Friday, September 30, 2022

A Party Built On Lies


Trust & Approval Of Supreme Court Are At A Historical Low

The charts above are from the Gallup Poll -- done between September 1st and 16th of a nationwide sample of 812 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Fighting Male Dominance

 Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at

About 193,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week

The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that about 193,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on September 23rd. Here is the official statement from the Labor Department: 

In the week ending September 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 193,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 4,000 from 213,000 to 209,000. The 4-week moving average was 207,000, a decrease of 8,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,000 from 216,750 to 215,750.

Too Much Water

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.

Three Myths The Ultra-Rich Want You To Believe

 The following is the truth from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:

The stock market is down but don’t cry for America’s mega-billionaires. A record share of the nation’s wealth remains in their hands. They’re also paying a lower tax rate than the average American. 

So how do they justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths. All are utter rubbish. 

1. The first is trickle-down economics. They (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.

Really? For over forty years, as wealth at the top has soared, almost nothing has trickled down. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage today is barely higher than it was four decades ago. Trump provided a giant tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, promising it would generate $4,000 increased income for everyone else. Did you receive it? 

In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, forcing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages. 

2.  The second myth is the “free market.” The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for. The wages of other Americans have stagnated, they say, because most Americans are worth less in the market now that new technologies and globalization have made their jobs redundant.

Baloney. Even if they’re being rewarded, there’s no reason why the “free market’ would reward vast multiples of what the rich were rewarded decades ago. The market can induce great feats of invention and entrepreneurialism with lures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars — not billions. And as to the rest of us succumbing to labor-replacing globalization and labor-saving technologies, no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change. 

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in America for their own benefit. 

Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31 million in the 2010 elections to $1.2 billion in the most recent presidential cycle — a nearly 40-fold increase. What have they got for their money? Tax cuts, freedom to bash unions and monopolize markets, and government bailouts. Their pockets have been further lined by privatization and deregulation.

3.  The third myth is that they’re superior human beings — rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions. 

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors. 

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents. Jeff Bezos’ garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft.

Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in Southern Africa. (By the way, when I mentioned this in a recent video, Elon went nuts — tweeting that “You [sic] both an idiot and a liar.” Hmmm. Did I touch a nerve, Elon?)

Don’t fall for these three myths. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. The so-called “free market” has been distorted by huge campaign contributions from the ultra-rich. Don’t lionize the ultra-rich as superior “self-made” human beings who deserve their billions. They were lucky and had connections. 

In reality, there’s no justification for today’s extraordinary concentration of wealth at the very top. It’s distorting our politics, rigging our markets, and granting unprecedented power to a handful of people. 

The last time America faced anything comparable was at the start of the 20th century. In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy. 

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916, and the capital gains tax in 1922. Since that time, both have eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power — and have used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the 1929 crash not only as a financial crisis but as an occasion to renegotiate the relationship between capitalism and democracy. Accepting renomination in 1936, he spoke of the need to redeem American democracy from the despotism of concentrated economic power. 

“Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities,” he said, an “industrial dictatorship” now “reached out for control over Government itself. … [T]he political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor—other people's lives… Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it.”

FDR gave workers the power to organize into labor unions, the 40-hour workweek (with time-and-a-half for overtime), Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for injuries. He raised taxes on the top. 

But since then, these reforms have also eroded.

The two Roosevelts understood something about the American economy and the ultra-rich that has now reemerged, even more extreme and more dangerous. We must understand it, too — and act.

The Republican Hope

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pet in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Putin's Pet Thinks He Could Negotiate Peace In Ukraine


Thursday, September 29, 2022

He Wouldn't Fit In Today's Republican Party


Most Believe Trump Fraudulently Inflated Property Values

The chart above reflects the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 24th and 27th of a nationwide sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,341 registered voters). The margin of error for adults was 3.2 points, and for registered voters was 2.9 points.

MAGA Floridians Prepare

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Approval Of Congress And Favorability Of Parties In It

The charts above reflect the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 24th and 27th of a nationwide sample of 1,341 registered voters, with a 2.9 point margin of error.

A Clear Message

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in Reform Austin News.

PRRI Study Shows The Racism Among MAGA Republicans

The following op-ed is by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:

It has long been understood that the MAGA movement is heavily dependent on White grievance and straight-up racism. (Hence Donald Trump’s refusal to disavow racist groups and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” in the violent clashes at the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville.)

Now, we have numbers to prove it.

The connection between racism and the right-wing movement is apparent in a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey asked respondents about 11 statements designed to probe views on racism. For example: “White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.” The pollsters then used their answers to quantify a “structural racism index,” which provides a general score from zero to 1 measuring a person’s attitudes on “white supremacy and racial inequality, the impact of discrimination on African American economic mobility, the treatment of African Americans in the criminal justice system, general perceptions of race, and whether racism is still significant problem today.” Higher scores indicate a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs.

