As usual, TokyoSand has provided us with a selection of the week’s best political cartoons. But don’t take my word for it … head on over to her blog and check them out!
Source: The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/19
As usual, TokyoSand has provided us with a selection of the week’s best political cartoons. But don’t take my word for it … head on over to her blog and check them out!
Source: The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/19
When Donald Trump first began actively campaigning in 2015, his slogan was “make America great again”. Now, after he’s had nearly four years in office, he has done, it would seem, just the opposite. He has not only devalued our status in the eyes of the rest of the world, but has made our own lives worse in nearly every possible way. I can attest to that, for I have never been so deep in the rabbit hole in all my nearly 70 years as I am today. Take a look at Dana Milbank’s column in The Washington Post yesterday …
Trump has made Americans’ lives worse. Here’s the proof.
September 19, 2020
Donald Trump’s America is one sad place.
We, as a nation, have fallen into a great depression, though not necessarily an economic one. By one highly respected gauge, self-reported levels of happiness are at their lowest since social scientists began asking such questions half a century ago.
Much of this is because of the pandemic, and the economic fallout, but the troubles predate the virus. Overall mental well-being dropped noticeably after President Trump’s election in 2016, in red and blue states alike. Happiness became decoupled from financial security, and evidence points to a “Trump Effect” — an American public depressed because of extraordinary vitriol in politics, chaos in the news and a government out of control — even before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday night, a mere 78 minutes after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death announcement, announced with rank hypocrisy he would hold a quick vote to replace her.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which has conducted an annual survey of the national mood since 1972, found this summer that the proportion of people describing themselves as “very happy” had plummeted to 14 percent — compared with the survey’s previous record low of 29 percent, recorded after the 2008 financial crisis. But NORC researchers were startled to find that, despite this year’s economic shutdown, 36 percent declared themselves “satisfied” with their financial situation, the highest in the study’s history, and the fewest ever expressed dissatisfaction. (This was when generous unemployment support was in effect.)
For the first time, “there’s a disconnect between financial satisfaction and overall happiness,” says David Sterrett, senior researcher for the NORC study. “With everything going on socially and politically, those have become more of a driver.”
Other research, by Gallup, gives an idea of the cause. There’s typically a partisan effect after elections. After 2008, for example, Democrats and Democratic constituencies (minorities, women, low-income Americans) felt better about their lives, while Republicans and their constituencies felt worse. But something very different happened after 2016: Well-being measures dropped substantially for Democratic constituencies, as expected, but independents’ happiness also dropped, and there was no corresponding jump in the sense of well-being among Republicans or among Whites. Actually, they declined, though within the margin of error.
In sum, well-being among all American adults declined “substantially” with Trump’s election — even though the economy was expanding. Meanwhile, the population in 21 states (many in Trump country) had a significant decline in well-being in 2017 — a huge shift in one year — and not one state experienced an increase. More Americans complained of worry, lost pleasure in activities and less positive energy from friends, family and leaders. Those had all been stable from 2014 to 2016. After Trump’s election, they all worsened — and stayed worse.
Dan Witters, research director of Gallup’s well-being studies, tells me the nonpartisan polling group concluded it could objectively state that there’s “a rather obvious Trump effect.”
Republicans’ sense of well-being didn’t improve, Witters says, “because of the way the social fabric has been strained in the Trump era.” Elevated anxiety “disproportionately affected Democrats, but it threw enough sand in the gears of Republicans and supporters of Trump that it prevented their well-being from getting much of a lift.”
There’s abundant support for this. In 2019, pre-pandemic, University of Nebraska researchers found that 4 in 10 said politics had made them stressed, 3 in 10 said it caused them to lose their temper and 2 in 10 said it caused problems sleeping and damaged friendships.
The American Psychological Association in 2017 found two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, were stressed about the future of the nation. That jumped to 83 percent this year, with 66 percent saying government’s handling of the pandemic causes significant stress.
“Things weren’t great before the pandemic,” says Rachel Garfield, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. And now the national mood has fallen off a cliff. An August Kaiser poll found that 53 percent of adults say the pandemic has hurt their mental health. Many cite problems with sleeping, eating, alcohol and drugs. Those reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders nearly quadrupled during the pandemic, to 40 percent.
All this means, sadly, that the American psyche won’t bounce back fully when the economy recovers, nor when the virus is beaten. The depression wouldn’t necessarily lift if Trump were defeated, particularly if he continued to stoke rage among supporters.
