Sunday Morning ‘Toon Collection

I have a habit of collecting political cartoons that I come across during the course of the week for future use, and every now and then my collection starts to bulge and it’s time to share some, to clean it out a bit.  This has been a week full of news and I’m still trying to absorb it all:  more on the Ohio train derailment, Nikki Haley throwing her hat into the 2024 presidential ring, Ron DeSantis’ continued attacks on the value of education, and let’s not forget the information that was released in the Dominion v Fox lawsuit, proving to us once and for all that Fox ‘News’ cares more about their bottom line than democracy or the health of the country.  So, given that my brain is on overload at the moment, as is my cartoon file, I figured what better time to share some of those ‘toons and give me a chance to step back and re-focus?  Political cartoons aren’t always funny, but they are typically spot-on, with the cartoonist saying more in a simple drawing than most of us writers can say in a 1200-word post.

State of the Union

I am always amazed at the degree to which our friends on the other side of the pond understand our own political/social situation. David Prosser, as always, gives us his own view of Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address. Thank you, David!


Since the State of the Union speech earlier his week I hav been following political analyses ofwhat Mr Biden said and the reaction of both the press and the public to it.Shockingly it does not appear taht the press is fully behind Joe Biden yet and the Public still don’t seem to think he’s performing his job.Both are strange given that he has created over half a million jobs since January and has the economy under control and has even shaved a vast amount off the National Debt.

This man is performing better than the miracle of the loaves and fishes for the people of his country. Now maybe when you’re close to the action you can’t see the wood for the trees, and perhaps because Joe is the quiet man he is, not constantly blowing his own trumpet, no-one sees the good he does close up. But good there…

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What Gives … ?

The media assessments of President Biden’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night have been overwhelmingly positive (I refer to actual news media and journalists, leaving out the likes of Fox and NewsMax that I do not consider to be legitimate news venues.)  More than a few have called his address the “best State of the Union ever!”  The speech highlighted Biden’s accomplishments, which contrary to public opinion, have been significant, especially given the opposition from Republicans in Congress.  And yet … despite his accomplishments, Biden’s approval rating remains low.  Robert Reich asks (and partly answers) the question:  What gives?

Why the discrepancy between what Biden has achieved and what Americans think about him?

Robert Reich

8 February 2023

My friends,

As I mentioned last night, I thought Biden’s second State of the Union address was superb. It was one of the best State of the Union speeches I’ve witnessed — and I’ve witnessed many.

Biden’s record so far has also been impressive — even though for the first two years of his presidency, the Democrats held a razor-thin congressional majority, and the Republican Party has become more traitorous and treacherous than at any time in modern American history.

Yet despite Biden’s impressive record, only 42 percent of Americans approve of his presidency. That’s barely above the 41 percent at his last State of the Union address, and a lower approval rating at this point in his presidency than any president in 75 years of polling except for Trump and Reagan (who at this point was hobbled by a deep recession).

Despite Biden’s significant achievements, fully 62 percent think he has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” during his presidency. Majorities believe he has made no progress on his signature initiatives — from improving the country’s infrastructure to making electric vehicles more affordable to creating jobs.

And even though jobs are being created at an almost unprecedented rate, unemployment is at its lowest since 1969, and inflation is dropping, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the economy.

So what gives? Why the discrepancy between what Biden is achieving and what Americans think?

Let me add a few thoughts of my own.

First, let me stress my belief that Joe Biden has been an exceptionally good president. The only reason I bring up his low ratings is to try to understand why, despite his achievements, most of the public doesn’t seem to share my view.

Opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate, as we’ve all witnessed in the last major elections. Yet Biden’s consistently low ratings across almost all polls — and the bizarre fact that he’s polling no better than Trump did at this point in Trump’s presidency — can’t be blamed simply on inadequate polling methods.

Many of you blame the media — both Fox News and its radical right imitators, as well as the mainstream — for minimizing Biden’s achievements and exaggerating his inadequacies.

I largely agree. Fox News and other rightwing outlets continue to poison America. As to the mainstream media, as to anyone who reads this letter knows, I’ve been deeply concerned about its “two-sides” ism and absurd attempts to draw moral equivalence between Republicans and Democrats.

That said, only a small fraction of the public is exposed to Fox News or to the New York Times or the Washington Post. The media alone can’t account for Biden’s low ratings.

I want to suggest to you three other culprits that to my mind are playing a larger role.

First is the legacy of Trump, along with the deeply cynical and angry divide he has spawned in America. Even if George Washington were president right now, some 40 percent of the public would likely despise him.

Second is social media, which has become a cauldron of ever more extremist rage. Under Elon Musk, for example, Twitter has become less of a “public square” than a hell-hole of hate. No national leader is immune to such relentless battering.

Third and perhaps most importantly is the continuing crises that most Americans find themselves in. Some two-thirds of us are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost no one has job security. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage continues to drop. COVID is receding but “long” COVID is taking a devastating toll. Fentanyl and related drug poisonings continue to rise.

Joe Biden and his administration have made important progress. Their legislative victories are important. The American Rescue Act helped millions survive the pandemic. But most Americans are still hurting. Hopefully, by the fall of 2024, the hurt won’t be nearly as bad.

A Strong, Intelligent, Compassionate Speech

The president spoke non-stop for over an hour, stuttered only a few times (I, too, am a stutterer and would not have done nearly as well as he did!), and gave a passionate, intelligent, well-reasoned speech.  There were one or two points on which I might have disagreed, but not strongly.  I have some views on his speech, as I’m sure those of you who watched it do, and I’ll share them here, and be happy to hear what you thought, as well.

First, over the past several months, I have heard many say that President Biden is too old for the job, that his mental acuity is declining.  Folks, let me tell you something … if you watched the speech last night, there can be no doubt that he is as sharp as ever!  I could not have given a speech for that long, incorporated that much, and still had the stamina to shake hands with a few hundred people as I tried to leave the building!  He knew what he wanted to say, was passionate in his views, empathetic where empathy was called for, and he was strong where strength was needed!  He made no bones about the divided Congress and some of the Republican antics, and he plainly stated that if certain bills came to his desk, he would veto them!

He did something that has not been done before, as far as I know, in the history of State of the Union Addresses … he gained bipartisan agreement to an issue.  He garnered a verbal agreement to take cutting Social Security and Medicare off the negotiating table in cost cutting discussions connected to raising the debt ceiling.  That, folks, may not seem like much, but believe me … it is.

He had energy, he had passion, he has a strong desire to overcome the partisan obstacles that are hindering this nation.  Those who say he is too old … think again.  Yes, he is old and in that, my biggest concern would be that something – a stroke, heart attack, or death – would overtake him at some point, but … John F. Kennedy was the youngest president when he was elected in 1960 … and look what happened.  To those who claim he is too old and shouldn’t run again, I ask you this:  Who better?

Give me a name … tell me who else you see out there who could not only win an election in 21 months, but also lead this nation as well as President Biden is doing?  I can think of a number of younger Democrats who, at some point in the future, might well be excellent presidential material:  Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Hakeem Jeffries come to mind almost immediately.  But not today.  First, none have the name recognition nor backing, the political capital, that would be needed to propel them into the Oval Office.  Second, given the rising climate of bigotry, propelled by many Republicans such as Ron DeSantis … well, you see the problem.  Of those three, one is LGBTQ and the other two are Black.  No, it shouldn’t matter … it really doesn’t matter … but it would quite probably be enough to keep them from winning the election in 2024.

I hate that presidential elections now last for the entire two years prior to the actual election.  It means a number of things:  we are deluged with campaign ads and requests for donations for two full years; our elected officials are too busy campaigning for the next election to do their jobs now; the dynamics turn on a dime and the potential candidate who is ‘on top’ today may sink to the bottom tomorrow based on one leaked piece of information, whether fact or fiction.  It’s like being on an out-of-control carousel!  That said, it doesn’t change, so we must face the reality and prepare for it.

