Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Disgrace And A Pariah

The American President

Political Cartoon is by John Graham in Independent Australia.

Public Is Opposed To Trump's Deportation Plans

Since becoming president, Donald Trump has issued a flurry of executive orders -- making it seem that he wants to rule by presidential edict rather than compromising with Congress. One of those executive orders was an attack on undocumented immigrants. It authorized construction of a border wall (although that would need congressional funding), authorized the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol officers (which might also require more congressional funding), stripped grant money to sanctuary cities, ended "catch and release" policies for undocumented immigrants, and reinstated local and state immigration "partnerships".

Trump is already going back on some campaign promises (like protecting Social Security and Medicare, and draining the Washington "swamp"), but it is beginning to look like he wants to keep his ludicrous promise to deport all the undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

If he does try doing that, he will be going against the will of the American people. The charts above are from the Public Religion Research Institute. They questioned over 40,000 people during the 2016 campaign, and they found that a significant majority don't want deportations (79%) -- with 64% preferring a path to citizenship and 15% wanting to grant permanent legal residence status to the undocumented immigrants. Only 16% said they wanted to identify and deport them.

And that view crossed political lines -- with a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans preferring a path to citizenship. Trump (and his teabagger cohorts in Congress) may want to declare war on undocumented immigrants, but the American people do not. They want our broken immigration laws fixed, including providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants willing to fulfill some basic requirements.

I think the second chart is especially interesting. It shows that not a single state has anything close to a majority wanting to deport the undocumented immigrants, including the states that Trump carried easily in the 2016 election. No state has even a third of its citizens preferring deportation.

Protecting The Lies

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

Most Expect Trump To Be The Worst President Since Nixon

The chart above was made from information in a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done on January 23rd and 24th of a random national sample of 1,043 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

It shows that the general public has some very low expectations of the Trump presidency. In fact, they think he will be a worse president than any president between Obama and Ford. The only president they view Trump as possibly being better than is Nixon (who was impeached and had to resign).

Personally, I wouldn't give Trump that much credit. I think he will be worse than Richard Nixon.

Presidential Merchandise

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Trump Reaches Majority Job Disapproval In Only 8 Days

The chart above is from the Gallup Poll daily tracking (questioning 1,500 national adults each day with a 3 point margin of error). It shows that Donald Trump started his presidency with about equal numbers approving of his job performance (45% approval and 45% disapproval). But it took him only 8 days to reach a majority job disapproval (42% approval to 51% disapproval). No other president has come close to reaching a majority job disapproval that fast. The Trump administration is off to a very bad start.

"Alternative" Campaign Promise

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

The Trump Administration Will "End In Calamity"

(This caricature of Donald Trump is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

The following words are much of an article written for The Atlantic by Eliot A Cohen. It may sound to some like it was written by a Democrat, but it was not. Mr. Cohen is a conservative Republican, who served as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009. He writes:

. . . the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better. . . .

This is one of those clarifying moments in American history, and like most such, it came upon us unawares, although historians in later years will be able to trace the deep and the contingent causes that brought us to this day. There is nothing to fear in this fact; rather, patriots should embrace it. The story of the United States is, as Lincoln put it, a perpetual story of “a rebirth of freedom” and not just its inheritance from the founding generation.

Some Americans can fight abuses of power and disastrous policies directly—in courts, in congressional offices, in the press. But all can dedicate themselves to restoring the qualities upon which this republic, like all republics depends: on reverence for the truth; on a sober patriotism grounded in duty, moderation, respect for law, commitment to tradition, knowledge of our history, and open-mindedness. These are all the opposites of the qualities exhibited by this president and his advisers. Trump, in one spectacular week, has already shown himself one of the worst of our presidents, who has no regard for the truth (indeed a contempt for it), whose patriotism is a belligerent nationalism, whose prior public service lay in avoiding both the draft and taxes, who does not know the Constitution, does not read and therefore does not understand our history, and who, at his moment of greatest success, obsesses about approval ratings, how many people listened to him on the Mall, and enemies.

He will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books. To repair the damage he will have done Americans must give particular care to how they educate their children, not only in love of country but in fair-mindedness; not only in democratic processes but democratic values. Americans, in their own communities, can find common ground with those whom they have been accustomed to think of as political opponents. They can attempt to renew a political culture damaged by their decayed systems of civic education, and by the cynicism of their popular culture.

There is in this week’s events the foretaste of things to come. We have yet to see what happens when Trump tries to use the Internal Revenue Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation to destroy his opponents. He thinks he has succeeded in bullying companies, and he has no compunction about bullying individuals, including those with infinitely less power than himself. His advisers are already calling for journalists critical of the administration to be fired: Expect more efforts at personal retribution. He has demonstrated that he intends to govern by executive orders that will replace the laws passed by the people’s representatives.

In the end, however, he will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible—The New York Times, the CIA, Mexican Americans, and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment; he has his followers, but he gains no new friends. He will fail because he cannot corrupt the courts, and because even the most timid senator sooner or later will say “enough.” He will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, or Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

There was nothing unanticipated in this first disturbing week of the Trump administration. It will not get better. Americans should therefore steel themselves, and hold their representatives to account. Those in a position to take a stand should do so, and those who are not should lay the groundwork for a better day. There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him.

Walling Off America

Political Cartoon is by Steve Green in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

A Fascist

Monday, January 30, 2017

America First ?

This Land Was Our Land

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

Donald Trump's Job Approval Rating Is Upside-Down

Donald Trump has been in office for only a little over a week, and has issued a flurry of presidential orders (including restricting Obamacare, officially ending the TPP, banning the entry of muslims into the country, starting the process of building a border wall, and ordering the building of the Dakota Access pipeline). He thinks these are popular with the public. They may be popular with his supporters, but the general public does not approve of the job Trump is doing.

The chart above is from a Quinnipiac University Poll done between January 20th and 25th of a random national sample of 1,190 voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 points. It shows Trump's job approval rating is upside-down (with 36% approving and 44% disapproving of the job he is doing -- a gap of 8 points).

The Trump administration is off to a rough start. I don't think it will get any better.


Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Reagan Is Remembered As A Good President - He Wasn't

The chart above reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between January 23rd and 25th of a random national sample of 2,692 adults, with a margin of error of 2.3 points.

Respondents were asked to rate the past six presidents (and their expectation of Trump) on how good a president they were. A plurality rated Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as above average. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were rated average by a plurality. George W. Bush was rated below average by a plurality, and Donald Trump is expected to also be below average by a plurality.

But the president with the highest rating of all is Ronald Reagan. He was rated as above average by a 58% majority. Frankly, I am astounded by that. People must be responding to the myth created around Reagan by the right-wing. Although Reagan was imminently likable as a person, I do not believe he was a good president.

Why would I say that? Because of the economic policies initiated during his administration. The Regan administration was the start of the GOP trickle-down economic policy -- the belief that all of Americans could be benefited by giving more to the rich (because they would then share their new wealth with all other Americans). That was a naive policy at best, and more likely just a stupid one. The rich didn't share their new wealth -- they hoarded it.

The policy did result in a vast new wealth and income for the rich, but it never trickled down to the rest of America. In fact, because the economic playing field had been tilted to favor the rich, American workers were hurt -- as their wages remained stagnant (and their buying power was reduced steadily by inflation). The result, after a few decades, was a huge gap in wealth and income between the rich and the rest of America -- the largest gap since the 1920's (immediately before the Great Depression).

This led directly to the Great Recession in the Bush administration. But Republicans did not learn their economic lesson. They still cling to Reagan's trickle-down economic policy, and just believe that it will still work -- if even more is given to the rich through more massive tax cuts for them. Sadly, our new president agrees with them and we can expect the wealth and income gap to continue growing larger (and setting us up for an even more serious recession than under the Bush II administration).

Ronald Reagan was not a good president. He was the architect of a bad economic policy that has done much harm to the economy and the country.

Getting The Bill

Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Andrew Puzder Is Not Fit To Be The Labor Secretary

(Photo of Andrew Puzder is by Fred Prouser/Reuters from pbs.org.)

Perhaps the worst of Trump's cabinet picks (with the possible exception of Betsy DeVos to be Education Secretary) is Andrew Puzder to head the Labor Department -- a corporate CEO known for his abuse of his own workers. Here is a letter the Economic Policy Institute sent to senators on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (the committee that will hold hearing on Puzder's appointment):