But if Trump returns to office, I fear, the national despair will deepen as we resume lurching from crisis to crisis with the same destabilizing chaos. This week alone we’ve seen Trump attacking his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Attorney General Bill Barr attacking his own Justice Department, and the administration hurling charges of “sedition” at government scientists and demonstrators, and a wildly hypocritical McConnell, after blocking Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because it was eight months before an election, announcing plans just six weeks before an election to rush through a Ginsburg replacement.
After delivering a paranoid rant about armed insurrection, senior Trump administration official Michael Caputo this week blamed his high “stress level” and took a leave of absence. He said “every American” fighting the pandemic “has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them.”
He’s right about that. After four years, we are barely holding it together. Surely four more years would cause the losing of the American mind.
Today, in Part II of our project America’s Wake-Up Call, Jeff introduces us to the next President of the United States, Joe Biden, and helps us understand just what makes Joe Biden the right man for the job. Thanks Jeff!!!
In recent months, I’ve been amused at the sight of the following campaign sign: Any Functioning Adult 2020. Yes, it’s very tempting to feel that way, isn’t it?
The way things are going in this country, a functional and literate adult would be a luxury that we simply do not have. We’re jumping from one catastrophe to the next under the current president, from a raging pandemic and wildfires to racial inequality and injustice. And his only answer seems to be: “Elect me, or this is what you’re going to get in a Biden presidency.”
Of course, what’s happening now is on his watch, not Joe Biden’s, a fact he deceptively and casually refuses to acknowledge. Unfortunately, his cult band of followers will blindly nod their heads in agreement at whatever utterances ooze from their dear leader’s mouth.
In this election, we cannot worry about those voters. But we…
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Earlier today, I re-blogged a post from Annie of annieasksyou fame, and this evening I am sharing another. Annie has collected a series of observations made by International Analyst Michael McFaul that paint a picture that is … chilling. Please do take a minute to check it out. Thanks again, Annie!
[Note from Annie:I’ve extracted from Twitter a series of observations made by Michael McFaul last week after viewing the Republican National Convention that I think form a compelling picture of the dangers we’ll face if we don’t remove President Trump from office in November.(The emphases are mine.)
McFaul served as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as the United States Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. The author of several books and an academic at Stanford, he cites his research interests as American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development.]
For those of us who study autocracies, including elections in autocracies, there were a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods on display this week…
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Blogger friend Annie posted this post earlier this month (where has September gone???) and it is an excellent and timely reminder for those who may still be sitting on the fence about the November election. Please take a few minutes to read. Thank you, Annie & Infidel!
[Note from Annie: I feel the post below, written by my fellow blogger Infidel753, is so thoughtful and persuasive that I’m featuring it here.Infidel’s highly informative, provocative, and often entertaining blog may be accessed at infidel753.blogspot.com.]
This November, one of two things will happen. Either Biden will be elected president, or Trump will be re-elected. Many people fervently believe there should be some third option. There isn’t. It’s going to be one of those two.
This post is addressed to those who, for whatever reason, don’t like Biden. Maybe you consider him too centrist or too old or too old-fashioned or “Republican-lite” or whatever. Maybe you think the Tara Reade accusation has credibility (though there are good reasons to believe otherwise). Maybe you think the process by which millions of rank-and-file Democrats chose the nominee (from among a remarkably large and varied group of candidates) was tainted…
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We know about the divisiveness, the chaos, the hate that is dominating the headlines here in the U.S. We are fed a steady diet of daily abominations, accusations, and ignorant spew. But how do people in other countries see us? Until four years ago, we were largely viewed with respect … sure, we had our flaws, but we tried to do the right thing … most of the time. We helped our allies and others around the globe. We were doing our part to promote solutions to climate change, nuclear disarmament, and to contribute to a global defense structure. And then, came Donald Trump, riding the waves of the populist movement all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, occupying a chair that he would never fit. So … how are we viewed abroad today?
From an article in The Guardian back in June …
The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US, extensive new polling reveals.
More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.
A report based on the survey’s findings argues that the shock of the pandemic has “traumatised” European citizens, leaving them feeling “alone and vulnerable”.
In almost every country surveyed, a majority of people said their perception of the US had deteriorated since the outbreak. Negative attitudes of the US were most marked in Denmark (71%) Portugal (70%), France (68%), Germany (65%) and Spain (64%). In France, 46% and in Germany 42% said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” during the pandemic.
On Tuesday, PEW Research released a new poll of 13 foreign countries that reveals that perceptions of America have dropped drastically in recent years. I strongly encourage you to take a look at their data.
