Monday, May 22, 2017

Recipe For Trump


Public Does Not Look Favorably On The GOP Congress




These charts are from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 13th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,298 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.2 points.

It shows that the Republican-dominated Congress may be even more unpopular than Donald Trump. Their job approval rating is only 11% while 55% disapprove -- a huge gap of 44 points. And it is Republicans who are getting most of the blame for the inability of Congress to accomplish anything. About 45% blame the Republicans, while only 15% blame the Democrats -- a gap of 30 points.

If the election was held today for Congress, about 40% would vote Democratic and 33% would vote Republican -- a significant 7 point gap. The GOP has more than a year to turn things around, but if they continue down their current path, the 2018 election could turn out very badly for them.

Big Baby

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

Trump Still Unable To Improve His Job Approval Rating



These are the two latest polls on the job approval of Donald Trump. He still has a very poor rating -- 39% to 51% in one poll, and 39% to 53% in the other poll. He seems incapable of improving his numbers -- probably because he keeps shooting himself in the foot with his statements and tweets.

The top chart is from the Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 13th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,298 registered voters), with a 3.2 point margin of error.

The bottom chart is from the Monmouth University Poll -- done between May 13th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,002 adults, with a 3.1 point margin of error.

In Trouble

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in the Augusta Chronicle.

Confidence In American Institutions Is Very Low


Chart shows the information contained in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 13th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,298 registered voters), with a 3.2 point margin of error. It shows the percentage of the public that say they have a great deal or a lot of confidence in these American institutions. These are not great numbers, and show a lack of trust by the public in most of our institutions.

Fingers Crossed

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

Corporations Do NOT Need A Tax Cut


From Josh Bivins at the Economic Policy Institute:

It is often claimed that American corporate tax rates are much-higher than our international peers, and that this has harmed U.S. corporations’ competitiveness. However, these claims are both factually incorrect and economically meaningless. On the facts, while the statutory corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, after loopholes and deductions, the effective tax rate that corporations pay is only 14 percent.  On the economics, even if U.S. corporations werepaying higher taxes than their international peers, cutting these rates will do nothing to help the vast majority of American families, but will exacerbate inequality by boosting the post-tax incomes of owners and managers of corporations.

To help most American families, corporate tax proposals should focus on increasing, not decreasing, the taxes paid by corporations. The corporate tax system is so riddled with loopholes that it raises far too little revenue and doesn’t contribute enough to the need of the federal government to honor existing commitments to social insurance, income support, and public investment. If policymakers are going to push corporate “tax reform,” they should focus on requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.
For more on how cutting corporate taxes will hurt American families, read EPI’s recent research.

Jeff Session's America

Political cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson at philly.com.

Potential Treason


Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Commandment


Biblical Literalism Is At A Record Low In The U.S.




The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. They show that a record low percentage of Americans view the bible as the literal word of god -- dropping from 38% in 1976 to only 24% currently. Also at a record level (a record high) is the percentage who believe the bible is just a book of fables written by men -- climbing from 13% in 1976 to 26% currently. It marks the first time in the Gallup Poll where the number saying it's a book of fables is larger than the number saying it's the literal word of god. Note that the belief in literalism has dropped in every gender, age, and religious group.

The latest Gallup Poll on this subject was done between May 3rd and 7th of a random national sample of 1,011 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.

Obstructing Justice

Political cartoon is by Sabir Nazar at cagle.com.

White Racism Dropped Slightly During Obama Administration



The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. Here is Gallup's explanation of how they reached the numbers displayed in their charts:

