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This is what a dangerous refugee looks like!

Lalo Alcaraz
© Lalo Alcaraz

Also, commentary by Lalo Alcaraz:

I have mixed feelings on the Syrian refugee crisis. Of course, we know that Republicans are turning a well established US refugee program into a political football by playing on terrorism fears and anti-Muslim fervor. On the other hand, our people have not fared well early on with some refugees, mainly the ones depicted above. I guess all we can do is give thanks that Syrian toddlers and their families are far less likely to do harm to our people than the violent religious fanatic depicted above. On a totally unrelated note, Happy Thanksgiving!

Is it fair to say that (other than Native Americans) almost everyone in this country it descended from some sort of refugee? We all have reasons to be thankful.

Why did your ancestors come to this fair land? There must have been some reason they wanted or needed to leave their home for the new world. Personally, I have ancestors who fled the Nazis, others who were sent far away for breaking the law, others who fled looking for a better opportunity. America accepted them with open arms (for the most part, or at least gave them a fighting chance). Have we forgotten that America once was, and still should be, a great melting pot for humanity?


Late Night Political Humor

“As I’m sure you’ve heard, Donald Trump is in the building getting ready to host ‘Saturday Night Live’. There’s actually a lot of anti-Trump protesters outside the building — or as Trump put it, ‘Those people have been lining up for days to see me.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump put out his first paid campaign ads today. He bought them himself. You know, he doesn’t take money from super PACs. He earns it the old-fashioned way, by selling cologne at Rite Aid.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“In an interview yesterday, Trump and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo got in a heated argument after Trump repeatedly insulted reporter Sara Murray. CNN was like, ‘Guys, keep it down! You’ll wake the viewers!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Former President George H.W. Bush has a new biography coming out titled ‘Destiny and Power.’ While Jeb Bush has a new biography titled neither of those.” – Seth Meyers

“A new Quinnipiac University poll came out yesterday that shows Donald Trump back on top of Ben Carson, 24 to 23 percent, and Jeb Bush is now down to only 4 percent. More people picked Bit-O-Honey as their favorite Halloween candy than support Jeb Bush for president.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign today released a new 60-second radio ad that uses rap music to try to appeal to black voters. So there you have it: Get out and vote for Ben Carson on November 3rd, 1992.” – Seth Meyers

“Dr. Ben Carson said this week he would like to have a beer with Jesus. When reached for comment, Jesus said, ‘Oh, I have to work tomorrow.'” – Seth Meyers

“I saw that this week marks one year until the 2016 election. Or as Hillary calls that, ‘Five years until my re-election.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is here with us tonight and we’ll be touching on all the big topics: the economy, climate change, ISIS, whether Khloe should take Lamar back, everything.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“A new report found that Hillary Clinton’s campaign most often eats pizza for meals. While Chris Christie’s campaign most often eats pizza for snacks.” – Seth Meyers


Delusion Reasserts

Donald Trump is still claiming (loudly and repeatedly, of course) that he personally saw “thousands and thousands of people” in Jersey City, NJ cheering in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This despite the fact that multiple fact checking services have called him a liar over it, and even the police have denied it ever happened.

But Trump said he has proof, pulling out a story from the Washington Post from September 18 and reading it out loud at a campaign event in Ohio. The story says that “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

That’s the best he can do for proof? One article that says that a few people were questioned for “allegedly” celebrating? That’s a far cry from personally seeing “thousands and thousands of people”.

Unfortunately for Trump, even the two reporters who wrote that story say that they “could never verify that report” and that they “do not remember anyone saying that thousands or even hundreds of people were celebrating”. And there is no actual video of anyone celebrating to be found, even though Trump claims he saw it on TV.

But my favorite part of this is how Trump supporters are dealing with this. One said:

I mean, it probably did happen in some ways. Let’s face it, you look at the facts, it did happen. There’s good Muslims as well as those that aim to harm America. I think those are the ones we’re concerned about.

Note how he pivoted from “probably did happen” to “it did happen”, and then changed the subject.

This mirrors how Trump thinks. In a “classic” stream-of-conscieousness progression Trump said later on TV, “So, nobody believed me. Some people believed me. By the way, thousands of people believe me because they saw it.” Wow.

Another supporter went even further and claimed that there have been anniversary celebrations of the attacks.

Trump’s reality-free zone even affected another presidential candidate. Ben Carson first claimed that he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey on TV news coverage after the 9/11 attacks. But he then changed his mind and walked back those comments.

Meanwhile, Nate Silver points out that the number of Trump supporters is around the same number of people who still think the moon landing was faked. In other words, reality may not particularly mean anything to them.

UPDATE: Trump proceeds to sprint even further away from reality. Last Saturday, a known black activist shouted “black lives matter” at a Trump rally in Birmingham Alabama. Trump stopped his remarks and said “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”. Television footage then shows the protestor on the ground, surrounded by several white men who appear to be kicking and punching him, and one man put his hands on the protester’s neck in an apparent attempt to choke him.

The next day on Fox News, Trump responds “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.” This is a significant change from just a month ago, when Trump told his audience not to harm protesters who often show up at his rallies.

Then Trump goes completely off the deep end. The same day, Trump tweets an image that shows a black man holding a gun titled “USA Crime Statistics” for 2015, including claiming that 81% of white murder victims were killed by blacks. At the bottom of the image, it says that the source is the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco”:

2015-11-23 11_56_07-Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Ignoring that the image is blatantly racist and offensive, it also has nothing to do with reality. According to PolitiFact (who give Trump a “Pants on Fire” for this), “The most glaring inaccuracies have to do with white homicide victims. Trump cast blacks as the primary killers of whites, but the exact opposite is true.” In fact, only 15% of the murders of whites are committed by blacks, not the 81% claimed by Trump.”

The other “statistics” shown in the image are also off, all but one of them by factors of 400 to 540 percent. Which is not surprising considering that the “Crime Statistics Bureau” doesn’t exist. Even if it did, you would think that Trump might notice that the image claims to have crime statistics for 2015, but no such numbers have been published because the year isn’t even over yet.

Then, the image is traced back to a tweet from a white supremacist in the UK. Here’s his bio, complete with an admiring remark about Hitler. His avatar is a modified swastika that is the symbol of a neo-Nazi religious group in Germany.

Little Green Footballs

A leading Republican candidate for president is tweeting neo-Nazi propaganda and expressing approval of protesters being beaten up at his campaign rallies. Seriously? Could Trump get any more disgusting? I’m almost afraid to ask that question, because he undoubtably can.


Reality Reasserts

On Saturday, Democrat John Bel Edwards won a runoff election and was elected governor of Louisiana. Why is this newsworthy? Because he is the first Democrat elected to a statewide office there since 2008. His opponent was David Vitter, who has been plagued by scandals.

Why wasn’t current governor Bobby Jindal in the race? Because he was term limited, but might have lost even if he could have run. Despite running for president, when he dropped out of the presidential race last Wednesday his approval rating in his own state had dropped to 20%. Clearly, people there were ready for a change.

The other good news is that the new governor has pledged to expand Medicaid in his state under Obamacare, which could make Louisiana the first state in the deep south to do so. That will provide health insurance to around 225,000 people in the state, which is one of the poorest in the nation.


Late Night Political Humor

“USA Today’s GOP ‘Power Rankings’ had some big shake-ups this week, with Marco Rubio in the lead and Chris Christie in the top five. Yep, Rubio is number one, while Christie is numbers two through five.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb! Just released a brand new e-book entitled ‘Reply all’. It’s a great way to show you’re done making mistakes by naming a book after something people do by accident.” – Stephen Colbert

“Jeb Bush clearly needs some help because it feels like his campaign is sleepwalking. Which, admittedly, is a strategy that’s working for Ben Carson.” – Stephen Colbert

“In one of his books, Ben Carson actually admitted to falling asleep several times while driving his car. He started taking Ubers to be safe, but his drivers kept falling asleep while listening to him talk.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday was Election Day here in the United States. In Ohio they voted no on legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use and 65 percent of the voters said no. How could Ohio vote against marijuana? They have ‘High’ right in the middle of their name.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Ohio voters yesterday rejected a proposal that would have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana. Pot advocates were so devastated that there was hardly a dry mouth in the house.” – Seth Meyers

“Starting tomorrow, ‘Thursday night football’ will be seen only on NFL network and they’re kicking off with a heck of a matchup: The Cleveland Browns versus the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. It’s the battle of Ohio, so Governor John Kasich is going to have to bet a signature regional food item against himself.” – Stephen Colbert


The Circle is Unbroken

Nick Anderson
© Nick Anderson

Yeah, thanks GOP for keeping America safe.


I love how the right manages to remain reality-free. The latest news is that conservatives are threatening to move to Canada if the US takes in Syrian refugees. I guess nobody told them.


