Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Shameful Choice

Trump Is Not Smart Or Competent - But He Is Stubborn

(Cartoon image is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.)

Donald Trump is not an intelligent man. We know that by the people who knew him in the past. His college teacher called him the dumbest student he had ever had. And we know that Trump is not competent to hold the job he has. One just has to look at his huge list of failures. After calling himself the great dealmaker, he has yet to complete a single deal for this country.

But he is stubborn, and is utterly incapable of admitting he made a mistake and correcting that mistake. His rampant narcissism precludes the possibility of that.

A few weeks ago, Trump started a trade war with several entities (China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union). He was certain that he could bully those countries into doing what he wanted by imposing tariffs on some of the goods they sell to this country. It hasn't worked.

Those countries simply responded with equal tariffs on American products. Now farmers, companies, and consumers are beginning to hurt in this country. A smart person would realize he had made a serious mistake, declare victory in the trade war, and remove the tariffs. Trump is not doing that. He's now threatening to up the $34 billion in tariffs on China to about $500 billion -- which would cover everything China sends to the U.S. (probably with the exception of the goods Trump and Ivanka get made in China).

Who will pay this new tariff? The American consumer. But Trump is too stupid to realize he's just levying a tax on Americans (and driving many of his farm supporters out of business).

Then we have his embarrassing (and possibly treasonous) behavior in Helsinki. After attacking our best allies, he fawned all over Vladimir Putin -- the most dangerous dictator in the world. He said the United States was to blame for not getting along with Russia, ignoring all the aggressive actions by that country (including attacking our country during the 2016 election season with computer hackers). Once again, he shared his doubt that Putin had instructed his military intelligence to launch the computer attack on the U.S. -- even though our intelligence agencies showed him proof that this happened a couple of weeks before he was sworn in.

He received serious blowback for his embracing on Putin. But he couldn't admit his mistake. Even when he tried to admit that Russia had attacked the U.S., he added "but it could have been someone else". Now he is compounding his mistake by announcing he has invited his buddy (Putin) to visit the White House this Fall. Is he going to repeat the same mistakes he made in Helsinki? It's very likely.

The crazy part is that he's doing all this just before an election. His stubborn narcissism keeps him from understanding that he's hurting the chances of a lot of Republicans running for office, and increasing the chances of Democrats flipping Congress. If I was a Republican running for office, I would be quaking in my boots watching Trump.


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Support For Legalizing Marijuana Continues To Grow

These charts were made using the results of a recent Morning Consult Poll -- done between June 28th and July 3rd of a national sample of 2,202 adults, and has a margin of error of 2 points.

It shows that the support for the legalization of marijuana in the United States continues to grow. Currently about 63% of registered voters support legalization, while only 26% oppose it. And all genders, age groups, races/ethnicities, income levels, education levels, regions, community types, religions, and political affiliations have majorities in favor of legalization -- including 51% of Republicans and 54% of evangelicals (two groups that have been opposed in the past).

It's time to stop punishing those who use marijuana recreationally. It's time to legalize it. And it's also time to tax it at both the state and federal level. Marijuan is the least dangerous of all drugs, and it makes no sense to keep it illegal.

Putin's Pet

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.

The Destiny Of America Lies In Our Hands

The combination of a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress has caused serious damage to the United States. They have damaged Obamacare and caused insurance premiums to skyrocket, passed a tax bill that will substantially increase the income/wealth gap, ballooned the budget deficit to about a trillion dollars a year, installed Supreme Court justices that put right-wing ideology above human rights, ignited a hideous border policy that separates parents and children, instituted trade tariffs that hurt American citizens, damaged our relationship with our allies while fawning over Russia, violated the Iran nuclear weapons treaty, and damaged our planet's future by withdrawing from the Paris Accords.

It's has left this country in a real mess. But this is not the time to give up. This is the time to dig in and fight harder, because the future of the United States still rests in our hands. Here is what Dan Rather says must be done to fix the mess we're in:

