Category Archives: Democratic vs. Republican Presidents

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia waging cyber war against United States

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing designed to lay out Russia‘s intentions and techniques (“active measures)” to influence the U.S. 2016 elections, and to propose actions and solutions to address them going forward. According to Independent Senator Angus King, from what he heard during the hearing, “we’re engaged in a new form of aggression, if not war,” from Russia. King’s statement echoed former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said a few days earlier that, “in some quarters,” Russia’s interference in the U.S. election “could be considered an act of war.” Witnesses at the hearing agreed that Russia is engaged in cyber “warfare” against the U.S. This is a crucial first step in investigating whether Donald Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

Democratic and Republican healthcare plans reflect very different values

Maternity and newborn healthcare, on the Republican chopping block.

Maternity and newborn healthcare, on the Republican chopping block.

Republicans yesterday were forced to pull their American Health Care Act (AHCA) for lack of Republican support. House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP colleagues made more changes to the bill, were subjected to more arm-twisting, and are reportedly voting on it today. While it’s conceivable that House Republicans can ultimately agree on a bill that has enough giveaways for recalcitrant members, the so-called “healthcare” bill is as good an example as any of the vast difference in values between the Democratic and Republican Parties.

The phony allure of the anecdote

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients' diets according to GOP.

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients’ diets according to GOP.

Humans are a storytelling species. Thus, it’s no surprise that narratives — essentially, ongoing story lines — are an important part of successful political communication. In Messaging Maxim #4: Feed the Narrative, we mentioned that it is valuable to:

craft a true but negative story about your opponents’ ideas, actions or positions, and then look for statements or actions by them that you can point to as furthering that narrative.

Republicans are very good at constructing narratives (for example, “Scary Brown People”); however, many Republican narratives are false. That’s why you will see the GOP using anecdotes, i.e., possibly false or possibly true stories involving as few as one person, to further their phony narratives, rather than citing any meaningful facts, evidence or accurate math.

A positive approach to save the world

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

Many people at this very moment are hating Donald Trump. They’re criticizing him on Twitter (his favorite insult forum), Facebook and other social media. They’re commiserating with their friends and co-workers by telling each other what a disaster Trump is or mentioning Trump’s latest move with disdain or despair. These folks should ask themselves what their goal really is. If their goal is to turn America around and effect positive change once again, then perhaps a more positive approach is called for.

Donald Trump’s media mistake

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

For over 40 years, Donald Trump has been a media creature. He has successfully used the media, from his books to his TV and radio interviews to his reality TV shows to his tweets, to further his business and political interests. Trump’s love of the spotlight was well rewarded during the 2016 Republican primaries and general election with an astounding $2 billion or more of free media coverage. That’s why Trump’s rookie mistakes towards the media since stepping into the White House are so surprising.

Trump’s troubling ties to Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Several weeks ago, Donald Trump kicked off a constitutional crisis by firing the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, after Yates opposed Trump’s Muslim Ban. Since then, after rulings by numerous federal courts, Yates’ view has been validated. Now it turns out that another correct decision by Yates, regarding Russia, was ignored by Trump and his White House staff, with dire consequences.

Republicans obsessed with fighting Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Like a dog with a bone, many Republicans just won’t let go of their battles over culture in America, from LGBT rights to guns to infusing government with their religion — often referred to by the phrase “God, Guns and Gays” — to the media we consume. Led by Donald Trump himself, these conservatives seem to be spending an awful lot of time fretting over Super Bowl commercials and other corporate policies. The results vary from ill-fated boycotts to a further tearing of the fabric of America.

Donald Trump’s Constitutional crisis

Richard Nixon leaving White House grounds by helicopter after resignation.

Richard Nixon leaving White House grounds by helicopter after resignation.

In October 1973, President Richard Nixon committed the “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired the Watergate Special Prosecutor who had been appointed at the behest of Congress, which caused the U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General to resign. Nixon also abolished the office of the special prosecutor. This Constitutional crisis, which occurred nearly five years into Nixon’s presidency, ultimately led to Nixon’s impeachment and his resignation.

Last night, after just 10 days in the White House, Donald Trump had a Saturday Night Massacre of his own. Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after Yates wrote a letter to top Justice Department lawyers, directing them not to defend Trump’s Muslim immigration ban in federal court. Trump also fired Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Daniel Ragsdale, for reasons thus far unspecified. Several days earlier, Trump fired top career officers in the State Department.

The best way to protest is to vote smart

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

–George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

Massive protests are planned in Washington, D.C. and around the country against tomorrow’s inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Most of the people who will be protesting are on the political left. How many of these people voted against or publicly attacked Hillary Clinton when she was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee? How many of them didn’t vote at all? If they did those things, they helped elect Trump. Protesting now is certainly in the American tradition, but voting smarter in the first place would have greatly reduced the number of things against which to protest, or even eliminated the need to protest at all.

President Obama’s high-water mark

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Barack Obama is leaving office on a high note. Many people might not remember what it was like when Obama took office in January 2009. The Bush Recession was underway, and America was losing 779,000 jobs per month. Stores were closing. Restaurants were empty. And our treasury was also empty (in fact, trillions in debt) from Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Obama, with no help from the Republicans, turned things around to the point where he will be turning over a country that, by most objective measures, is doing very well. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, so that we will have a comparison for the future: