Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Most Terrible Things Come From Obedience


Most Say leaving Afghanistan Will Not Increase Terrorism

The chart above is from a new Ipsos Poll. It was done on August 27th and 28th of a national sample of 513 adults, and has a 4.9 point margin of error. 

Some Republican officials are trying to scare Americans by claiming that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will increase the terrorist threat to the United States. They seem to forget that it was a Republican (Trump) who negotiated the withdrawal with the Taliban. 

The public does not agree with them. Only 36% say it will make the U.S. less safe from terrorism. About 63% say it will not (with 56% saying it will make no difference and 7% saying it will make the U.S. safer).

I understand the thinking of that 7%. If U.S. troops were withdrawn from all muslim countries, it would remove the main excuse for the muslim terrorists to attack the U.S. 

But personally, I agree with the 56%. It will neither increase nor decrease the terrorist threat to this country.

The Taliban just wants to be left alone to run Afghanistan. They know that inviting terrorists to set up camps in their country will just invite more attacks from the United States (from manned and unmanned flights at the very least). They are having enough trouble setting up a workable government without any further interference from the West.

Sending A Message

 Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

Nearly Half Of Public Gets COVID Info From Social Media

The chart above is from a survey done by the Pew Research Center. Their survey was done between July 26th and August 8th of a national sample of 11,178 adults, with a 1.4 point margin of error. 

It shows that nearly half of Americans say they've been getting information about COVID-19 and the vaccines from social media. I find that depressing, but it explains why so many people are misinformed.

I love social media (as my Facebook friends can tell you). But it is not a good place to get news -- about COVID and vaccines or anything else. It's a great place to stay in contact with friends and associates, but much of the "news" there is little more than propaganda -- or outright misinformation.

Americans are lucky in that they have many places to get real news. There are newspapers, TV, radio, and magazines that all dedicate themselves to reporting the truth. Use those sources for getting news, and use the social media for entertainment.

Brain Dewormer

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at Cagle.com.

Republicans Have Replaced Conservatism With Tribalism

Traditionally, conservatives have believed that government works best when it is closest to the people. They wanted local governments to do more than state and/or national government. That has now changed. Red state governors are now issuing top-down edicts that overrule local governments and school boards. In other words, Republicans have tossed out their conservative principles in favor of a weird brand of tribalism.

Here's part of how conservative commentator Charlie Sykes puts it at MSNBC.com:

Until about five minutes ago, conservatives opposed centralized, top-down regulations and fiercely defended the right of businesses to make their own decisions. They also understood “personal responsibility” was not a license to recklessly endanger others.

Until the latest war on vaccine passports, Republicans had also prided themselves on their belief in the principle of subsidiarity, which former House Speaker Paul Ryan defined as the belief that “government closest to the people governs best.” Big government, he argued, crowded out civic society, which was why conservative supported “having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.”

All of that now feels so last decade.

In its place, conservatives have embraced less an idea than a slogan. Opponents of the vaccine and mask mandates insist they are fighting to protect “Freedom!” But their opposition to basic public health measures would have seemed bizarre to earlier generations of conservatives.

The founders themselves understood that freedom required self-control and a sense of civic responsibility. They regarded unrestrained individualism as a danger to the virtues required by a free republic, and they did not confuse narcissism and selfishness with liberty.

To previous generations of conservatives, this was more or less self-evident; they embraced the balanced idea of “ordered liberty.” They understood that rights were balanced by responsibilities, especially when it came to public health and human life.

But in today’s GOP — with some exceptions — those notions have been scrapped, along with so many other ideas and principles like fiscal responsibility, the rule of law, support for liberal democracy and the foundational concept that character matters.

The result is a party held hostage to its own post-coherence politics, in which faux populism, tribalism and owning the libs has eclipsed genuine conservatism.

Unfortunately, we are likely to measure its impact in the loss of human lives.

It's Avoidable!