"So what do we do now?" 
It is the question of the moment, and all the moments that have led up to now, and the ones that are sure to follow. So many of you have approached me in public to ask this query with pleading eyes and grimaces of disgust. It is echoed in thousands of your comments online, and in my own mind as well. As the wheels of our democracy wobble and spin into greater surreal dangers, there is a struggle to turn outrage into action. . . .
I am not an oracle, philosopher or an activist, just a simple reporter who got lucky. Whatever passes for wisdom I can dispense is mostly a product of age and circumstance. I have seen a lot, moments of pain and of triumph. I firmly believe the writing of the future chapters of America's destiny still lies in our hands.
Any advice must begin with a favorite personal mantra: in a democracy revenge is best served at the ballot box. The stakes of the upcoming election cannot be overstated. So vote. And organize. And make your voices heard. Work on getting others to the polls. Show the world what the "silent majority" really thinks of our current state of affairs. 
We must protect a free and independent press as a check on corruption and power. This is essential. When the President goes on an anti-press diatribe - subscribe. If you have the means, support working journalists, especially at the local level. Subscribe to that paper, or magazine. Urge others to do so. This has a cascading effect. Trust me on this one. 
Reach out to those who need help, preferably beyond your own immediate circle. Acts of kindness, empathy, and justice towards your fellow citizens (and people around the globe) reaffirms the bonds of our common humanity which the cynical forces of destruction are actively seeking to undermine. 
More generally, we must face down this debasement of American ideals. We cannot allow the gas lighting to detract from our own self-knowledge. We cannot forget who WE are. Take heart in the lessons of history, of improbable successes in forging paths of greater tolerance, inclusion, and justice. Remember that the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the civil rights protesters, the LGBTQ activists, the environmentalists, and so many other improbable actors secured great victories - some of which are now being threatened. But they understood that progress was often slow, painful, and uneven. It requires grit and determination. And so it does in this moment as well. 
Do not minimize the power you have or the allies to the cause. Those who do not wish to see America succumb to hatred, who do not wish to undermine the world order, who do not believe cruelty is a governing strategy - this is the MAJORITY. No matter how loud are the contrary voices, do not confuse decibel level with a broadness of support. Discouragement is their most potent weapon.
We Americans have many faults, but by and large we have not been quitters. We have faced seemingly impossible tasks with can-do naïveté. We have tackled great challenges. Our win-loss record on this score is pretty impressive. We are an improbable nation of diversity and freedom. That is being challenged. But the battle is far from lost. A victory for the forces of goodness and justice, for sanity and facts, is not beyond our grasp. I would argue it is there for the taking if we believe and are willing to fight for it.


Political Cartoon is by Stephane Peray at

Lies They Tell

Friday, July 20, 2018

Symbols Of Hate

Public Doesn't Like Current Electoral Process In The U.S.

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “American elections are fair and open”

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements:

 “Recently a political committee aligned with one of the nation’s top leaders accepted over $24 million from a single individual. The donor is anonymous, and the law permits that. Which statement comes closest to your views?”

 Do you think the Supreme Court should…

The University of Virginia Center for Politics recently commissioned the Ipsos Poll to do a survey on the thoughts of Americans about the current electoral process. The results are in the charts above, and they show many people would like to see some changes.

About 43% of Americans say our elections are not free and fair, while only 51% say they are. That's a problem. Why do they feel this way? Because they think the rich and corporations are being allowed to buy too many elections.

About 87% say political ads on TV should be required to say who paid for the ad, and 86% say the same of internet ads. About 75% say interest groups should have to follow the same campaign/election laws that political candidates must follow. About 72% don't like political donations being kept secret, 52% want donors to political organizations to be disclosed, and 48% would like limits placed on the amount super-PACs can raise and spend.


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

Public Doesn't Like How Trump Handled Helsinki Summit

It's now been several days since Trump met in secret with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, and both the American public and the U.S. government (and military) still has no idea what went on in the meeting. What we do know is that Trump was fawning all over Putin in the press conference that followed it. And he made it clear that he prefers the company and friendship of the Russian dictator to that of any of our best allies. It was an embarrassing and frightening spectacle to behold.

What did most Americans think about Trump's performance in Helsinki? They didn't like it. Two polls have now been released about the Helsinki meeting. In the first, 55% of adults, 83% of Democrats, and 53% of Independents said they disapproved of how Trump handled himself in Helsinki. In the second, 58% of adults, 91% of Democrats, and 62% of Independents disapproved.

There was only one group that approved of Trump's performance in Helsinki -- Republicans. In the first poll 68% approved, and in the second poll 79% approved. That makes me wonder if there's ANYTHING Trump could do that the Republican base would not approve of.

The CBS News Poll was done on July 17th and 18th of a national sample of 1,007 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.

The Axios / SurveyMonkey Poll was done on July 16th and 17th of a national sample of 2,100 adults, and has a 3 point margin of error.

Planting The (Russian) Flag

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

The Tools Trump Uses To Create Confusion & Hide The Truth

(This caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

The truth is like kryptonite to Donald Trump, and he does his best to keep it hidden. He knows that the truth would be disastrous for his administration. How does he do that?

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (pictured) says Trump has 5 tactics he uses to do that. He writes:

Trump uses 5 tactics to create a fog of confusion and bewilderment, so we don’t pay attention to the real damage he’s doing – undermining our democracy; rewarding the rich and hurting the working class, middle class, and the poor; stoking hatefulness; and undercutting America’s standing in the world. 
1. His first tactic is to distract us – dominate the news with tweets and rants, accusations, who he’s fired, who he’s insulted, what he’s demanded. He wants us to be so preoccupied with all this that we lose sight of the big picture.
2. His second tactic is to divide and conquer, pitting groups against each other, riling up his base, stoking racial tensions, and vilifying opponents. He targets transgender people in the military. Goes after athletes – mostly black – who won’t stand for the anthem. Fuels fears of immigrants and foreigners, of liberals and Democrats. This way, public dialogue and discussion becomes so angry, bitter, and vitriolic that we end up shouting at each other instead of seeing the damage Trump is actually doing.  
3. His third tactic is to lie and distort. He generates a torrent of “alternative facts” so we become disoriented and confused. Asserting that 3 to 5 million people fraudulently voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election, with no evidence they did. That unauthorized immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate number of murders and rapes. That climate change isn’t caused by people. His goal is for us to lose confidence in the truth so we can’t be sure of what he’s doing.  
4. Fourth: conjure up conspiracies. He fuels paranoia about a “deep state” that’s intent on removing him from office, engaged in a “witch hunt” to undermine him, plotting to impeach him. But he never identifies who or what this “deep state” actually is. The mere assertion of a conspiracy is enough to generate suspicion, erode trust in the political system and in the media, and sow doubts about anyone who criticizes him or any findings that could show he acted illegally. 
5. Fifth and finally: accuse the accusers. He alleges that others are doing what he is in fact doing. When the media catch him in a lie, he accuses them of disseminating fake news. He allows corporate lobbyists to run departments and agencies, and then accuses critics of being part of the Washington swamp. He seeks to cover up whatever he and his aides did with Russian operatives, and then accuses investigators of a being involved in a coverup. 
These 5 tactics are all designed to hide what Trump is actually doing so we don’t mobilize against him. Be aware. Don’t allow Trump’s fog to cloud the truth.

A Spy In The NRA

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Rank Hypocrisy

Thursday, July 19, 2018

If You Want To Understand

What Did Trump Agree To In Secret Meeting With Putin ?

(Cartoon image is by Arend van Dam at

While Donald Trump bragged about what a good meeting with Vladimir Putin, he said nothing about reaching any agreement with the Russian leader. Instead, he left the impression that the two men had a friendly talk, and that talk had (in Trump's opinion) established a new and friendlier relationship between the two countries.

But Russia seems to have a different opinion of what happened in the secret Helsinki meeting. Here's what Russian military spokesman Major General Igor Kosashenkov said on Tuesday (the day after the secret meeting):

"The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in the sphere of international security achieved at the Helsinki summit." 

WHAT AGREEMENTS? Were agreements reached on international security that Trump doesn't want the American people to know about? Has Congress been informed about these agreements? If not, then why not?

If any agreements were reached in that secret meeting, even agreement in general terms, it should not be kept secret between Trump and the Russians. Did Trump give away something he shouldn't have? Did Trump give Putin a free hand in Syria? Did he assure Putin we wouldn't act to protect some of our Eastern European NATO allies? Did he agree to something else equally nefarious?

I would say that its time for Trump to tell Americans what went on in that meeting, but frankly, Trump can't be trusted to tell the truth about it. He has shown himself to be a prolific and consummate liar.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) has come up with what is probably the only way to find out what happened in the secret Helsinki meeting. She wants to subpoena the U.S. translator that was in the meeting to testify before Congress under oath.

Some people won't like that, but in my opinion, the meeting shouldn't have been held in secret to begin with. Top aides or cabinet members should have been in the room to curb Trump when his incompetence got out of hand -- and make sure any agreements reached were in the best interests of the United States.

This is especially important in light of the fact that most Americans don't trust Trump's judgement. As the chart below shows, only 35% of Americans think Trump exercises good judgement, while 50% thinks he does not -- a gap of 15 points.

The chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,272 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.2 points, and for registered voters is 3 points.

Air Force One

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

U.S. Public Likes Foreign Leaders More Than Trump

The orange narcissist living in the White House is not going to like these poll results. It seems that Americans like several foreign leaders more than they like Donald Trump -- Justin Trudeau of  Canada (by14 points over Trump), Theresa May of Great Britain (by 12 points), Emmanuel Macron of France (by 11 points), and Angela Merkel of Germany (by 8 points). While those four leaders have a much higher favorable rating than unfavorable, Donald Trump's rating is up-side down by 10 points (favorable 42% to unfavorable 52%).

This information is from the new Economist / You Gov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,272 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.2 points, and for registered voters is 3.0 points.


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

Trump & Putin Respect For Each Other Is Not Equal

Trump's respect and admiration for Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin is unquestioned. He has had nothing but nice things to say about Putin, and in Helsinki was was virtually fawning all over him. And the American public has not missed that. About 75% of them say Trump respects Putin.

But the U.S. public doesn't think Putin returns that respect. Only about 43% believe Putin respects Trump, while 57% say he does not.

These charts reflect the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 15th and 17th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.2 points.

Flying The Colors (Of Russia)

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Changing 1 Word Doesn't Excuse Trump's Embrace Of Putin

(Cartoon image is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.)

On Monday, the entire world watched as Donald Trump groveled before Vladimir Putin. He said the United States was responsible for the poor relationship between the two countries, and again made it clear that he believes Putin (who says Russia did not attack our election process) instead of his own intelligence agencies (inspire of the fact 12 Russian military operatives have been indicted for that attack).

It was a shameful performance. No American president has ever attacked his own country while embracing the world's most dangerous dictator. And it caused an immediate backlash -- from members of both U.S. political parties, and our allies (who now wonder if they can count on Trump at all).

On Tuesday, Trump offered a rather pathetic excuse for his behavior. He claimed that the whole thing was due to him using the wrong word by accident ("would" instead of "wouldn't" when saying whether he thought Russia had meddled in the U.S. election). He seemed to think changing that one word made everything OK. It doesn't. The press conference lasted about 40 minutes, and Trump didn't defend U.S. interests in a single moment of it making many indefensible statements.

NBC News gives us a list of some other statements that Trump didn't walk-back -- statements that were inexcusable. Here is that list:

To be clear about the entirety of Trump’s remarks with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, however, here are the president’s OTHER remarks from Monday that he didn’t try to clean up:

  • “I hold both countries responsible [for the decline in U.S.-Russian relations]. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”

  • “I think that the [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”

  • “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC's] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”

  • “What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”

  • “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

  • “And what [Putin] did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 [indicted Russians]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” (By the way, Putin’s condition for that offer? That Americans and U.S. residents who Russia believes have committed illegal actions should be questioned, too.)
And here is the business-oriented Financial Times take on Trump performance:
Mr Trump has undermined his country and his office in a series of important ways. His performance in Helsinki made it absolutely clear that the US president places his own political survival and personal vanity above any belief in the rule-of-law. Just a few days earlier, Rod Rosenstein, America’s deputy attorney-general, had indicted 12 Russian agents accused of interfering in the 2016 election and had correctly pointed out that the indictments should not be a partisan issue. But this crucial point is lost on Mr Trump. Everything — including truth, the rule-of-law and the dignity of the US — is subordinated to his own partisan interests.

The president’s rambling and self-centred remarks also underlined the questions about his intellectual fitness for office. The contrast with the controlled, polished (and deeply cynical) performance of Mr Putin was painful to behold.


Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

It's The Enablers That Are Scary

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Kavanaugh's Nomination Does Not Have Majority Approval

The chart above reflects the results of the latest Pew Research Center survey. They queried 1,007 adults nationwide between July 11th and 15th, and the survey had a margin of error of 3.7 points.

They asked if Trump's latest choice for Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, should be confirmed or not confirmed. The result was rather underwhelming. There was not a majority saying he should be confirmed. About 41% wanted him confirmed, while 36% did not -- a difference of only 5 points.

Republicans (by 64 points), men (by 17 points), 50-64 (by 24 points), and over 65 (by 16 points) said he should be confirmed.

Democrats (by 47 points), women (by 7 points), 18-29 (by 6 points), and 30-49 (by 9 points) said he should not be confirmed.

Time To Face The Boss

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Russian Spy Used The NRA To Make Connections With GOP

The woman pictured here has been arrested. She will make her first court appearance on Wednesday in a Washington courtroom. Here name is Maria Butina. She is a former member of the Russian legislature, and current graduate student in Washington.

What was her crime? She is a Russian spy, who was reporting to Moscow and operating on their orders. She has spent years (since 2015) trying to establish relationships with Republican politicians -- with the aim of using those relationships to accomplish the objectives of the Russian government.

She got her "in" with those Republican politicians by becoming an active participant in the National Rifle Association (NRA). After becoming close th NRA leaders, she used that to introduce herself to conservative Republican politicians. She and her mentor, Alexander Torshin, funneled money through the NRA to help Republicans (especially Donald Trump).

Her indictment didn't name the Republican politicians she was dealing with, but that will be disclosed when she comes to trial. It turns out that those politicians were played by the redheaded spy -- and whether they knew it or not, were colluding with Russia.

I think we're just seeing the tip of this iceberg, and the future will reveal a lot more to the embarrassment of the Republican Party. The photo below shows NRA leader Wayne LaPierre with Butina.

Not A Puppet

Political Cartoon is by Theo Moudakis in The Toronto Star.

U.S. (& World) Should Be Frightened By Helsinki Summit

(Cartoon image is by Jimmy Margulies at

The people of the United States, and the world, should be terrified at what they saw from Donald Trump in Helsinki. Never has an American president been seen to so obviously grovel to a Russian leader. Trump showed weakness by accepting Putin's denials, and seemed to embrace Putin as America's new best friend, while blaming U.S. intelligence, past presidents, Democrats, and the Mueller investigation as the reason why relations are bad between the two countries -- completely ignoring Russia seizing the Crimea, attacking the Ukraine, supporting Assad in Syria, and attacking our own democracy (as though these did not contribute to that poor relationship).

Ina tweet, Trump tried to blame the media (fake news) for the world being horrified at his appeasement of Putin. That won't fly. The entire world watched the press conference, and they saw him embracing Putin -- after attacking our best allies only a couple of days before. Putin, as the cartoon above shows, wiped the floor with Trump. Trump is either a weak and ignorant fool, or he's terrified that Putin will release some secret they know about him -- maybe both!

Here's is part of an incisive op-ed by Max Boot in The Washington Post:

If anyone is “the enemy of the people,” it is Trump himself.

Those are words I never thought I would write about an American president — even one as boorish and bigoted as Trump. But after his appalling performance in Helsinki at what CNN’s John King aptly called the “surrender summit,” questions about Trump’s loyalty to the American people will only intensify. Indeed, the question came up at the news conference itself. The Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire courageously asked “does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?”. . .

The Russian president dismissed the issue as “nonsense,” but it was his answer that was nonsensical. Putin said that he was not even aware that Trump was in Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant when it has been previously reported that Trump invited him to attend. Putin declined but, according to The Post, he did send “a ‘friendly’ letter and a gift of a Russian lacquered box” to Trump. . . .

The sellout in Helsinki only adds further credence to this speculation about the true nature of Trump-Putin ties. Not only did Trump fail to call out the Russian strongman for his many crimes — he also attacked the FBI and accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia was not responsible for interfering in the U.S. election even though the U.S. intelligence community has provided overwhelming evidence that it did. “President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

We are past the point when such statements can be dismissed as naivete — especially when Trump has previously admitted that Russia did hack the election. We are past the point where Trump’s conduct can be ascribed to his belief that it is imperative to improve U.S.-Russia relations. If Trump doesn’t care about the state of U.S.-German relations, U.S.-Canadian relations or U.S.-U.K. relations — all of which he has damaged in the past month — why would he care about U.S. relations with a country that has one-fourteenth of America’s GDP and one-tenth of its defense budget? We are past the point where Trump’s conduct can be ascribed to his general sympathy for dictators. If he is waging a trade war on China’s dictator, why is he cozying up to Russia’s dictator?

We are past the point when Trump’s conduct — which leaves future elections wide open to Russian manipulation — can be ascribed to his unwillingness to do anything that will tarnish his glorious victory. It is true but insufficient to point out that that Trump’s unwillingness to acknowledge the Russian attack on America is putting his own interests above the country’s.

Even if Trump were thinking only in terms of his own political survival — his usual mode — he would be tougher on Putin, because he must realize that kowtowing to the Russian only strengthens suspicions of collusion. But Trump just cannot bring himself to do it. Is that because he hopes for more aid from Putin in the future — or because he is afraid of what Putin can reveal about him? Either way, he gives every impression of betraying his oath of office.

U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Trump’s own national security adviser said the Russian election attack constituted an “act of war.” So what does that make his boss? Some — including former CIA director John Brennan — now dare call it treason. That conclusion was once unthinkable. No longer.


Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

Biden, McCain, & Schumer Respond To Trump's Appeasement