the Pew Research Center. It shows that by the end of his term, Bush had damaged the U.S. reputation in Western Europe (specifically in Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Spain). It took several years to tank the U.S. reputation, but by the end of his second term, Bush had it at a very low level.

The election of Barack Obama immediately re-established that respect, and he maintained it at a high level for the eight years of his term. The Trump was elected, and it took him only moths to damage that reputation even worse than Bush had.

The chart below shows that is not only the opinion of those four Western democracies in Europe. It is a global average. It shows confidence in the U.S. has plunged globally since Trump was sworn in, and an unfavorable view of the U.S. has climbed sharply.

A Bad Year

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Colorado Independent.

Minnesota Voters Did Not Want Sen. Franken To Resign

 Senator Al Franken has said he will resign his senate seat in a few days (January 2nd). I am sorry to see him go. He was a reliable voice and vote for progressive causes, and personally, I am not convinced that he was guilty of the accusations leveled against him (too many have come from right-wing extremists, and could be just the right trying to muddy the waters to defend their own sex abuser -- Donald Trump and Roy Moore).

I also think the Democratic leaders who demanded Franken's resignation jumped the gun in an attempt to present the party as pure on this issue of sexual harassment and abuse. It's not pure -- no party is, because sexual harassment and abuse are pervasive in our patriarchal society. However, we should be sure of a person's guilt before tossing them under a bus.

I'm evidently not alone in this opinion. A recent poll showed that Minnesota voters also disliked how this went down. About 53% said they approved of the job Franken was doing. About 50% did not want him to resign. And 60%thought the Senate investigation should have been completed before his resignation was demanded.

Those numbers are from a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done on December 26th and 27th of a random sample of 671 Minnesota voters, with a margin of error of 3.8 points.

2018 (A Sad Portrait)

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Trump Has Abdicated U.S. Leadership In The World

(Cartoon image of Trump is by Ben Jennings at i-news.)

Since World War II ended, the United States has been a leader in the world -- encouraging freedom, equality, and human rights. That is no longer true. Through his words, actions, and the way he has treated other countries and their leaders, Trump has abdicated that leadership position for the United States.

Here is just a small part of how Richard Haass (president of the Council on Foreign Relations) puts it in an article for The Atlantic:

When great powers fade, as they inevitably must, it’s normally for one of two reasons. Some powers exhaust themselves through overreach abroad, underinvestment at home, or a mixture of the two. This was the case for the Soviet Union. Other powers lose their privileged position with the emergence of new, stronger powers. This describes what happened with France and Great Britain in the case of Germany’s emergence after World War I and, more benignly, with the European powers and the rise of the United States during and after World War II.

To some extent America is facing a version of this—amid what Fareed Zakaria has dubbed “the rise of the rest”—with China’s ascendance the most significant development. But the United States has now introduced a third means by which a major power forfeits international advantage. It is abdication, the voluntary relinquishing of power and responsibility. It is brought about more by choice than by circumstances either at home or abroad.

Abdication is not isolationism. Donald Trump’s United States is not isolationist. He has authorized the use of limited military force against the Syrian government in a manner his predecessor rejected. U.S. military operations have gone a long way toward defeating ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration might employ force against Iran or North Korea, or both, and has pressed for and secured new international sanctions against the latter. It could well act (most likely unilaterally) in the economic realm, applying tariffs or sanctions as it sees fit against one or another trading partner. It is trying its hand (thus far without success) at mediating several disputes in the Middle East. The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is to be extended and possibly augmented.

But abdication describes U.S. foreign policy all the same, as the United States is no longer taking the lead in maintaining alliances, or in building regional and global institutions that set the rules for how international relations are conducted. It is abdication from what has been a position of leadership in developing the rules and arrangements at the heart of any world order.

For three-quarters of a century, from World War II through the Cold War and well into the post–Cold War era, the United States was the principal architect and builder of global rules. This is not to say that the United States always got it right; it most certainly did not, at times because of what it did, at other times because of what it chose not to do. But more often than not, the United States played a large, mostly constructive, and frequently generous role in the world.

Under Donald Trump, however, U.S. foreign policy shows clear signs of significant departure. Support for alliances, embrace of free trade, concern over climate change, championing of democracy and human rights, American leadership per se—these and other fundamentals of American foreign policy have been questioned and, more than once, rejected. Trump is the first post–World War II American president to view the burdens of world leadership as outweighing the benefits. As a result, the United States has changed from the principal preserver of order to a principal disrupter.

This change has major implications. It will make it far more difficult to deal with the challenges posed by globalization, including climate change and nuclear proliferation, to regulate cyberspace on terms compatible with American interests, or to help relieve the plight of refugees on terms consistent with American values. It will make it more difficult to build frameworks that promote trade and investment and to ensure that the United States benefits from them. . . .

The net result was to give the United States a reputation for parochialism and unreliability, something inconsistent with its role as an ally and its hard-earned reputation for global leadership. . . .

Making matters worse were proposed budget cuts and unfilled posts at home and overseas that reduced the resources essential for an active diplomacy. It added up to what appeared to be a doctrine of withdrawal. . . .
The good news is that the costs of promoting global order tend to be less than the costs of not; the bad news is that this truth does not seem to be recognized by many Americans, including the 45th president. Abdication is as unwarranted as it is unwise. It is a basic fact of living in a global world that no country can insulate itself from much of what happens elsewhere. A foreign policy based on sovereignty alone will not provide security in a global, interconnected world. Or, to paraphrase the jargon of the day, America cannot be great at home in a world of disarray.

The Mirror Spoke

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


Friday, December 29, 2017

Sad Situation

Public Says Trump Has NOT Made U.S. Safer From Terrorism

One of Donald Trump's campaign promises was to make the United States safe from terrorism. That has turned out to be just another of his many lies. Only 20% of the public believes we are safer than we were a year ago -- while 71% say we are not safer (including 34% who believe we are less safe and 37% saying the danger is equal to that of a year ago).

The chart reflects results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between December 24th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.


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

More Refugees Now Than At The End Of World War II

The number of refugees worldwide is at an all-time high. Currently there are 65.3 million refugees -- about one out of every 113 people on the planet, and more than at the end of World War II (which previously had created the most refugees).

This is a worldwide shame, but the United States must accept much of the blame. It continues to support wars (like in Afghanistan and Syria) than continue to create refugees, and is the leading arms dealer to the world (creating other refugee-creating wars) -- and thanks to Trump policies, refuses to do anything to alleviate the refugee problem (including accepting refugees into this country after creating more of them).

We must change our policies. We need to stop dealing arms to the world, stop fighting unnecessary wars, and do our part to help the existing refugees (including taking in to this country our share). Failure to do so will insure that the United States is not viewed favorably in history, but will be viewed as a nation that did more to damage human rights than to insure those rights.

The Small Print Matters

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at

2017 Job Creation Was Not As Great As Trump Claims

Trump has bragged several times about what a great job of growing jobs his administration has done -- even though he did nothing to spur growth or job creation. As these charts from the Economic Policy Institute shows, 1) the economy was already heading in the right direction before Trump took office and 2) the average monthly job creation during 2017 was actually lower than in any of the previous six years under President Obama.

The top chart shows there is room for job creation to grow significantly. The bottom chart shows it has slowed under Trump. And now that his gigantic trickle-down giveaway to the rich and corporations has passed, and will soon be partially paid for by cuts to programs helping ordinary Americans, I'm betting the average monthly job creation looks even worse in 2018.

Good News / Bad News

Political Cartoon is by Graham Sale at

Donald Trump - The Laziest And Most Corrupt President

Donald Trump has not only taken more vacation days than any president in recent history, but he has spent all that vacation time at businesses that he owns -- charging the government exorbitant fees for him spending time there. He has turned both laziness and corruption into art forms.

From CNN News:

President Donald Trump has spent nearly one-third of his time in office this year at one of the properties that either bear his name or that his family company owns, according to CNN's count.
Trump arrived in Florida on Friday for a prolonged visit at Mar-a-Lago, his private club that sits on this tony spit of land in southern Florida. The visit comes after Trump signed his signature tax legislation, putting an exclamation point on a tumultuous first year for the President.
With Trump comes a host of White House aides, an abundance of Secret Service agents and the ongoing controversy around the President boosting his private businesses by making frequent visits to properties that bear the Trump name.
Trump has so far spent 110 days as president at one of his properties, a fact that critics argue helps the businessman-turned-politician boost the bottom line at The Trump Organization. Trump transferred his business holdings to a trust run by his sons before taking office earlier this year, but stopped short of selling off his holdings. 
To date, Trump has spent 39 days at Mar-a-Lago as President, including seven weekends in January, February and March, according to a CNN analysis. Though it has been his most controversial stomping grounds, it has not been his most frequent.
When the weather in South Florida turned hot and muggy over the summer, Trump ventured north to the familiar confines of his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump spent a total of 40 days at the club, including a number of work filled days in August when Trump held meetings with cabinet officials and called world leaders.
Closer to the White House, Trump has visited Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia 23 times and Trump International Hotel just blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue five times so far during his presidency. 
He spent several days at Trump Tower in New York this summer and also stopped by the Trump International Hotel Waikiki during a brief stop in Hawaii on his way to Asia in November.

"MAGA" America

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at

Thick Skin

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Monster Under The Bed

Obama And Clinton Still Top Gallup's Most Admired List

This has to make the narcissist in the White House very unhappy. The Gallup Poll has released their annual survey of the men and women who are most admired by Americans. The poll was done between December 4th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,049 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.

Who were the most admired. It was the same man and woman who have been the winners for several years now -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama topped Trump by 3 points, and Clinton topped Michelle Obama by 2 points. It marks the first time in many years that the sitting president has not finished first, but then most Americans don't admire the current inhabitant of the White House.

Fake Resolutions

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

More Evidence Of The Public's Dislike Of Trump

These charts reflect the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between December 24th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,236 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3 points, and for registered voters is 2.9 points.


Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at

Do Endorsements Matter In A Political Race? (Not Much)

In the last presidential election, Hollywood turned out big for Hillary Clinton -- she still lost. In Alabama, Trump and other Republicans got behind the GOP candidate (Roy Moore) -- he lost to a Democrat in a very red state. It brings up the question -- Do celebrity or political endorsements matter any more?

The Rasmussen Poll surveyed on that question, and what they found was that it doesn't matter very much. Only 26% said such endorsements were important to determine who to vote for, while a whopping 70% said those endorsements were not important to them in determining how to vote.

The Rasmussen Poll was done on December 11th and 12th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

Twitter Propaganda

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at

Research Shows Raising Minimum Wage Does NOT Kill Jobs

(This photo of Nick Hanauer is from the Business Insider.)

Venture Capitalist Nick Hanauer explodes the old myth that raising the minimum wage kills jobs in this op-ed for Business Insider. Here is most of what he writes:

In a first-of-its-kind report, researchers at the National Employment Law Project pore over employment data from every federal increase since the minimum wage was first established, making "simple before-and-after comparisons of job-growth trends 12 months after each minimum-wage increase."
The results were clear. Of the nearly two dozen federal minimum-wage hikes since 1938, total year-over-year employment actually increased 68% of the time.
In those industries most affected by the minimum wage, employment increases were even more common: 73% of the time in the retail sector, 82% in low-wage leisure and hospitality.
"These basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels," the authors write.
In fact, if anything, the data suggest that increases in the federal minimum appeared to encourage job growth and hiring.
Perhaps even more striking, of the only eight times that total or industry-specific employment declined after a minimum-wage increase, the US economy was already in recession (five times), technically just emerging from recession (twice), or about to head into recession (once).
Clearly, this handful of employment downturns would be better explained by the normal business cycle than by the minimum wage.
"As those results mirror the findings of decades of more sophisticated academic research," the authors conclude, "they provide simple confirmation that opponents' perennial predictions of job losses are rooted in ideology, not evidence."
But while there is no evidence that raising the minimum wage is the "risky" "gamble" that doomsayers describe, the devastating economic costs of keeping wages too low are very well documented.
After decades of stagnant wages, 73 million Americans — nearly one quarter of our population — now live in households eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit exclusively available to the working poor.
And according to a 2014 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rising income inequality (and the reduced consumer demand that comes with it) knocked 6% to 9% off US economic growth over the previous two decades.
Wow. If the US economy were 9% bigger than it is today, it would have created about 11 million additional jobs. Imagine how great that would be for both American workers and businesses.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that there's no limit to how high we can raise the minimum wage. But minimum-wage opponents are not haggling over a number. They are not making a nuanced argument that the minimum wage might be bad for some people if it's too high or phased in too fast or if the economy is too weak to absorb the change.
No, their core claim is that the minimum wage always hurts the whole economy — that it will always reduce growth— that it is always a sure-fire "job-killer."
For decades, our minimum-wage debate has been dominated by ideology — the zero-sum claim that if wages go up, employment must inevitably go down — leading even many progressives to believe that the minimum wage is at best a necessary trade-off between fairness and growth.
But 78 years of evidence demonstrates that this old trickle-down model just isn't true. On the contrary: When workers have more money, businesses have more customers and hire more workers. That is the virtuous cycle that has always described the way market economies actually work.
So if you are genuinely worried about killing jobs, our current $7.25-an-hour minimum wage is arguably far riskier than $15.

Exchange Needed

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

Corruption Payback

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Moral High Ground

Why Are Republicans Going To Hurt Their Own Voters ?

The Republicans just passed a tax reform bill that gives the rich and corporations massive tax cuts. Their new tax law also increases the deficit by $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion -- blowing a huge hole in the budget.

But they say they have a way to pay for the new tax cuts for the wealthy. They want to attack Social Security and Medicare (and Medicaid) -- cutting benefits in various ways. These are all programs that benefit American seniors (most of whom live on a fixed income and cannot cover rising costs).

This is not only immoral and mean-spirited, but it makes no sense. Why do I say it makes no sense? Because we are just a few months away from the 2018 congressional elections, and the Republicans are trailing right now among every poll's generic preference. The Republicans need every vote they can get if they want to retain control of Congress -- especially since they are facing an energized Democratic Party.

Seniors (those 65 and above) are generally the largest group in any American election, and they probably will be in 2018 also (now that Baby Boomers are swelling their ranks). And note in the chart above that those seniors are the only age group that says they would prefer Republicans in the congressional races (by 9 points over Democrats).

Does it make any sense at all for Republicans to attack the very popular Social Security and Medicare programs (especially among seniors) when they need the votes of those seniors so badly? Aren't they playing with fire by messing with those programs? If they anger seniors, they will have no chance at all to retain power after the 2018 election.

I think the Republicans are fixing to engage in political suicide.

Only The Rich Are Important To GOP

Political Cartoon is by Ed Wexler at

Public Still Has A Very Low Opinion Of Donald Trump

Trump's job approval numbers remain very low. Part of that is because he has accomplished very little except to overturn some Obama policies by executive order (policies that a majority of Americans liked). But part of it is also that Americans have a very low opinion of Trump, and his qualifications to be president.

Americans think Trump is not honest and trustworthy by a 22 point margin, that he doesn't care about people like them by 1 20 point margin, that he doesn't have the temperament to be president by a 22 point margin, and that he's likely to get us into another war by a 29 point margin.

Those are terrible numbers, and what should worry him (and his GOP cohorts) is that those numbers have remained relatively stable since he was sworn in. The public simply doesn't like or respect Trump.

These charts reflect information in a recent Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between December 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,291 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.