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

It's Time For Corporations To Pay Their Fair Share


Monday, August 30, 2021

Birds Of A Feather


The Real Socialism In The United States Is Corporate Welfare

The Republicans love to whine about socialism. They would have you believe that everything the Democrats try to do is socialism. It's not. But the crazy thing is that there is a brand of socialism in this country created and sustained by the Republicans -- a socialism for the rich and corporations.

Here's how Robert Reich describes it

You may have heard Republicans in Congress rail about how the Democrats’ agenda is chock-full of scary “socialist” policies. 

We do have socialism in this country — but it’s not Democrats’ policies. The real socialism is corporate welfare. 

Thousands of big American corporations rake in billions each year in government subsidies, bailouts, and tax loopholes – all funded on the taxpayer dime, and all contributing to higher stock prices for the richest 1 percent who own half of the stock market, as well as CEOs and other top executives who are paid largely in shares of stock. 

Big Tech, Big Oil, Big Pharma, defense contractors, and big banks are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate welfare.

How? Follow the money. These corporations and their trade groups spend hundreds of millions each year on lobbying and campaign contributions. Their influence-peddling pays off. The return on these political investments is huge. It’s institutionalized bribery. 

An even more insidious example is corporations that don’t pay their workers a living wage. As a result, their workers have to rely on programs like Medicaid, public housing, food stamps and other safety nets. Which means you and I and other taxpayers indirectly subsidize these corporations, allowing them to enjoy even higher profits and share prices for their wealthy investors and executives.

Not only does corporate welfare take money away from us as taxpayers. It also harms smaller businesses that have a harder time competing with big businesses that get these subsidies. Everyone loses except those at the top. 

It’s more socialism for the rich, harsh capitalism for the rest. 

It should be ended. 

Back To The Bad Old Days

 Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at Cagle.com.

Founding Fathers Gave Us An Idea - Not A Real Democracy


Sunday, August 29, 2021

At A Crossroad


Attack Didn't Change Public Opinion About Withdrawal


Poll after poll has shown that a significant majority of Americans believed it was right for the United States to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan. Then came the attacks in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. troops (and over a hundred Afghans wanting to leave). Did the attack change the public's opinion about withdrawal?

No! Registered voters (47% to 38%), Democrats (69% to 16%), and Independents (47% to 33%) still agree the withdrawal of our troops is the right thing to do. Only Republicans (17% to 72%) disagree.

I suspect the Republicans disagree just because a Democratic president is the one actually overseeing the withdrawal. They didn't seem to mind when Trump negotiated the withdrawal with the Taliban (or when he released over 5,000 Taliban prisoners).

The chart above is from the YouGov Poll -- done on August 26th of a national sample of 1,200 registered voters, and has a 3.8 point margin of error.

Running Out Of Chalk

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) in The Baltimore Sun.

To Our Heroic Health Care Workers - We Are Sorry

The true heroes of this pandemic are the health care workers. They have sacrificed to save the lives of Americans, and some of them have even died doing that. The sad part is that the pandemic could have been over if people had just worn masks and gotten vaccinated. Too many refuse to do either, and their refusal has caused the virus to come raging back. 

Now the health care workers are facing full hospitals, staff shortages, and continuing deaths (most of which could have been prevented). Do the unvaccinated (mostly right-wingers who whine about masks and vaccinations) even care about what they are doing to those health care heroes? They don't seem to care!

The following is from Dan Rather at steady.com. I think he speaks for most decent Americans.

Dear American Healthcare Workers,

On behalf of our nation, I am sorry. 

I am sorry that we are where we are today with a raging pandemic when free, incredibly effective vaccines are readily available. I am sorry the ICUs and emergency rooms are full with people who did not need to get this sick. I am sorry that selfishness, ignorance, and arrogance has exacerbated this crisis and that you have had to bear the burden of life-and-death battles, hospital bed by hospital bed. I am sorry that elected officials have tried to score political points by stoking anti-science narratives based on lies around this virus, the vaccine, and bogus treatments, while attacking your credibility and service. It is beyond shameful. I am sorry that you have been subjected to verbal and even physical abuse while you have risked your lives and the lives of your families. 

