Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Limits Of Tyrants


Are We Seeing The Start Of A New Youth Revolution ?

(This AP photo by Brynn Anderson is from The Seattle Times.)

I am old enough to have experienced the youth revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Youth in the Baby Boomer generation rose up and challenged the way things were done in the United States. They were for free speech and equal rights, and against war and discrimination. And as adults began to join that revolution, the country was profoundly changed.

As the country changed, that revolution was absorbed into the larger society. Since that time, America's youth have largely been silent. No widespread youth movements have survived. We saw in the last election a small youth movement to support Bernie Sanders. But that was political, and seemed to die out once the election was over.

The crisis of gun violence may be starting a new youth revolution. This crisis in gun violence is not new. For many years, this country has led the developed world in the number of gun deaths per capita, the number of gun murders per capita, and the number of mass shootings per capita (and this figure, already averaging more than one every day, is rising).

But the latest mass shooting (that occurred at a high school in Parkland, Florida) seems to have ignited a spark among young people. Young people are rising up and speaking out against the gun violence, and they are demanding action. They are angry, and they have the mastery of modern tools like cell phones and the internet to spread their anger to their peers across the nation.

Is this the start of a youth movement that will inflame the passions of the youth in our nation, and bring them together to initiate social change? It could be. I am encouraged by the passion they display alongside the reality they show by knowing there will be no overnight solutions. If they really mean what they say, they could actually accomplish some changes to slow gun violence -- and it could even spread to make other changes in our society and government.

I could be wrong. This youth movement could die out as quickly as it started. But I hope it survives, and grows. We need changes to our society and government, and this nation's youth could be the leaders in that change -- change that we adults have failed to make.

His Master's Voice

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

GOP Officials Are On Wrong Side Of Gun Violence Issue










These charts were made using information contained in a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between February 16th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,249 voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

The U.S. has had 19 school shooting in 2018, and it is averaging a mass shooting (shooting in which 4 or more are injured or killed) every day. America is waking up to the fact that something needs to be done to reduce the amount of gun violence in this country.

Unfortunately, our Congress is controlled by Republicans. Those Republicans have been bought by the NRA (through huge campaign donations), and they support the NRA policy (that no new gun laws or restrictions are needed. This is not going to help them in November, because the public disagrees. The public thinks action is needed, and 75% say Congress is not doing enough to control gun violence (and 52% say the Democrats would do a better job).

It has become obvious that NOTHING will be done about gun violence as long as the Republicans control Congress. We can fix that in November!

Victim ?

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

Only A Quarter Of Americans Have Seen More In Paychecks


When the new tax law was passed,  Trump and the congressional Republicans told Americans that it was a law that mainly benefitted the missile class -- and most Americans would see more money in their paychecks as a result of the new law. That has simply not happened.

The chart above shows the results of a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between February 15th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,989 registered voters, with a margin of error of only 2 points.

The poll shows that only about 25% of Americans have actually seen an increase in their paychecks due to less tax being deducted from it. The poll didn't ask how much more that 25% saw, but you can bet it was far less than the huge tax cuts the rich and corporations got out of the new law. I suspect for most it was just a pittance.

This was the law the Republicans were counting on to save them in the 2018 elections. I don't think it will do that -- especially since we are also not seeing the massive creation of new jobs that were also promised. I think the middle and working classes will understand that they were once again conned by the Republicans.

The Republicans made promises to the middle class, but delivered only to the rich and corporations. They should be punished for that in November.

Unbalanced

Political cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Nationwide Ban Of Assault Weapons Needed To Save Lives


From Niall McCarthy at statista.com:

After the Parkland shooting, it emerged that the perpetrator purchased his AR-15 assault rifle legally. That weapon and others like it were once banned under U.S. law and there are growing calls for a reintroduction of that legislation. 

The AR-15 is a civilian version of the military grade M16 and M4 family of rifles that are designed to deliver small sized bullets at high velocity in order to inflict catastrophic and lethal wounds. Whether these weapons actually serve a purpose on today's civilian market is a valid question. What is certain is that they have been used in a string of mass shootings including the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November, Las Vegas last October and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016. 

Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts at Boston says that "you would see drastic reductions in what I call gun massacres” if the 1994 federal assault weapons ban was reinstated. In his book "Rampage Nation", he defines a gun massacre as a shooting incident in which six or more people are shot and killed. He collected data on every gun massacre for the 50 years before 2016 and he found that the number of incidents fell during the assault weapons ban between 1994 and 2004. 

According to some of his findings which were published by the Washington Post, gun massacres fell 37 percent during the ban period and in the ten years after it lapsed in 2004, they went up an alarming 183 percent. Klarevas points out that the ban on high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds made a huge difference. He says that if that is regulated, there will be a considerable drop in massacres and fatalities.

Unfaithful

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

A Better System


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts And Prayers


Respect For U.S. President Is Lowest Since Bush's Final Years



The top chart is from the Gallup Poll -- done between February 1st and 10th of a random national sample of 1,044 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.

It shows that the American public is very aware of the lack of respect for Donald Trump among world leaders. Only 29% believe world leaders respect him -- lower than any percentage since the last couple of years of the Bush Administration (when only 21% or 22% thought world leaders respected our president).

The second chart is from a Gallup Poll survey in over 130 countries. It shows that while respect for our president has gone down among both our allies and non-allies, it has dropped the most among our allies. Among our allies, respect for the president has gone from 63.5% to 36.8% -- a drop of 26.7 points. Among non-allies, respect has dropped from 53.9% to 48.1% --a drop of 5.8 points.

Trump has seriously damaged the U.S. reputation in the world -- and sadly, the most damage has been among our allies. Many of them don't believe that can trust us any longer.

Misguided

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Most See N. Korea As Greatest Enemy (They Are Wrong)


This chart reflects the results of a recent Gallup Poll -- done between February 1st and 10th of a random national sample of 1,044 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Gallup asked respondents to name the one greatest enemy of the United States. North Korea was named by 51% of Americans (including 58% of Republicans, 50% of Independents, and 45% of Democrats). It seems that the scare tactics of Donald Trump (and pushed by our media) over North Korea getting a nuclear bomb and perfecting a missile to deliver it, has scared a lot of Americans. Russia finished a distant second in the poll.

I understand that fear of North Korea, but I don't agree with it. Yes, that country has a narcissistic blowhard as a leader (just like this country), but I don't think he's suicidal. He knows, just like other nuclear powers know, that sending a nuclear missile toward the United States would result in the utter destruction of his country. We have already proved that we will use nuclear power.

There is another country that is a much greater threat -- Russia. Russia is the only country that has recently attacked us -- with cyber warfare. And they continue to attack us. Their attack has targeted our most precious democratic institution -- the fair and impartial election of our leaders. Their attack has divided us and cast doubt on our electoral system. They represent, by far, the biggest danger to this country.

And neither Trump nor the Republican Congress is taking any action to stop or answer Russia's attack on the United States. To me, that approaches treasonous behavior.

Bloody Spot

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson at philly.com.

Public Still Has A Very Poor Opinion Of The GOP Congress



These charts represent the results of a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on February 13th and 14th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a 3 point margin of error.

It shows that the public still has no confidence in the Republican-led 115th Congress. About 15% think they are doing a good job, and only 6% believe they will actually address the nation's most serious problems.

Republican's Fear

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

It's NOT Mental Illness - It's Easy Access To Any Kind Of Gun


Right-wingers love their guns, and Republican officials love their campaign cash from the National Rifle Association (NRA). That's why they have desperately searched for any excuse for the abnormally high rate of gun murders and mass shootings in the United States.

They have blamed television, rock and/or rap music, video games, the lack of teacher-led prayers in schools -- anything to avoid admitting the obvious (that the problem is the proliferation of and easy access to any kind of firearm).

The latest excuse they are trying is to blame the mass shootings on the mentally ill. This is just as ridiculous as their other silly theories. All nations have people with mental health problem, but don't have those people committing gun crimes like in the United States. Mental illness is NOT the problem.

The following is part of an article written shortly after the Las Vegas shooting, but it is still valid today. It was written by Tase Rai for Behavioral Scientist.

Most Americans think that there is a strong link between mental illness and mass shooting, and shifting the national conversation to mental health reform carries the advantage of avoiding the more politically divisive gun-control debate. But what if Stephen Paddock had no diagnosable mental illness? And what if his mental state was the rule, not the exception? . . .

In their 2016 edited book Gun Violence and Mental Illness, psychiatrists Liza Gold and Robert Simon summarize the evidence debunking the myth that mental illness is a leading cause of gun violence. As they report, less than 5% of shootings are committed by people with a diagnosable mental illness. Like mentally healthy offenders, the mentally ill are far more likely to shoot people they know rather than strangers. The mentally ill are also far more likely to be victims of gun violence rather than perpetrators. These data suggest that the link between mental illness and mass shooting exists in our minds, not in reality.

This makes sense if we step back and think about it. Only four percent of the population will be diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Only one percent of the population is psychopathic, and only one percent of the population is schizophrenic, and sadism is so rare there is no agreed upon psychiatric diagnosis for it. As Gold and Simon report, the vast majority of people with these mental illnesses will not perpetrate gun violence. Therefore, even if the small fraction of the already small fraction of people diagnosed with mental illness were more likely to commit gun violence, they would not be able to account for most gun violence because of their low numbers.

Still, it can be difficult to accept that only five percent of shooting deaths are attributable to diagnosable mental illness because it feels like someone would have to be ‘crazy’ in order to shoot 600 strangers at a country music concert from a pair of hotel windows. But even if you believe that someone must be mentally ill in order to perpetrate a mass shooting, the key question is in whether that mental illness is diagnosable prior to the violent act. Remember, Paddock had no history of mental illness and no criminal record. This was not a question of adequate access to mental healthcare either. Paddock was successful and had the means to access care if he chose to. Thus, even if the most comprehensive and strictest mental health reforms were put in place, Paddock would have been unaffected; 95 percent of shooters would be unaffected.

Believing that mental illness causes mass shootings can feel reassuring. It helps to believe that only a mentally ill person could do something so horrific. We also think that if someone is mentally ill, they can be identified. But the evidence suggests that mental illness only causes a small fraction of gun violence. And even if some shooters have undiagnosed mental illness, there is no evidence to suggest that they could have been diagnosed prior to their gun violence or that such a diagnosis would increase the predictive validity of a diagnosis on gun violence.

Perpetuating the myth that mental illness is the cause of mass shootings only serves to stigmatize the mentally ill even further. In addition, it distracts from the more difficult conversation that must be had over gun-control in America.


Inaction

Political Cartoon is by Robert Ariail at thestate.com.

Myths Used To Attack Social Security And Medicare


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Freedom And The Right


Can Something Be Done About Our Gun Problem Now ?

(Cartoon image is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.)

In December of 2012, a man took an assault rifle and killed 20 first graders (and six teachers) in Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of us thought that would spur some action by Congress to address the widespread availability of guns in this country, and its contribution to an ever-growing number of mass shootings (averaging about one every day in the U.S.).

We were wrong. The congressional Republicans showed an amazingly cold-hearted ability to turn their backs on those dead children. They decided that the money they receive from the NRA (and gun manufacturers) was more important to them than the lives of American children. They offered "thoughts and prayers", and then did nothing.

So far this year, we have had at least 18 school shootings -- the most recent being the murder of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Florida. Once again, the nation is outraged. This time the students themselves are trying to start a movement to get something done, and the news networks are helping them pass the word. That's heartening, but the Republicans have shown us in the past that they can ignore a popular movement -- after all, about 90% of Americans support plugging the holes in the background check law, but that hasn't moved Congress to action. There's just too much NRA campaign money to give up!

But we may be seeing the beginning of a movement that could matter. Former Ambassador  (and prominent GOP financier) Al Hoffman, Jr. has declared that he won't give another penny to any Republican candidate that fails to act to ban assault weapons -- and he gives enough to matter. He's also trying to get other top Republican donors on board also. If he can get enough on board with him to seriously affect campaign donations (at least equaling the money from the NRA), that could actually spur the Republicans to take action.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Republicans to act on the gun violence, but at least someone's now talking about something they care about. They may not care about American lives, but they do care about donations to their own campaigns. In fact, it seems to be the only thing they care about.

Will enough donors come to their senses and join Hoffman? We'll just have to wait and see.

Too Many Dead Children

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

This Texas Poll Should Encourage Democrats Everywhere



These charts were made from a new University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll -- done between February 1st and 12th of a random sample of 1200 registered Texas voters (46% Republican, 44% Democrat, and 10% Independent), with a margin of error of 2.83 points.