Our review found eight questions that were asked in 2004 and 2007 -- before Obama -- and then again in 2015 and 2016 -- during the Obama years. These questions, combined, provide what we believe is a reasonable measure of racial resentment. Analyzing responses from the two earlier surveys and comparing those with the responses from the two later surveys provides the needed divide between pre-Obama and Obama-era attitudes.
The questions are as follows:
  1. In general, do you think that blacks have as good a chance as whites in your community to get any kind of job for which they are qualified, or don't you think they have as good a chance?
  2. In general, do you think that black children have as good a chance as white children in your community to get a good education, or don't you think they have as good a chance?
  3. Again, in general, do you think that blacks have as good a chance as whites in your community to get any housing they can afford, or don't you think they have as good a chance?
  4. Just your impression, are blacks in your community treated less fairly than whites in the following situations?
    • On the job/At work
    • In neighborhood shops
    • In stores downtown/In the shopping mall
    • In restaurants/bars/theaters/other entertainment places
    • In dealing with the police, such as traffic incidents
We looked only at respondents who identified their race as white. The racially resentful answer to each question is the one where the respondent does not believe blacks are treated unfairly and/or that they do have equal opportunities. The interpretation of these responses as racially resentful derives from other scholarly research in this area. Whites who say that blacks have as good a chance as whites to get jobs, schooling and housing, and who think blacks are treated just as fairly as whites across the list of five situations are racially unsympathetic. If racial resentment rose during the Obama years, the assumption is that whites would have become less sympathetic about blacks' situation in American society -- or, in other words, more racially resentful.
The analysis uses the mean of the eight items to construct a racial resentment scale that gives a score to each respondent. The top overall score of "1" means the person answered in the unsympathetic, resentful direction on all eight questions, and "0" means they answered all eight in the other direction.
The charts show that the Obama administration did have an effect on racism among whites in this country. Racism dropped among whites in the general population, among Independents, and among Democrats. The only group that did not show a drop in racist attitudes was Republicans.
It is good that racism dropped, but it didn't drop nearly enough. In a country that claims to offer equal rights and opportunity to all races and ethnicities, the racist index show be close to 0.0. But it isn't. In fact, it is above 0.5 for all groups (including Democrats). 
That shows that racism is still a big problem in the United States -- and any claim to the contrary is delusional.

Witch Hunt

Political cartoon is by Randy Bush in the Pittsburg Tribune-Review.

Trump Is Searching For Ways To Block The Special Counsel

When the Special Coulee was appointed to investigate the Trump campaign (and administration) ties to Russia, Trump tried to play it off as of no concern to him. That is just not true. That appointment scares the hell out of Trump, and he is desperately searching for ways to impede the Special Counsel's investigation.

The following is part of a very revealing article by Julia Edwards Ainsley at Reuters.com:

The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russia, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday.
Trump has said that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation "hurts our country terribly." 
Within hours of Mueller's appointment on Wednesday, the White House began reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations, which restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm’s clients for one year after their hiring, the sources said. 
An executive order signed by Trump in January extended that period to two years.
Mueller's former law firm, WilmerHale, represents Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who met with a Russian bank executive in December, and the president's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is a subject of a federal investigation.
Legal experts said the ethics rule can be waived by the Justice Department, which appointed Mueller. He did not represent Kushner or Manafort directly at his former law firm.
If the department did not grant a waiver, Mueller would be barred from investigating Kushner or Manafort, and this could greatly diminish the scope of the probe, experts said.
The Justice Department is already reviewing Mueller's background as well as any potential conflicts of interest, said department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
Even if the Justice Department granted a waiver, the White House would consider using the ethics rule to create doubt about Mueller's ability to do his job fairly, the sources said. Administration legal advisers have been asked to determine if there is a basis for this. 
Under this strategy, the sources said the administration would raise the issue in press conferences and public statements.
Moreover, the White House has not ruled out the possibility of using the rule to challenge Mueller’s findings in court, should the investigation lead to prosecution. 

But the administration is now mainly focused on placing a cloud over his reputation for independence, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

Blaming Obama

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

Burden Of Proof


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Why Not In The U.S. ?


Picking Joe Lieberman As FBI Director Would Show A Serious Lack Of Judgement (And Competence) By Trump

(This photo, from Politico, is of Joe Lieberman appearing at the 2008 Republican National Convention with Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham.)

Donald Trump showed a serious lack of judgement in firing James Comes as FBI Director. While he just did it to impede the FBI's investigation into his administration regarding ties to Russia (which he as much as admitted both to NBC's Lester Holt and to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador), he actually thought Democrats would see it as a bipartisan reaching out to them.

He was shocked when both congressional Democrats and rank-and-file Democrats across the nation blasted the Comey firing. Democrats, while they were not happy with Comey, knew he wasn't fired because of that. They understood it was just an effort by Trump to impede the investigation of him and his aides -- and they didn't like it a bit. It showed that Trump has a fundamental lack of political judgement, and that calls into question his competence to serve as president.

Now he seems poised to repeat that same lack of judgement. He will soon pick Comey's replacement as FBI Director. And the strong rumor from White House sources is that the pick will be former senator Joe Lieberman.

Once again, he seems to think this would be a choice that would please Democrats (since Lieberman was elected to the Senate as a Democrat), and be viewed as a bipartisan choice. He is WRONG!

Joe Lieberman is not respected within the Democratic Party. In fact, he is almost universally despised by most Democrats. They remember that as a senator he could not be depended upon to vote to uphold Democratic Party ideals and beliefs. And they remember him as a turncoat, who appeared at the 2008 Republican National Convention to support John McCain -- showing a lack of respect for the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.

What would Democrats really want? They want the new FBI Director to be a career law enforcement person, who has not shown a preference for either political party. Democrats would view that kind of pick as bipartisan. They don't want any politician (of either party) chosen.

If Trump chooses Lieberman, it will be another serious lapse of judgement -- and it will further call into question his competence to be president.

Travel Ban

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Most American Adults Worry About Trump's Mental Health



The charts above were made using information in a new SurveyUSA Poll -- done on May 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults.

The top chart shows that only 26% of Americans think Trump sees the world as it is, while a majority of 56% think Trump loses touch with reality at times. And that is the opinion generally across all gender, age, and racial/ethnic lines.

The second chart gets a bit more specific -- asking respondents their opinion of Trump's mental health. About 42% say his mental health is good (24%) or excellent (18%), while a majority of 51% say his mental health is only fair (18%) or poor (33%).

Those are some terrible numbers, especially for a president who has been in office less than 6 months. Most seem to think we have elected a nut. As the chart below shows, they also don't think he can be trusted to keep the nation's most sensitive secrets. That's the opinion of 52% of Americans, while only 33% think he can be trusted with those secrets.


Witch Hunt ?

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

Trump's Average Job Approval Is At A Record Low



These two charts are from RealClearPolitics. The top chart shows all of the most recent polls on Donald Trump's job approval. It also gives the average of all those polls. The bottom chart shows that job approval average since Trump was sworn in.

Note that Trump's current job approval is at a record low of 39.7%, and his job disapproval is at a record high of 54.7%.

This is tearing Trump up, since his narcissism demands that he be viewed as popular and doing a great job. Unfortunately, for him, he is presiding over a White House in chaos -- and he keeps shooting himself in the foot with his tweets and statements. In addition, he continues to push an agenda that most Americans don't like -- and he continues to lie about that agenda (and nearly everything else).

If this continues (and there's no reason to believe it won't), Trump could well leave office as the most unpopular president in modern times -- making even Bush II and Nixon look good by comparison.

Allowing Foreign Thugs

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

We Were Warned About Trump's Dangerous Incompetence

(Caricature of Donald Trump is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

The following is most of an excellent post is by Lindsay Gibbs at Think Progress:

It is appropriate to be appalled at the current state of our government. But none of us should be particularly shocked. We were warned, time and time again, by people who know Trump well and who know the role of the presidency well, that the former was in no way fit to fill the latter.
And nobody warned us about the danger Trump posed to our nation more forcefully or with more prescience than Hillary Clinton.
“[A]s Michelle Obama has said, the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she said in Raleigh, North Carolina days before the election. “And I think it’s fair to say that my opponent has already revealed who he is.”
Clinton knew then that Trump’s allegiance to Putin and Russia was not only problematic, but dangerous.
“It is pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America. That you encouraged espionage against our people. That you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do,” she said during the third presidential debate.
“[Trump] would rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”
The day after Trump fired Comey, he met with Russian officials in the White House and reportedly divulged classified information about ISIS that had been gleaned from allies, a move that put American sources in jeopardy and infuriated allies.
“He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends — including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope,” Clinton said last October.
“The United States has kept the peace through our alliances. Donald wants to tear up our alliances.”
Clinton told us that other foreign leaders were bothered by Trump’s off-the-cuff rhetoric — “words are important,” she said during the first debate, “especially when you’re president” — and discussed how his volatile and victim-oriented temperament would be a threat to democracy.
“You know, every time Donald thinks things aren’t going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him,” Clinton said. “This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works.”
“He is not just unprepared — he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility,” Clinton said. “Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.”
. . . at the end of the day, the only thing comforting about any of this is how predictable it all really was.
“Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself — that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere,” Clinton said in a speech about the alt-right and Russian influence on Trump’s campaign last August.
“Because after all, it’s hard to believe anyone — let alone a nominee for president — could really believe all the things he says. But the hard truth is, there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it.
“Maya Angelou, a great American whom I admire very much, she once said: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ Well, throughout his career and this campaign, Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is. We should believe him.”
She’s right. We really, really should have.

Amateurs

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

Nationalism Vs. Patriotism


Friday, May 19, 2017

A Corrupt Liar


No Collusion? How Can That Be?

(Cartoon image is by Bill Day at cagle.com.)

Trump said again yesterday that there was "no collusion" with Russian officials. How can that be? The Associated Press is reporting that in the last 7 months of the campaign, Trump aides had at least 18 meetings with or calls to Russian officials -- and that doesn't count Flynn's meetings with the Russian ambassador.

That's an extraordinary number of meetings -- and that's just the ones that have been revealed. The number could actually be higher. What was discussed in these meetings -- the weather? Were they trading recipes? Of course not.

There are two things that could have been discussed. One, the Russian hacking and interference with the 2016 election. That would be collusion. Two, the foreign policy between the U.S. and Russia -- which would be just as bad, since it's against the law (only the president can discuss U.S. foreign policy with the officials of a foreign government -- friendly or otherwise).

There was either collusion or criminality, or both (which I personally suspect).

Whiner-In-Chief

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

Democrats Set New Record In Off-Year Election Fundraising

(This image of the Democratic Party donkey is by DonkeyHotey.)

The following is from an NBC News article by Alex Seitz-Wald:

House Democrats have already raised more money in online contributions this year ahead of the midterms than they did during all of 2015, the most recently comparable year, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee official told NBC News. 
The unusual fundraising haul is the latest sign that President Donald Trump is motivating Democrats in extraordinary ways as the party looks to win back the 24 seats it needs to retake the House of Representatives in next year's midterm elections and put Rep. Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker's chair. 
The DCCC raised $20 million in online contributions since the start of the year from contributions averaging just $18, according to the group, beating the $19.7 million the committee raised during 2015, the last off-year ahead of an election year. 
The campaign arm of House Democrats said more than 2.2 million people joined the committee's grassroots email lists since the beginning of January, including 156,00 new donors.

Orange Noser

Political Cartoon is by Mike Konopacki at solidarity.com.

An Example Of Competence And Morality In Impeachment


As talk about the possible impeachment of Donald Trump heats up, I thought it would be instructive to look at an example of how the matter should be handled (in a competent and moral manner). To that end, I bring you the speech by Barbara Jordan on July 25, 1974 -- in the hope that current congressional members on both sides of the aisle can conduct themselves half as well. Rep. Jordan said:

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, “We, the people.” It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth of September 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.”  I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake.  But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”
Today, I am an inquisitor; I believe hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now.  My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total.  I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.
…The subject of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men.  That is what we are talking about.  In other words, the jurisdiction comes from the abuse or violation of some public trust.  It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution, for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office.
The Constitution doesn’t say that.  The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the Executive.  In establishing the division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute.  They did not make the accusers and the judges the same person.
We know the nature of impeachment.  We have been talking about it awhile now.  It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account.  It is designed to “bridle” the Executive if he engages in excesses.  It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men.  The framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the Executive.  The nature of impeachment is a narrowly channeled exception to the separation of powers maxim; the federal convention of 1787 said that.  It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term, “maladministration.”  “It is to be used only for great misdemeanors,” so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention.  And in the Virginia ratification convention:  “We need one branch to check the others.”
The North Carolina ratification convention:  “No one need to be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity.
“Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65.  “And to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.”  I do not mean political parties in that sense.
The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term, “high crime and misdemeanors.”
Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that “nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness.  Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can.”
Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons.  Congress has a lot to do:  Appropriations, tax reform, health insurance, campaign finance reform, housing, environmental protection, energy sufficiency, mass transportation.  Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems.  So today we are not being petty.  We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.
This morning, in a discussion of the evidence, we were told that the evidence which purports to support the allegations of misuse of the CIA by the President is thin.  We are told that that evidence is insufficient.  What that recital of the evidence this morning did not include is what the President did know on June 23, 1972.  The President did know that it was Republican money, that it was money from the Committee for the Re-election of the President, which was found in the possession of one of the burglars arrested on June 17.
What the President did know on June 23 was the prior activities of E.  Howard Hunt, which included his participation in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, which included Howard Hunt’s participation in the Dita Beard ITT affair, which included Howard Hunt’s fabrication of cables designed to discredit the Kennedy Administration.
We were further cautioned today that perhaps these proceedings ought to be delayed because certainly there would be new evidence forthcoming from the President of the United States.  There has not even been an obfuscated indication that this committee would receive any additional materials from the President.  The committee subpoena is outstanding and if the President wants to supply that material, the committee sits here. The fact is that on yesterday, the American people waited with great anxiety for eight hours, not knowing whether their President would obey an order of the Supreme Court of the United States.
At this point, I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the President’s actions.
Impeachment criteria:  James Madison, from the Virginia ratification convention.  “If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there is grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached.”
We have heard time and time again that the evidence reflects payment to the defendants of money.  The President had knowledge that these funds were being paid and that these were funds collected for the 1972 presidential campaign.  We know that the President met with Mr. Henry Petersen twenty-seven times to discuss matters related to Watergate, and immediately thereafter met with the very persons who were implicated in the information Mr. Petersen was receiving and transmitting to the President.  The words are, “If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached.”
Justice Story:  “Impeachment is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations.”
We know about the Houston plan.  We know about the break-in of the psychiatrist’s office.  We know that there was absolute, complete direction in August 1971 when the President instructed Ehrilichman to “do whatever is necessary.”  This instruction led to a surreptitious entry into Dr.  Fielding’s office.  “Protect their rights.”  “Rescue their liberties from violation.”
The South Carolina ratification convention impeachment criteria:  Those are impeachable “who behave amiss or betray their public trust.”
Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time, the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors.  Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case which the evidence will show he knew to be false.  These assertions, false assertions; impeachable, those who misbehave.  Those who “behave amiss or betray their public trust.”
James Madison, again at the constitutional convention:  “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”
The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregarded the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, concealed surreptitious entry, attempted to compromise a federal judge while publicly displaying his cooperation with the process of criminal justice.  “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”
If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that eighteenth century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth century paper shredder.
Has the President committed offenses and planned and directed and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate?  This is the question.  We know that.  We know the question.
We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question.
It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

