Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Never Be Fearful


Number Of Uninsured Americans Has Risen Under Trump


The chart above reflects the numbers in a newly released Gallup Poll. It was done between October 1 and December 31st of 2017 of a random national sample of 25,072 adults, with a margin of error of only 1 point. It compares the number of uninsured Americans in the 4th quarter of 2016 (Obama;s last year in office) with the 4th quarter of 2017 (Trump's first year in office).

Note that the percentage of uninsured Americans has risen since Trump took office by 1.3% (from 10.9% to 12.2%), reversing a trend of several years that had the percentage decreasing. And there was a rise in the percentage of uninsured in every income, racial, and age group but one -- those over 65 who are covered by Medicare (and Trump and the congressional GOP are laying plans to cut Medicare).

That 1.3% may not sound like much, but in a country with a population of over 323 million people, that translates to about 4 million people. That's a lot of people who no longer have any health insurance -- and Trump's policies are just beginning to disrupt the insurance market. I expect there will be millions more who've lost their insurance at this time next year.

Least Racist ?

Political cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

The Voters Grade Trump On His First Year In Office


This chart uses information contained in a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done on January 4th and 5th of a random national sample of 1,988 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error. Those voters were asked to grade Trump on how well he did in his first year in office -- with "A" being excellent and "F" being a failing grade.

All voters gave Trump the following:
A = 18%
B = 17%
C = 14%
D = 11%
F = 35%

The demographic breakdown is shown in the chart above -- with A/B (good grades), C (average), or D/F (poor grades).

Not Using The Code Words

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Corruption Is Alive And Well In The Trump Administration

(Cartoon image is by Mark Bryan.)

It didn't take corporations, organizations, foreign powers, and politicians long at all to discover the way to influence Donald Trump -- appeal to his naked greed. Direct payments to Trump are illegal, but since Trump did NOT divest himself of his businesses, there is an easy way to funnel money to him -- just put that money into his businesses. While that may not be directly illegal (but should be), it does make his administration easily corruptible. And that is exactly what's happening. Consider this from Public Citizen:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 60 trade groups, companies, religious groups, charities, foreign governments, interest groups and political candidates are spending money at President Donald Trump’s properties, a new Public Citizen report finds.
The report, “Presidency for Sale,” documents 64 instances in which Trump’s sprawling set of businesses has resulted in a unique set of conflicts that previously were unimaginable for the president of the United States. Those spending money at Trump hotels, golf courses, restaurants and real estate developments around the world include:
  • 35 political candidates or political organizations;
  • 16 trade or interest groups;
  • 4 charities, including one run by Trump's son Eric;
  • 4 foreign governments;
  • 3 religious groups;
  • 2 individual companies; and
  • 1 college football team.
“Donald Trump entered office with the most blatant and potentially corrupting conflicts of interest in the history of American politics, and things only got worse from there,” said Robert Weissman, Public Citizen’s president. “Business is booming at the Trump International Hotel in D.C., not because of the d├ęcor, but because corporations and foreign governments want to curry favor with the president.”
The information in this report comes from news stories as well as Federal Election Commission (FEC) records for political expenditures above $100 including events, food, lodging, rent and travel expenses at Trump properties. The full spreadsheet with sources is available here. Companies with major financial interests at stake with the federal government have been big users of Trump properties.
Corporate interests that have held or are planning to hold events at Trump-owned locations include the National Mining Associationthe U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GEO Group, a private prison company that benefited from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversal of an Obama-era decision to phase out private prisons and held its annual leadership conference at the Trump National Doral golf resort in Florida.
GEO Group donated $225,000 to a super PAC supporting Trump, despite a federal ban on political donations by government contractors, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center.
Meanwhile, foreign governments, including Saudi ArabiaMalaysia and Kuwait haven't hesitated to book rooms and hold events at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, effectively paying tribute to Trump by frequenting his properties. U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) all have held fundraisers at Trump properties, and many more lawmakers have held smaller events.
Trump’s political organization also has spent substantial sums at Trump properties, with five Trump-affiliated groups spending nearly $750,000 at Trump properties in the first three quarters of 2017, according to a Public Citizen analysis of FEC data.
“Donald Trump is a man who is easily flattered,” said Alan Zibel, the report’s author and research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project. “Corporations and foreign governments know the best way to get on his good side is to open up their wallets at one of Trump’s many businesses.”

Oops!

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

A Threat To The Republic


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Offended ?


Trump Kills DACA Deal And Tries To Blame Democrats


When Trump met at the White House with both Republicans and Democrats a few days ago, he urged them to negotiate a compromise on DACA. He told them he would sign whatever compromise they brought him. He LIED.

Just a couple of days later, several senators brought him a negotiated agreement that they thought could pass the Senate. Trump killed it. He didn't like it because it didn't give him the money for a wall on the southern border, and because it protected some immigrants from non-white countries (which he called "shithole" countries).

Now he has told the press that DACA is probably dead because Democrats don't want it, and aren't willing to negotiate a compromise. That's nonsense. For Trump, a compromise means they should knuckle under and submit to what he wants (agree to his bigoted and racist desires).

I guess he thinks the public will forget that it was him (not Democrats) that killed the DACA program with an executive order -- and it was him (not congressional Dems and GOP) that refused to accept a negotiated compromise.

Well, the public is not that stupid. They know who cares about the Dreamers, and who doesn't. Note in the chart above that 70% of the public says Trump does not care about the Dreamers (and 68% say the same of his GOP cohorts in Congress). And they believe the opposite of Democrats -- with 60% saying those congressional Democrats do care about the needs of Dreamers.

Trump can try to blame the Democrats for his own failures, but the public is not buying it.

The chart above uses information from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done on January 8th and 9th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.3 points.

No Help From Republicans

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.

Republicans Happy With Direction Of U.S. - Others Are Not


A majority (61%) of Republicans say they are satisfied with the current direction of the United States. But they are alone. Only tiny minorities of the general public (29%), Independents (31%), and Democrats (7%) say the same.

This chart was made using numbers from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between January 2nd and 7th of a random national sample of 1,024 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Conceived BY A Smart Guy ?

Political cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Colorado Independent.

Trump Has Lost Significant Support In Red-State Georgia


Georgia is a pretty red state, and one would expect Trump support to be pretty strong there. After all, he carried the state in the 2016 election by a full 5 points. But that expectation seems to be wrong currently. A new poll shows approval for Donald Trump has dropped sharply. Now only 36.7% of Georgians approve of Trump, while 58.7% disapprove -- a negative gap of 22 points!

That makes one wonder -- if the 2020 election was held right now, could Donald Trump carry the state? Maybe not.

The chart above reflects the results of a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution Poll -- done between January 3rd and 10th of a random sample of 940 Georgia voters, with a margin of error of 3.2 points.

Racist-In-Chief

 is Political Cartoonby Osmani Simanca at cagle.com.

The Long History Of Donald Trump's Racism

Donald Trump told reporters that he's the least racist person they know. It was a lie, but a lie that most racists in America tell. They seem to think that verbal denial will erase their obviously racist actions. It does not!

People are not necessarily what they claim to be. They are what their actions define them as -- and Donald Trump has a long and continuous history of racist statements and actions. He is a racist and a bigot, in spite of his denials. Anyone who cannot see that is living in a state of denial.

From Vox.com, here is a list of Trump's racist actions:

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:
  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to black tenants and lied to black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump's Castle, accused another one of Trump's businesses of discrimination. "When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor," Brown said. "It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back."
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of "stripping the United States of economic dignity." This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the "Central Park Five" — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!" The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a black accountant: "Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in a 1997 Playboy interviewthat "the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true."
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of adssuggesting the tribe had a "record of criminal activity [that] is well documented."
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a black contestant, for being overeducated. "You're an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything," Trump said on the show. "At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’"
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he "wasn't particularly happy" with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering "an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world."
  • 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the "Ground Zero Mosque" — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it "insensitive," and offered to buy outone of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, "Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff."
  • 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama's birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a "carnival barker." (The research has found a strong correlation between "birtherism," as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
  • 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, "I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?"
For many people, none of these incidents, individually, may be totally damning: One of these alone might suggest that Trump is simply a bad speaker and perhaps racially insensitive ("politically incorrect," as he would put it), but not overtly racist.
On top of all that history, Trump has repeatedly made racist — often explicitly so — remarks on the campaign trail and as president:
  • Trump launched his campaign in 2015 by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists" who are "bringing crime" and "bringing drugs" to the US. His campaign was largely built on building a wall to keep these immigrants out of the US.
  • As a candidate in 2015, Trump called for a ban on all Muslims coming into the US. His administration’s attempts at implementing a watered-down version of this policy have been contested in courts.
  • When asked at a 2016 Republican debate whether all 1.6 billion Muslims hate the US, Trump said, "I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them."
  • He argued in 2016 that Judge Gonzalo Curiel — who was overseeing the Trump University lawsuit — should recuse himself from the case because of his Mexican heritage and membership in a Latino lawyers association. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who endorsed Trump, later called such comments "the textbook definition of a racist comment."
  • Trump has been repeatedly slow to condemn white supremacists who endorse him, and he regularly retweeted messages from white supremacists and neo-Nazis during his presidential campaign.
  • He tweeted and later deleted an image that showed Hillary Clinton in front of a pile of money and by a Jewish Star of David that said, "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" The tweet had some very obvious anti-Semitic imagery, but Trump insisted that the star was a sheriff’s badge, and said his campaign shouldn’t have deleted it.
  • Trump has repeatedly referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has said she has Cherokee ancestors, as "Pocahontas."
  • At the 2016 Republican convention, Trump officially seized the mantle of the "law and order" candidate — an obvious dog whistle playing to white fears of black crime, even though crime in the US is historically low. His speeches, comments, and executive actions after he took office have continued this line of messaging.
  • In a pitch to black voters in 2016, Trump said, "You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?" 
  • Trump stereotyped a black reporter at a press conference in February 2017. When April Ryan asked him if he plans to meet and work with the Congressional Black Caucus, he repeatedly asked her to set up the meeting — even as she insisted that she’s "just a reporter."
  • In the week after white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Trump repeatedly said that "many sides" and "both sides" were to blame for the violence and chaos that ensued — suggesting that the white supremacist protesters were morally equivalent to counterprotesters that stood against racism. He also said that there were "some very fine people" among the white supremacists. All of this seemed like a dog whistle to white supremacists — and many of them took it as one, with white nationalist Richard Spencer praising Trump for "defending the truth."
  • Throughout 2017, Trump repeatedly attacked NFL players who, by kneeling or otherwise silently protesting during the national anthem, demonstrated against systemic racism in America.
  • Trump reportedly said in 2017 that people who came to the US from Haiti "all have AIDS," and he lamented that people who came to the US from Nigeria would never "go back to their huts" once they saw America. The White House denied that Trump ever made these comments.
  • Speaking about immigration in a bipartisan meeting in January 2018, Trump reportedly asked, in reference to Haiti and African countries, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" He then reportedly suggested that the US should take more people from countries like Norway. The implication: Immigrants from predominantly white countries are good, while immigrants from predominantly black countries are bad. 
  • Trump denied making the "shithole" comments, although some senators present at the meeting said they happened. The White House, meanwhile, suggested that the comments, like Trump’s remarks about the NFL protests, will play well to his base. The only connection between Trump’s remarks about the NFL protests and his "shithole" comments is race.
This list is not comprehensive, instead relying on some of the major examples since Trump announced his candidacy. But once again, there’s a pattern of racism and bigotry here that suggests Trump isn’t just misspeaking; it is who he is.

The Real reason

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Right-Wing Myths


Monday, January 15, 2018

Today We Honor An American Hero - MLK, Jr.


Race Relations Is Still A Big Problem In The United States




Today marks a holiday dedicated to one of the many civil rights heroes -- Martin Luther King, Jr. (and I believe he would have been the first to say it should be a day in which we honor all of those who put their lives and freedom on the line for civil rights).

I think it is also a day on which we need to examine the problem of race relations in the United States. Have those problems been solved? Has progress been made? Do we still have a serious race problem in this country? According to a new poll, the answers to those questions are "no", "some", and "yes".

Consider the charts above, made using information in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done on January 8th and 9th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 3.3 points (including 1,327 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2.9 points).

The top chart shows that a clear majority of Americans say race relations in this country are bad (65%), while only a minority think they are good (35%) -- a negative gap of 30 points. I would have to agree with that. While the civil rights laws of the 1960's corrected some of the worst problems, it didn't even come close to solving the serious race relations problems in this country. There are far too many racists clinging to their sick views (including our current resident of the White House), and there's still too much racism built into our institutions (judicial, law enforcement, educational, etc.).

The second chart is rather sad. It shows that only a plurality of 45% think race relations have gotten better since the 1960's, while 55% say they have remained the same or gotten worse. We have to do better. An American is an American regardless of skin color or national origin, and all deserve the same rights and opportunities.

Unfortunately, progress will be difficult to make with Trump in the White House. He has made it very clear that he is a racist and a white supremacist. And the public knows it. They believe his actions and words have made race relations worse (51%) instead of better (13%).

I wish I could end this on a positive note, saying we are improving race relations daily, but I don't believe we are. And as long as we have a racist in the White House, it's very doubtful that progress can be made. With the election of Trump, this country took a giant step backwards in race relations.

Still A Long Way To Go

Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.

Public Still Favors Democrats Over Republicans Now





There is a lot of talk about a wave election in 2018 -- an election that would flip control of one or both houses of Congress to the Democrats. This poll doesn't do anything to discourage that view.

When asked which party they would vote for (if the election was today), poll respondents gave Democrats a 7 point advantage (44% to 37%). When blame is assessed for the current dysfunctional Congress, 53% blame the Republicans and only 8% blame the Democrats. When the 34% that blame both parties are figured in, it comes out to 87% blaming Republicans and 42% blaming Democrats -- a huge 45 point margin.

The other two charts also show Democrats with an advantage. Democrats in Congress have a 10 point margin in favorability over Republicans. And the Democratic Party has a 6 point margin in favorability over the Republican Party.While the public is not enamored with either major party, they seem to prefer the Democrats over the Republicans.

But perhaps the biggest advantage the Democrats have is the public's dislike of Donald Trump and their disapproval of the job he is doing. He is the most unpopular president since World War II by a huge margin, and his job approval numbers have been upside-down for many months now. I think the public would like to see Democrats controlling Congress because they could block the most egregious mistakes of Trump.

The charts above contain information in the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done on January 8th and 9th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3.3 point margin of error.

Statue Of Racism

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.

A Federal Minimum Wage Increase Is Needed

States with minimum wage increases effective January 1, 2018 (revised)

StateShare of workforce directly benefitingType of increaseNew minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2018Amount of increaseTotal workers directly benefitingTotal increase in annual wages
Alaska4.1%Inflation adjustment$9.84$0.0412,000$847,000
Arizona16.4%Legislation$10.50$0.50448,000$389,517,000
California13.1%Legislation$11.00$0.502,095,000$2,686,724,000
Colorado6.8%Legislation$10.20$0.90167,000$250,296,000
Florida2.2%Inflation adjustment$8.25$0.15185,000$47,450,000
Hawaii8.6%Legislation$10.10$0.8551,000$68,503,000
Maine10.4%Legislation$10.00$1.0059,000$79,577,000
New Jersey2.3%Inflation adjustment$8.60$0.1691,000$21,519,000
Michigan6.1%Legislation$9.25$0.35257,000$219,846,000
Minnesota5.0%Inflation adjustment$9.65$0.15129,000$24,632,000
Missouri1.6%Inflation adjustment$7.85$0.1544,000$8,999,000
Montana1.9%Inflation adjustment$8.30$0.158,000$1,863,000
New York*4.5%Legislation$10.40$0.70379,000$425,415,000
Ohio2.9%Inflation adjustment$8.30$0.15146,000$28,925,000
Rhode Island6.2%Legislation$10.10$0.5030,000$44,335,000
South Dakota2.7%Inflation adjustment$8.85$0.2010,000$2,391,000
Vermont10.6%Legislation$10.50$0.5031,000$34,694,000
Washington12.0%Legislation$11.50$0.50370,000$411,282,000
Total4,512,000$4,746,815,000
Note: "Legislation" indicates that the new rate was established by the legislature or through a ballot measure. "Inflation adjustment" indicates that the new rate was established by a formula, reflecting the change in prices over the preceding year. Directly affected workers will see their wages rise because the new minimum wage rate exceeds their current hourly pay. This does not include additional workers who may receive a wage increase through "spillover" effects, as employers adjust overall pay scales. *The New York estimates only reflect the change in the minimum wage in upstate New York. New York City and its surrounding counties had separate minimum wage increases that are not captured in this estimate. New York's minimum wage increase took effect on December 31, 2017. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey microdata 2016
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The chart above, from the Economic Policy Institute, shows the states that raised their minimum wage as of the first of 2018. I applaud those states for doing that, but I must point out that most of those heightened wages are still not a livable wage, and many more states cling to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (which is a poverty wage for either a single person or someone trying to support a family).
Trump and the Republican Congress said they recognized that American workers need help, including an increase in wages. But their solution was blatantly ridiculous -- a massive tax cut for the rich and corporations (both of whom are enjoying record incomes and profits, while worker wages have remained stagnant for decades). They claim that giving more to the rich and corporations will trickle down and benefit all Americans -- a silly idea that has never worked (even though they have been trying it for decades).
If they really wanted to boost the economy, create jobs, and increase wages for workers, there was a much better solution available -- just increase the minimum wage to be a livable wage ($12-$15 an hour). This would result in greater demand because the workers receiving more would spend it (and that would create jobs to meet the new demand and increase profits of businesses meeting that new demand). It would also create an upward pressure on all worker wages. In short, it would be good for the economy and everyone in the country.
Unfortunately, the Republicans controlling our government are too-shortsighted to see that. They are only concerned with next months bottom line for corporations, and the corporate money they will receive for their campaigns by doing that. It is why they must be voted out of power in 2018 -- so we can finally return to a fairer economic policy (which would include a higher minimum wage).