If the Democrats continue bemoaning President Biden’s age and occasional stutter, if they keep saying he shouldn’t run, that he isn’t mentally sharp, yet they have no better option, they are in effect handing the 2024 election to whichever Republican candidate becomes the nominee, likely Ron DeSantis.  The Democrats need to bite the bullet, such as it is, band together and throw their full support behind the president.  If they fail to do this, the party will be too divided to make an effective showing in 2024 and will hand the presidency to the Republican Party.

President Biden was impressive last night … his record of accomplishments, coupled with his strong address last night prove he’s still up to the task of leading this nation.  He is intelligent, and of equal importance, he is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about people — ALL people.  Unless Democrats have an HiH (Hero in Hiding), a John F. Kennedy or some other candidate with “the right stuff”, then they need to unite behind the candidate who has already accomplished much and who has what it takes, despite his age, to get the job done.

So … what did you think of his speech?

State Of The Union — Peace or Chaos?

Tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, President Joseph Biden will give his second State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress and numerous guests.  Among the guests will be Row Vaughn and Rodney Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols who was brutally beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 7th.

For a number of reasons, there are additional security concerns this year. The magnetometers have been removed from the entrance to the House chamber, one of the first moves the Republicans made once they gained the majority in the House.  Also, according to a Capitol Police bulletin …

“… recent incidents targeting politicians and law enforcement agencies within the past month indicate that there is a heightened threat toward government officials.” 

Lest you think this is just so much hyperbole, I would remind you of the vicious attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and then I would further remind you of the violent attempted coup at this very same Capitol on January 6th, 2021.  There can be no doubt that there is a danger brewing under the surface in this country, and further that there are far too many fools with guns out there – some whose offices are in this very same Capitol building!

Capitol Police have constructed a non-scalable fence around the Capitol grounds, and are taking other security measures, no doubt fully remembering January 6th.  Will it be enough?  Today, there are a number of representatives sitting in Capitol offices who played a role in one way or another in the events of January 6th.  They should be disqualified, but somehow they escaped the 14th Amendment that prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office (Senators, Representatives, and other public officials) from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

I admit to being … concerned … about tomorrow night’s events. I still feel the horror of January 6th, still see the hatred that is festering in this country, hear the voices chanting “Hang Mike Pence”.  Not a single one of the plotters and schemers behind the insurrection are in prison, but are all free men & women, free to plot further rebellion, and relatively few of the ‘foot soldiers’ of that day are in prison. So yes, I am concerned.  I hope that my concerns are ill-founded and that the events of tomorrow evening will go off without a hitch.

Now, about that State of the Union …

It’s probably just as well that I wasn’t invited to give the speech, for I’m sure President Biden will do a far better job than I would.  The “state of the union” seems to be, in my ever-so-humble opinion, a disaster.  This nation is more divided than at any time in the past 150 years, perhaps longer.  Fully half of our elected officials no longer remember their oaths, no longer care about this nation as a democracy but rather would turn it into an autocracy at the first opportunity.  And outside of government, thanks to the divisiveness of our leaders, thanks to their lies and corruption, We the People are also divided … in a way I’ve never seen before, not even in the days of Jim Crow or Vietnam.

The current state of the union is that it’s a bloody mess.  This is not the fault of President Biden, who has been quietly getting the job done, has managed the impossible in a number of areas, but is rather the fault of We the People.  It was US who elected the corrupt politicians who now sit in Congress and make decisions every day that are ruining our lives.  It was US who were so poorly educated that we fell for the rhetoric spouted by the likes of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Marge Greene, Ron Johnson and so many others.  It is US who have opted for the entertainment value rather than the seriousness of purpose, have voted for the clowns rather than the intellectuals.

I have no doubt that the President’s message tomorrow night will be one of hope, one that highlights the positive rather than the negative, and that’s as it should be.  The response from the Republican Party will be given by none other than former Press Secretary under Donald Trump, and current Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  I hope that the night does not turn into a three-ring circus of the sort the Republican Party is known for.  At the least, it will be interesting … let’s hope that’s all it is.

Snarky Snippets — Yes, Again

Good afternoon, my friends!  As you might expect, the events of the last two days – Iowa caucus, impeachment trial, State of the Union address – have my hackles raised and have left me filled with snarky angst.  And you know what that means, right?  Snarky Snippets!