Dear Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:
The Economic Policy Institute Policy Center strongly opposes the nomination of Andrew Puzder for U.S. secretary of labor, and we urge you to vote against his confirmation. Simply, Mr. Puzder is particularly ill-suited for the job of advocating for and protecting American workers. Both his public statements and his record as an employer stand in sharp contrast to the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) mission of enforcing labor law and improving the wages and working conditions of everyday Americans.
It is the Labor Department’s job to enforce labor laws and promulgate rules that protect workers. However, Mr. Puzder has made it clear time and again that he does not believe in many of those rules: he has publicly opposed raising the federal minimum wage; he has opposed the updated overtime rule that would give millions of workers the right to reasonable work hours or the overtime pay they deserve; and he has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded access to affordable health insurance to tens of millions of working people.
Even in an industry notorious for low pay and poor working conditions, Mr. Puzder’s record as an employer and CEO of CKE Restaurants stands out. In 60 percent of DOL investigations since 2009, CKE restaurants were found to be in violation of wage and hour laws. Notably, restaurants in violation included not only independently owned and operated franchises but also restaurants owned and operated by CKE. As secretary of labor, Mr. Puzder would be responsible for enforcing laws against wage theft—yet he has failed to ensure that the law is followed in his own restaurants. Moreover, in a recent survey, two-thirds of female CKE employees reported experiencing sexual harassment at work—alarming evidence that Mr. Puzder is either unable or unwilling to ensure a decent working environment for all workers.
For nearly four decades, policymakers have stood by passively as labor standards enforcement has weakened, the value of the minimum wage declined, and globalization undermined the economic security of workers. The Labor Department has for the past eight years been a bulwark against this erosion of workers’ rights and protections, but it is clear that Mr. Puzder does not have working people’s best interests at heart and will not vigorously defend them. We strongly urge you to vote against confirming Mr. Puzder and in favor of a labor secretary who will work to strengthens workers’ rights and raise wages across the board.
We are not alone in our concerns about Mr. Puzder. As of January 11, 2017, more than 38,000 people have signed a petition opposing Mr. Puzder’s confirmation, and that number is growing.

Ross Eisenbrey
Economic Policy Institute Policy Center

Losing Liberty

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Power Grab

Sunday, January 29, 2017

If Religion Had Anything To Do With Morality

Forms Of Torture

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

What Is Morally Acceptable In The United States ?

The last election put the fundamentalist right in charge of our government, and some might think the country has also taken a backward step on social issues. But that is just not true. On most social issues the United States is more liberal than it has ever been.

The latest Economist / YouGov Poll included questions on what is morally acceptable in this country. The poll was done between January 23rd and 25th of a random national sample of 2,692 adults, with a margin of error of 2.3 points.

It shows that a significant majority of Americans believe drinking alcohol (81%), smoking marijuana (65%), marrying someone of a different race (83%), gambling (69%), doctor-assisted suicide (54%), gay and lesbian relationships (56%), premarital sex (64%), the death penalty (66%), divorce (73%), and using birth control (88%) are all morally acceptable.

The things deemed morally unacceptable are married people having an affair (90%), cloning of humans (80%), hunting for sport (64%), killing animals for fur (76%), and abortion (56%). Don't take that to mean that Americans want abortions to be illegal though. They find it morally repugnant, but the still want it to be legally available.

A new Quinnipiac University Poll showed that 64% think abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 70% agree with the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.

America is pretty liberal on social issues. Now we just need our political views to catch up with our social views.

Those Who Will Pay

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

GOP Is Staring To worry About ACA Repeal & They Should

The congressional Republicans are starting to worry about their rush to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They don't yet have a plan to replace it -- and are not even considering a plan to provide health insurance for all Americans. They seem ready to take health insurance away from millions who got it through Obamacare. They are talking about "access" to insurance for all -- not coverage for all (and all access means is that you can buy insurance if you have the money to do that).

Some of them are starting to realize they are playing with fire, and wondering if the repeal could seriously hurt them at the ballot box in future elections. They should be worried. Since they have started the repeal (and now have a president that would sign a repeal), the support for Obamacare has risen in the United States. While Obamacare is not perfect, and most would like to see it improved, they don't want to go back to the bad old days when far too many didn't have health insurance.

As the charts above show -- 96% believe health insurance should be affordable for all Americans, 81% don't want all of Obamacare repealed (30% want it kept as it is and 51% want only parts of it repealed), and 84% don't want it repealed until an acceptable plan to replace it is in place.

The Republican Congress should be afraid. Those are some pretty big numbers opposed to what they are currently doing.

The charts above use information from a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between January 20th and 25th of a random national sample of 1,190 voters, with a 2.8 point margin of error.

Diversity ?

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Trump's Politics Of Cowardice Has Changed The GOP

I don't often agree with Republican columnist David Brooks (pictured), but I think his recent column in the New York Times contains a lot of truth (and food for thought). Here is some of that column:

The mood of the party is so different today. Donald Trump expressed the party’s new mood to David Muir of ABC, when asked about his decision to suspend immigration from some Muslim countries: “The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place.”
Consider the tenor of Trump’s first week in office. It’s all about threat perception. He has made moves to build a wall against the Mexican threat, to build barriers against the Muslim threat, to end a trade deal with Asia to fight the foreign economic threat, to build black site torture chambers against the terrorist threat.
Trump is on his political honeymoon, which should be a moment of joy and promise. But he seems to suffer from an angry form of anhedonia, the inability to experience happiness. Instead of savoring the moment, he’s spent the week in a series of nasty squabbles about his ratings and crowd sizes.
If Reagan’s dominant emotional note was optimism, Trump’s is fear. If Reagan’s optimism was expansive, Trump’s fear propels him to close in: Pull in from Asian entanglements through rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Pull in from European entanglements by disparaging NATO. It’s not a cowering, timid fear; it’s more a dark, resentful porcupine fear.
We have a word for people who are dominated by fear. We call them cowards. Trump was not a coward in the business or campaign worlds. He could take on enormous debt and had the audacity to appear at televised national debates with no clue what he was talking about. But as president his is a policy of cowardice. On every front, he wants to shrink the country into a shell.
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.”
Desperate to be liked, Trump adopts a combative attitude that makes him unlikable. Terrified of Mexican criminals, he wants to build a wall that will actually lock in more undocumented aliens than it will keep out. Terrified of Muslim terrorists, he embraces the torture policies guaranteed to mobilize terrorists. Terrified that American business can’t compete with Asian business, he closes off a trade deal that would have boosted annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion, or 0.5 percent of G.D.P. Terrified of Mexican competition, he considers slapping a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods, even though U.S. exports to Mexico have increased 97 percent since 2005.
Trump has changed the way the Republican Party sees the world. Republicans used to have a basic faith in the dynamism and openness of the free market. Now the party fears openness and competition.
In the summer of 2015, according to a Pew Research Center poll, Republicans said free trade deals had been good for the country by 51 to 39 percent. By the summer of 2016, Republicans said those deals had been bad for America by 61 percent to 32 percent.
It’s not that the deals had changed, or reality. It was that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and his dark fearfulness became the party’s dark fearfulness. In this case fear is not a reaction to the world. It is a way of seeing the world. It propels your reactions to the world.
As Reagan came to office he faced refugee crises, with suffering families coming in from Cuba, Vietnam and Cambodia. Filled with optimism and confidence, Reagan vowed, “We shall seek new ways to integrate refugees into our society,” and he delivered on that promise.
Trump faces a refugee crisis from Syria. And though no Syrian-American has ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil, Trump’s response is fear. Shut them out.
Students, the party didn’t used to be this way. A mean wind is blowing.

Bigger And Longer

Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News-Journal.

Uncomfortable Question

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ultimate Hypocrisy

A Trump Film

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

Trump's Plan To Make Mexico Pay For Wall Doesn't Do That

(Cartoon image is by Steve Benson in the Arizona Republic.)

Trump's idea for a wall between the United States and Mexico has always been a dumb one. While it sounds good to his ignorant followers, no wall can keep out anyone determined to get on the other side of it. Not only can any wall be breached, but there are myriad other ways to enter the United States without documentation.

Making the idea even stupider is that the way is not needed anyway. Undocumented immigration is lower then it's been in many years. In fact, undocumented immigration is currently a net zero -- with as many undocumented immigrants leaving the country as entering it. Trump's wall is just some very expensive political theater -- designed to please his supporters.

And even dumber is his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall. The Mexican government is not going to do that, and there is no way to make them do that. The latest Trump administration idea for making Mexico pay for the war is a 20% tax on all Mexican imports to the U.S..

As usual, Trump and his aides have not thought the idea through. That tariff won't get a penny from the Mexican government or the Mexican people. Who will pay the tariff? Americans -- anyone in the United States that buys a product from Mexico. Like tomatoes in the winter? They come from Mexico, and Trump's tariff will increase their price by 20% (a price paid by Americans -- not Mexico). And the same will be true of all products from Mexico -- Americans will pay the tax.

And that's not all. The 20% tariff would most likely get Mexico to retaliate against U.S. products entering Mexico with a tariff of their own. And that would hurt American businesses that do a lot of business in Mexico, because it would raise the price of their goods in Mexico. It could even result in the loss of jobs in the United States if the sales of those U.S. businesses takes a significant hit.