Late Night Political Humor

“As of today, we are officially one year away from the 2016 presidential election. If that seems like a long time to wait, just remember some people (Hillary) have been waiting their whole lives.” – Seth Meyers

“‘Crippled America’ outlines Donald Trump’s plan to make America great again. Though the book doesn’t say specifically WHEN he’s leaving.” – Seth Meyers

“A new national poll found that Ben Carson is now ahead of Donald Trump by six points in the Republican race. Finally proving that you can LITERALLY sleep your way to the top.” – Jimmy Fallon

“After being courted by several candidates, conservative billionaire Paul Singer has decided to endorse Marco Rubio. Now instead of having a button that says, ‘Donate’, Rubio’s website just says, ‘We Good’.” – Jimmy Fallon


Late Night Political Humor

“Congrats to the Kansas City Royals, who beat the Mets to win their first World Series in 30 years. Since the Royals won, they’ll get to meet President Obama. And since the Mets blew an early lead and lost, they’ll get to meet Jeb Bush.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I read about a 73-year-old man who turned in his collection of half a million pennies he’s found on the street throughout his life, amounting to over five-thousand dollars. When asked what he’ll do with the money, Bernie Sanders said, ‘Finance my campaign!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Bernie Sanders this weekend took his three grandchildren trick-or-treating in New Hampshire. Or as Fox News reported it, ‘Bernie Sanders Supports Handouts for the Unemployed.'” – Seth Meyers

“I saw that Jay-Z and Beyoncé dressed as the characters from the Eddie Murphy movie ‘Coming to America.’ In fact their ‘Coming to America’ costumes were so good, Donald Trump had them both deported.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I saw that the New York Times published an op-ed about Chris Christie’s campaign titled, ‘Chris Christie, Time to Go Home.’ Incidentally, that’s the same thing that the people at Golden Corral say when they’re closing.” – Jimmy Fallon

“This Sunday is the end of Daylight Savings Time, when we all get an extra hour of sleep! Which means Ben Carson will be getting 25 hours of sleep.” – Jimmy Fallon


Helping the Terrorists Win?


Some people are comparing our hostility to the Syrian refugees to a similar situation on the eve of WWII, when 67% of Americans were against letting Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany come to the US. And 100 years before that, refugees from the Irish Famine were treated just as badly.

Daesh (and terrorism) is our enemy, not Muslims.

Can we learn from the past, or are we doomed to repeat it?


They All Look Alike To Us

Can you tell the difference between a Daesh terrorist and a Syrian Refugee. It isn’t that difficult!

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

In the wake of the Paris attacks, we are scared shitless of the Syrian refugees, even though these are the people who are trying to escape Daesh. Besides, all the Paris terrorists had European passports. You would think that the smart thing to do would be to support those people fleeing the Islamic State, rather than demonize and punish them. But I guess we don’t do “smart” any more.

UPDATE: Jon Green has an awesome rant about the anti-refugee Republicans. It is short and you really should read the whole thing, but I’ll bait you with a few sentences from it, discussing the Governors who have said they won’t let refugees enter their state:

These governors know the rules, and are saying they’ll ignore them to make their constituents feel like they’re doing something about, you know, those people. But with the overall level of nonsense from Republicans in positions of power getting out of hand, getting them together to go back over the basics became necessary. No, they can’t violate the Refugee Act of 1980. Yes, if the federal government decides that “orphans under the age of 5” don’t pose a national security risk, Chris Christie will have to deal with it. No, religious tests for refugees are not constitutional. And seriously, John Kasich, we are not launching a new federal program for spreading Judeo-Christian values abroad.

Green also points out the stunning stupidity of Republican proposals to “solve” the refugee problem. Like that law that the House just passed to require refugees to get clearance from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security before we let them into our country. That sounds great until you find out that we are already doing it!


Late Night Political Humor

“Halloween is just a couple days away. Everybody’s getting in the spirit. In fact last night, I watched TWO scary movies: the Republican debate and the Mets game. I’ll be having nightmares for WEEKS!” – Jimmy Fallon

“Last night in Colorado the Republican candidates for president gathered to debate. It was the most-watched program in CNBC history. Mostly people watched to get ideas for Halloween costumes.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“During last night’s debate, Donald Trump said he would feel more comfortable if his own employees brought firearms to work. When they heard that, many of Trump’s Hispanic employees said, ‘No problemo’.” – Conan O’Brien