Let’s hear directly from some of those people, shall we?
Remember when we were mostly respected by people in other countries? Remember when Trump said he would “make America great again”? Remember when we thought of this as a country of equal opportunity for all? Remember when we had a president, not a tyrant in the Oval Office? Think long and hard about it between now and November 3rd, for your vote could help save this country, or it could help sink it.
I must apologize, but tonight I simply cannot write a new ‘good people’ post and instead will do what I have only done once before — repeat one from January 2018. You will read about three really big-hearted young people and they will make you smile, even if you read it two+ years ago. My humble apologies, but I hope you will enjoy this repeat.
Yesterday I wrote a piece about integrity, and bemoaned the fact that we seem to have lost ours along the way. Today, I would like to shine a spotlight on some young people who still have their values, who still have integrity, who still believe in helping others and making a difference.
Meet Campbell Remess, age 13. Campbell, nicknamed Bumble by his little sister, lives with his family in Hobart, Tasmania. (Tasmania, for those who might have thought it was only the fictional home of the Tasmanian Devil, is an island state off the southern coast of Australia.) So what, you ask, does Campbell do? He makes teddy bears! Yes, you heard me right … he sews teddy bears in, according to his mum, almost all of his spare time.
It all started when Campbell was nine years old and asked his parents if he could buy Christmas gifts for sick children, for he wanted to do something to brighten their spirits. His parents had to turn down his request, for Campbell is one of nine children and … well, money, y’know? Still, Campbell was a determined young lad, and so he found a pattern for a teddy bear online and with a bit of help from his mom, managed to craft what would become the first of more than a thousand such bears.
So, what does Campbell do with the bears? Well, every week he hand delivers some to sick children at the Royal Hobart Hospital near his home. He also sends his bears to sick children all over the world, and has a special bear he makes, the Winning Bear, for cancer patients to hold onto during treatments and at those down times. He has even sent bears to victims of terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. But it doesn’t end there …
More recently, Campbell started auctioning some of his bears on eBay, and donates all proceeds to charity.
“I put them online for auction for people to buy and all money goes to charity. My top bear sold for $5,000. On eBay they sell for about $1,000 to $2,000.”
Campbell says he lost count of how many bears he has made, but estimates it is somewhere between 1,200 – 1.400. His goal is to make a bear a day, or 365 per year. What I liked most about this young man is his attitude, his heart, when he said …
“Everyone can do something like this, it isn’t too hard to do it. I think the world would be a lot happier if everyone was kind and helpful and not mean, and if everyone had a teddy bear.”
We are often amazed when young people start their own business, perhaps fresh out of college, or shortly thereafter. But I believe Ryan Hickman may qualify as the youngest person ever to start his own business. Ryan Hickman started his business at the ripe young age of 3½, and now, at age 7, is the CEO, manager, and sole employee of Ryan’s Recycling Company in Orange County, California.
When he was 3½ years old, Ryan Hickman visited the rePlanet recycling center in California, and found his life’s mission. The next day, standing in the family’s driveway with his dad, he pointed down the street and made an announcement: “My new business! I’m going to pick up all the cans and bottles from everyone in the neighborhood.” And that is just what he did!
To date, according to Ryan’s website, he has collected over 290,000 cans and bottles for recycling, and from his profits has donated nearly $6,000 to Pacific Marine Mammal Center. He has also managed to save some $11,000 from his profits, which his dad, Damion Hickman, says will go toward college. Ryan, however, has other ideas: he wants to buy a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man. Any bets who wins that argument?
Last year, Ryan was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and Ellen then surprised him with a mini golf cart to help him with his recycling business, and also gave him a check for $10,000! When Ellen asked him why he likes recycling so much, he replied, “It’s because bottles get to the ocean and then animals get sick and die.”
He’s only seven years old, so it’s hard to predict what path this young man’s life will take, but one thing is for sure … he is doing good things and his heart is in the right place.
How many kids eat mostly healthy food? Probably not a lot, but 16-year-old Haile Thomas of Tucson, Arizona, is on a mission to change that. Haile’s mother began teaching Haile how to cook when she was only five years old. At age ten, after completing a Girls Making Media workshop, Haile was greatly inspired to share her cooking adventures with other kids and thus was launched her online cooking show, Kids Can Cook.
Haile Thomas does not just cook, but she COOKS! She puts me to shame, and I am fairly adept in the kitchen. In 2013 she appeared on the Today show and cooked black bean and corn quinoa salad with garlic shrimp and avocado, a dish she had previously cooked up for first lady Michelle Obama as part of the first Kids’ State Dinner.
“I started asking questions about where my food comes from and what I was eating.”
She signed up for the youth advisory board of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which aims to combat childhood obesity, and from there started working with local chefs doing cooking demonstrations.
“The alliance and the chefs really inspired me and got me to where I am now.”
Her show, Kids Can Cook, teaches kids how to prepare nourishing meals for themselves, with recipes that call for simple ingredients.
And if that’s not enough, Haile travels around the nation talking about her mission and has been awarded several grants for her service programs, HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle) and the Healthy Girl Club. She is the founder and director of the Tucson-based HAPPY Organization, Inc., which serves to improve the health and wellness of Arizona youth and families.
“I hope to make a difference by inspiring other kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and become educated about how good and bad food affects their bodies, overall health and quality of life.”
And she’s only 16. She has most of the adults I know beat for understanding, practicing and teaching good nutritional values. Imagine what a difference this young woman will make. Move over Emeril!
I have two others, but I have already surpassed my self-imposed word limit, so I shall save them for another day. Friends … we see so much pure evil every day in the news, and I spend the bulk of my time writing about that evil. Every now and then, it does us all good to pull ourselves up out of the dark places and look around us, for when we do, we see that there are many, many people out there countering the evil, doing good things for others. These three young people serve as an inspiration, give us hope that perhaps all is not lost, and that there is still conscience and integrity in the world. My hat is off to these three and all the others out there doing good things. Until next Wednesday … SMILE!
I’ve written a couple of times in the past week about the West Coast wildfires, but our friend Jeff today shared an open letter to Trump by the esteemed Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, that pulls no punches, that “tells it like it is”! I have always respected Governor Inslee, and now even more so! Thanks, Jeff, for sharing this letter!
Every day, the current president seems to be on a mission to eliminate as many people as he can in the United States of America. Whether it’s through his immense incompetence and failures to address the worst pandemic in a century, or ignoring the ongoing climate crisis, we can see in real time how devastating another four years of this administration would be to human life and suffering.
Today, I’d like to share a letter written by the current Governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, that was published today on Medium. In it, he addresses the current president in an open letter to lambaste him for his abject failure to even acknowledge there’s a climate crisis emergency in progress.
September 14, 2020
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Arguably the single most important issue facing the world today is climate change. In the throes of the current pandemic, and amidst the undeniably craziest election the U.S. has ever seen, we in this country seem to have largely forgotten about the damage that we humans have done to this planet over the past 100 years or so. The wildfires on the West Coast and the onslaught of hurricanes in recent years should have been a wake-up call, but … we are still focusing on other things, while the world burns. We are nearing the point of no return in our wanton disregard for the environment, yet few seem to care. Robert Reich speaks wise words …
Trump doesn’t care if wildfires destroy the west – it didn’t vote for him
The climate crisis is upon us all but the president pursues more rollbacks. This election offers an existential choice
The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The Air Quality Index is over 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health alert” in which “everyone may experience more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours.” Unfortunately, the index has been over 200 for several days.
The west is burning. Wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington are incinerating homes, killing scores of people, sickening many others, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate, burning entire towns to the ground, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick, acrid, and dangerous smoke.
Yet the president has said and done almost nothing. A month ago, Trump wanted to protect lives in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters.” He sent federal forces into the streets of Portland and threatened to send them to Oakland and Los Angeles.
Today, Portland is in danger of being burned, and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health alerts. Trump will visit California on Monday, but he has said little.
One reason: these states voted against him in 2016 and he still bears a grudge.
He came close to rejecting California’s request for emergency funding.
“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him,” said former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.
Another explanation for Trump’s silence is that the wildfires are tied to human-caused climate change, which Trump has done everything humanly possible to worsen.
Extreme weather disasters are rampaging across America. On Wednesday, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest State of the Climate report, finding that just in August, the US was hit by four billion-dollar calamities. In addition to wildfires, there were two enormous hurricanes and an extraordinary Midwest derecho.
These are inconvenient facts for a president who has spent much of his presidency dismantling every major climate and environmental policy he can lay his hands on.
Starting with his unilateral decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, Trump has been the most anti-environmental president in history.
He has called climate change a “hoax.” He has claimed, with no evidence, that windmills cause cancer. He has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide from power plants and from cars and trucks. He has rolled back rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. He has opened more public land to oil and gas drilling.
He has targeted California in particular, revoking the state’s authority to set tougher car emission standards than those required by the federal government.
