Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Comfort Of The Rich


Voters Prefer Democrats And Oppose Trump Policies


These charts are from the new CNN / SSRS Poll -- done between October 12th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,010 respondents, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

It shows that the Democrats would have a clear advantage if the election for Congress was held right now (51% Democrat to 37% Republican). That's a significant 14 point advantage.

That same poll showed that the public doesn't approve of the job Trump is doing (by a 20 point margin) -- and doesn't like the policies he has put forth (by an 18 point margin).

It's still more than a year until the next election, but the Republicans have a lot of work to do if they want to hang on to both houses of Congress -- and Donald Trump is not helping them at all.



Hazards

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

6 Out Of 10 Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws


This chart shows the results of Gallup Polls taken in the 21st Century, with the latest being done between October 5th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,028 adults, with a 4 point margin of error. Note that the percentage wanting stricter gun laws has been rising since 2011 (now at 60%), while those wanting to keep the laws as they are or make them less strict have been falling.

Deciphering Tillerson

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

Gregg Popovich Blasts The "Soulless Coward" In White House

(This photo of Popovich was found at Daily Kos.)

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich responded to Trump's press conference lies, and he minces no words. I believe he clearly states the feelings of millions of Americans. Popovich said:

I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this President had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.
This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets.  We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Charter Delivery

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

A Dose Of Truth From Senator John McCain

I don't always agree with Senator John McCain, but I respect his service to this country. And I agree with the following words from his speech at the National Constitution Center when receiving the Liberty Medal. I post just a tiny part of his speech, but you can go here to read the rest. He said:

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.
We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.
We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.
To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

Childish President

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

The Devolving Of The GOP


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Too Many Guns


Public Believes Economy And Trump Tax Plan Favor Rich



During the Reagan administration, the Republicans instituted their supply-side economic policy (commonly known now as "Trickle-Down" economics). They promised that giving more tax breaks and less regulations to the rich and corporations would benefit everyone in the country. They lied.

The rich got much richer, the poor got poorer, and the middle class has shrunk (and continues to shrink). Democrats have tried to change the economic policy, but Republicans have blocked all those efforts. The truth is that the GOP economic policy has been good for only one class of people -- the rich.

Now, it looks like Americans are finally figuring that out (after too many years of believing the Republican lies). A new poll shows that a significant majority of Americans believe the current economic policy favors the rich.

Trump, and his GOP colleagues in Congress, are once again trying to fool the American people. They say they are giving a huge tax cut to the middle class. It's not true. Most of those tax cuts will go to the corporations and the rich -- the only entities that don't need a tax cut (and shouldn't get one).

The same poll shows that the public is not buying the lie this time. They believe it's just more trickle-down, with the rich getting favored by the tax plan. The public is in favor of a tax cut, but they don't think that cut should go mainly to the rich.

The charts represent the findings in a new CBS News / YouGov Poll -- done between October 11th and 13th of a random national sample of 2,371 adults, with a 2.5 point margin of error.

Delivering The Trump Tax Cut

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

American Public Has A Low Opinion Of Trump








These charts reflect the results of a new CBS News / YouGov Poll -- done between October 11th and 13th of a random national sample of 2,371 adults, with a 2.5 point margin of error. They show the American public has very little faith in the Trump administration.

Almost A Quorum

Political Cartoon is by Jack Ohman in The Sacramento Bee.

Trump's Spiteful Agenda Is Because He Can't Measure Up To President Obama In Any Way

 In a press conference yesterday, Donald Trump stated that he and President Obama were opposites. That is probably the truest statement he has made since being sworn in last January.

And when you compare those opposites, Trump comes up wanting in every comparison. That's probably why he has made it a point to try and destroy every one of President Obamas accomplishments. Those accomplishments make Trump's desires seem small and pathetic -- and Obama's character shows the many defects in Trump's own character.

