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No Rest for the Wicked

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

I admit that I have something of a feeling of schizophrenic ambivalence about the upcoming elections. I mean, there is so much more political irony out there during a presidential election. On the other hand, haven’t we seen just about everything that is possibly ironic, over and over again? Is there anything new in political irony?

Meanwhile, there was some really good news yesterday. Obama has managed to work out a deal with Iran to control their nuclear ambitions, while welcoming them back into the global community. Personally, I feel like Iran is the only nation that has any chance of stopping ISIS (or whatever people are calling them today), so this is very good news indeed. Besides, engagement is almost always better than isolation.


Bloom County!

So far, this has little to do with politics, but the comic strip Bloom County has come back to life after a 25 year hiatus. Ironically, Berkeley Breathed is publishing his comic on Facebook.

Berkeley Breathed
© Berkeley Breathed


Preemptive Defensive

Matt Wuerker
© Matt Wuerker

In some ways, given the ferocious nature of right-wing media attacks against Obama, and even against her husband, I can’t blame Hillary Clinton for being careful around the press. Wouldn’t you be? It is a shame, because when I saw her talk at a private event, she was very open and answered questions freely and honestly. I wish she could do that with the media, but I understand why she is wary.



Criminals from the South

Donald Trump called undocumented immigrants from Mexico to the USA “criminals” and “rapists”. Well, it looks like Canada feels the same way about undocumented immigrants from the USA.

This includes US war deserters from the Iraq war, who left because of what they witnessed in Iraq, including unprovoked acts of violence against civilians.


Taking us Back to our Fore-Fore Fathers

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

How did we change from a country of immigrants, to a country that calls immigrants “criminals” and “rapists”? Aren’t immigrants (most of) us? Heck, if you go back far enough, even “native” Americans came from somewhere.



Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

Recent events have raised the hopes and dreams of progressives in the US. I think the popularity of Bernie Sanders is a wonderful sign of this. It wasn’t so long ago that the word “liberal” was being used like it was a dirty word (let alone “socialist”!)

I’m still a moderate. I know change will be slow, but I just want to know that this country is still moving forward, and not back to the (anti-science, feudalistic) dark ages. It is a good time to be alive.



I’ll be on vacation for a week or so; things might be a bit quiet in here. But look for new posts that will show up below this one.


Channeling Intent

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

I know I’ve already pointed out the hypocrisy of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia but this comic was just too funny.

I think I have a new theory. Maybe the conservative justices are just treating the Constitution like the Bible. After all, you can justify almost any behavior by selectively picking verses from the Bible.


The Case Against Austerity

I don’t know why we fall for really stupid economic theories, but it may have something to do with the huge amount of money being spent to convince 99% of Americans that it will be good for us to give all our money to the 1%. First it was “trickle down economics” until that was soundly discredited. But rather than give up on it, they just came up with another name, “austerity”. Austerity is nothing like trickle down economics. In austerity, we have to reduce spending severely in order to cut taxes (which mainly benefits the very rich).

See the difference? Well, neither do I.

But we keep hearing about austerity. Greece has to cut spending even more than they already have. Retired people have to give up a big part of their pensions, and there will be big cuts to education. Why? So Greece can pay money back to their rich creditors who stupidly invested in Greece when they knew it was becoming insolvent. Sound familiar?

Which is why it is a good thing that the LA Times has published an article about what should be obvious to everyone: “The evidence piles up: Austerity poisons economic growth“:

Why has the post-recession recovery been so slothful, both here in the U.S. and abroad?

The answer has been plain for years: Government leaders pursued policies of austerity, cutting public spending with the fanaticism of moral crusaders. The almost universal result was a stifling of economic growth.

Resistance to public spending hobbled the U.S. recovery and has had even worse effects in Europe, which embraced austerity more.

We made the same mistake after the Great Depression, and only fully climbed out of that when WWII forced us to seriously increase spending. Yes, that drove the federal deficit up for a few years until growth picked up dramatically and the resulting economic boom cut the national debt to a quarter of what it was at its peak.

If that weren’t enough evidence, today we have states like Kansas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana, which fully embraced austerity and tax cuts (promising the resulting economic growth would make everything better), only to see their economies get worse instead of better:

Things have gotten so bad in Louisiana, where budget cuts have Louisiana State University contemplating the equivalent of bankruptcy, that Republican legislators are pleading to be relieved of their earlier no-tax pledges.

Now here’s the ironic part. Even though the wealthy stand to gain the most from austerity, in reality they lose too.

Crumbling roads and bridges cost business owners dearly in transport costs; underfunded educational systems raise their cost of finding or training qualified workers; poverty and unemployment cause social unrest, which leads to attacks on their property.

In Kansas, Wisconsin, Louisiana and other fanatical tax-cutting and government-shrinking states, the signs are emerging that austerity isn’t even its own reward. High-income taxpayers may feel flush for a while when their rates are being slashed, but when the consequence is shuttered universities, understaffed schools, and unemployment spreading among what should be their customer base, everyone is impoverished.


