The nastiness and ignorance that epitomized the campaign of Donald Trump has proven to be stubbornly enduring. Now, as 2016 wraps up, the effect it had on his followers is brought into focus by the results of a new poll. The Economist/YouGov survey (pdf) addressed many of the pressing issues that face the nation. It’s a revealing exploration into the mindset of the electorate. However, the most fascinating (and frightful) revelations are those relating to Trump voters.

Below are some of the more worrisome responses. Let’s start off with what ought to be the most clear cut inquiry by the pollsters:

Is the country better off now than it was eight years ago?

Most Americans recall that eight years ago the nation was descending into an economic abyss. The stock market dropped 46 percent. Unemployment shot up to 10.1 percent. Home foreclosures hit record figures. And total household wealth declined by more than $19 trillion.

Yet somehow a whopping 60 percent of Trump voters responded to this question saying that the country was better off eight years ago than today. Another 19 percent say there is no difference. That’s after stocks climbed back from about 7,000 to nearly 20,000. And unemployment dropped to 4.9 percent. The auto industry that was on the brink of collapse is reporting record profits. And the delusions of the Trumpsters are unique to their breed. Only 21 percent of Democrats thought 2009 was a better year.

Do you think that the proportion of persons without insurance has increased or decreased over the past five years?

This is another question where the answer is an unambiguous fact. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the rate of the uninsured dropped to its lowest levels in history. It now stands at about 10 percent as more than 20 million people got insurance through ObamaCare.

Nevertheless, only 26 percent of Trump voters correctly said that persons without insurance decreased. And once again, Democrats demonstrated greater knowledge with 49 percent answering correctly.

On the subject of climate change do you think: (A) The world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity; (B) The world’s climate is changing but NOT because of human activity; (C) The world’s climate is NOT changing?

While conservatives fiercely deny reality on this question, 97 percent of scientists who study climate agree that “A” is the correct answer.

That doesn’t stop Trump voters from dismissing the science. Only 36 percent of them chose “A” as their answer. That compares to 79 percent of Democrats doing so.

Did Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the U.S. never found?

Many people may have forgotten that prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq there was an international team of nuclear experts investigating and monitoring Iraq. They never found any trace of WMDs. Neither were any found after the invasion.

Of course Trump voters are not constrained by facts. Consequently, 68 percent of them said that it was definitely/probably true that Saddam had WMDs. By contrast, the definitely/probably true respondents among Democrats were only 10 and 32 percent respectively.

Was President Obama born in Kenya?

Why is this still a question? Even Trump stated in a press conference that he now believes that Obama was born in the U.S., period.

Still, Trump’s loyal followers are unmoved. A majority of 52 percent continue to say that Obama is definitely/probably a native Kenyan. Democrats aren’t perfect on this question, yet they’re still far better informed than the Trumpsters. Their definitely/probably born in Kenya numbers are only 7 and 13 percent.

Did Russia hack the email of Democrats in order to increase the chance that Donald Trump would win the Presidential election?

Seventeen American intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the CIA answer this question with a resounding “YES!” President Obama just slammed Russia with sanctions and diplomatic expulsions in retaliation for their interference in our democracy.

However, Trump voters are as defensive about Vladimir Putin as Trump himself. Eighty percent say the charges against Russia are definitely/probably NOT true. And by now you won’t be surprised to learn that the same figures for Democrats are a measly 9/16 percent respectively.

Were millions of illegal votes cast in the election?

This question was motivated by Trump’s tweeted assertion that he would have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal votes cast for Clinton. He never bothered to provide and documentation for his claim. And every expert that reviewed it found it to be false or unsupported by any facts.

OK, guest what? Sixty-two percent of Trump voters say the claim is definitely/probably true. Sixty-four percent of Democrats say the opposite.

Did Leaked email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign contain code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse – what some people refer to as ’Pizzagate’?

This was one of the more prominent examples of fake news that made the headlines in the past few weeks. It was never given credibility by any legitimate news source. It simply spread like a virus via Facebook and Twitter infecting the dim-witted, right-wing cult fetishists. Eventually, it led to a near tragedy as one of the believers showed up at the pizzeria with an assault weapon.

And yet, 46 percent of Trump voters said that this ludicrous fiction was definitely/probably true. That compared to 76 percent of Democrats saying, essentially, “WTF?”

In conclusion:

It is incomprehensible that so many Americans can be so plainly and dangerously ill-informed. It doesn’t bode well for 2017 and beyond as the Trump administration begins to put its imprimatur on the country. But this epidemic of ignorance was not accidental. It was a deliberate act of disinformation by Trump and the Republican Party. And the media bears its share of responsibility for putting ratings and profit before journalistic ethics.