“The worst of memorable moments: We learned Donald Trump carries a gun. He told the group he carries a concealed weapon, conceals it in his hair.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The front-runner Dr. Ben Carson, in his closing statement, said one thing he’s noticed on the campaign trail that is people are waking up. And we’re hoping that eventually he will also wake up.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Carly Fiorina said that after the previous debate, people told her that she needed to smile more. They were like, ‘Just pretend you’re laying off a bunch of people.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush had a very rough night last night. He finally got time to say what he wanted, and how did he use it? He attacks not Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton or Ben Carson. Of all people, he attacks Marco Rubio for missing votes in the Senate. Which is something that literally no one outside of Florida cares about. It was embarrassing. And it’s just like a Bush to attack the wrong guy, it really is.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“In his closing comments, Rand Paul said that he is running to create a government so small that you can barely see it. Paul said it would be modeled after his presidential campaign.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The third Republican debate was held last night, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said he was extremely disappointed with the coverage. And he understands disappointment, because his parents named him Reince Priebus.” – Seth Meyers


ISIS wants you to hate Muslims

I keep thinking this is obvious, but then something like the (latest) massacres in Paris happen and our reaction shows that we just don’t get it. The point is: Islamic radicals want us to hate Muslims. It is their best recruiting tool ever.

An article in The Washington Post spells it out:

This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims. Then ISIS will be able to say, “I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.”

And it isn’t like we haven’t fallen for this before. A dozen years ago, the Islamists even told us this was their strategy:

This strategy gained traction in the early 2000s after al-Qaeda was sent into hiding by Western military action. Abu Musab al-Suri, an influential jihadi thinker whom the Wall Street Journal called “the new mastermind of jihad,” argued for a distributed network of terrorist cells recruited from the Islamic diaspora, carrying out terrorist strikes in their own communities. These attacks, and the backlash they generated, would inspire others to radicalize.

The US is big and powerful, and we have meddled in the Middle East enough times to make plenty of enemies there. But they cannot attack us directly – nation to nation – that would be suicide. So instead, they got 20 people with box cutters to destroy the twin towers for them. And we played right into their hands. After 9/11, we attacked Iraq, and ended up creating the group variously known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh (the derogative Arabic term for the Islamic State, and now my preferred term).

And the west keeps falling for it. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, attacks against Muslims and vandalism of mosques more than quadrupled in France.

This time around, the reprisals are even more widespread. A mosque in Canada was deliberately set on fire. In liberal Portland Oregon, protestors held a rally outside a mosque wearing T-shirts saying things like “Proud to be an infidel, Islam is a LIE“. Other Islamic buildings received threatening phone calls, like one in Florida:

We are tired of your [expletive] and I [expletive] personally have a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head.

Think about it for a second. Why would Islamic militants stage an operation that kills 129 people in Paris? Certainly they aren’t so stupid that they think it will make the west stop bombing them.

Just last month, they planted a bomb on a Russian airplane leaving Egypt, killing almost twice as many people than died in Paris. But somehow that didn’t work as well. They need to take the terrorism to where we live, whether it is Paris or New York. Even more important, they need to take it to cities where there are large Islamic populations, so they can radicalize even more future terrorists.

And they do need to create more future terrorists. The vast majority of Muslims are against terrorism. Just this week, the King of Jordan (a Muslim country that shares a large border with Syria) denounced Daesh, saying “The atrocious Paris attacks shows that scourge of terrorism can strike anywhere and any time.” He also announced a war against the Daesh terrorists (Jordan is already bombing Daesh in Syria, so this is no hollow threat).

Unfortunately, our reaction to Paris here in the US is even more idiotic than normal this time. Yes, our Republican presidential candidates are waving their sabers around, but that sadly is normal. No, the big news is that 30 governors have announced that they will refuse to let Syrian refugees settle in their states.

First of all, how in the world would a state government stop someone from settling in their state? Religious quizzes at the state border? Even more traffic stops of people who look middle eastern? It boggles the mind. But even if there was a physical way to stop them, what legal reason could they use to stop them? A law explicitly discriminating against Muslims? They would have to repeal the First Amendment before they could do that.

But that doesn’t matter. Do the governors realize just how idiotic this is? The Syrian refugees are people fleeing Daesh. They are trying to get away from Daesh. Indeed, absolutely none of the Paris terrorists were Syrian refugees. They were Muslims already living in Europe. It would make more sense for the governors to threaten to deport all Muslims living in their states (not that it makes any sense at all).

