Tuesday, February 28, 2017



Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at miltpriggee.com.

Class Membership As Self-Identified By Americans

I just thought this from the Gallup Poll was interesting. Gallup says:

Gallup has, for a number of years, asked Americans to place themselves -- without any guidance -- into five social classes: upper, upper-middle, middle, working and lower. These five class labels are representative of the general approach used in popular language and by researchers. Gallup's last analysis showed that 3% of Americans identified themselves as upper class, 15% as upper-middle class, 43% as middle class, 30% as working class and 8% as lower class -- with noted changes in these self-categorizations over time. . . .

As we would expect, income is a powerful determinant of the social class into which people place themselves, as is, to a lesser degree, education. . . .

Americans' political party identification, ideology, marital status and gender make no difference in how they define themselves, once the other variables are controlled for.


Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.

An Unintended Consequence Of Trump's Travel Ban

(Cartoon image is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.)

Donald Trump was surprised at the negative reaction to his executive orders banning muslims from entering this country. Poll after poll showed that a majority of Americans opposed the ban, and a federal judge stopped the ban. Trump is now trying to revise those executive orders to meet constitutional requirements -- but he should consider just dropping this terribly bigoted move.

It isn't just the political and legal ramifications that should make him stop (although that should be enough). There is another unintended consequence that was caused by the ban. Travel to the United States by foreigners has dropped significantly -- and it's not just travel from muslim countries. Travel is down from all countries.

On the web, searches for flights to the U.S. have dropped by 17%. And Travel Weekly magazine says foreign tourism is down already by about 6.8%. The Global Business Travel Association says that in just one week since the ban business travel had declined by $185 million.

The travel industry is calling this drop the "Trump slump", and they are not happy about it. If Trump persists in this bigoted attempt to ban muslims, this country could lose billions of dollars in businesses that depend on travel -- and that could mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Actions have consequences, and actions by the White House have consequences that affect the entire country. It's time Trump realized that, and reined in his bigotry for the good of the country. He had claimed he wanted to be a jobs president, but so far his actions seem destined to cost jobs.

Down The Hole

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at cagle.com.

Americans Don't Trust Trump To Deal With Russia

Donald Trump may think his Russian problems are behind him, especially with congressional members of Congress trying to block any investigations of improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But he is wrong.

The truth is that only 39% of Americans are confident in Trump's ability to deal with Russia, while about half (49%) say they are not confident at all. That's because while 58% consider Russia to be an enemy (and only16% consider Russia a friend), they don't think Trump has the same belief. About 50% think Trump considers Russia to be a friend, while only 22% think he considers it to be an enemy.

A whopping majority of 73% also think the contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials was inappropriate, while only 27% say it was appropriate. And a 63% majority still want Congress to investigate those inappropriate contacts, while only 37% wants Congress not to investigate.

Those numbers show us that Trump's Russia problem is not going away.

The charts in the post were made using information in a recent Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between February 18th and 22nd of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Luojie in the China Daily.

Trump's War On The Media Is Dangerous To Democracy

(Cartoon image is by Rick McKee in the Augusta Chronicle.)

The narcissist in the White House has demonstrated his thin skin by declaring war on any media that has called him out on his lies. He has labeled them as "fake news" and even barred some of the media from the latest White House press conference.

This is unacceptable, and poses a danger to our democracy. Democracy relies on a free press with access to all aspects of government -- especially the White House. Fortunately, this attack on our free press is being opposed by media on both sides of the political spectrum. This is illustrated by the editorials below. The first is by legendary journalist Dan Rather, and the second is by the traditionally conservative editorial board of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

From Dan Rather:

The time for normalizing, dissembling, and explaining away Donald Trump has long since passed. The barring of respected journalistic outlets from the White House briefing is so far beyond the norms and traditions that have governed this republic for generations, that they must be seen as a real and present threat to our democracy. These are the dangers presidents are supposed to protect against, not create.
For all who excused Mr. Trump's rhetoric in the campaign as just talk, the reckoning has come. I hope it isn't true, but I fear Mr. Trump is nearing or perhaps already beyond any hope of redemption. And now the question is will enough pressure be turned to all those who enable his antics with their tacit encouragement. There has been a wall of unbending support from virtually every Republican in Congress, and even some Democrats. Among many people, this will be seen as anything approaching acceptable. And mind you, talk is cheap. No one needs to hear how you don't agree with the President. What are you going to do about it? Do you maintain that an Administration that seeks to subvert the protections of our Constitution is fit to rule unchecked? Or fit to rule at all?
This is an emergency that can no longer be placed solely at the feet of President Trump, or even the Trump Administration. This is a moment of judgement for everyone who willingly remains silent. It is gut check time, for those in a position of power, and for the nation.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