Pretzel Logic

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

If Scalia weren’t bad enough, we have his sidekick “Scalito”. It might have been overshadowed by other decisions, but yes, the Supreme Court did rule that capital executions could move forward, even though three recent executions resulted in long and apparently excruciatingly painful death, “the chemical equivalent of being burned alive”. Silly me, I thought the eighth amendment prohibited “cruel and unusual punishments”.

Rebecca Hendin
© Rebecca Hendin


The Right’s Right to Deny Rights?

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

I’m just waiting for them to exercise the right to shut up.

My only consolation is that future generations will undoubtably look back at gay bashers the same way we look back at slave owners.


Hot Greece

I’ve been thinking about the economic crisis in Greece (and the rest of Europe), and I have one question: When did bankers stop acting like businessmen and start acting like gangsters, who will kneecap customers if they don’t repay their loans?

I don’t ask this question because I am a socialist, I ask it because I am a capitalist! The whole point is that in order for capitalism to work, there must be risk associated with any reward. I have invested in many companies, big and small. I’ve made money off some of them, and some of them have failed and I lost some or all of my money.

Yes, Greece made bad decisions. They have huge debt. But what nobody seems willing to point out is that you can’t rack up debt without somebody loaning that money to you and charging you interest. The interest is the reward for doing business. The risk of doing business is that some of the loans will fail, and the bank will lose money.

This is not a bad thing. Without risk, there is no incentive to make good loans. We saw what happened in the US when the economy melted down, because bankers lost all incentive to make good mortgage loans. Stupidly, we bailed them out — I’m not talking about the homeowners who were in danger of becoming homeless, we insanely bailed out the bankers who made the bad loans. And then the bankers gave themselves bonuses for their “success”. Seriously.

And now the same thing is happening in Europe. If Greece doesn’t repay all of their debts, with interest, Europe will kick them out of the Eurozone. When did we give bankers power over whole countries? Even the IMF is admitting that by forcing austerity on Greece, it will further damage their economy. Do we never learn? A good definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing when it keeps failing.

And the real hypocrisy is Germany, who are lecturing Greece about repaying their debts. As economist Thomas Piketty points out, Germany has never repaid its debts. They didn’t after WWI, and again after WWII. And not just Germany. Other countries, including Great Britain and France, were once in the situation facing Greece today.

And the bankers have the audacity to say that if we don’t punish Greece for their bad decisions, they will never learn. Will bankers ever learn that they can’t have rewards without risk? Bankers, heal thy selves.


It is more than 5 years later…

And all that stuff has been implemented.

Rush Limbaugh

And please, before you leave, make sure Sean Hannity has his waterboarding charity event.


If a Trump Falls in the Forest, Does it Make a Sound?

Jon Stewart has a good point. Donald Trump is not the problem. The problem is us. Why do we pay attention to anything Trump says?

Trump is following the traditional right-wing script. Now he’s whining about being America’s whipping post because he’s willing to bring up things like immigration that nobody else wants to talk about. Poor me, says Trump.

First of all, Trump is certainly not the only person who is talking about immigration. Obama tried to talk about solving the problem of illegal immigration, but was soundly denounced by the Republicans. And Trump’s solution? Build a (Berlin-like) wall all the way across the border. Even though that would cost insane amounts of money and still would not stop illegal immigration.

And his big example of the problem? A woman was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco. Why do we let anyone get away with using anecdotal evidence to prove anything? There is plenty of evidence that immigrants, both legal and illegal, commit less than half the crime than average US citizens (Trump’s claim that Mexico is sending their worst people to the US is a complete fabrication). And the unfortunate murder in San Francisco is a particularly bad example. Immigration had previously caught the illegal immigrant who committed the murder, but they turned him over to the SF police. The SF police stupidly released him, instead of turning him back over to immigration (to be deported or jailed).

We don’t need a wall, we need police departments that aren’t swamped fighting minor crimes (like personal drug use) and prisons that aren’t overcrowded, so that we don’t release violent criminals and the police can give priority to real crimes.

And we need fewer jerks like Trump. The only way we will get that is to stop paying any attention to them or their stupid lies.


Late Night Political Humor

“Donald Trump announced that he’s running for president. During his speech he told the crowd that if elected he would be ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ Then God said, ‘Hey, don’t drag me into this publicity stunt.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“In his presidential announcement speech yesterday, Donald Trump pledged to become ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created’. This is from the man who coined the catch phrase ‘You’re fired’.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump is running for president, and I couldn’t be happier about it. He promised he would be ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ I think President Trump would be a very good thing for jobs in this country — specifically for my job here at this show.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Political analysts are saying that as a candidate, Donald Trump is ‘a totally unqualified nuisance’. In other words, he is a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump told ABC news that if he had Oprah as a running mate, they could easily win. Although you know who’d definitely win? Oprah WITHOUT Donald Trump.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Presidential hopeful Donald Trump said yesterday that he has better hair than Senator Marco Rubio – a claim that was recently disproven by wind.” – Seth Meyers

Hell Toupee