Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Trump's Campaign Agenda

Trump Continues To Set New Records For Lying

Donald Trump loves to brag about being the best at everything (even when it's not true). But there is one thing he's definitely the best at -- LYING. No politician has ever told as many lies as Trump has, and the longer he stays in office the more lies he tells.

In 2017, Donald Trump told 1,999 lies. He easily topped that by telling 5,689 lies in 2018. But he was just getting warmed up. In 2019, he told a whopping 7,725 lies (more than doubling his total for the first two years.

Trump, in his first 1,055 days in office (December 10th), has told a total of 15,413 lies. That's an average of 14.6 lies for every day he's been in office. With 2020 being an election year, Trump will likely tell more lies than he did in 2019.

The Clown Show

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

This American Hero Now Has A New Foe To Defeat

Rep. John Lewis (Democrat - Georgia) is a warrior -- and a true American hero. He has spent his life fighting for equality, justice, and freedom.

Now he has a new foe to fight -- pancreatic cancer. His office announced on Sunday that Lewis (often called the "conscience of the House") was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the pancreas at his last medical check-up.

I hope he's able to defeat this new enemy. This country could use a few more years of the passion and morality of this great man.

Here's what Rep. Lewis had to say about the new battle he's facing:

"I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now."
This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed.
While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance.
So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.
To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime. I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.
Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this journey."

American Farmers After Trump

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

Michelle Obama Is Again The Most Admired Woman

The Gallup Poll has released its annual survey of the most admired woman and man in the world. The poll was done between December 2nd and 15th of a national sample of 1,024 adults, and has a 4 point margin of error.

For the second year in a row, the most admired woman is Michelle Obama. She was the only woman to have double-digit admiration (10%), and doubled the percentage of the second place woman (Melania Trump at 5%).

It was a tie for the most admired man. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump received 18%. In the history of this poll, the most admired man is usually the president of the United States -- and that was true for Barack Obama throughout his term and after. It took Trump three years to achieve that status, and even then he has to share the number one position with Mr. Obama.

Did You Expect Something Different?

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

The U.S. Is NOT The Most Free & Democratic Country

Both citizens and politicians in the United States like to proclaim that they live in the most free and democratic country in the world. It is not true.

Freedom House publishes a list of the world's countries each year. Their "Freedom In The World" report ranks each country according to how free and democratic they are. The charts above show the countries that fared the best in 2019.

Note that the United States did NOT top the list. In fact, it was ranked 52nd among the free and democratic countries.

Here is just some of what Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, had to say about freedom and democracy in the United States:

The great challenges facing US democracy did not commence with the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Intensifying political polarization, declining economic mobility, the outsized influence of special interests, and the diminished influence of fact-based reporting in favor of bellicose partisan media were all problems afflicting the health of American democracy well before 2017. Previous presidents have contributed to the pressure on our system by infringing on the rights of American citizens. Surveillance programs such as the bulk collection of communications metadata, initially undertaken by the George W. Bush administration, and the Obama administration’s overzealous crackdown on press leaks are two cases in point.

At the midpoint of his term, however, there remains little question that President Trump exerts an influence on American politics that is straining our core values and testing the stability of our constitutional system. No president in living memory has shown less respect for its tenets, norms, and principles. Trump has assailed essential institutions and traditions including the separation of powers, a free press, an independent judiciary, the impartial delivery of justice, safeguards against corruption, and most disturbingly, the legitimacy of elections. Congress, a coequal branch of government, has too frequently failed to push back against these attacks with meaningful oversight and other defenses.

We recognize the right of freely elected presidents and lawmakers to set immigration policy, adopt different levels of regulation and taxation, and pursue other legitimate aims related to national security. But they must do so according to rules designed to protect individual rights and ensure the long-term survival of the democratic system. There are no ends that justify nondemocratic means.

Freedom House is not alone in its concern for US democracy. Republicans, Democrats, and independents expressed deep reservations about its performance in a national poll conducted last year by Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center. A substantial majority of respondents said it is “absolutely important” to live in a democracy, but 55 percent agreed that American democracy is weak, and 68 percent said it is getting weaker. Big money in politics, racism and discrimination, and the inability of government to get things done—all long-standing problems—were the top concerns of those surveyed.

And yet Republicans and Democrats alike expressed strong attachments to individual liberty. A solid majority, 54 percent, believes it is more important for the rights of the minority to be protected than for the will of the majority to prevail.

So far, America’s institutions have largely honored this deeply democratic sentiment. The resilience of the judiciary, the press corps, an energetic civil society, the political opposition, and other guardrails of the constitutional system—as well as some conscientious lawmakers and officeholders from the president’s own party—have checked the chief executive’s worst impulses and mitigated the effects of his administration’s approach. While the United States suffered an unusual three-point drop on Freedom in the World’s 100-point scale for 2017, there was no additional net decline for 2018, and the total score of 86 still places the country firmly in the report’s Free category.

But the fact that the system has proven durable so far is no guarantee that it will continue to do so. Elsewhere in the world, in places like Hungary, Venezuela, or Turkey, Freedom House has watched as democratic institutions gradually succumbed to sustained pressure from an antidemocratic leadership, often after a halting start. Irresponsible rhetoric can be a first step toward real restrictions on freedom. The United States has already been weakened by declines in the rule of law, the conduct of elections, and safeguards against corruption, among other important indicators measured by Freedom in the World. The current overall US score puts American democracy closer to struggling counterparts like Croatia than to traditional peers such as Germany or the United Kingdom.

The stakes in this struggle are high. For all the claims that the United States has lost global influence over the past decade, the reality is that other countries pay close attention to the conduct of the world’s oldest functioning democracy. The continuing deterioration of US democracy will hasten the ongoing decline in global democracy. Indeed, it has already done so.

Not What He Wanted

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz at Pocho.com.

Unfit For Office

Monday, December 30, 2019

No Evidence

The Last Democratic Debate Didn't Change Anything

The chart above is from the YouGov Poll. The pink bars show support for the Democratic candidates between December 14th and 17th (before the last debate, and the purple bars show support for each candidate between December 22nd and 24th (after the last debate). Each of the two surveys questioned about 600 Democrats and Leaners nationwide.

Note that there is very little change from before the debate and after the debate. And what little change there was can easily be discounted because of the margin of error (which is probably in the 4 to 5 point range).

There's only slightly over a month until the first voting occurs in Iowa and then New Hampshire. This set of supports for each candidate has been fairly stable on the national level for a while now. Is there going to be a change before voting begins, or are we looking at how the primaries will go through Super Tuesday?

A Favor

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Billionaires Say They Are "Victims" - They Are NOT!

Did you get a 25% raise this year? If you make minimum wage, that would be a raise of $3770. If you make about the median wage in this country, that would be in the neighborhood of about $15,000.

I doubt any in the middle or working classes got a 25% raise in 2019. In fact, I'll bet that most American workers didn't even get the $3770 raise to give a minimum wage earner that 25%.

Most Americans, especially the bottom 90%, are just struggling to keep up with inflation. A 25% raise would be a dream come true, but it's really a dream with no chance of coming true with the Republicans in power.

But the super-rich, the people who didn't need to make more than they already do, got a 25% raise in 2019. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the richest 500 people now have $5.9 trillion -- an increase in 2019 of $1.2 trillion (or about 25%).

Inspire of the richest Americans doing exceptionally well (not just the top 500, but the top 1%), they will tell you that they are the "victims" in our economy. And they whine that Democratic efforts to make them pay their fair share in taxes is an example of that victimhood.

Here's part of how Helaine Olen describes this billionaire victimhood in The Washington Post:

The Great Recession was supposed to embarrass the wealthy into slinking away embarrassed, grateful they didn’t land in jail or worse. “There’s an angry mob with pitchforks assembling, and they want to see some heads on pikes,” Fortune opined in 2009. But as the stock and real estate markets recovered, so did the self-regard of the most moneyed among us. Shame? That was so Dow 7,550. It’s now over 28,000. . . .

Elite gatherings such as the Milken Institute’s Global Conference and the annual World Economic Forum in Davos have become all but encounter sessions for misunderstood multimillionaires and billionaires to agree with each other in the face of calls that they pay their fair share. There’s private equity mogul Leon Cooperman, who actually began to cry on CNBC when complaining about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on fortunes in excess of $50 million. “I don’t need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I’m a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats,” he said.

The rich victims are all around us. Craig Hall, the real-estate tycoon owner of the now infamous ostentatious Northern California wine cave where Pete Buttigieg held a high-dollar fundraiser? He told the New York Timesabout the criticisms, “It’s just not fair.” Jacqueline Sackler, wife of a Purdue Pharma heir, the company in part responsible for the opioid epidemic that’s taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans? The Wall Street Journal got a hold of an email where she complained what she calls the “situation” is “destroying” the family’s reputation, and “dooms” her children.

And no one is more practiced at the art of billionaire self-pity than our president, Donald Trump. He’s the victim of a Democratic “witch hunt.” Impeachment? “More due process was accorded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” Yet he signed into law a tax plan so favorable to billionaires in general, and real-estate interests in particular, it might as well have been tailored precisely for him.

But according to Republicans, the obscene gains of the wealthy aren’t the problem. In 2012, GOP presidential nominee and multimillionaire Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of big-money donors, referred to 47 percent of Americans who didn’t pay federal taxes and needed government benefits to get by as “takers,” adding, they believe “they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name it.” (Entitled to food! Imagine that.)

The Trump administration, which boasts the wealthiest presidential Cabinet ever assembled, has spent almost three years attempting to make it harder for people to receive Medicaidfood assistance and even a free lunch at school. They are aided by self-appointed watchdogs, too, such as Minnesota retiree Rob Undersander, who outed himself as a millionaire so he could publicize the supposedly pressing issue of people who have six- and seven-figure net worth receiving food stamps because their income is below eligibility thresholds. (In fact, survey research shows such households account for about 3 percent of households receiving assistance via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Meantime, of course, the wealthy make out. Studies show, not surprisingly, that their opinions carry much more weight with politicians than those of more ordinary voters. But the claim of victimization is one way they seek to protect themselves from some popular anger and the financial consequences they might otherwise face, ensuring their power, wealth and privilege remains intact while they can continue to promote their self-perceived unique virtue and smarts.

The GOP Has Changed

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

It's Time For Trump To Go

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Americans Want To Keep Politics And Religion Separate

These charts are from a survey by the Pew Research Center -- done between March 18th and April 9th of a national sample of 6,364 adults, with a 1.7 point margin of error.

It shows that most Americans would like to keep politics and religion separate. About 63% say they want their church or house of worship to stay out of political matters (while only 36% disagree). And an even larger 76% don't want their church or house of worship to come out in favor of one candidate over another.

Note in the bottom chart that only two groups want their house of worship involved in politics -- evangelicals (55% to 43%) and Black protestants (54% to 43%). And even both of those groups join other groups in opposing their church endorsing one candidate over another.

A Trump New Year

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at artizans.com.

"Super Tuesday" Democrats Confident The Eventual Democratic Candidate Will Beat Donald Trump

These charts are from the CBS News / YouGov Battleground Poll -- done between December 3rd and 11th of 10,379 Democrats and Leaners in 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday (March 3rd). Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. The margin of error for the survey is 1.3 points.

The Democrats in those states are split over whether it will be harder or not if the candidate is Black or a woman. But they are confident that their eventual nominee (whoever it is) will beat Donald Trump in November. About 55% of Whites and 75% of Blacks express that confidence.

Bigotry Made Easy

Political Cartoon is by Rex A. Jones at artistrexajones.wix.com/crazycartoons.

Only Important Thing In 2020 Election Is BEATING TRUMP

(This caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

During the Democratic debates, the candidates have debated issues and where they get their contributions. I understand why they do that -- they are trying to differentiate themselves from their fellow candidates. But Democratic voters need to understand a couple of things -- any of the Democratic candidates would be a much better president than Trump, and the only important thing is nominating a candidate that can (and will) defeat Trump.

Here's how the editorial board of USA Today puts it:

To the casual observer of the Democratic debates, it seems like candidates are spending a lot of time debating improbable ideas like free tuition — that is, when they are not arguing the appropriateness of holding fundraisers in wine caves.
While President Donald Trump is holding pep rallies in key battleground states, the Democrats are engaged in what looks at times like a squabble within an academic department.
Perhaps as a result, the ratings for the Democratic encounters have been slipping with each installment. To some degree, this is the inevitable outcome of a race pitting an incumbent against a large field of would-be challengers.
But there is also a warning in it: Few of the ideas being debated are getting much traction beyond Democratic true believers. And even many Democrats are ready to see some winnowing of the field in the early caucus and primary states.
This is a pretty good indication that the party's voters should focus largely on one overriding issue: which of the candidates is best equipped to defeat Donald Trump next November.
In just a few short years, Trump has promoted the interests of U.S. foes, needlessly run up massive government debts, thwarted progress on climate change, done palpable harm to America’s health care system, and turned the once-proud party of Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan into an adulation cult.
Ridding the nation of his unfit leadership is far more important than who has the most extensive plan to hand out free money (we're looking at you, Andrew Yang) or require everyone to get their health care through an expanded Medicare (Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders).
The Democrats need a nominee who can go toe-to-toe with Trump, explain to the electorate why he is so wrong in so many ways, and build a consensus on taking the nation in a new direction.
This is not to say issues don’t matter. If the candidates merely criticized Trump and touted their own electability, they would come off as lacking substance. But the ideas and issues they present in the primaries need to be the kind that can garner widespread support in a general election — particularly in crucial states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
These would include practical proposals to preserve and expand health coverage, rebuild America’s standing in the world, adopt sounder fiscal policies and address climate change.
If Democrats get too hung up on debating the finer points of fundraising purity or mandatory "Medicare for All," they face being confined to debating these issues in perpetuity.

Billionaire Spenders

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Religion Promises - Science Delivers

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Stop Him

Public Says History Will Not Be Kind To Donald Trump

The chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between December 22nd and 24th of 1,500 adults nationwide (including 1,240 registered voters). The margin of error for both adults and registered voters is 2.9 points.

Note that every demographic group has more people saying Trump's administration will be considered below average that average or above average. In other words, history will not regard him as being a good president.

Trump Lies

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at Caglecartoons.com.

Germans Fear Trump More Than World's Worst Dictators

This chart should trouble all Americans. The YouGov Poll asked 2,000 German citizens which world leaders they feared the most. Donald Trump won hands down. About 41% of Germans feared Trump the most. In fact, more feared Trump than the other four (all dictators) combined.

This is from a country that for the last few decades has been one of the best allies of the United States. It shows how much Trump has damaged this country, when Trump is feared more than the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

We MUST vote him out of office next November!

From One Dumpster Fire To Another

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

We Must Take Control Of Government Back From The Rich

The cartoon above is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post. It describes the economic situation in this country pretty well. The rich, with the help of Republicans, control our government. And they have been able to tilt the economic playing field to their advantage. Democrats are trying to change those economic rules to make them fairer for all American citizens -- but that has resulted in charges that they are too far to the left (socialists). It's not true. None of the major Democratic candidates are truly socialists -- not even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. They are all capitalists, but think that capitalism needs rules to prevent the abuse of workers and consumers.

Here's how Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman describes it in his New York Times column:

The first thing you need to know about the very rich is that they are, politically, different from you and me. Don’t be fooled by the handful of prominent liberal or liberal-ish billionaires; systematic studies of the politics of the ultrawealthy show that they are very conservative, obsessed with tax cuts, opposed to environmental and financial regulation, eager to cut social programs.

The second thing you need to know is that the rich often get what they want, even when most of the public want the opposite. For example, a vast majority of voters — including a majority of self-identified Republicans — believe that corporations pay too little in taxes. Yet the signature domestic policy of the Trump administration was a huge corporate tax cut. . . .

Why do a small number of rich people exert so much influence in what is supposed to be a democracy? Campaign contributions are only part of the story. Equally if not more important is the network of billionaire-financed think tanks, lobbying groups and so on that shapes public discourse. And then there’s the revolving door: It’s depressingly normal for former officials from both parties to take jobs with big banks, corporations and consulting firms, and the prospect of such employment can’t help but influence policy while they’re still in office.

Last but not least, media coverage of policy issues all too often seems to reflect the views of the wealthy. Take, for example, the issue of policies to combat unemployment.

Unemployment in the United States is currently at a historical low, just 3.5 percent — and we’re achieving that low unemployment without any sign of runaway inflation, which tells us that we were capable of this kind of performance all along. Remember when people like Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, told us that high unemployment was inevitable because of a “skills gap”? They were wrong.

But it took us a very long time to get here, because unemploymentreceded only slowly from its post-crisis peak. The average unemployment rate over the past decade was 6.3 percent, which translates into millions of person-years of gratuitous joblessness.

