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Welcome to the Idiocracy

On Friday there was an Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. A group of teenagers surrounded a Native American elder. What happened was captured on video, and you can see one teen blocking the man’s path, and other teens laughing, jumping around, and mocking the marchers.

But here’s the really ironic part. The teens were wearing red Make America Great Again hats, and were saying “Build the wall”.

Do any of those young idiots understand that a wall would be completely useless to keep out Native Americans? Maybe not, because they don’t seem to understand that a wall would not keep out actual illegal immigrants either.

Welcome to the Idiocracy.


Is Trump Disloyal?

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

We created a political system where politicians are routinely bought and paid for. And it doesn’t even take that much money, so anyone can own a politician at bargain prices. Are we surprised if the rest of the world wants to get in on such a good deal? Well, at least it’s a good deal for the buyers.

And in an era of multinational corporations, where even our traditional powerful corporations (like car manufacturers and oil companies) are often owned by foreign interests, how can we even tell who is buying whom?

Speaking of that, when is the right wing going to realize that their beloved Fox News is owned by foreigners?


We Should Hope Trump is a Russian Agent

An article in Wired magazine points out that, while the idea that Donald Trump has been compromised by the Russian government and is purposely acting as their agent is horrible enough, the alternative is even worse.

The pattern of his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means the alternative is worse: America elected a chief executive so oblivious to geopolitics, so self-centered and personally insecure, so naturally predisposed to undermine democratic institutions and coddle authoritarians, and so terrible a manager and leader, that he cluelessly surrounded himself with crooks, grifters, and agents of foreign powers, compromising the national security of the US government and undermining 75 years of critical foreign alliances, just to satiate his own ego.

In short, we’ve reached a point in the Mueller probe where there are only two scenarios left: Either the president is compromised by the Russian government and has been working covertly to cooperate with Vladimir Putin after Russia helped win him the 2016 election—or Trump will go down in history as the world’s most famous “useful idiot,” as communists used to call those who could be co-opted to the cause without realizing it.

Not just elected him, but after two years of insanity more than 40% of the American people still approve of him. Nobody will ever trust the USA again. Leader of the free world? We’ll be lucky if the rest of the world ever takes us seriously again.

A complementary article in USA Today comes to the conclusion that Russia must have compromising information on Trump. They believe this kompromat is most likely “the possible entanglement of Trump’s finances in New York with the Russian mob.”

The same article calls out “the titanic hypocrisy of the Republican Party and of Trump’s apologists in the conservative media.”

If President Barack Obama had shredded his notes of a meeting with the Iranian president, or if Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager were sitting in jail for lying about meeting a Chinese business associate — and alleged intelligence officer — to share polling data, that alone would have been enough for the GOP to impeach everyone from the president to the White House chef.


The World According to Trump

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to the wacky and not-so-wonderful world of Donald Trump, where everything you know is wrong, including all things that come out of the president’s mouth. Can we stand much more of this?


Fool me again?

One of my readers posted a link to an article “What if Mueller Proves Trump Collusion and No One Cares?“. The subtitle is even more interesting, “Last week we saw evidence that Manafort shared polling data with Russians, but most Americans were looking the other way.”

The article’s point is that there is (for the first time) actual credible evidence that Donald Trump and his campaign helped the Russians throw the election. That isn’t just collusion, that’s treason. And Trump does what he always does and distracts us. As the article goes on to lament, everyone was talking about the shutdown and immigration, so the news about the actions of our own orange Manchurian Candidate got lost in the noise. We fell for it.

Today, the news is that in the middle of Republicans leaders condemning Representative Steve King for his racist remarks, Trump is sending out blatantly racist dog whistles to his base. Everyone is outraged and this new story is now dominating the news. Which is actually hilarious, because everyone already knows that Trump is a racist scumbag. Even his base, but they of course love him for it.

All I can say is that Trump’s latest shocking stunts (including shutting down the government over a wall that will not do a single thing to solve his imaginary immigration crisis) show that he must be terrified that we now have the smoking gun that can end Trump’s presidency and even send him to jail for the rest of his disgusting life. But that will happen only if we stop letting ourselves be distracted by Trump and his shenanigans and start paying attention to the real news.

Trump doesn’t care if he destroys the US and sells us out to the Russians. He doesn’t care if he destroys the Republican party (and he will succeed if the Republicans don’t wise up to him soon, although it might already be too late since the Republicans have been complicit in all of this as well). He only cares about himself and saving his miserable neck. He will keep doing outrageous things to distract us. I predict Trump will do something completely nuts tomorrow, and again the media will eat it up.

We need to focus. Because if Trump is able to distract us by doing more and more outrageous things (which fire up his base), then there is no limit to what he might do. Even start wars. Drop nuclear weapons. Or worse.

If we keep being fooled over and over by his obvious tactic, then shame on us.

We need to just laugh at him and say “there you go again.”


A Pretty Good Imitation of a Russian Agent

Here are 18 suspicious things that Donald Trump has done that make him look like a Russian asset, if not a full-blown Russian agent. Read them.

Ken Catalino
© Ken Catalino

It’s 1984 Now!

It looks like 1984 is happening, but just 35 years late. Because the slogans from the novelWar is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength — have become the slogans of Donald Trump’s Republican party.

Trump tells us that in order to have peace, we — a nation created by immigrants — have to wage war against immigrants. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump said “This is a war against people that are vicious, violent people, that we have no idea who they are, where they come from.”

As for Freedom is Slavery, in his speech this week, Trump claimed that in order to protect asylum seekers who are are fleeing horrible crime in their home countries, and to protect them from assault “on the dangerous trek up through Mexico“, we have to build a wall to keep them out. Trump has also defended the use of tear gas against asylum seekers and we’ve seen families with children put in cages.

But mostly, yesterday was a banner day for Ignorance is Strength, when Trump officially admitted that Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall, and then insisted that he never said any such thing. Of course, we have tons of evidence that Trump said exactly that, both on video and in writing. Who are you going to believe? Trump, or your own lying ears and eyes?

If that weren’t enough, the poster child for 1984 yesterday was Rudy Giuliani. I have been trying to avoid writing anything about Giuliani since he became a clown, but yesterday in an interview with The Hill, he outdid himself. Maybe he figured that he has to say crazier and more outrageous things in order to get any attention. Well it worked.

First, Giuliani said that President Trump’s legal team should be allowed to correct special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it. He said that it was “a matter of fairness”, “so we can correct it if they’re wrong. They’re not God, after all. They could be wrong.”

Seriously, I am not making this up. I guess Giuliani believes that if you are powerful enough, you should be able to “correct” any criminal charges against you. After all, it’s only fair. The law is only for the little people.

Note that back when Mueller was appointed, Trump praised him and supported the investigation. Trump said:

As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.

But speaking of collusion, Giuliani downplayed reports this week that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared information during the presidential campaign with the Russians, which is collusion. Giuliani responded “Should he have done it? No. But there’s nothing criminal about it.”

Since he was on a roll, Giuliani also downplayed the news that Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison, is going to testify in public before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Giuliani said “I have no concerns about Cohen at all because I can prove with very little effort that he is a total, complete and absolute liar.” Giuliani has also called Cohen an “unethical… scumbag” and added “He’s a horrible person.”

Of course, I can prove with very little effort that Giuliani is a total, complete and absolute liar, because in May 2018, before Cohen agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Giuliani praised Cohen, saying that “The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.”

Speaking honestly, I don’t know which is worse: if Cohen is an honorable person and the things he is accusing Trump of doing are true, or if Cohen is a “total, complete and absolute liar” and a “horrible person”, and yet since 2006 he was the personal lawyer for Donald Trump and a vice president of the Trump Organization. After all, Trump told us he hires the best people.

Ken Catalino

Giant Shapeless Ass

These are the first few paragraphs of an article by conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan. You should read the whole thing.

When is the moment we can say that Trump has clearly gone over the line in erasing democratic and constitutional restraints on his personal power?

I’d say declaring a national emergency when there isn’t one to fund a project he can’t get through Congress pretty obviously qualifies. Wouldn’t you?

He couldn’t manage to get his wall funded when his own party controlled the entire government. He even turned down a bipartisan offer to build a “wall” in return for a path to citizenship for Dreamers last year, because he wanted a reduction in legal immigration as well. He petulantly refuses to accept greater funding for border control and immigration enforcement if his symbolic wall isn’t part of the package. He says he intends to use the military to do what a civilian border force is constitutionally designed for. He even intends to seize private land in order to construct the Great Wall of America, using a military version of “eminent domain.” And he says he has the power to do all this anyway and is only negotiating with congressional leaders because he feels like it. His benchmark for when an emergency begins? When Nancy Pelosi refuses to budge. Which is proof that this “emergency” is pulled out of his giant, shapeless ass.

And for all this, he has shut down much of the federal government as leverage to get his way, jeopardizing public safety and health, disrupting the lives (and now paychecks) of millions.

Somehow, it seems to be apropos to think of this situation as a Calvin and Hobbes comic (with Hobbes played by John Barron, Trump’s imaginary friend).


Security Theater

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

This comic makes a big point. Donald Trump made stopping illegal immigration the cornerstone of his presidential campaign. But he has been caught employing illegal aliens over and over again, as recently as a month ago. If people like Trump would stop hiring illegal aliens, that would be far more effective at stopping them than any stupid wall.


Former Presidents?

Donald Trump claimed that “all” the former presidents knew that they should have built a border wall, and that “Some of them have told me that we should have done it.” But all the living ex-presidents have denied even talking to Trump about the wall.