I remember in the early days of the pandemic when we would gather nightly in New York to applaud your sacrifice. In those days, there was no vaccine. There was no expectation that there would be any protection anytime soon. And yet, day after day, you went into the fight, trying to save lives. How long ago those days seem now. How much has transpired, some of it hopeful, much of it deeply discouraging. 

I would like to believe that the vast majority of Americans value your service, even if they will never know the full horrors you have had to endure. Like soldiers constantly on the frontlines, tour after tour, you have had little time for rest. I understand why you are drained, frustrated, and angry. I understand why many of you may choose to leave a profession that has been your life’s work. In times of war, many glibly thank members of the armed forces for their service, never understanding the full measure of their sacrifice. So is it with you today. We owe you much more than our gratitude. We owe you our lives. And we owe you the freedom that allows us to dream of a healthier future. 

It is a cruel irony that those who denigrate basic measures of public health under the misguided banner of “freedom,” have confined you to continued imprisonment in a nightmarish world of endless waves of new cases. And now the enemy has regrouped with a deadlier variant, and once again you are asked to man the battlements and repel the invaders. People who blithely castigated your knowledge and the vaccines now selfishly demand that they get every possible treatment. Their presence in crowded hospitals also means there is less time and fewer beds - if any at all - for you to treat patients with other medical needs, like strokes, trauma, and heart disease. The stress on the system builds. 

My hope is that your allies across the country, the tens of millions who have been vaccinated, who are trying to protect others and themselves from the virus, have also had enough. Mask mandates are growing, and politicians who try to ban them are receiving serious pushback. Vaccine mandates are also on the rise. This is all progress. But when the pandemic eventually fades, we will need to more than just acknowledge these measures of necessity. We will need to have a deep introspection, an after-action report, to understand how we pushed our healthcare system to the brink and how we make sure nothing like this ever happens again. 

Your heroic service deserves to be long remembered and celebrated. But I suspect, more than anything, you would yearn for the appreciation that comes from the humbling knowledge that our public health demands that we look out for each other, that we do all we can to protect our communities and the broader world. I pledge, and I ask others to do so as well, that we will not let this issue fade as the case numbers hopefully decrease. We must demand of our leaders that they fortify our nation for the public-health battles ahead. We need the press to be engaged and we need every platform that disseminates information to make sure that they ferret out the lies, and promote the truth. 

That is the least you deserve. 

With deep gratitude, 

Dan Rather 

Horse Sense Or Horse's Ass?

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

The 13 U.S. Heroes Killed By Terrorists In Kabul


Saturday, August 28, 2021

President Biden's Promise To Terrorist Murderers


The Dangerously Stupid Portion Of The U.S. Population

The chart above reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 21st and 24th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,242 registered voters), with a 2.7 point margin of error for adults (and 2.9 points for registered voters).

It shows the percentage of each groups that still refuses to be vaccinated.

The Enemy Of Our Enemy (Is Our Enemy)

 Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

I Mourn

 The following is from Dan Rather at steady.com. I think all decent and compassionate Americans would agree with it.

Tonight, I mourn. 

I mourn with a deep and heavy heart. 

I mourn for the Marines sacrificed at a gate in Kabul on a mission to save lives. 

I mourn for the scores more killed and maimed by this deadly attack. 

I mourn for those in danger of being left behind. 

I mourn for the American service members who have already been lost and wounded over 20 years of brutal conflict, and the casualties of our allies and civilians. 

I mourn for our nation, so torn by the most unseemly of politics, that a terrorist bomb becomes an excuse for point-scoring. 

I mourn for a pandemic of anti-science conspiracy theories that is filling our ICUs beyond capacity and killing by the hundreds of thousands. 

I mourn for all who have died because of the recklessness of others. 

I mourn for our planet, sick and aching. 

I mourn for all those suffering tonight, who are going to bed homeless, hungry, and frightened. 

I mourn for a world in mourning. 

I write this to find some solace in sharing this sadness with others, to find comfort in our common humanity. Loss is part of life. It comes in waves of unequal frequency, on a personal level and a global scale. We can create a space to share our feelings, tonight and going forward. Steady.