Here is part of an excellent op-ed by Charles M. Blow in the New York Times on this subject:

It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.
This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.
In fact, if there is a defining feature of Trump as “president,” it is that he is in all ways the anti-Obama — not only on policy but also on matters of propriety and polish. While Obama was erudite, Trump is ignorant. Obama was civil, Trump is churlish. Obama was tactful, Trump is tacky.
There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste.
The example Obama set makes the big man with the big mouth look smaller by the day. But I believe that this nonadjustable imbalance is part of what has always fueled Trump’s rage against Obama. Trump, who sees character as just another malleable thing that can be marketed and made salable, chafes at the black man who operated above the coarseness of commercial interests and whose character appeared unassailable.
America — even many of the people who were staunch opponents of Obama’s policies — admired and even adored the sense of honor and decency he brought to the office. Trump, on the other hand, is historically unpopular, and not just in America. As The Pew Research Center pointed out in June: “Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.” Trump is reviled around the globe and America’s reputation is going down with its captain.
All of this feeds Trump’s consuming obsession with undoing everything Obama did. It is his personal crusade, but he also carries the flag for the millions of Americans — mostly all Republicans — who were reflexively repulsed by Obama and the coalition that elected him. . . .
Trump isn’t governing with a vision, he’s governing out of spite. Obama’s effectiveness highlights Trump’s ineptitude, and this incenses Trump.

Trump Halloween Costume

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

This Is Capitalism


Monday, October 16, 2017

Narcissist


The Only Thing To Trust About Trump Is His Untrustworthiness


This chart shows what the American public thinks about Donald Trump. By a 20 point margin, they don't think he is honest and trustworthy. There is good reason for them to believe this. He has failed to keep his word many times in the past.

He continued to violate the law by refusing to rent his properties to minorities -- even after being called on it by the federal government. He has refused to pay his debts to contractors and even his own lawyers -- and when called on that, declares bankruptcy. And he lies repeatedly, even when the lies make no sense and are completely unbelievable.

Sadly, he has carried that untrustworthiness into the White House. According to the Washington Post, he has told well over 1,000 lies since being sworn in, and is on target to tell more than 2,000 in his first year in office.

But the worst thing about his dishonesty is that he has applied it now to the government. He has pulled actions off that convince not just Americans, but the world, that this government cannot be trusted as long as Trump is president.

He has pulled us out of NAFTA, pulled us out of the Paris Accords, decertified the Iran Agreement, and refused to honor U.S. law by stopping government subsidies to help working and middle class people to buy insurance. He has shown the world that it's useless to make an agreement with the United States, because Trump will negate that agreement at the drop of a hat. He has destroyed the reputation and trust of this country.

The only thing about Trump that can be trusted is that he can never be trusted -- and as long as he's president, neither can the government of the U.S. be trusted.

The chart above shows the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between October 7th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,278 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

The Destroyer

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

Public Says GOP Most To Blame For Congressional Inaction


Donald Trump wants Americans to believe that the dysfunction of the 115th Congress is due to Democrats. But the public is not buying that ridiculous lie. They know who has a majority in both houses of Congress, and they put most of the blame on that party -- the Republican Party.

About 44% of all adults (and 45% of registered voters) blame the Republicans, while only 12% of adults (and 13% of registered voters) blame the Democrats. The remainder blames both parties equally.

This chart reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between October 7th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,278 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points (3.2 points for registered voters).

Qualifications ?

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at cagle.com.

The 11 Steps To A Healthier (And Fairer) U.S. Economy


A little over three decades ago, the American people were conned by congressional Republicans and right-wing economists. They were told that "trickle-down" (supply-side) economics would benefit all Americans. This is the idea that giving more to the rich and corporations (through tax cuts and deregulation) would benefit everyone, because that extra money given to the rich would trickle down to everyone else in the form of new jobs and higher wages.

That policy was a massive failure. The rich got much richer and the corporations made much larger profits, but nothing trickled down. Workers saw their wages stagnate, and their buying power actually fall as inflation ate away at those stagnate wages This trickle-down policy is slowly turning the U.S. into a country of "haves" and "have-nots" as it destroys the once vibrant middle class.

Now Trump, and his congressional Republican cohorts, want to double-down on this failed economic policy. They claim they want to give the middle class a tax cut. Unfortunately, it's just another huge lie. Their tax cut plan would actually benefit the rich and the corporations, while giving some in the middle class a small cut and actually raising taxes on others. It's just more trickle-down nonsense.

It doesn't have to be this way. There are ways to improve the economy for everyone (if the Republicans could be voted out of power). Here are the 11 steps, from the Economic Policy Institute, that could (and should) be taken to fix the economy -- making it healthier and fairer.

Raise the minimum wage

In 2015, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage is about 25 percent below what it was in 1968—even though productivity has doubled and the education and skills of those in the bottom fifth have greatly improved. Moving the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would benefit about a third of the workforce directly and indirectly.