So which presidents is Trump talking about? Here’s a good guess:

© Keith Knight

Incidentally, I linked the Trump quote to an article in People magazine with the title “President Trump Was Lying When He Said the Former Presidents Agreed About Building a Border Wall.” Who ever thought we’d see People magazine calling any president a liar?


Declaration of Victory?

I may be way off base here, especially since I have not seen anyone else float this theory. But does anyone else think that maybe Donald Trump’s speech tonight will:

A. Declare a national emergency.
B. Order the military to build the wall across the southern border, and to use their money to pay for it.
C. End the shutdown.

If the military is going to build and fund the wall, then he doesn’t need the shutdown to force Congress to allocate money for it. So he gets to end the shutdown and (most importantly) save face.

It doesn’t matter if the courts (eventually) decide to block his fake national emergency. He will still declare victory tonight, which will satisfy his base. Even if he loses later, he can still claim that he tried everything, but it is all the fault of the Democrats.

It would not be the first time that Trump gave in, but declared victory anyway. And got away with it.


Two Funny Things to Read

First, McSweeney’s has a hilarious article by Devorah Blachor. The title gives it all away: “I don’t hate women candidates — I just hated Hillary and coincidentally I’m starting to hate Elizabeth Warren”. But it is definitely worth a read.

The second article, by Vicky Alvear Shecter, also gives some of the punchline away: “What happened when a Trump supporter challenged me about The Wall”. But it gives a really good list of arguments about why building a wall is not just a stupid idea, but a really bad thing to do. The best part? All of the arguments are taken from conservative sources, complete with links.

© Nick Anderson


All the Infographics We Need

A brilliant, if a bit long, comic by Scott Bateman. If you are being affected by the shut down, like many of us are, just remember all this. And also remember that Trump himself doesn’t even believe in his wall, it is just a way to fire up the base.

Whose Fault is The Shut Down?

Scott Bateman
Scott Bateman
Scott Bateman
Scott Bateman


Exploring Warren

I was pleasantly surprised by Elizabeth Warren’s policy announcement.

Yes, I know that this was done in the context of announcing her formation of an presidential exploratory committee, but let’s ignore for a moment whether or not she would make a good president (I’ve seen more than enough of that, given that it mostly consists of juvenile name calling).

Ironically, Warren is essentially a defender of capitalism to me. Like Warren, I am a “capitalist to my bones” (I’ve started a number of companies and served as a CEO). But unlike the far right and some large corporations, I understand the important role that government plays in supporting capitalism by establishing and enforcing a level playing field. For example, Warren and I agree that monopolies are an anathema to vibrant capitalism. Competition is destroyed by companies that are “too big to fail” (and, as Warren put it, “too big to jail”). Without competition, capitalism becomes fascism.

I also agree that there are a few important functions that should not be organized under capitalist principles. For example, few people would argue that we should privatize our military, or our police and fire departments. Thus, I believe that the nature of health care makes a free market unsustainable (if you are in a serious car accident are you really going to shop around for the best value in health care? Of course not). So, I agree with Warren that “Medicare for all” would currently be the best solution.

I also believe that we should be striving for “equal opportunity” for all. It isn’t just that people deserve the opportunity to succeed. That’s important too, but the major point is that if the best and the brightest have an equal opportunity to raise to the top and enjoy success (like it was in the early days of the internet), then everyone wins. Or do you actually prefer an economy where the deck is stacked against you?

Back to the issue of name calling, I believe that the current American aristocracy must be scared witless by Elizabeth Warren, because she is challenging their privilege and power. Thus their attacks against her. Regardless of whether she becomes the next president, I think her positions and ideas deserve more discussion and implementation. That is, unless you actually believe that a few large corporations having all the power in this country is really the best we can do.

© Jen Sorensen

Sorensen says:

This cartoon, of course, references Grover Norquist’s famous line about wanting to reduce government to the size where he could drown it in a tub, like some unfortunate critter. One concept anti-government types aren’t too clear on is that waste is hardly unique to the public sector. I’m not saying government programs are necessarily more efficient than privately-run ones (although in the case of health care, public plans are massively more cost-effective). But money out of your pocket is money out of your pocket, whether it’s going to the guv’mint or a corporation.


Arms Race?

© Lalo Alcaraz

It is amazing that anyone thinks that it is even possible to build a wall all the way across the southern border of the US. That’s just under 2000 miles long.

Even more amazing is that anyone believes that even if it is built, that this will stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. After all, the “iron curtain” or the Berlin wall were much shorter and built on easier terrain, but they ultimately failed.

And finally, a desire for a wall requires that you think immigrants are a bad idea. And yet, almost all the people who think they want a wall are the descendents of immigrants in the not-too-distant past.