The results shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention to the MAGA crowd’s rhetoric and veneration of the Confederacy. “Among all Americans, the median value on the structural racism index is 0.45, near the center of the scale,” the poll found. “The median score on the structural racism index for Republicans is 0.67, compared with 0.45 for independents and 0.27 for Democrats.” Put differently, Republicans are much more likely to buy into the notion that Whites are victims.

The poll also found that the religious group that makes up the core of today’s GOP and MAGA movement has the highest structural racism measure among the demographics it surveyed: “White evangelical Protestants have the highest median score, at 0.64, while Latter-day Saints, white Catholics, and white mainline Protestants each have a median of 0.55. By contrast, religiously unaffiliated white Americans score 0.33.” This is true even though Whites report far less discrimination toward them than racial minorities do.

The survey also captured just how popular the “Lost Cause” to rewrite the history of the Civil War and downplay or ignore the evil of slavery is on the right: “Republicans overwhelmingly back efforts to preserve the legacy of the Confederacy (85%), compared with less than half of independents (46%) and only one in four Democrats (26%). The contrast between white Republicans and white Democrats is stark. Nearly nine in 10 white Republicans (87%), compared with 23% of white Democrats, support efforts to preserve the legacy of the Confederacy.”

Americans who fully support reforming Confederate monuments have a much lower structural racism index score, while those who oppose it have a much higher score. The same is true when it comes to renaming schools honoring individuals who supported slavery and racial discrimination or changing racist mascots.

Those who want to keep Confederate monuments and offensive mascots in place might deny that their views have anything to do with bigotry, but then again, they often deny the legacy of racism and paint Whites as victims, too. In general, MAGA forces have one goal when they amplify “replacement theory” or fuss over corporations promoting inclusivity: to maximize White anger and resentment.

Robert P. Jones, who leads PRRI, tells me, “While this result may seem surprising or even shocking to many White Christians, it is because we do not know our own history. If we take a clear-eyed look at our history, we see a widespread, centuries-long Christian defense of white supremacy.” He adds, “For example, every major Protestant Christian denomination split over the issue of slavery in the Civil War, with Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Baptists in the South all breaking fellowship with their Northern brethren.” Given that history, Jones says, “it’s hardly a surprise that a denial of systemic racism is a defining feature of White evangelicalism today.”

The PRRI poll shows the MAGA movement has done a solid job convincing the core of the GOP base that they are victims. And let’s be clear: An aggrieved electoral minority that believes it has been victimized and is ready to deploy violence is a serious threat to an inclusive democracy.

Don't Fuck With Women!

Political Cartoon is by Michael deAdder in The Washington Post.

Women Are No Longer Willing To Be Pawns Of A Patriarchy


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

An All-Consuming Desire For Power


Some Results From The CBS News / YouGov Poll

These charts are from the CBS News / YouGov Poll -- done between September 21st and 23rd of a nationwide sample of 2,253 registered voters, with a 2.3 point margin of error.

Mute Button Melt Down

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

GOP's Commitment To America Is Platitudes - Not A Plan

 The GOP revealed its "Commitment To America" last week. It was supposed to be a plan for what the Republicans would do if elected. Sadly, it was just a list of vague platitudes and nothing else. Here is what the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thought of it:

Despite its stated purpose, the vague and cynical “Commitment to America” that top House Republicans unveiled with fanfare last week wasn’t actually intended to tell the country what the GOP would do if it regains power. The party’s list of platitudes revealed more about its intentions than it intended to. The manifesto provides the latest evidence that the party stands for consolidation of its own power — and pretty much nothing else.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s “Commitment” is an unabashed attempt to recapture the midterm momentum similar to what Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, did in 1994 with his “Contract with America,” which helped Republicans win the House that year.

Gringrich’s contract was a list of catchy phrases that appealed to conservative voters’ emotions (most of which, thankfully, never made it into law), but it had the virtue of specificity. For example, it promised to require a three-fifths House majority to pass tax hikes, impose the first-ever term limits on House members, prohibit welfare to minor mothers and pass a balanced-budget amendment. The plan included 10 fully written pieces of legislation addressing fiscal policy, crime, job creation, tort reform, House rules and more.

As counterproductive, short-sighted and often cruel as much of Gingrich’s policy agenda was, it was at least an actual, actionable agenda. Contrast that to most of what McCarthy and his inner circle offered last week.

McCarthy’s plan would strengthen the economy by curbing “wasteful government spending” (like what?) and passing “pro-growth” tax policies. Meaning, more tax cuts for the rich? It doesn’t say.

Its crime-fighting plan is to hire 200,000 more cops, with no word on how that would be paid for or other details. The plan’s similarly non-specific vow to “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare” is especially insulting coming from a party that routinely threatens the stability of both.

Among the few somewhat specific promises in the plan is to promote voter ID laws and “accurate voter rolls,” which is effectively code for the kind of vote-obstruction efforts the party has already undertaken around the country. The plan’s only reference to the abortion issue roiling so much of America today is a vow to “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” Does that mean a nationwide abortion ban? Anyone’s guess.

McCarthy’s game here is obvious: With Republicans no longer looking at a cakewalk to the majority in the midterms thanks to widespread fury over the party’s threat to abortion rights and its continued fealty to an increasingly unhinged ex-president, he’s looking for a way to rally the base while pretending to have a specific agenda to present to the rest of the country.