The only hope is for those who have not been deceived to relentlessly correct the record. They need to use facts, and reason, and shame, if necessary, to distribute the truth. It’s a difficult task to pitch reality to weak-willed, faith-based, zealots for whom facts hold no appeal. But failing to try is a far worse alternative. Be strong. Be persistent. Resist!






Like folks with inquiring minds, I sometimes find myself wondering about noteworthy people who might, in another context, be inconsequential. They might be merely seeking their 15 minutes of fame.

If you can remember them, think about these people in yesteryear’s news. Some were household names, like Larry Craig, Kim Davis, Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy. See? Forgotten!

Who is Stephen Bannon? Do we know much about this guy who headed up and who has become a top advisor to President-elect Trump? I wondered. So, I consulted the Wall Street Journal, archives of CBS News, the Washington Post and The Daily Beast. I thought these a good sampling - that I’d be able to sketch a decent picture of this Bannon fellow.

I learned Bannon was a Navy man; that he invested in the “Seinfeld” series, that he once made a “fawning documentary” about Sarah Palin. According to a CBS News article, he is “a rich guy-turned conservative propagandist” best known for his Palin documentary.

Lately, I’m certain he is best-known for his close association with President-elect Donald Trump. I dug a little deeper. At a WSJ CEO Council meeting, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Bannon, “is a man who says, by his very presence, that this is a White House that will embrace bigotry.” tribalism-1201697_1280That got my attention. I detest bigotry! But, of course, everyone knows Senator Warren isn’t exactly an unbiased source on Trump or anyone connected with him.

I kept researching because I ran across the Warren quote about bigotry and also because it appears that the next president has a xenophobic (“a strong dislike or distrust of foreigners”) streak in him that can only be exacerbated by a close advisor who is a reputed bigot.

According to Will Rahn of CBS News (August 2016) (remember, it was headed up by Bannon) was a haven for the “alt-right” who proclaims “the West is under attack and conservatives, locked in the straight-jacket of respectability, won’t do anything about it.



The Muslims are coming, and so are the Mexicans. Blacks are out of control in the cities. The feminists are trying to upset gender norms, which is why you can’t get a date. Smart as you are, young white man, you can’t get rich, because of globalists, who ‘just happen’ to be Jews.”

Hmmm, it isn’t complicated to connect the dots. Steven Bannon bigotry “alt-right” xenophobia close advisor to President-elect Trump to President Donald Trump!

Woodruff and Resnick of The Daily Beast, wrote in an October 2017 piece: “Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about [the aforementioned] things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.”

According to the Woodruff/Resnick piece, “Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.”

Should we just forget about this fellow, Stephen Bannon? I think not. I think we’d better keep an eye on him - remember who and where he is.

[This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, December 26, 2016.]



Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not “walking the walk.” After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness… other words, DO NOT LIE.


So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday school stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups



are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white décor is not the sign of that. 

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to “walk the walk” all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more than I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but cannot find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here. religions


[Beth Rankin lives with her husband, Graham, in McMinnville, Oregon.  Beth is a mother, entrepreneur, writer, and consummate seeker of truth.  She is the CEO of Can-Do Foods.  Her blog site is  We encourage readers to go to Beth’s website, and we are especially grateful that she allows us to re-print many of her articles.  Happy Hanukkah, Beth!]

A NEXT STEP by Beth Rankin

A NEXT STEP by Beth Rankin

Like many others I was hoping, but not expecting, the Electoral College to act in an unprecedented but authorized way to negate the Trump presidency. Had that happened, however, it would have opened other doors of unknown outcome, so maybe this is the best way.

This way, we can hold the incoming President to his Constitutional duties and responsibilities. We do have guidelines for that and will know when he inappropriately strays.  I expect he will stray, as his prior comments indicate he is not clear on much of what is ahead of him.

Meanwhile, enough angst. Each of us either feels distress now or will soon. Each one of us. The efforts of a Republican Congress backed up by this President will mean we have big changes ahead.  It is the anticipation of some of those changes that have people already upset. However, the rest will join the fray when program cuts begin to affect them. When campaign promises go by the wayside. When life does not get better for the many many people who expect the Federal government to fix things for them.

So, onward.

I have said often on my Facebook feed that I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to help retain the rights won by all of us to give equal access and protection of the law to all our citizens. I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make sure the least of us continue to be helped regardless of any political stance.  I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make a positive difference.

