June 15, 2019
What If There Was No Music?
Could you live without music?
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Seth Borenstein, June 14, 2019
June 11, 2019
The newest edition of Counterpoint is out which includes a special cartoon I created to answer the cartoon killers at the New York Times.
June 11, 2019
Watch Jon Stewart’s powerful, emotional speech slamming Congress for its inaction supporting 9/11 victims and first responders.
“What an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.” https://cnn.it/2I8ZYTJ
Watch Jon Stewart's powerful, emotional speech slamming Congress for its inaction supporting 9/11 victims and first responders. "What an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress." https://cnn.it/2I8ZYTJ
Posted by CNN on Tuesday, June 11, 2019
The House passed historic gun safety legislation 100 days ago, but McConnell is blocking the Senate from taking any action.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still refuses to allow a vote on a pair of gun safety bills 100 days after the landmark legislation passed the House of Representatives.
On February 27, the House passed a bipartisan universal background checks bill, the first piece of significant gun safety legislation in a generation. The next day, the House overcame Republican opposition to pass another bill to close the “Charleston loophole,” which would make it harder for those with a criminal record to bypass a background check and obtain a gun.
“Our constituents sent us here to do something — and we did,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) told Shareblue Media. “100 days ago, leaders who ran on a promise to take action delivered a historic victory for gun safety,” former Rep. Gabby Giffords said in a Thursday statement. “Every day since, the House majority continued fighting for stronger gun laws — fighting to make our country a safer place to live, work, study, worship, and play.”
Giffords, who was shot eight years ago during an event with constituents, now runs a gun safety advocacy group bearing her name.
Despite overwhelming public support (64% of gun owners agree that the government needs to address gun violence), McConnell continues to engage in an obstructionist agenda.
McConnell’s inaction “presents another hurdle,” to making America a safer country, Wexton noted. “It’s been 100 days with zero action by the Senate Leader. This bill would save lives, yet he allows it to languish on his desk — it’s shameless.”
McConnell refuses to do anything with the gun safety legislation, even after a dozen people in Virginia Beach were killed in a mass shooting at the end of May. In fact, 10,000 people in America died from gun violence during the 100 days McConnell allowed these bills to languish on his desk.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a leading gun safety advocate, said McConnell’s “inaction is complicity.”
Gun safety advocates refuse to stop fighting for a safer, less violent America.
“The Senate has yet another opportunity to do the right thing — something their constituents overwhelmingly support — and pass a law requiring a background check on every gun sale,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action told Shareblue Media. “Polls show more than 90 percent of Americans support closing this loophole in federal law. Every Senator who refuses to act to keep our families and communities safe the should expect to be held accountable.”
In her statement, Giffords added that “Americans are watching Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump and waiting for them to take the next step. How many more lives will be lost before they sign the background checks bill into law?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took aim at McConnell’s do-nothing attitude during her weekly press conference. “We’re very proud of the work that we have done to send over to the Senate where Mr. McConnell has said he’s the Grim Reaper,” she said. “It’s a Senate graveyard.”
Pelosi was referencing a speech McConnell gave to supporters about blocking legislation moving through the House, where McConnell dubbed himself the “Grim Reaper.”
With approximately 100 people dying every day from gun violence, McConnell’s description of himself is far too accurate.
Published with permission of The American Independent.
PARIS — How small he is! Small in spirit, in valor, in dignity, in statecraft, this American president who knows nothing of history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin-pot dictator with a terrified entourage.
To have Donald Trump — the bone-spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay-up-now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of Charlottesville — commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave their lives for freedom is to understand the word impostor. You can’t make a sculpture from rotten wood.
It’s worth saying again. If Europe is whole and free and at peace, it’s because of NATO and the European Union; it’s because the United States became a European power after World War II; it’s because America’s word was a solemn pledge; it’s because that word cemented alliances that were not zero-sum games but the foundation for stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.
Of this, Trump understands nothing. Therefore he cannot comprehend the sacrifice at Omaha Beach 75 years ago. He cannot see that the postwar trans-Atlantic achievement — undergirded by the institutions and alliances he tramples upon with such crass truculence — was in fact the vindication of those young men who gave everything.
As Eisenhower, speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery, last resting place of 9,387 Americans, told Walter Cronkite for the 20th anniversary of the D-Day landings: “These people gave us a chance, and they bought time for us, so that we can do better than we have before.”
That was a solemn responsibility. For decades it was met, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Doing better, however, is not rising nativism, xenophobia, nationalism and authoritarianism given a nod and a wink by the president of the United States. It’s not Brexit, Britain turning its back on the Europe it helped free.
The American moral collapse personified by Trump is not “beautiful” or “phenomenal” or “incredible” or any of the president’s other clunky two-a-penny superlatives. It’s sickening and dangerous.
My impression here is that Europe has gotten used to Trump to the point that it is no longer strange that the American president is a stranger. In less than two and a half years Trump has stripped his office of dignity, authority and values.
His foreign policy increasingly consists of a single word, “tariffs.” His contempt for allies undermines American diplomacy, or whatever is left of it, from Iran to North Korea, from Venezuela to China. His trampling of truth is so consistent that when he says in London that Britain is the largest trading partner of the United States — it’s nowhere near that — the impulse is to shrug.
Before arriving in London, Trump set the tone. He mocked the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, as short. It was a tweet in keeping with the president’s signature stunt as schoolyard bully. Khan, who had criticized “rolling out the red carpet” for Trump, responded by comparing the president to an 11-year-old.
This was generous. Most 8-year-olds know better.
Of course Khan — the brown Muslim son of a bus driver, self-made guy — would get under the skin of a man like Trump, who was born on third base and imbibed his reflexive racism in the family real estate business.
Khan called Trump’s policies — on the reproductive rights of women, on immigrant children at the Mexican border, on “amplifying messages from racists” — the antithesis of Londoners’ values and “abhorrent.” In response, Trump tweeted that Khan was as bad as the “very dumb” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, “only half his height.”
There is something so disturbing about a very small man like Trump impugning the height of the mayor of the great international city he is visiting that even 28 months of progressive inurement to his outrages feels inadequate.
America is much better than this, much better than an American president who, as the cartoonist Dave Granlund suggested, probably thinks the D in D-Day stands for Donald and spends the night of the commemoration trashing Bette Midler on Twitter.
As for the Republican Party, don’t get me started. To recover its bearings the G.O.P. would do well to recall one of its own, Eisenhower, who in that same 20th-anniversary interview said that America and its allies stormed the Normandy beaches “for one purpose only.”
It was not to “fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest.” No, it was “just to preserve freedom, systems of self-government in the world.” It was an act, in other words, consistent with the highest ideals of the American idea that Trump and his Republican enablers seem so intent on eviscerating.
By Brian Sozzi June 3, 2019
On Wednesday night, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that White House staff asked Navy officials to keep a ship bearing the name of the late senator John McCain out of the president’s sight lines during his recent visit to Japan.
While the USS John S. McCain could not be moved, shortly before the visit the ship’s name was covered by a tarp. That was quickly removed. Then a work barge was placed in a position that all but hid the name. That too was quickly moved. Then, according to The Post, senior naval leadership put a stop to the maneuvers. By the time the president would have been in a position to see the ship, the configuration was back to normal. But sailors assigned to the ship — unlike others assigned to other nearby American naval vessels were not invited to hear Trump’s Memorial Day speech on the USS Wasp.
Trump quickly stepped forward on Twitter to deny on knowledge of these events and there is no reason to doubt him. But it’s also worth noting he later characterized the staffer responsible as “well-meaning.” The destroyer was originally named for McCain’s father and grandfather, both Navy admirals; the senator’s name was added shortly before his death in 2018.
The fact that people working for our president went out of their way to try to make sure that Trump saw no reminders of McCain while on his visit to Japan is more than the usual outrage of the day. It’s not a distraction from the results of Mueller report, which all but stated the president of the United States sought to obstruct justice, and the White House’s ongoing defying of congressional subpoenas. Instead, it’s all of a piece — and shows what a dangerous spot our nation is in.
Trump is a notoriously thin-skinned man, quick to dish out insults, but unable to take anything resembling normal give and take, whether in politics or life. He shows no grace, humility or growth as a human being, never mind a politician. Trump bashes his enemies — either real or perceived — with a third-grader’s wit, coming up with nasty nicknames or other insults for those who he believes are against him. But he can’t abide even the slightest criticism, no matter how light. And when nasty names don’t work, Trump issues threats, urging Americans to consider boycotting everything from CNN (for being “unfair”) to motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson (for contemplating moving manufacturing operations out of the country). He’s demanded investigations of Hillery Clinton and former FBI director James B. Comey.
Trump’s feud with McCain perfectly captured the former’s thin skin. The man who skipped the draft to Vietnam courtesy of “bone spurs” in his foot that mysteriously disappeared routinely raged against the man who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war and was left permanently disabled as a result. McCain’s famous thumbs down on repealing the Affordable Care Act did add to Trump’s rage against him, but it’s no coincidence that the president hated a living, breathing rebuke to his faux patriotism. McCain, agree or disagree with his politics, served his country and did a heroic thing when called to do so. Trump, on the other hand, appears less than concerned he might well be in the White House thanks to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
As for the appearing, disappearing and reappearing USS John S. McCain, the entire episode contains more than a whiff of a reminder of how censors in the Soviet Union made formerly prominent figures who’d fallen out of favor with Joseph Stalin disappear in official photos. If a former high-ranking Communist Party official was executed, assassinated, sent to the gulag or otherwise exiled from government, their literal likeness often also vanished from official photographs. It happened to well-known political rivals such as Leon Trotsky, and as well as to the faces of those only factotums connected to the Kremlin would likely recognize. It was a form of rewriting history by erasing it from existence.
Trump, it is obvious, would like to do the same. He repeatedly exaggerated the size of the crowds at his inauguration, and just last week retweeted a Fox Business montage of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi having trouble speaking. He repeatedly lies about matters large and small, all but willing a not unsubstantial number of Americans to believe his own personal version of reality, which can often best be described with the phrase he so often likes to use — fake news. At the same time, he governs the White House in a stream of invective and chaos, subjecting people who fall out of favor to public humiliation.
No doubt the White House staffer who asked that the USS John S. McCain get temporarily vanished thought it was a good idea. This person no doubt didn’t want to risk a presidential temper tantrum, or Trump saying something vile and inappropriate about McCain on — of all days — Memorial Day. But democracies can’t survive when good governance is downgraded in favor of attempts to satisfy the moods and whims of a small, petty and greedy man at the top. But Trump, it seems, is just fine with that.