We find what happened at the White House Friday an alarming threat to American democracy, and we believe it should worry you as much as it worries us.
President Donald Trump has lashed out against national news media for months, calling them dishonest and their news fake. The trajectory of his insults reached a new height this past week when he referred to the media as “the enemy of the American people.”
There’s no benefit in getting mad at someone who calls you names. 
In Trump’s case, it is easy to see this as a political strategy: He discredits the news media broadly and certain news organizations specifically to build distrust among the American people and make them slower to believe the next story about something wrong within the Trump administration.
No news organization has ever been perfect. We all make mistakes, some of them very serious. To maintain credibility, we must acknowledge our every mistake and then work hard to regain public trust.
But what the Trump administration did Friday went beyond name-calling, even beyond politics.
Instead of its regular afternoon briefing, the White House press office convened a meeting of reporters in press secretary Sean Spicer’s office and barred representatives of certain disfavored news organizations — The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Buzzfeed and others — from attending.
It’s not unusual for access to certain events to be limited to only a small group of reporters, called a pool, who then pass on information to other organizations in the press room. That’s simply crowd management.
Friday’s meeting pool was greatly expanded to include favored organizations — Breitbart News (Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s alma mater), The Washington Times, One America News Network and others.
Of the major television news outlets, only CNN was blocked. CNN most recently encountered Trump’s ire by reporting that FBI officials declined a White House request to discredit reports of contacts between Trump associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.
Freedom and democracy require an informed public. 
This White House act was not part of the normal and healthy adversarial relationship between news media and government officials. It was a salvo of censorship, meant to show that any organization that displeases Trump with the news they produce will be punished.
It was a threat to us all.

Read more her
e: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article134894899.html#storylink=cpy


Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Today's GOP

Monday, February 27, 2017

On The Media

Pissing On Democracy

Political Cartoon is by Randy Bush in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Congratulations To New DNC Chairman Tom Perez

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) finally has a new chairman. On Saturday, the DNC members elected Tom Perez (pictured) to lead them. It took two ballots between the leading candidates -- Tom Perez and Keith Ellison. On the second ballot, Perez received 235 votes (with 218 being required) and Ellison received 200 votes.

Perez is a solid liberal/progressive Democrat, with a long career in government service. He served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 2009 to 2013, and as Secretary of Labor from 2013 to 2017.

In an effort to establish party unity, Perez's first action as DNC chair was to appoint Keith Ellison as his deputy chair.

Ellison's candidacy had been pushed by the Bernie Sanders wing of the party (even though Sanders still says he is not a Democrat). Will the Bernie-crats accept Perez as the party leader? I hope so. It's time for Democrats to come together to oppose Trump and his GOP Congress before they do serious damage to this country. We simply can't afford to further extend this party squabble.

New Planets Meet Earth

Political Cartoon is by Osama Hajjaj at cagle.com.

Father Of Slain Navy SEAL Refused To Meet With Trump

(Photo of Bill Owns holding a picture of his son Ryan is from The Miami Herald.)

Donald Trump ordered an attack by Navy SEAL's in Yemen after being president only a few days. He did this even though military officials counseled against it. The he didn't even bother to go to the Situation Room in the White House when that raid was conducted, preferring instead to sleep. That raid went wrong. A Navy SEAL (William "Ryan" Owens) was killed along with many innocent civilians -- and the target of the raid was not apprehended or killed. Although the White House labeled the raid a success, it was really a monumental failure.