So not letting Syrian refugees find a new home means that they won’t be able to leave Syria and will be stuck there under Daesh. Is that what we want? If you are a Muslim living in the US, and your siblings or parents are unable to leave Syria, who are you going to blame? If your mosque is set on fire, or your friends are beat up by some skinhead, at whom are you going to get angry?

I’m not saying that two wrongs make a right. I’m just saying that through our actions, we managed to create Daesh and we continue to be their best recruiting tool. Just look at our results. They are playing us like idiots, and we keep falling for it.

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

The last panel of this comic shows the terrorists popping open a bottle of champagne, even though the Muslim religion prohibits alcohol. Maybe this is a subtle reminder that the terrorists in Paris were not particularly religious.

UPDATE: Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to severely restrict the entry of Syrian refugees to the US. Obama is threatening to veto the bill, assuming it gets through the Senate.


Love Your Corporatocracy!

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

This comic is brilliant. And it doesn’t even mention the military propaganda pre-game shows that are paid for by the military using your tax dollars. Or the sports stadiums that are heavily subsidized by local governments (when those same local governments were broke).

It also doesn’t mention that conservatives seem to love Fox News more that they love their country. Do those conservatives know that Fox News is owned by a foreigner who only became a US citizen in order to satisfy the legal requirement for ownership of US television stations, and who still owns significant media assets in other countries?


Proven Christians?

Rupert Murdoch (the dark lord of Fox News) tweeted the following:

Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians.

Seriously? Proven Christians?

Of course, the best part is all the responses to his tweet. Here are just a few:

  • ‘proven’ Christians. Lolz. Some sort of bible quiz on the borders, then? That’ll be a hit with Passport Control.
  • a religious test for citizenship says the Sith Lord
  • How to find ‘proven’ Christians? Splash them with holy water? Or maybe some sort of heathen dunking stool? #SimpleDarkAgeFixes #DrunkTweeting
  • isn’t that the logic isis employs when deciding whether to kill someone. Works SO well for them.
  • how about a Saturday night reality show? Live or Let Die with Simon Cowell? Viewers could vote on who looks the most muslimy
  • “Can you prove you’re a Catholic?” “Sure. But how?” “See this 8-year old boy?” “Yes?” “Fuck him.”
  • Refresh my memory, I forget how it works – if they float, they’re a witch, and if they sink they’re a Christian? #buffoon

UPDATE: More Twitter responses to Murdoch:

  • This is about the least Christ like thing i can imagine
  • Is Rupert Murdoch a Christian? If so, prove it.
  • I’m not even sure he’s human!
  • wish we could get rid of proven arseholes like you
  • what’s the test for “proven Christians?” A recent case of stigmata? Able to show documented proof of slave ownership?
  • I would have thought a “proven Christian” would make no distinction between people in dire need
  • Conservatives okay w/ selling AK-47s to people w/o asking if they have criminal or mental issue but refugees must prove they’re Christians.
  • yeah because Christians don’t shoot up schools or do anything else bad !!!

Actually, Murdoch gives me an idea. I think we should only allow people to own or run TV broadcasters, radio stations, and newspaper publishers if they are natural born Americans.


Investigate This!

You really should go read a stunning article in Politico Magazine, which interviewed all living former CIA directors and other intelligence officers to answer the question “Did the Bush administration know that an attack was coming?”. And according to the CIA, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Not only did Dubya and his administration not want to hear about any potential terrorist attacks, they didn’t even want a paper trail to show that they had been warned. Rather than keeping us safe, they were more concerned about covering their collective asses.

George Tenet (the CIA director during the Clinton and Bush administration, including 9/11) says he warned the Bush administration repeatedly, telling them “There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.”

Cofer Black, the then-chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, says they refused to do anything: “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened?”

To me there are only two possibilities. The first is almost too frightening to imagine: that Dubya and his administration knew that 9/11 was going down, and just let it. The more believable possibility was that they were just too stupid and arrogant. As Black puts it, “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties — they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”

Either way, this totally puts the lie to Jeb Bush’s assertion that his brother “kept us safe”. Between ignoring all the warnings about 9/11, and then afterwards getting us into an unrelated and unnecessary war in Iraq, which certainly encouraged (if not directly created) ISIS/ISIL, he did nothing of the kind. It also explains why Dubya’s dad, who is not only a former president but also one of those former CIA directors, recently tried to blame the mistakes made by his son’s administration on Cheney and Rumsfeld. It is called regret.

How many people died unnecessarily because of the Dubya’s administration? And yet the Republicans spend all their time screaming about Clinton and Benghazi.