Back in 1970 when Earth Day was initiated I heard a slogan that resonated. “Think globally but act locally.” We know the earth has overwhelming issues, not only environmental but in every aspect of life.together


We have a choice, each one of us.

·         We can ignore and carry on, dong what we do that may help or hinder any situation, self-centered and choosing to stay apart from the community of the world.

·         We can get stirred by all the need in the world and affected so deeply we can’t deal with it, so we freeze, stuck in despair.

·         We can opt to get involved in one or two issues that deeply resonate. We may send money or sign petitions or write letters or emails or even show up at our state capitol to join a protest.

·         We can chose to get active in our own communities, making our voice and action count where it will show a difference.

I’ve done each of these. Earlier in my life I was focused on my own young adulthood and all that involved including building a career and raising a family. I had a nodding relationship with a few issues but not much money and not much time, so not much involvement.

I’ve been on listservs that overwhelm me with need. It seems that I receive more than 20 a day with hands outstretched asking for $1, $5, $25 or more. It was with extreme pleasure that I unsubscribed from almost all recently.

I sign petitions and sometimes post them on Facebook urging others to take the minute to add their  support. It seems to be the LEAST anyone can do.

Mostly, I am active here in my town. I have chosen three main areas and participate as much as I can. I do what I can, offer my skills to forward the mission of the group. I self impose a limit on what I feel I can do and ask for the group to respect that. (If the group doesn’t, as some have in the past, I moved my energy elsewhere.)emplowerment

I hope by this example you can see how you might work through the coming years when so many of us feel what we have known about the United States of America will be changing. I plan to keep on keeping on. Joining with other like minded people empowers all of us. 



Many Americans believe that obtaining and paying for medical care was never a problem in the “good old days.” Wrong. Medicare was initiated in 1965 because older people couldn’t afford medical care. Medicaid, a join federal-state health insurance program for those at the poverty level, was also introduced.

insurance-1337564_640The need for health insurance for all Americans is not new. After being discussed for decades, the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, which covered about half of the 40 million Americans without health insurance, was passed by Congress. That plan was and is imperfect; it needs an overhaul. The Republicans’ stated goal is to completely repeal this health care plan without any replacement. The ACA needs to be revamped, not destroyed.

A Forbes magazine analysis of national medical cove3rage in 10 developed nations illustrates that there are numerous successful models for achieving this, but that the U.S. placed last among these countries. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that our country ranked 37th in providing health care coverage.bless-you-1175296_640

On a personal note, my mother held a life-long grudge against the local hospital in our small Long Island town. When my grandmother became critically ill, she was denied admittance to the hospital until my father paid the hospital in full for the estimated charges.

People under 65 and those who work beyond that age have access to varied health care insurance plans; major corporations usually provide the best. Union members and retirees used to have Cadillac plans, but now the wheels have come off much of that coverage. Hourly job employees traditionally have no insurance. Those between jobs cannot afford to get sick.

Health care is expensive and someone has to pay for it. We all cover the cost of uninsured patients using the emergency room as their primary physician. We all pay for most who overdose on heroin and require Narcan and medical services. Who paid for the people who were shot during a Huntington (WV) drug exchange that went bad and required multiple admissions to local hospitals? Do we think all these patients showed up with their medical insurance cards and their co-pays? When I go to a doctor’s office, the receptionist sure wants to check that my health insurance is current and receive my co-pay.

We all need and should be responsible for some level of health care insurance. People put off purchasing homeowners, renters, flood or fire insurance because they think they’re too costly, only to find that after a disaster it would have been so much better to have been insured. Nowadays, West Virginians regularly buy auto liability insurance because it is mandated to obtain a driver’s

Recently, I met a man working in a restaurant who said he wasn’t going to spend his money on health insurance, as he was young and health. “What would happen if you were hurt in an accident?” I asked.slip-up-709045_640 He responded that he just wouldn’t pay or maybe his family would get stuck with the bill. When he’s older, that young man will likely want health insurance, but if he’s developed a pre-existing health condition, he’ll be out of luck if the ACA is totally repealed.

The Affordable Care Act was a move in the right direction. The new Republican administration has the wherewithal to decimate it. The bottom line is that all Americans deserve to have access to affordable health care insurance, and it would be much healthier for our country to have this legislation revamped rather than abolished.

[This article by Diane W. Mufson originally appeared in the Huntington, WV Post-Dispatch and is reprinted here with permission. Ms Mufson is a retired psychologist.]