I leave you tonight with a famous quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, spoken by Malcolm in a moment of great tragedy: 

"Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."

While You're At The Feed Store

 Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

It's No Surprise That Sturgis Rally Was A Super-Spreader


Friday, August 27, 2021

Judge Sanctions Trump's Lying Lawyers


Poll On Issues And Party Favorability

The charts above reflect the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 21st and 24th of a national sample of 1,242 registered voters, with a 2.9 point margin of error.

The voters consider health care to be the most important issue facing this country (19%). Climate change (14%) and jobs and the economy (13%) were second and third in importance.

The two political parties are both upside down in favorability, but the Democratic Party (-4 net favorability) is viewed more favorably than the Republican Party (-30 net favorability).

Doing Death's Job

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Times.

Another 353,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week

The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that another 353,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on August 21st. This is a slight increase over last week's numbers, and is still a couple of hundred thousand higher than it would be in a healthy economy.

Here is the official statement from the Labor Department:

In the week ending August 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 353,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 348,000 to 349,000. The 4-week moving average was 366,500, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 377,750 to 378,000.

Cards For The Unvaccinated

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

McCarthy Lies Repeatedly In His Fox News Interview

It looks like Donald Trump has created a template for other Republicans to follow. They don't even bother with telling the truth anymore, but tell whatever lies they think will fool people into supporting them. A good example is Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In a recent interview on Fox News, he told five lies in a seven minute period. And these weren't little white lies. They were huge and outrageous lies!

Here, from CNN.com, are the lies he told followed by the truth:

1. Trying to liken President Joe Biden's tenure to the 1970s era of former President Jimmy Carter, which was beset by inflation and oil-related challenges, McCarthy claimed that oil prices are now "the highest that we have seen." 
    Facts FirstMcCarthy was wrong. Oil prices under Biden are not even close to the highest we have ever seen. Crude prices peaked in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush -- more than double their level at the time McCarthy's interview aired Sunday. Crude prices were also higher at various points under Republican President Donald Trump than they were on Sunday.
    2. McCarthy claimed that there is now "inflation at a number we have not seen." He then described the Biden era as "Jimmy Carter on steroids."
    Facts FirstMcCarthy was wrong again. While inflation was at a 13-year high in June and July, at a seasonally adjusted 5.3% on a year-over-year basis, it is not even close to the highest we have ever seen and not even close to the level of the late Carter era. Inflation was more than twice as high in every month of 1980 than it was in June and July of this year; its 1980 peak was 14.6%.
    3. Speaking about congressional Democrats, McCarthy asked, "Why aren't they protecting the border from those 5,000 prisoners who have just left Afghanistan and -- have the hope of coming across our borders?"
    Facts FirstThere is no basis for McCarthy's claim that 5,000 former prisoners have "just left Afghanistan" with the hope of coming to the US. And McCarthy neglected to mention that it was President Donald Trump's own 2020 deal with the Taliban -- a deal McCarthy had positive words about at the time -- in which the US agreed to let up to 5,000 Afghan prisoners go free.
    4. After Bartiromo pressed McCarthy about making sure future elections are free and fair, and mentioned states that are changing their voting laws, McCarthy said, "We have watched state after state where Democrats have left the state. That is where the real difficulty lies. But now we have got them back into Texas."
    Facts FirstIt's not true that Democrats have left "state after state" to prevent Republicans from passing changes to voting laws. Texas is the only state whose Democratic legislators left the state under Biden or Trump to deny Republicans the minimum attendance needed to pass elections legislation.
    5. McCarthy said Democrats' new elections bill "would ban ID voting." (McCarthy was more explicit on Twitter on Tuesday, tweeting that the Democratic agenda is to "ban voter ID in every state.")
    Facts FirstIt's not true that Democrats' elections bill would ban voter ID. Specifically, the Democratic bill would not prohibit states from having voter identification laws and would not prohibit states from checking the IDs of in-person voters. Rather, it would require states to give voters an alternative to showing the ID the states normally demand -- specifically, to allow voters who do not show that ID to instead submit signed statements under penalty of perjury attesting to their identity and eligibility to vote.