When the body of the slain SEAL was returned to Dover Air Force Base, His father (Bill Owner) was informed that Trump would be there and wanted to meet with the family. Mr. Owns refused, saying:

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him. I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html#storylink=cpy
Owens told The Miami Herald that he had been upset at the very disrespectful treatment Trump had given another Gold Star family during the presidential campaign (Khizr and Ghazala Khan). While Trump spoke with some other family members, Owens and his wife sat in another room.

Owens is also offended by the White House trying to use his son to prevent an investigation of the ill-fated Yemen raid. The White House has said an investigation would dishonor the memory of the slain SEAL. Owens does not agree. He says:

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation. I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html#storylink=cpy

Paid To Protest ?

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

More Polls Highlight Public Disapproval Of Trump

The polls just keep coming, and they all reflect the same thing -- that the American public doesn't like Donald Trump very much, and they don't approve of the job he is doing. These new polls are:

The Public Policy Polling survey -- done on February 21st and 22nd of a random national sample of 941 registered voters, with a 3.2 point margin of error.

The NBC News / Wall Street Journal Poll -- done between February 18th and 22nd of a random national sample of 1,000 adults (including 946 registered voters), and has a 3.1 point margin of error.

Refusing To Listen

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.

NAFTA Did Hurt U.S. Workers - But Trump Won't Fix That

(Free trade cartoon is by Khalil Bendib at bendib.com.)

From the Economic Policy Institute. It helps you understand why Donald Trump won't actually fix the real problems with NAFTA -- its provisions that actually hurt workers in both the United States and Mexico. It was written by Jeff Faux. Here is part of his excellent article:

Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate or tear-up the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement was a major reason why he won the support of working class voters in the Midwestern states that were crucial to his election. . . .

Will he deliver on this pledge? No. But the reason is not, as the conventional economic wisdom has it, because outsourcing work to low-wage countries is the inevitable result of immutable global forces that no president can reverse. The problem for American workers is not international trade, per se. America has been a trading nation since its beginning. The problem is, rather, the radical new rules for trade imposed by NAFTA—and copied in the myriad trade deals signed by the US ever since—that shifted the benefits of expanding trade to investors and the costs to workers.

Trump is right that the 1994 agreement with Mexico and Canada displaced US jobs—some 850,000, most of which were in manufacturing. But he is wrong in his claim that American workers lost out to Mexican workers because US negotiators were outsmarted. The interests of workers were never a priority for either American or Mexican negotiators.

NAFTA was the first important trade agreement that reflected the dramatic realignment of economic class interests across national borders. The globalization of corporate finance, production, and marketing has disconnected the interests of investors and workers throughout the world. As Jorge Castañeda, who later became Mexico’s foreign minister, observed in his book The Mexican Shock, NAFTA was not a deal between competing national interests. It was “an agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico and Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.”

If NAFTA had been just a “free-trade” accord, it could have been written on a few pages. Instead, it was more than a thousand pages of complex rules that gave corporate investors—who dominated all sides of the bargaining table—privileged access to the US market for goods produced in Mexico where wages are low and regulations weak. The agreement also contained an array of extraordinary protections for investors, including secret dispute settlement panels with the power to override national labor and environmental regulations deemed to threaten profits. US employers’ ability to shift, and threaten to shift, production to Mexico severely undercut the bargaining power of their American workers.

As a result of NAFTA, Mexican workers gained industrial jobs. In the auto industry, for example, employment in Mexico grew 620,000 between 1999 and 2016, while the US lost 360,000 jobs. Yet Mexican wages and working conditions remained suppressed. Although they produce for the same market, workers in the Mexican auto parts industry make 12% of the wages of US auto parts workers. Mexico’s labor costs, meanwhile, are now 40% below China’s, and its 2014 poverty rate was higher than it was when NAFTA began 20 years earlier. The massive surge in illegal immigration from Mexico to the US in the two decades after NAFTA was evidence of the failure of NAFTA to bring its promised prosperity and opportunity to the majority of that country’s workers.

In both the US and Mexico, the gap between worker productivity and worker compensation widened relentlessly. Mexican manufacturing workers productivity rose 80% between 1994 and 2011, while their real wages actually fell about 20%—pulling down US wages, which rose less than half of the gain in worker productivity. The result was an upward redistribution of income from labor to capital in both countries. . . .

For Trump to live up to his promise, he would need to negotiate a rebalanced agreement—one with enforceable labor standards and protections equaling those given to investors—so that workers’ wages on both sides of the border could once again rise with their productivity.

Donald Trump will not do this. He and the Republican-led US Congress are dedicated to the de-regulation, not re-regulation, of labor markets. Trump’s economic advisers come from the same pool of financial interests that negotiated NAFTA for their own benefit 25 years ago. The current Mexican policy elite—whose own increased wealth also depends on low-wage labor—shares their perspective. . . .

Trump will be forced to re-negotiate NAFTA in a way that appears to change the agreement without actually changing the way it undercuts his supporters’ wages and living standards. . . .

So the most likely outcome is a modestly revised NAFTA that: 1) Trump can boast fulfills his pledge 2) Peña Nieto can use to claim that he stood up to the bullying gringo 3) doesn’t threaten the low-wage strategy for both countries that NAFTA represents.

Revisions might include weakening NAFTA’s dispute settlement courts, raising the minimum required North American content for duty-free goods, and reducing the obstacles to cross-border trade for small businesses on both sides of the border.

Changes like this could marginally improve the agreement, and would be acceptable to the Canadians, who have been told by Trump that he is not going after them. But from the point of view of workers in the American industrial states who voted for Trump, the new NAFTA is likely to be little different from of the old one. The low-wage strategy underlying NAFTA that keeps their jobs drifting south and US and Mexican workers’ pay below their productivity will continue.

But you can bet that Trump will assure them that it is the greatest trade deal the world has ever seen.

GOP Jackpot

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at cagle.com.

A Platform Based On Fear

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Religious Liberty

Caught It

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

The U.S. Has A Double Standard About Religious Violence

The charts above are from the Public Religion Research Institute. They show that Americans have a definite double standard when it comes to religious violence. When a christian commits violence, most are quick to say he/she wasn't really a christian. But they aren't nearly as forgiving for a muslim committing violence.

Evangelical christians have the biggest double standard, but all groups show that same double standard -- including sadly, Democrats and the religiously unaffiliated (groups that should know better).

What makes this even crazier is that Americans are far more likely to be harmed or killed by a christian terrorist than a muslim terrorist.

"Lady" Tyranny

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Trump Is Losing His War Against The Mainstream Media

(Cartoon image is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.)

If our narcissist-in-chief had his way, every newspaper in the country would resemble the one in the cartoon above. Trump simply cannot stand to be criticized in any way, and he particularly doesn't like being called out on his many lies. In an effort to prevent that, he has declared war on the mainstream media -- calling them "enemies of the people" and saying they give only "fake news".

That is ludicrous coming from the least truthful president we've ever had, but it's Trump's way. He would rather lie and attack than admit the truth about himself or his policies. And he's not just attacking the media with words. On Friday, the White House held an impromptu press conference -- and excluded media that Trump doesn't like (because they aren't afraid to tell the truth about him). Among the media excluded from the press conference were CNN, NY Times, LA Times, Politico, Buzzfeed, BBC, and the Guardian.

While excluding those credible news organizations, some media that specializes in right-wing propaganda lies were invited to participate -- like Breitbart, Washington Times, and One America News.

This needs to stop. In a democracy, the news media must have access to the president (and the government in general). A government that censors or shuts itself off from the press will soon cease to be a democracy. Those are actions much more closely associated with tyrannical forms of government.

Fortunately, at least for now, Trump is losing his war against the media. As the chart below shows, the public believes the mainstream media (including some banned from the press conference) are more credible than Trump is. It also shows (in the last chart) that a majority of Americans trust CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and the NY Times -- while less than a majority trusts Fox, and only a very tiny percentage trust right-wing propaganda source like Breitbart, Daily Caller, and Info Wars.

The charts were made from information in a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done on February 21st and 22nd of a random national sample of 941 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.2 points.

Too Cowardly

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

CPAC Convention Gets Punked

(The top photo is from Raw Story and the other is from Daily Kos.)

The Conservative Political Action Conference (commonly called CPAC) held its annual convention this weekend. It is a gathering of the most radical right-wing nuts that America has to offer, and needless to say, there were a lot of trumpistas in the crowd.