Why didn’t we recover faster? The most important reason was fiscal austerity — spending cuts, supposedly to reduce the budget deficit, that exerted a steady drag on the economy from 2010 onward. But who was obsessed with budget deficits? Voters in general weren’t — but surveys indicate that even when the unemployment rate was above 8 percent the wealthy considered budget deficits a bigger problem than lack of jobs.

And the news media echoed these priorities, treating them not as the preferences of one small group of voters but as the only responsible position. As Vox’s Ezra Klein noted at the time, when it came to budget deficits it seemed that “the usual rules of reportorial neutrality” didn’t apply; reporters openly advocated policy views that were at best controversial, not widely shared by the general public and, we now know, substantively wrong.

But they were the policy views of the wealthy. And when it comes to treatment of differing policy views, the media often treats some Americans as more equal than others. . . .

You may disagree with progressive ideas coming from Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, which is fine. But the news media owes the public a serious discussion of these ideas, not dismissal shaped by a combination of reflexive “centrist bias” and the conscious or unconscious assumption that any policy rich people dislike must be irresponsible.

And when candidates talk about the excessive influence of the wealthy, that subject also deserves serious discussion, not the cheap shots we’ve been seeing lately. I know that this kind of discussion makes many journalists uncomfortable. That’s exactly why we need to have it.


Political Cartoon is by Mike Smith in the Las Vegas Sun.

Incompetent Narcissist

Friday, December 27, 2019

Anais Nin

Public Says U.S. Lost More Respect In The World In 2019

The chart above reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between December 22nd and 24th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,240 registered voters). The margin of error for both adults and registered voters is 2.9 points.

Thanks to the ridiculous antics of Donald Trump, the U.S. lost a lot of respect in the eyes of the world in 2017 and 2018. The American public says overwhelmingly that the loss of respect continued in 2019.


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

5 Ways Trump Damaged The Environment In 2019

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

Donald Trump brags about the environmental record of his administration. He wants people to believe he is not damaging the environment. He is LYING!

Here, from Emma Newburger at cnbc.com, are five ways in which Trump seriously damaged our environment in 2019:

1. Regulations on methane leaks to be rolled back

The Trump administration in August announced plans to significantly weaken regulation on climate-changing methane emissions. If adopted, the government would no longer have to require oil and gas companies to implement technology to monitor and fix methane leaks from facilities and pipelines. The rule would also open debate on whether the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate methane as a pollutant.

Methane is dangerous because large amounts of it is escaping from oil and gas sites across the country and accelerating global warming. Methane levels have soared since 2007, with natural gas production as a primary suspect.

2. Repealing the Obama-era clean water rule

The EPA in September repealed a major Obama-era clean water regulation that curbed the amount of pollution and chemicals in the country’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.

The repeal allows polluters to discharge toxic substances into waterways without a permit, which could significantly harm the country’s sources of safe drinking water and habitats for wildlife. The Obama-era rule had aimed to protect 60% of the country’s water bodies from contamination and keep drinking water safe for about one-third of the country.

3. Weakening the Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration said in August it would change the rules for the Endangered Species Act, making it harder to protect wildlife from threats of human development and global warming.

The new rules make it easier to take out protections for threatened animals and plants and allow federal agencies to conduct economic assessments when deciding whether to protect a species from things like construction projects in a critical habitat. The rules also remove tools used by scientists to predict future harm to species from climate change.

4. Weakening climate plan to help coal plants stay open

The Trump administration in June implemented a rule that will keep coal-powered plants open longer, replacing an Obama-era climate effort to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions and continuing the administration’s efforts to ease regulatory burdens for the coal industry.

The so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule gives states more power to decide how to control emissions and less authority to the federal government in setting emissions standards. One of the administration’s goals is to allow coal power plants a chance to remain in business despite the rise in other forms of energy generation such as natural gas and solar.

5. Loosening Obama-era rules restricting auto pollution

The White House this year also prepared to eliminate an Obama-era regulation in place to reduce automobile emissions that contribute to global warming. The administration argues that the rollback is necessary for economic and safety reasons, though environmentalists say consumers would spend billions more in fuel costs and accelerate climate change.

Fortunate Cookies

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

No Shame - No Spine - No Integrity