    The Virus Slayer

     Political Cartoon is by Ed Wexler at Cagle.com.

    Booster Shots Will be Recommended After Six Months


    Thursday, August 26, 2021

    Try To Understand Men


    DeSantis Gets Low Support On COVID-19 In Florida


    The charts above reflect the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between August 17th and 21st of a statewide sample of 997 Florida adults, with a 3.1 point margin of error.

    It seems the Florida adults aren't buying the garbage that Gov. DeSantis is selling!

    Bad Samaritan

    Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at Politico.com.

    Poll Shows The Opinions Of Teenagers In The U.S.

    These charts reflect the results of a recent Washington Post / Ipsos Poll. They surveyed a national sample of 1,349 young people between the ages of 14 and 18. The poll has a 3 point margin of error.

    I found the results interesting, and thought you might also.

    The FDA(s)

    Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

    Biden Is Keeping His Promise - But Some Will Still Complain

    President Biden is keeping his promise to evacuate Americans and our Afghan friends from that country. Over 83,000 have been evacuated, and many more will be evacuated before operations cease. But if you listen to the media, you might think the evacuation was a failure. It is NOT. But however many are evacuated, there are going to be some (especially on the right) who will not be happy with the results. Those people would not be happy if a million people were evacuated!

    Here is part of Jennifer Rubin's take on the situation in The Washington Post:

    Now that the number of evacuated Americans and at-risk Afghans has cleared 87,000 since the end of July (the vast majority of which are Afghans), the media’s premature declaration of “failure” looks off-base. Indeed, the coverage has tended to ignore or minimize the achievements of U.S. military and State Department personnel, which have exceeded any previous noncombatant evacuation operation. It becomes more difficult to argue that the United States has “abandoned” Afghans, given that we are moving heaven and earth to extract tens of thousands of them.

    But don’t expect the media to rethink its excessively gloomy verdict. Instead, get ready for the post-Aug. 31 coverage that will point to every stray American (even those who failed to reply to State Department messages). Moreover, we will be told of the plight of many Afghans left behind as evidence that President Biden didn’t keep his promise to get Americans and Afghan partners out. . . .

     The New York Times reports that “the Biden administration had identified about 50,000 special visa applicants, and their families, to be evacuated.” However, thousands more could qualify under the special immigrant visa (SIV) program or be considered “at high risk of being targeted by the Taliban — former Afghan security forces, government officials, journalists, judges and prosecutors, and women rights advocates among them.”. . .

    No one ever envisioned airlifting hundreds of thousands of people in such a short timeframe before the Afghan government collapsed. This was a challenge with the Trump administration’s May 1 deadline and by Biden’s agreement to leave by Aug. 31. But the problem of the left behind would have existed even if the deadline was Oct. 1 or Dec. 1. It’s simply not possible to remove a significant portion of the population after having lost the war.

    We could get all of the known SIV applicants, plus thousands of at-risk Afghans, and still leave many vulnerable Afghans behind. In one sense, every girl and woman might face a threat of persecution. But evacuating tens of millions of people is unimaginable.

    Meanwhile, MAGA folks will be turning themselves inside out to argue that the United States left too many Afghans behind while also complaining that it is taking too many in. Fevered hatred of Biden will collide with their xenophobia.

    The administration can and should continue to attempt rescue operations after Aug. 31. But some perspective is in order: The herculean effort could end up evacuating tens of thousands or even 100,000 Afghans and still fall far short of rescuing all at-risk Afghans. Yet this cannot be considered neglectful or hardhearted, because the pool of vulnerable Afghans is virtually limitless. . . .

    In sum, the commitment to remove Americans and SIV recipients who worked directly with the United States and its allies was never intended to rescue large swaths of the population. When the United States accomplishes something difficult — exceptional even — and acts with kindness, humanity and decency, it should be acknowledged, even if its performance falls short of perfection. Subsequent drafts of history must provide context, perspective and moral discernment.