Now these aren't the brightest bulbs on the American political tree, and an anti-Trump activist decided to take advantage of that. He passed out small red, white, and blue flags with Trump's name on them to the conference attendees right before Trump was to address the crowd. And the attendees were thrilled to get the free flags to wave at the convention -- and as the top photo shows, they happily waved them.

But some of the CPAC organizers were a bit smarter than most, and they were aghast to look out and see hundreds of conservatives waving Russian flags. That's right -- Russian flags with Trump's name on them. It was a nightmare scenario for an ultra-right-wing group, and they quickly sent people out into the audience to confiscate the offending flags. But it was too late to keep the pictures out of the media.

They had been PUNKED!

The person who handed out the flags to eager conference-goers was Anti-Trump activist Ryan Clayton. Clayton said:

“Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the U.S. Constitution and the American people. That’s why Putin picked him for president, because he knows the Trump regime is good for Russian interests, not the American people. Trump is Putin’s puppet, a traitor to the United States, and must be impeached immediately.”

I think he got his point across beautifully.

Counting Sheep

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

The Seven Signs That You're Ruled By A Tyrant

(This caricature of our wannabe tyrant is by DonkeyHotey.)

Robert Reich (pictured) tells us the seven signs of a tyrant. Unfortunately for Americans, our new president displays all of them. Mr. Reich writes:

As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically do 7 things: 
1. They exaggerate their mandate to govern – claiming, for example, that they won an election by a “landslide” even after losing the popular vote. They criticize any finding that they or co-conspirators stole the election. And they repeatedly claim “massive voter fraud” in the absence of any evidence, in order to have an excuse to restrict voting by opponents in subsequent elections.
2. They turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them, calling them “deceitful” and “scum,” and telling the public that the press is a “public enemy.” They hold few, if any, press conferences, and prefer to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements (or what we might now call “tweets”). 
3. They repeatedly lie to the public, even when confronted with the facts.  Repeated enough, these lies cause some of the public to doubt the truth, and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.
4. They blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias or even violence against them. They threaten mass deportations, “registries” of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.
5. They attack the motives of anyone who opposes them, including judges. They attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.
6. They appoint family members to high positions of authority. They ppoint their own personal security force rather than a security detail accountable to the public. And they put generals into top civilian posts.
7.They keep their personal finances secret, and draw no distinction between personal property and public property – profiteering from their public office.
Consider yourself warned.

Monster Town Hall

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

The Practice Of Religion

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Conspiracy Of Lies


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

Compassion Is Not A Virtue In The Trump Administration

(Photo of Donald Trump was found at rolereboot.org.)

We have already seen that the Trump administration doesn't embrace compassion for human beings as one of its guidelines. Trump has promised to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, is on board with the GOP Congress to cut Social Security and privatize Medicare, has banned muslims from entering this country, is planning to do away with EPA clean air and water standards, and opposes raising the minimum wage for workers. It should not surprise us then that this lack of compassion should extend to immigrants in this country without documentation. Consider the following story from the Chicago Tribune.

Sara Beltran-Hernandez, a 26 year-old mother of two, is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. She had been apprehended by ICE, and was in a detention center (awaiting a hearing on her petition for asylum) when she began suffering from terrible headaches. She was taken to a doctor, and it was learned that she had a brain tumor. She was put in Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth awaiting an operation to remove the tumor (which was supposed to take place this coming weekend).

But Trump has instructed ICE to be more vigilant about undocumented immigrants, and evidently that includes those hospitalized with a painful and life-threatening illness. ICE officials entered the hospital, bound the lady hand and foot, and wheeled her out in a wheel chair -- taking her back to the detention center.

This action, designed to comply with Trump administration policy, is way over the line. It is indecent and immoral -- and it shows a complete lack of compassion on the part of both ICE and the Trump administration. It is this lack of compassion for ordinary people (both citizen and non-citizen) that has the world thinking poorly of this country.

Personally, I am embarrassed to have a president that has no compassion.

Fine-Tuned Machine

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Public Opposes The Trump Administration Agenda

The numbers above are from the most recent Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 16th and 21st of a random national sample of 1,323 voters, with a 2.7 point margin of error.

It shows that Trump's agenda for this country is as unpopular as Trump himself.