In all, the Trump administration has reversed, repealed, or otherwise rolled back nearly 70 environmental rules and regulations. More than 30 rollbacks are still in progress.
Now, seven weeks before election day, with much of the nation either aflame or suffering other consequences of climate change, Trump unabashedly defends his record and attacks Joe Biden.
“The core of [Biden’s] economic agenda is a hard-left crusade against American energy,” Trump harrumphed in a Rose Garden speech last month.
Not quite. While Biden has made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure, his ideas are not exactly radical. The money would be used for improving energy efficiency, constructing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, and increasing renewable energy from wind, solar, and other technologies.
Biden wants to end the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035, and to bring America to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by no later than 2050. If what is now occurring in the west is any indication, his goals may be too modest. 2050 will be too late.
Nonetheless, Americans have a clear choice. In a few weeks, when they decide whether Trump deserves another four years, climate change will be on the ballot.
The choice shouldn’t be hard to make. Like the coronavirus, the dire consequences of climate change – coupled with Trump’s utter malfeasance – offer unambiguous proof that he couldn’t care less about the public good.
I have an overdose of snark tonight … it is turning my skin green, stopping up my right ear, and making steam come out of my nose! I think I am not well equipped for life in the 21st century, and in fact I think I may be ill-equipped for life among the human species! Nonetheless, perhaps because I am too filled with snark tonight, I have only three brief ones …
Judge Brainless Twit rules against common sense …
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is one of the better governors in the nation, in my view. He cares about the people in his state, and it shows. Back at the beginning of the pandemic six months ago, he did as many governors of both parties did, ordering restrictions that required people to stay at home, placed size limits on gatherings and ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down. The reason, of course, was to attempt to slow the spread of the lethal coronavirus in his state. This summer, he has lifted many of the restrictions, allowing businesses to reopen and canceling a statewide stay-at-home order.
In May, a lawsuit was filed by four Western Pennsylvania counties, as well as business owners and lawmakers, and their specific grievances included a March stay-at-home order that required all but “life-sustaining” businesses to close.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had already ruled in Governor Wolf’s favour in a previous, similar case, but this time the case landed in U.S. District Court and was heard by a Trump-appointed judge, Judge William Stickman IV. Yesterday, the Judge ruled in favour of the plaintiff’s and concluded that Governor Wolf’s lockdown orders had been unconstitutional.
“The court believes that defendants undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered.”
Even the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld similar stay-at-home orders and forced business closures! Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states, and after this judge’s grossly incompetent ruling, I would not be surprised if there are even more. Y’know … republicans are screaming about their “constitutional rights” to keep businesses open, to congregate in bars, churches, and spas, but has it ever occurred to them that the only reason the state even needs to mandate these closures is because the people themselves are too damn stupid to use common sense to keep themselves and their families safe? Just another instance of fools putting profit over people.
He’s not concerned – he’s far away!
This past weekend, Trump held a couple of his infamous and insidious rallies in Nevada. The rallies that had been scheduled were cancelled due to state limitations on large gatherings, but Trump finally found a friend with a facility large enough to hold a few thousand people, so the Trump Freak Show was on. I know little about the rally, care even less about it, but when asked by a reporter asked about the safety factor, Trump claimed …
“I’m on a stage and it’s very far away. And so I’m not at all concerned.”
Nothing about the whether he was concerned for the safety of his supporters, thousands of whom showed up at the rally, or their families or others they might encounter and pass the virus on to, if it spread at his event. He’s not concerned because he is safe, and to hell with the thousands of his idiotic supporters who apparently also don’t care for their own or their family’s well-being! Ask me again why I think Trump supporters are lacking in both intellect and common sense!
Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak said that the president acted selfishly and irresponsibly, defying emergency directives and endangering efforts to get the state’s economy back on track after the pandemic. I would have loved to see the Nevada State Police show up and arrest Trump on charges of public endangerment and breaking the law forbidding large gatherings! And if he resisted, perhaps they could have followed the advice he has given to police officers … “Shoot him!” Wouldn’t have broken my heart.
Lay down Sally …
Hurricane Sally is rapidly intensifying and slowly edging toward the coastline of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, where it is forecast to push a dangerous surge ashore and unload tremendous rainfall through Wednesday.Since it is predicted to hit Alabama, at least Trump won’t have to get out his Sharpie this time.
While I do have several more topics on which I could deliver a bucket of snark, I am tired and growly, so I’ve enlisted the help of late night comedian Seth Meyers to give us his take on Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, the previews, and Trump’s juvenile response. Heeeeeere’s Seth!