It shows that the voters in Texas have a similar opinion of both political parties, and the generic ballot is very close (closer than any in recent memory). That should encourage Democrats everywhere, because Texas has been a very red state for the last couple of decades. Previous polls have shown Republicans with a much better advantage. If red-state Texas is this close, then other states (both red and blue) will probably have Democrats doing better than in the last few election.

Don't get me wrong. Texas will still be a very hard fight for Democrats this year. It will take a lot of hard work and a very large turnout of voters for the Democrats to do well. But there is a legitimate chance for Democrats to make inroads in both the state legislature and the delegation they send to the U.S. Congress -- and maybe in some statewide races (although that will be tougher).

Here are how some of the statewide candidates are polling within their own political party:

U.S. SENATE (Republican)
Ted Cruz...............91%
Bruce Jacobson, Jr.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,3%
Mary Miller...............3%
Geraldine Sam...............2%
Stefano de Stefano...............1%

U.S. SENATE (Democratic)
Beto O'Rourke...............73%
Sema Hernandez...............19%
Edward Kimbrough...............8%

GOVERNOR (Republican)
Greg Abbott...............95%
Barbara Krueger...............5%
SECEDE Kilgore...............0

GOVERNOR (Democratic)
Lupe Valdez...............43%
Andrew White...............24%
Grady Yarbrough...............7%
Tom Wakely...............7%
Adrian Ocegueda...............5%
Jeffrey Payne...............5%
Cedric Davis, Sr................4%
Joe Mumbach...............3%
James Jolly Clark...............1%

LT. GOVERNOR (Republican)
Dan Patrick...............88%
Scott Milder...............12%

LT. GOVERNOR (Democratic)
Mike Collier...............55%
Michael Cooper...............45%

LAND COMMISSIONER (Republican)
George P. Bush...............57%
Jerry Patterson...............31%
Davey Edwards...............6%
Rick Range...............6%

LAND COMMISSIONER (Democratic)
Miguel Suazo...............68%
Tex Morgan...............32%

As American As . . .

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

Political Scientists Say Trump Is Worst President Of AlI Time


The New York Times surveyed 170 political scientists and found that President Trump is currently ranked as the worst U.S. president in history.

Tightrope

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at cagle.com.

High School Senior Schools American Adults On Gun Control

(Photo of high school senior Emma Gonzales is by Rhona Wise / Getty Images.)

High school senior Emma Gonzalez made an amazing speech just days after 17 people were killed at her high school in Parkland, Florida. This speech should shame all American adults -- both those who want no gun control and those who have not insisted loudly enough that we must act to control guns.

Here is the transcript of her wonderful speech:

We haven’t already had a moment of silence in the House of Representatives, so I would like to have another one. Thank you.
Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.
We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student’s right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
Instead of worrying about our AP Gov chapter 16 test, we have to be studying our notes to make sure that our arguments based on politics and political history are watertight. The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives. AP Gov had about three debates this year. Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting while students were hiding in the closets. The people involved right now, those who were there, those posting, those tweeting, those doing interviews and talking to people, are being listened to for what feels like the very first time on this topic that has come up over 1,000 times in the past four years alone.
I found out today there’s a website shootingtracker.com. Nothing in the title suggests that it is exclusively tracking the USA’s shootings and yet does it need to address that? Because Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in Port Arthur (and after the) massacre introduced gun safety, and it hasn’t had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.
I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we’ve had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying ‘it is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.
We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.
There is one tweet I would like to call attention to. So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again. We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid. OK, we did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.
And how about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the student’s fault, the fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn’t take them away from him when they knew he expressed homicidal tendencies, and I am not talking about the FBI. I’m talking about the people he lived with. I’m talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
You want to know something? It doesn’t matter because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.
From the interactions that I had with the shooter before the shooting and from the information that I currently know about him, I don’t really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said he was diagnosed. I don’t need a psychologist and I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he’s stating for the record, ‘Well, it’s a shame the FBI isn’t doing background checks on these mentally ill people.’ Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.
The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS.Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.

Thoughts And Prayers (But No Action)

Political Cartoon is by Steve Greenberg at steve@greenberg-art.com.

The Tax Cut Scam


Monday, February 19, 2018

A Good Way To Wreck A Country


After 392 Days In Office Trump Still Trails Other Presidents


Donald Trump's job approval has risen slightly, and after 392 days in office it rests at 41.5%. That still trails all presidents since World War II. He is closest to Gerald Ford, who is 2.1 points ahead of him. Trump remains a very unpopular president!

This chart used information about poll averages for all presidents from fivethirtyeight.com.

Justice Or Just ICE ?

Political Cartoon is by Mark Wilson at empirewire.com.

Media Is Still Trusted More Than "Dishonest Donny"



Donald Trump knows he screwed up by trying to collude with the Russian government to affect the 2016 election (and yes, I think he ordered all of the attempts at collusion). Since he cannot fall back on the truth, he is taking a different course in an attempt to saving his presidency -- he's attacking the media. He wants Americans to believe the media made up the story about Russian collusion ("fake news") and is just spreading it because they don't like him.

But a majority of Americans aren't buying his lies -- his attempt to shift the blame for his own activities onto the media. About 51% say the "Russia story" is NOT fake news, while only 35% say it is. And the public trusts all of the major national media outlets (CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NY Times, and Washington Post) more than they trust Trump. Trust for FOX was not as high as for other media (provably because most recognize that it is propaganda -- not news), but it still outranked Trump.

These charts use information contained in a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done between February 9th and 11th of a random national sample of 687 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.7 points.

Insanity

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Donald Trump's Bad Habits Have Become Republican Habits

(Caricature of Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

When he was elected, some thought that other elected Republicans would have an effect on Trump and change him to being a more reasonable politician. They were wrong. Exactly the opposite has happened.

Instead of Trump changing Republicans, he has changed them -- and his bad habits have become their bad habits (especially for those working in the White House).

The following op-ed at Axios.com was written by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen:

All habits, good and bad — in all organizations, big and small — flow down fast from the top. This dynamic is particularly true in the White House, and unmistakably true in this Trump White House. 
The big picture: Trump’s lifelong habits — to improvise, to attack, to deny the undeniable, to leak — spread fast through the White House, metastasized in the agencies, and infected Republicans in Congress.  They are Republican habits now.
  • Look at Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose hold on his job looked more precarious after yesterday's devastating testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray. He made it almost impossible to believe the West Wing's assertion that no top officials knew the full extent of the Rob Porter allegations until the Daily Mail story broke.
  • You see Kelly reflecting Trump with harsh instincts and words on immigration — and with the chief's willingness to double down and say the Porter fiasco was handled fine, defying the reality apparent to his colleagues.
  • Look at the leaks pouring out of the White House — including the president himself musing to outsiders about possible replacements for Kelly.
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan says the current level of leaking — much of it against Kelly — is almost as bad as it was when a good proportion of the White House staff was trying to kill Reince Priebus.
  • Look at the White House silence in situations that under previous presidents would have elicited shame or condemnation. And look how almost every elected Republican now sits with similar silence. 
  • Look at the messy, understaffed agencies and disregard for traditional rules of the road.
  • Look at the staff-on-staff infighting, as Trump's style breeds internal factions.
  • And it spreads to the GOP ... Trump trashed the FBI, so aides freely trashed the FBI, so congressional Republicans gladly piled on. And now just 38% of the party views the agency favorably, according to our Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.
  • "Trump's habits have infected Kelly," the official also said. "Trump never backs off, and Kelly continues to insist that he's right."
Why it matters: Trump has spent his life creating his own reality inside his head. Spend enough time working with him, and it becomes hard to resist seeing the world his way. Those who refuse to do so wind up lashing and leaking.
The malignant atmosphere was captured by the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker: "Trump is presiding over a staff in turmoil, one with a 34 percent turnover rate, higher than any White House in decades."
  • "He has struggled to fill openings, unwilling to hire Republicans he considers disloyal and unable to entice Republicans who consider him unstable."
  • "Those who do come to work for him often do not last long, burning out from a volatile, sometimes cutthroat environment exacerbated by tweets and subpoenas."
Be smart: Staffers tell me they go through a cycle of being enamored of Trump's larger-than life persona, but then become frustrated by the environment he creates and allows, followed by anger at his self-destructive tendencies.

The Three "R's"


Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.