The economy is … what???

Trump claims the economy is so great, but I see signs to the contrary.  One of the largest and oldest retailers, Macy’s, plans to shut down 125 stores over the next three years, 30 in this year alone.  They will also be cutting some 2,000 corporate jobs.  Hmmmm … that doesn’t sound like a sign of a booming economy to me.

Yesterday it was announced that the number of homeless students in the U.S. is at its highest number in over a decade – 1.5 million!  Most are staying with friends or other family members, but some 7% are living in abandoned buildings or cars.  It begs the question, for whom is the economy so great?

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.

Time for her to go

The self-serving senator from Maine, Susan Collins, lost part of her vertebrae and found it impossible to stand for what is right, once again, so she plans to vote to acquit Trump on both charges today, along with all but two of the other republican boot-lickers.  But Sue had an interesting spin … she is convinced that because of the impeachment, Trump will be a better president going forward …

“I believe that the president has learned from this case.  The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.  He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

Oh, sure, Sue … he’s going to stop calling people names, stop using vulgar language, start acting like a human, stop throwing away OUR money on his damn wall, start supporting humanitarian causes, and treat our allies like friends instead of like enemies.  Perhaps we should all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya?

Susan Collins wasn’t alone in her blind stupidity, though.  Senator Joni Ernst was equally sycophantic …

“I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things — whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is — he needs to go through the proper channels.”

Are these people really so utterly clueless, so stupid?  No, I don’t think so … I think they know full well that Trump has broken just about every law in the book in his efforts to first get and then hold the center of power that is the Oval Office.  I simply think they care more about their own future than ours.

A few had courage

Kudos to four members of Congress who skipped the campaign rally/State of the Union address last night:

  • Ayanna Pressley: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
  • Maxine Waters: “To think that I would attend the #SOTU to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!”
  • Bobby Rush: “It would be painfully hypocritical of me to endure 90 minutes of unrelenting lies and all types of distortions and untruths, while at the same time watching his Republican apologists cheer. I cannot honor this man in any way.”

I’m told that several other democrats did walk out during the speech, once they realized that it was being turned into little more than a campaign rally.  What, I wonder, kept the rest of the democrats in Congress from doing the same?  I’m sure they will claim professionalism, but frankly the time has come for them to show the nation that this “president” is not legitimate, that he deserves no respect.  At least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave him the proverbial finger when she ripped up her copy of his speech, later explaining that she couldn’t find a single page that contained truth.

A slap in the face

I do not know of another time in the history of the nation that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to such an undeserving person as Rush Limbaugh.  Mr. Limbaugh is a racist, a misogynist extraordinaire, a hypocrite who calls abortion “murder”, yet fully supports the death penalty.  He is a climate denier and referred to the 2017 Women’s March as “”Deranged Feminazi March”.  While not of the same caliber as Alex Jones, Limbaugh has engaged in a number of his own conspiracy theories, and his statements have an 84% “untrue” rating.  He has done not one damn thing in his entire adulthood that would qualify him for the Presidential Medal of Freedom … not one!  

And yet, during his State of the Union address, Donald Trump awarded him that honour.  Why?  No doubt because Mr. Limbaugh has been such a strong supporter of Trump’s, has defended the indefensible time and time again.  This, my friends, is a slap in the face to the people such as Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa who have received the medal for acts of bravery and humanitarianism.  In fact, this is a slap in the face to every person in this country.  The medal no longer has any meaning, any value.  It is naught but a trinket, handed out for political favours.

There will no doubt be some who tell me that I shouldn’t criticize Limbaugh, who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but let me make my position clear from the outset:  being ill does not suddenly erase all the evil he has perpetuated.  He is not a good man, not a kind man, not deserving of any honour, let alone the freedom medal.


The State of DISunion

I did not watch Donald Trump’s State of the Union (SOTU) address last night, for three very good reasons.

  1. I was already not feeling well and knew that having to see his face, hear his voice, and see all those strange contortions he does with his face would make me unbearably ill.
  2. I feared that my strong reaction to having to listen to him would cause me to irreparably damage my laptop, and frankly I cannot afford a new computer at the moment.
  3. The most important reason of all is that the speech was sure to be filled with lies, or as Keith would prefer I say, ‘untruths’. Why bother?  I have better things to do with my time.

I have worked my way through most of the transcript this morning, have read a few analyses, read The Washington Post’s fact check, and concluded that I was correct in my assessment – it would have been a colossal waste of my valuable time.  That said, I do have some things to say (surprised, aren’t you?) about it all.

First of all, one has to wonder why we even have a State of the Union address every year.

Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states that the president shall ”from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Somehow, I think that goal could be accomplished without all the pomp and circumstance that surround the event these days.  And, with today’s instantaneous communication, the speech seems really to have outlived its usefulness.  In fact, of what use is it to waste the time of Congress, the Supreme Court, other guests and the home viewing audience, just to listen to fairy tales?  Why couldn’t he just tweet it, as he does everything else? I won’t bother to bore you with the fact-checking … you can get that from any of the major media outlets.

The speech is most notable for what was not addressed.

Climate Change.  How can a speech that is intended to inform us about the state of the country, completely ignore the thing that, by most measures, is the single most important issue facing this, and every other nation?  Under Trump, the U.S. has pulled out of major agreements to work toward reducing carbon emissions and has rolled back the regulations that were intended to help protect the environment.  We have seen the results with our own eyes in the past year, even the past week, yet he says not one word?

Renewable Energy.  The future is not in the coal, gas and oil that Trump has so adamantly vowed to protect, but the future is in renewable energy such as solar, wind and water.  Under Trump, there is no major push by the federal government to explore and expand on renewable energy, but a number of states and corporations are participating.  This could have been a genuine feather in Trump’s cap, had he opted to do the right thing, to take seriously the need to distance ourselves from fossil fuels.  Instead, he chose the most destructive path.

Relations with Allies.  Our relationships with our allies are crumbling, thanks to Trump’s policies that have, in many cases, left our allies scrambling to try to make up for the failure of the U.S. to pull its weight, such as in the Paris Accord, NATO, the Iran nuclear agreement, and NAFTA, and the latest threat to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.  Add to that the disdain he has shown for the leaders of allied nations, such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May and others.  We are no longer a good and trusted friend, to put it quite simply.

Poverty.  Despite Trump’s claims that wages have risen, jobs have been created, 13.4% of people in this nation are living below the poverty level.  As the population increases, and some jobs are replaced by technology, the number of people who struggle just to put food on the table has risen and will continue to rise.

Education.  We are falling behind in our education system, as I have mentioned more than a few times, and this is the key to almost everything I have listed so far.  The new trend seems to be moving away from developing minds and more toward job training.  This is a mistake … a huge mistake … and to add insult to injury, this nation has made it nearly impossible for a young person from a lower-income family to go to college.

National Debt.  With the December 2017 tax cuts that benefit almost exclusively the wealthy in the nation, we severely reduced the nation’s revenue.  To maintain a balanced budget, thereby keeping the national debt at current levels, would require spending cuts equal to the revenue reduction.  But those cuts, under Trump’s plan, would come from programs that help disadvantaged people.  Trump’s fiscal plan is rather a reverse Robin Hood – rob from the poor to give to the rich.

Gun Regulation.  The U.S. is the only nation on the globe with almost no regulations on firearms.  Those who claim the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own an arsenal that includes assault-type weapons that can mow down a crowd inside of a minute are fools.  On this, the 37th day of 2019, there have already been 510 gun deaths in the U.S.  An average of 14 per day.  And yet, this topic was not considered important enough to be addressed in the State of the Union.

There is more I could add, but you get the picture.  The address was a public relations event, nothing more.  I found it strange that he would call for unity, when he has, in fact, been the most divisive president in the history of the nation.  “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution …” he said, when he is the very source of revenge and retribution, he has pursued a divisive political strategy very much focused on his base.  Last night’s speech, like most everything he does, was intended only for his base … he told them what they wanted to hear and left the rest of us with the clear knowledge that nothing is changed, that the state of the nation is _____________________. (Fill in the blank)