Subtle Racism

Political Cartoon is by Alexandra Dal at upworthy.com.

Separation = Violence


Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's Not By Accident


A Special Prosecutor Has Been Appointed

The public pressure has worked. The Justice Department (in a move sure to enrage Trump) has appointed a special prosecutor -- and he seems to be a pretty good one.

That special prosecutor is Robert Mueller -- who served for 12 years as the nation's 6 FBI Director. He was confirmed for that job on a 94 - 0 Senate vote, and served under both President Bush and President Obama. He's not a politician, but a career law enforcement guy -- having also served as U.S. Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Attorney (in both California and Massachusetts), and U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.

This will probably delay the results of the investigation, but that's not all bad. At least we'll know that a real investigation was done (instead of a GOP-led congressional whitewash). And the investigation will probably be going strong as the 2018 election approaches.

I'm sure we'll hear the Republicans whine that everyone needs to shut up now and let the investigation proceed. That will not happen. It didn't happen when Nixon was being investigated, and it won't happen now. The media will continue to report on every new detail, and that's also a good thing -- since the people have the right to know what Trump and his aides did.

PREZ Dispenser

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

CRS Says Tax Cuts For Rich Will Not Grow The Economy



Donald Trump has said he will spur enormous growth of the U.S. economy (GDP) and create a massive number of new jobs. Sadly though, his plan to do that will NOT accomplish that goal. His plan is to give the rich (and the corporations) a massive tax cut.

As I have said many times on this blog, tax cuts for the rich do not produce economic growth. In fact, the size of the top tax rate has nothing to do with GDP growth. The only thing a tax cut for the rich will do is to significantly increase the wealth/income gap between the rich and the rest of America (which is already at a pre-Depression 1920's level) -- and that's not good.

I'm not alone in this belief. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has done a study on taxes and economic growth -- and they concluded that the two are not related. Here is the conclusion from the CRS report:


The top income tax rates have changed considerably since the end of World War II. Throughout the late-1940s and 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was typically above 90%; today it is 35%. Additionally, the top capital gains tax rate was 25% in the 1950s and 1960s, 35% in the 1970s; today it is 15%. The average tax rate faced by the top 0.01% of taxpayers was above 40% until the mid-1980s; today it is below 25%. Tax rates affecting taxpayers at the top of the income distribution are currently at their lowest levels since the end of the second World War.

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities. 

If Trump was serious about spurring economic growth and creating jobs, there is a much simpler solution that would accomplish that -- raise the minimum wage to a livable level. That would not only raise the wages of more than 20% of workers, but would put upward pressure on all worker wages. It would result in a massive amount of new spending, which would grow the economy (GDP) and create many new jobs.

Of course the Republicans won't do that. Trump and the congressional Republicans believe wages are too high. They want to leave the minimum wage at its current inadequate level, or abolish it entirely. They are not serious about creating jobs. They just want to give the rich tax breaks -- and their lie about it producing jobs is an effort to fool the public and allow them to cut taxes for the rich.