Update overtime rules  

The share of salaried workers eligible for overtime has fallen from 65 percent in 1975 to just 11 percent today. This is largely because only those earning less than $23,660 (a poverty-level wage) are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act regardless of their workplace duties. Fortunately, President Obama has instructed the Department of Labor to revise this salary threshold. If we move the threshold to the value it held in 1975—roughly $51,000 today—we would provide overtime protections to 6.1 million more workers. This would provide them with higher pay and/or more leisure time, while providing incentives for companies to hire more workers.

Strengthen collective bargaining rights

The single largest factor suppressing wage growth for middle-wage workers over the last few decades has been the erosion of collective bargaining, which has affected both union and nonunion workers alike. Making it easier for willing workers to form unions, increasing penalties for corporate violations of labor laws, and halting and reversing the spread of so-called right-to-work laws will help give workers the leverage they need to bargain for better wages and benefits and set high labor standards for all workers.

Regularize undocumented workers

Undocumented workers are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers. Consequently, they earn lower wages than workers who have greater access to legal protections and are able to switch jobs more readily. President Obama’s executive actions to provide work authorization to undocumented workers, and comprehensive immigration reform that in addition provides them a path to citizenship, are polices that will provide these workers with basic workplace protections and enable them to earn higher wages. Regularizing undocumented workers will not only lift their wages, but will also lift wages of U.S. workers in the same fields of work.

Provide earned sick leave and paid family leave

The United States has failed to adopt new labor standards that respond to emerging needs. In particular, we need updated standards to assist workers and their families in achieving a better balance between work and family. Providing earned sick leave and paid family leave would help to raise workers’ pay—and would give them more economic security.

End discriminatory practices that contribute to race and gender inequalities

Generating broader-based wage growth must also include efforts to close race and gender inequities that have been ever-present in our labor market. We need consistently strong enforcement of antidiscrimination laws in the hiring, promotion, and pay of women and minority workers. This includes greater transparency in the ways these decisions are made and ensuring that the processes available for workers to pursue any violation of their rights are effective.

Support strong enforcement of labor standards

The enforcement of labor standards in the United States is so weak that hundreds of thousands of employers routinely fail to pay minimum wage or overtime, fail to protect employees from workplace hazards, fail to pay payroll taxes or worker’s compensation premiums, or fail to provide family and medical leave. Wage theft alone costs employees tens of billions of dollars a year, and lack of worker’s compensation coverage, unemployment insurance coverage, or Social Security coverage can cost them billions more. More enforcement and tougher penalties are needed to deter these violations, and access to the courts must be available to injured workers. Employers’ growing use of forced arbitration—where employees, as a condition of employment, give up their right to sue in the public courts and are shunted into secret, private proceedings that can both be more costly and provide poorer remedies—must be stopped and reversed. As government enforcement resources decline, it is vital that workers have effective remedies in state and federal courts for labor standards violations.

Prioritize very low rates of unemployment when making monetary policy

Federal Reserve Board policymakers are now considering when and how much to raise interest rates. In essence, a decision to raise interest rates is a decision to slow the economy and weaken job and wage growth. Given that wages have stagnated and that many communities have yet to adequately benefit from the recovery, it is imperative that monetary policymakers keep their foot off the brakes and allow the recovery to proceed as quickly as possible. Policymakers should not seek to slow the economy until growth of nominal wages (wages unadjusted for inflation) is running comfortably above 3.5 percent (which is consistent with ongoing productivity growth of 1.5 percent and a target inflation rate of 2 percent).

Enact targeted employment programs and undertake public investments in infrastructure to create jobs

To obtain full employment for all, we need policies that can direct jobs to particular areas that suffer from high unemployment even when the national labor market is largely healthy. These policies can include public and nonprofit employment programs that create jobs by meeting unmet needs. Additionally, undertaking a sustained (for at least a decade) program of public investment can create jobs, raise our productivity, and spur economic growth.

Reduce our trade deficit by stopping destructive currency manipulation

Many of our major trading partners engage in intentional currency manipulation—buying up dollar-denominated assets on global financial markets simply to depress the value of their own currency. This depressed currency value makes imports cheaper in the U.S. market and U.S. exports more expensive. This results in a larger trade deficit and slower job growth. Eliminating currency manipulation could reduce the U.S. global trade deficit by between $200 billion and $500 billion each year, which could increase overall U.S. GDP by between $288 billion and $720 billion and create between 2.3 million and 5.8 million U.S. jobs. Congress and the president should reject any trade treaties that do not have enforceable provisions to combat currency manipulation.

Use the tax code to restrain top 1 percent incomes

Tax preferences for executive pay can be eliminated or their use tied to the executive’s firm giving wage increases equal to productivity growth. Others have recommended tying corporate tax rates to the ratio of executive pay to median worker pay, as well as changes to corporate governance procedures. Additionally, imposing a financial transactions tax can steer investments toward productive uses and away from speculation, and restrain unproductive financial activity and pay. Finally, higher top marginal tax rates can reduce the incentive for financial-sector professionals and corporate managers to rig markets or suppress wage growth to make more income flow their way.

Poorly Treated

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Prisons Are Not The Answer To Social Problems


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Religion


Public Doesn't Support Trump Actions On Obamacare




Donald Trump has shown his true colors about health insurance for Americans. He said during the campaign, and immediately after being sworn in, that he wanted a better plan for Americans -- one that would cover all Americans with health insurance. But he has not kept his word.

Every Republican plan that he backed would take health insurance away from millions of Americans. None of those terrible plans were able to get enough votes to pass, so Trump decided to destroy Obamacare on his own (with executive orders). He has signed orders that would let insurance companies offer low-benefit plans and would stop the government subsidies to help insurance companies keep their premium costs down.

The effect of those orders is that many Americans will lose their insurance, and the others will see their insurance costs rise sharply. Trump's hatred of Obama (and the insurance plan he passed) has caused him to make the health insurance system in the U.S. significantly worse. Now, he must own the failing system -- failing mainly due to his own actions.

And he may have hurt his party in next year's elections. The public didn't want his actions. About 71% wanted him to make Obamacare work better, not make it fail (as he has now done).And 60% wants the payments guaranteed (the same payments that Trump has stopped). Also, 66% want the efforts to repeal Obamacare to stop, and for Obamacare to be improved.

The charts above are from a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation -- done between October 5th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,215 adults, with a 3 point margin of error.

Black Hole


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Public Opposes Trump's Overturning Of Clean Air Regs


President Obama signed the Paris Accord to reduce global warming, and then issued an executive order that would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 1/3 in the next 13 years. Donald Trump has reversed course for this country. He has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Accords and issued orders negating the Clean Air Initiative of President Obama.

But it turns out that, once again, Trump is acting in opposition to the wishes of a majority of Americans. About 56% of the public favors keeping the Obama regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1/3, while only 33% opposed those regulations. Trump may be making his base happy, but he is hurting himself with the general population.

The chart reflects the result of a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on October 10th and 11th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

Going Backwards

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

The Religious Right Has Become Sociopathic

(Cartoon image is by Mike Peters at grimmy.com.)

The following is much of a thought-provoking article by Tim Rymel in The Huffington Post:

Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of these initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology. 
Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?
Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).
We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. . . .
It’s common for us to avoid cognitive dissonance, when our beliefs dictate one thing, but our experiences show us something else is true. We call this living in denial, and we all do it on one level or another. But when we choose our “truth” while coldly watching a fellow human being suffer, we’ve crossed a line of mental health. 
The 2016 election demonstrated an especially high level of insincerity, shamelessness, poor judgment and pathological egocentricity among Christian evangelicals. James Dobson, who once said of Bill Clinton, “Character does matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world,” and then said of Donald Trump, “I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example. “It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.” 
The evangelical Christian message is loud and clear. They care for no one but themselves. Their devotion is to the version of Christianity they have created, which calls for ruthless abandonment of immigrants, women, children – even their own – and anyone else who doesn’t fall inline with their message. Social justice, which is mentioned in Bible verses over two thousand times, has been replaced with hardline political ideology. Principle over people. Indifference over involvement. Judgment over generosity. 
Every generation redefines what it means to be, or belong to a religious group. Religious ideologies, interpretations, and doctrines are fluid. But whatever it is, or whatever it becomes, is made by the people who belong to the religion and what they collectively decide to make it.

With A Racist President

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

"Faith"


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fanny Lou Hamer


Public Is Unhappy About Slow/Inadequate Aid To Puerto Rico




George W. Bush hurt his presidency by his inadequate response to the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Now it looks like Donald Trump is creating the same kind of problem for himself with his slow and grossly inadequate response to the disaster in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria.

A majority of Americans believe the federal response to Puerto Rico has been too slow, and they don't believe the federal government is doing enough to help Puerto Rico. Trump is already the most unpopular of our modern presidents, and his lame response to the Puerto Rican disaster is not going to help that. It may well make him even more unpopular.

These charts are from a new Kaiser Family Foundation Poll -- done between October 4th and 8th of a random national sample of 1,008 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.