The wall and their plan to pay for it are both dumb ideas. But that seems to be what the Trump administration is best at -- producing dumb ideas.

Morning Ritual

Political Cartoon is by Joep Bertrams at cagle.com.

The Job Creation Index In The 50 States

In their polling every day, the Gallup Poll asks respondents if their place of work was increasing or decreasing its workforce. They take the number saying increasing and subtract the number saying decreasing. The number remaining is what they call the "job creation index". A positive number means more businesses are hiring than are laying off, and a negative number would mean the opposite. In other words, the higher the number is, the better for a state.

They polled 210,448 adults between January 2nd and December 30th of 2016, and the margin of error for their polling on this question is only 1 point. The numbers in the charts above represent the job creation index for the year of 2016.

One more thing. Just because a state is creating a high number of jobs doesn't mean those jobs are good jobs. They could easily be low-wage and low-benefit jobs -- as a large number of the new jobs being created are (jobs that don't pay a livable wage). For instance, Nevada has the highest job creation index -- but are those high-paying manufacturing jobs, or are they low-wage service jobs (isn't the latter more likely?).

Whale Hunting

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.


Here is an example of some of the comments I get on this blog:

I remember a certain overt hypocrite named Ted Wants A Secret (And Authoritarian) Democratic Party too. Kill yourself, what is taking so long you piece of shit coward? That is the best thing you can do since you divided progressives with your self serving BULLSHIT and show you have no conscience or soul TO YOUR OWN SHORT-SIGHTED POLITICAL HACKERY. And you still try to act like you KNOW what the fuck is going on and what people need to hear. DIE SCUMBAG HORRIBLY AND PAINFULLY. You deserve nothing less you sorry excuse for a human. 

PATHOLOGICAL.....while true of trump VERY TRUE OF TED McLAUGHLIN. PERFECT example as a matter of fact. YET YOU ARE FAR TOO STUPID TO EVER REALIZE IT YOURSELF. And far FAR too arrogant to ever take heed from anyone especially online.....as you expect the world to do so to you from your so FULL OF SHIT soapbox any loser with free time, a computer, and no life does. 


You might think these are from a right-wing trumpista troll. Not True. They are from a California supporter of Bernie Sanders. They started during the primaries because he(?) was upset that I supported the nomination of Hillary Clinton -- and he has continued them for months (even though I delete them and none appear in the comments section).

I admit that I was a bit naive before the last campaign. I had thought that progressives were on a higher plane than the teabagger types on the right, and that progressives could disagree without stooping to insults and threats. I guess I was wrong. It seems that some progressives simply can't understand someone not agreeing with everything they say (or that their favorite candidate says) -- and they're perfectly willing to resort to teabagger tactics to enforce their views.

Progressives are normally thinking people, and thinking people will disagree from time to time. I think that is our strength. We don't get our views from the top. We develop them ourselves and discuss them among ourselves. Sadly though, there are some among us who would apply a "purity" test to progressivism and to the Democratic Party. They would do to us what the teabaggers have done to the Republican Party -- turn us into rigid, unthinking, extremists.

Aren't we better than that?

"Freedom" Agenda

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

Trump's Two-Step Strategy To Fool The American Public

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

The following article is from the website of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:

Donald Trump is such a consummate liar that in coming days and years our democracy will depend more than ever on the independent press – finding the truth, reporting it, and holding Trump accountable for his lies. 
But Trump’s strategy is to denigrate and disparage the press in the public’s mind – seeking to convince the public that the press is engaged in a conspiracy against him. And he wants to use his tweets, rallies, and videos to make himself the only credible source of public information about what is happening and what he’s doing.
It is the two-step strategy of despots. And it’s already started. It was officially launched the first full day of the Trump administration. 
Step 1: Disparage the press and lie about them: At a televised speech at the CIA, Trump declared himself to be in a “running war” with the news media, and described reporters as “the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
Trump then issued a stream of lies about what the press had reported. 
Some were seemingly small. For example, Trump claimed that the crowd for his swearing-in stretched down the National Mall to the Washington Monument and totaled more than 1 million people, and he accused the media of reporting falsely underreporting the number. “It’s a lie,” he said. “We caught [the media]. We caught them in a beauty.” 
Trump is wrong. Even independent observers reported that attendance was sparse, far smaller than the outpouring of people who attended the first Obama inauguration. 
More importantly, Trump told CIA employees that agency has been losing the battle against the Islamic State and other terror groups. This assertion runs counter to every intelligence report that has been publicly issued over the last six months.
Trump insisted that he has always valued the CIA. “They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community,” Trump said, continuing to criticize the press for its “dishonest” reporting. 
In fact, Trump has repeatedly vilified the CIA and the entire intelligence community for what he claimed were politically charged conclusions about Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election in order to help Trump. At a Jan. 11 news conference, Trump even accused intelligence officials of being behind a “Nazi-like smear campaign” against him. And in his tweets he put quotation marks around the word “intelligence” in referring to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. 
The weekend before his inauguration he even attacked CIA Director John Brennan (who resigned at the conclusion of President Obama’s term), suggesting he was “the leaker of Fake News.”
In his talk at the CIA Trump also claimed, as he’s done before, that the United States bungled its exit from Iraq by not taking Iraq’s oil. “If we kept the oil, we wouldn’t have had ISIS in the first place,” Trump said, asserting that this is how the Islamic State terrorist group made its money. 
Rubbish. As has been well established and as the media has fully reported, taking Iraq’s oil would have violated international law (both the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1907 Hague Convention).
Step 2: Threaten to circumvent the press and take the “truth” directly to the people. At Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s first televised news conference, Spicer castigated the press for its “dishonest” and “shameful” reporting, lied about the inauguration day events and numbers, and took no questions. (When confronted with Spicer’s outright lies, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told NBC that Spicer had merely given “alternative facts.”)
Then Spicer issued a dire warning: “The American people deserve better,” he said. “As long as [Trump] serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people.”
We’re not talking Roosevelt-like “fireside chats” here. Trump’s tweets have already been firestorms of invective directed at critics, some of whom have been threatened by Trump followers stirred up by the tweets. And CEOs pray their companies aren’t targets, because stock prices of the companies he’s already vilified have dropped immediately after his diatribes.
Trump and his advisors – Steven Bannon, formerly of “Breitbart News” as well as Spicer and others – understand that if a significant portion of the public trusts Trump’s own words more than they do the media’s, Trump can get away with saying – and doing – whatever he wants. When that happens, our democracy ends. 

Populism - Left And Right

Political Cartoon is by Tim Eagan at cagle.com.

Where Are The Promised Tax Returns ?

Friday, January 27, 2017

He Gets What He Gave

Alternate Fact

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Congress Still Has An Exceptionally Low Job Approval

The congressional Republicans may have hoped that, with the election of a Republican president, the Congress they control would see more public approval of the job they are doing. That simply hasn't happened. Only 12% of the public approves of the job Congress is doing -- and that low approval stretches across gender, age, race, and political persuasion.

The chart above reflects information in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between January 23rd and 25th of a random national sample of 2,692 adults (including 2,312 registered voters), with a margin of error of 2.3 points.

Just An Illusion

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Trump Wants A Secret (And Authoritarian) Government

(This image is by Taylor Jones at cagle.com.)

Donald Trump has been president for less than a week, but he has already done some very troubling things (considering he is leading a free and democratic country).

For starters, he seems to have decided that he can pick and choose the news media that has access. He has said that he will pick the media outlets that get to enter the presidential press room -- which means essentially that he will also deny entry to other media outlets.

Trump is a narcissist, and is easily angered when any of the press criticizes him or calls him out on the lies that he (and his surrogates) tell. He puts his own image above the rights of the American people to have a free press.

But that is just the beginning. The Trump administration has also issued a gag order for scientists and others working for the United States government. Those working for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Park Service have been told they cannot communicate any of their findings to the media (or on social media). Obviously these agencies were chosen because they are the most likely to have information disagreeing with the policies of Trump (and his GOP buddies in Congress).

Trump not only wants to pick which media gets access, but also wants to control everything bit of information that comes out of government. He may think that is his right, but he is wrong. That kind of secrecy and control of information may be appropriate for a dictatorship or a minority, but it is anathema to the very idea of a democracy.

A democracy, which the U.S. claims to be, depends on the people having as much information as possible -- so they can make informed decisions about their government. And the most open government, that provides the most information to its citizens, is the best democracy. A democracy will die without a free flow of information, and in a democracy, the citizens have the right to know not only what their government is doing, but also what facts it has found on important issues.

Trump is not happy with try to guide a democracy. He wants to be the ultimate power that decides everything for the people. But that's not democracy -- it's tyranny. The press and the people need to use all the tools at their disposal (courts, Constitution, demonstrations, etc.) to fight Trump's attempt to stifle the flow of information. Our democracy depends on it.