A party that won’t say, in detail, what it will do with power either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want the country to know. Either possibility should be viewed by the voters as disqualifying.

Putin Mobilizes (An Exodus)

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

We MUST Be Interested In Politics


New Poll Shows The Midterm Election Is Very Close

The charts above are from The Washington Post / ABC News Poll -- done between September 18th and 21st of a nationwide sample of 1,006 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error. 

Trump's Tower

 Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers at

Support Women In Their March To Freedom/Justice/Equality

The following excellent op-ed is by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner:

The news emerging from Iran describes a courageous fight for freedom.

When it comes to repression, the Iranian government is among the most brutal in the world. Now protests are sweeping the country after its notorious "morality police" killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly not wearing her hijab appropriately. The widespread response has united people of different ages, economic classes, ethnicities, and even religiousness. 

The Iranian people have protested before in the wake of other outrages. And, once again, a brutal and bloody crackdown is underway. If the past is prologue, hundreds will die. But reports from the country suggest that the embers of disgust at the regime will not be easily extinguished — no matter the arrests, tear gas, or bullets. Many Iranians are saying some version of, “We have nothing to lose.” And it is difficult to permanently subdue a population that feels that way. 

Another hallmark of these protests has echoes in other movements active around the world, including in the United States. And it is one that should have Iranian authorities rethinking their assumptions. At the frontlines of these protests are women. They are burning their headscarves, dancing in the streets, and chanting their truths. 

It is impossible to overstate the courage of these actions. They represent a direct repudiation of a system that oppresses women at all stages of life. Iranian women are fighting for the most basic of human rights: the right to be themselves. In this fight, they are of course not alone. Around the globe, societies that differ in such matters as religion, race, ethnicity, or even form of government often have one thing in common — women have fewer rights than their male counterparts. Their work is less valued, their autonomy questioned, their voices silenced. 

Most if not all present-day societies have been constructed by men to further domination by men. This dynamic is fundamentally incompatible with a truly just and equitable society, no matter how soaring the rhetoric of one’s constitution. 

And that is the case in our beloved United States. You aren’t truly a representative democracy if women are not equal citizens, both in practice as well as in law. Our country and others have achieved progress toward this goal, but much remains to be done. And while male allies have aided the cause in America, women have inevitably been compelled to rely on their courage, determination, ingenuity, intelligence (and any other positive adjective you wish to offer), to secure more of an equal footing in their own country.

Now, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, what had seemed to many a consistent march of progress has been thrown backward. Roe's reversal signified the culmination of a trend years in the making. Indeed, the election of Donald Trump and all he stood for was not only a rebuke of women’s progress but a threat to women’s rights. Hillary Clinton, who would have been the country's first woman president, warned the nation during the 2016 campaign. Like those of countless women before her, her concerns were too readily dismissed. 

During the Trump presidency, many of those who stood up to defend American democracy most forcefully and effectively were women. There was the Women’s March in the immediate wake of the inauguration, to let the world know there would be a vocal and passionate opposition. Women ran for and won elected office in 2018 and 2020 by campaigning as bulwarks against Trump and Trumpism. And women lawyers took action in a variety of forums to protect America’s rights and ideals against the Trump assault. My friend Dahlia Lithwick profiles many examples of this mobilization in her wonderful new book Lady Justice

To be sure, women are not monolithic in their politics. There are millions who support Trump, and it was the addition of a woman to the Supreme Court — Amy Coney Barrett — that helped cement the end of Roe. But one need only look at the gender gap for voters in this country to recognize that if women were still barred from exercising this basic right (as they were for the majority of this nation’s history), we would be a very different country. And that’s putting it mildly. It’s chilling to contemplate where we would be. 

Is it a coincidence that of all the Republicans who could have spoken out against the outrages of Trump, it is a woman, Liz Cheney, who has done so most forcibly and has faced the biggest backlash?

Is it surprising that the most direct efforts to hold Trump legally accountable to date have come from women, and Black women at that — New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fani T. Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia?

Is it shocking that in the wake of Dobbs and other outrages, women would once again rally in defense of a vision for America that is inclusive and empathetic?  

This nation, and our larger world, are greatly improved by women’s activism and political involvement. That is a statement of fact. The evidence is overwhelming. In the United States, it is striking that women, who have felt the inequality of American democracy from its inception, should be among its fiercest protectors and improvers. This is something women share with Black America and a reason why women of color in particular have played such a vital role in making our country better against long odds. 

We are headed into an election where the forces summoned by Trump still threaten the future of American democracy. If they are defeated, it is likely to be because once again women stepped in to save the country from itself. 

In the long run, from the streets of Iran to the ballot boxes of America, from political movements around the world to the dreams of young girls who know they are just as capable as their male counterparts, we can find a real and persistent hope that women will also help save the world from itself. 

Let us hope that, regardless of gender, nationality, race, religion, or other distinction, there will be widespread support for women in this march toward the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality.