And, if you're headed for Amazon, please enter the site through the widget in the right rail (or here). It costs you nothing extra but gives this blog a commission.
Adjust your bookmark, because the blog is moving in order to become a feature on The Daily Cartoonist, a site newly re-energized with the addition of DD Degg, whom some of you will know from rec.arts.comics.strips.
I hope you'll stick with the shift. I'm going to continue to blog daily and the only major change should be more exposure and more readers.
Meanwhile, in the interests of transparency, it will, unless it goes delightfully viral, replace and slightly surpass my Amazon link income, but I still have a couple of dozen coffee mugs, so please don't be shy. (Details above)
And I'll see you over there, every morning by 9 Eastern.
My town has been replacing an outmoded sewer system, which will improve the cleanliness of the Connecticut River but has played hob with trying to get from one place to another, since it involves very large pipes under very important streets.
This has given me many opportunities not only to contemplate how they could have done it better but the times I've had to listen to people go on and on about projects and particular jobs that could have been done better. Like the esteemed and very important J. Barnard Pillsbury in today's Barney & Clyde, their expertise comes mainly from not knowing how the job works.
I don't know how far back the term "sidewalk superintendent" goes, but the more visible your work, the more you can count on getting advice from people who don't, as Clyde suggests, explain all the experience they have had doing your job.
So they complain about "shovel leaners," which might mean they've never used a shovel and honestly think you can keep it up from 8 to 5 with only a half-hour break for lunch, or they can't see that the guys are waiting for the pipefitter in the bottom of the trench to finish his specialized job so they can fill in the trench.
And that pipefitter then has to stand around waiting for the next chance to do his job because you can't just drop people off the clock and send them home for the moments they aren't needed.
Construction isn't the only place you can watch and comment, though it's one of the most clear-cut examples.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite things about being a business reporter was getting to tour factories and get the inside skinny on how they do things, especially if you were doing it with someone like Susan Collins or Gerry Ferraro, who swung enough weight that, if they wanted to stop and get a particular worker's view on how things were going, well, that's what we did.
Sen.Collins, by the way, grew up in Caribou, Maine, as the daughter of a prominent family, but it was one that owned a building supply company, which added a blue-collar tone to her POV, while, like all the other kids in Aroostook back before automation took over, her school shut down during the potato harvest and everyone went out and got some dirt under their nails quite literally.
She didn't offer a lot of advice on factory tours, but she sure asked some interesting questions.
Pajama Diaries hits on an issue very much alive (no pun intended) for people of my generation in a sort of sandwich way -- we're coping with our own parents' mortality, and starting to consider sparing our kids the same process.
It starts with downsizing. I've been empty-nested for decades and currently have a livingroom, bedroom, kitchen and bath, so there won't be a lot of furniture.
Most of what my kids will have to sort through is old clippings. If I were some literary tyro, the researchers would want it all for their doctorates but I suspect the outcome in my case is that a half dozen major pieces will remain for great-grandchildren to puzzle over and the rest needs to go.
And my progeny can be grateful that the old man was a writer and not a sculptor.
Things to read that I didn't write
Speaking of the boxes of clips I've got under my bed, this Graeme MacKay panel is a commentary on recycling limitations, and, while it is specific to the Hamilton, ON, area, what he describes is happening in a lot of places.
Recycling used to be kind of complex and not many people did it, and then it got super-easy and everyone was doing it and now a lot of places are re-thinking whether "easy" was an approach that works.
It's not plain to me whether China's rejection of dubious recyclables is true economic necessity or part of the gathering trade war, but even before that, I heard pushback on no-sort recycling.
To start with, you can't recycle pizza boxes because they're greasy, and that's just the tip of the list of things you shouldn't put in the rollout bin. But even people who know that can accidentally leave a little beer in the bottom of bottle, the spillage of which will contaminate any paper or cardboard and make it unusable.
And, if you know all that, it doesn't matter because your neighbor doesn't, so his unsorted recyclables will make yours unusable.
Having to rinse things out, remove labels and check the numbers on the bottoms of the plastic things was a pain in the ass that meant only a small number of people bothered. But the stuff they recycled could be recycled.
We're close to a situation where we're just sending out two garbage trucks, one that knows it's full of garbage and one that pretends it isn't.
MacKay lays it out in more detail. As for the cartoon, I love the phrase "feel-good social engineering," and I support recycling, except for the extent to which it destroys my faith in the trainability of hairless apes.
I featured this Bizarro the other day, and in his current weekly wrap-up, Wayno goes into some detail about its inspiration.
I don't know what the second album I bought was, but the first was the Yardbirds' "For Your Love," in 1965, and I bought "Sgt. Pepper" along with "Fresh Cream" and "Absolutely Free," on my way to college, six months before "We're Only In It For the Money" was released.
So I'm not any hipper than Wayno, just a little older.
Anyway, he's right that The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny is probably not the moment of zen to unload upon an unprepared audience, and I like his alternate offering which does not require familiarity with Kafka.
And, being older, here's something from my first album, which does not require familiarity with Eric Clapton, but it's how we first met him (and Jeff Beck):
So yesterday's debacle included a crash that lost two hours of work and then, when I started up again, some second wave of technical gremlins that brought things to a quick exit because I had a meeting to get to.
I've been so tied up with work for the last few days that I can't comment on this latest thing, except that if the tapes don't show that he actually shot someone on Fifth Avenue, I can't imagine how they'll derail Trump at this stage, since -- as far as I know -- he's never denied the payments under oath, so there's no perjury, and revealing that Donald Trump is a liar is, well, not much of a revelation.
Nor is revealing that he's an adulterer or a tomcat or whatever. Keep it straight, folks: The Nixon tapes tied him to a criminal conspiracy. Clinton was not impeached for adultery but for lying about it under oath. Neither of these apply here.
Marlette has it right: It's an embarrassment.
But even that has to be understood in light of the President's inability to be embarrassed.
We've got a lot of questions yet to be answered, but I think we all know the answer to "At long last, have you no sense of shame?"
What I had realized before I hit the road and got busy was that Trump was becoming hard to satirize because not only is he shameless, but he has been operating at a level of erratic, inexplicable malfunction that you can't really exaggerate for comic effect.
Dan Perkin's remark (worth reading again) that, rather than a source of constant inspiration, Trump is like asking for a glass of water and getting hit in the face with a fire hose is often quoted, but I think Mike Luckovich's current lineup of cartoons he didn't bother drawing illustrates the actual difficulty.
First of all, how do you exaggerate it? And, second, how do you find new ways to attack the same, repeated lies, distortions, cruel attacks, nonsensical declarations and relentless flow of folly?
As Gary Varvel suggests, there is a ridiculous element to the carny-barker cries of "Breaking News!" with which Wolf Blitzer lures viewers into his tent, and, when everything is an emergency, people eventually decide nothing is, and they tune out.
And yet you can't simply go silent or declare that this is "the new normal" or go back and site other low moments to justify what is happening.
To put that fire hose metaphor into a more specific usage, the fact that we've seen buildings burn in the past is no reason not to fight the fire in front of us.
The challenge for editorial cartoonists is to continue to keep the public informed without either losing credibility with unwarranted panic or lose their attention with a relentless drumbeat that fades into the ambient noise of our lives.
However, it's not impossible to make sharp points, and Matt Davies offers a view of that private conversation. I think the Congressional effort to subpoena the interpreters is folly, though I'd love to know what they discussed. On the other hand, I think that, if he doesn't have the specific transcript, Davies has captured the process.
And Luckovich, in turn, points to the reason Trump is able to get away with being a Russian stooge. As inconceivable as it is for Trump to buddy up to Putin, it's even moreso for the Republicans, supposedly the voice for American conservatives, to not simply ignore his antics but to justify and enable them.
Trump at least has the double excuse that he's an amateur and so can be flummoxed by Putin's attention, as well as the darker excuse of possible financial tangles or even that semi-mythical pee tape, to explain why he is so loyal to the Russians.
But you have to wonder if he somehow found a tape of the entire Republican party cavorting with hookers in a Moscow hotel?
What explains the fact that they continue to actively support this incompetent, disloyal nitwit?
Well, Nate Beeler is no bleeding liberal, and he seems to be willing to break ranks with those who pretend to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Nor is Scott Stantis a leftist by any definition, and he's willing to confront the evidence that seems to add credence, if not specifically confirm, long-bubbling rumors of Russians channeling money to Republicans through the NRA.
As said before, November is going to tell us a lot. The Republican leadership can count on the unswerving loyalty of the Deplorables, but it's a very open and interesting question as to how big a portion of the electorate those people actually represent, and you won't get an answer by only meeting the public at Deplorable rallies.
People get the government they deserve, and we're in "Fool me once" territory.
Meanwhile, in less fraught matters: And on a slightly related topic, Jimmy Margulies offers this take on his former governor, Chris Christie's, forthcoming book.
Not that we expect politicians' memoirs to be anything other than self-serving, of course, and, whether or not Christie has a sense of shame, I'm not sure many people outside the NYC/NJ Metro area give a damn about him, or -- except during his brief flail at the presidency -- ever did except as a source of amusement.
And it's fitting that, whatever the merits of his autobiography, the man has decided upon an irresistible straightline for a title.
My response being, "We thought you had."
Much of my mentoring is in getting them to write for themselves and their young readers, after years of being taught to write for the teacher.
Teachers want you to find messages. Other kids want to know if the book or movie was any good.
We once had an issue in which we reviewed an ice show and a movie both of which were called "Dream Big."
I'm trying to teach them to wake up.
Here's all the message you need:
Bizarro got a laff the other day, but then it became strikingly relevant as I hit the road and, as I went through airports realized how many people have, indeed, been transformed into Bros.
It's a sort of uniform, and it goes beyond the backwards ball cap and goatee. Wayno has captured it quite well, in fact.
It's not the only uniform out there. I also see a lot of the extended goatee of the white-supremacist/militant-libertarian, and I have also begun to notice Old Duffers.
The Old Duffers strike me in particular because they're not that much older than I am anymore and I wonder where they find clothes.
Perhaps there's a store called "Old Duffer"in the mall where they sell the stuff.
Though maybe I don't have to worry about it, this being one of those things where, yes, you just wake up one morning and find that it has happened.
This Heart of the City, in which a small girl eats paste mixed with tomato sauce, brought back a funny memory.
I'm no Mrs. Angelini, but I do know how to fix Ragu on short notice and I certainly never foisted any canned pasta on my kids. But one day when the boys were in junior high and high school, we were shopping and they said they wanted some Franco-American.
There was a brief "the hell you do" conversation, but the stuff was about 50 cents a can, so I let them each pick out two cans.
When we got home, they each dug into their first choices. And then a few months later, we dropped the other two cans into a Food Drive bin.
Sometimes the best way to win an argument is to give in.
Both boys today are excellent cooks.
And I hadn't planned on such a short blog but my site has just gone cattywumpus and I've got to get ready for a day of work here in Denver, so I'll have to call it a day and we'll pick up on this theme tomorrow, the good lord willin' and the software havin' restored itself.
Kevin Siers proves that you can breathe life into any tired trope if you are clever and the facts align.
The Pinocchio gag may, like Hitler references, have been rolled out too early and used too often, beaten into cliche before we realized how much we were going to need it. Or maybe it's just that calling someone a Pinocchio because he's been caught in a lie is tired to begin with.
However, you can't be afraid to reach for the right gag at the right moment, and the would/wouldn't pun, combined with Pinocchio's wish to be a real little boy instead of one made of wood, makes this irresistable, and the liar aspect of the story adds to the commentary instead of forming its center.
That is, if Pinocchio weren't remembered as a liar, the story of the puppet who wanted to be real would not be enough here. And we've all seen Pinocchio the liar as commentary far too often. But the blend works really well.
Almost at the opposite end of the wit scale is RJ Matson's commentary, which manages to be silly and well-conceived at once. Once again, the idea is familiar: Rewriting the slogan on a MAGA cap.
But had he done a Do Make Don't Make gag, it would fall flat, because it's not a DMAGA cap and, to work, you have to play with what you have been given.
That might cause a cartoonist to back away, because there's no negative form of "Make." But, then again, Trump's defense of his alleged "misstatement" is so shallow and unbelievable that a ridiculous, made-up word is a good way to express not just doubt but rejection of an equally silly attempt to explain away what we all saw.
Clay Jones makes another joke about changing a positive to a negative, but it works on another level, because it's more about what we should have heard and what we've come to realize.
People have talked about "treason" and "high crimes and misdemeanors," but I don't think we're there yet, at least not based on the verified accusations. If he handed over the American diplomats Putin would like to question,we might be closer, but, for now, we seem more mired in "dereliction of duty," which is certainly as impeachable as lying about a blow job but, then again, that impeachment failed, so it's hardly a model.
It's that moment in "All the President's Men" when the wise old editor throws cold water on eager young reporters.
It's not that they aren't on the right track. They just don't have it.
The question before us is why Trump seems so beholden to Putin that he would make such an ass of himself and turn his back on our traditional allies while embracing a tyrant. Mike Marland offers a humorous suggestion, or, at least, one that will remain a joke until someone produces the pee tape, if it exists.
Several things in that bundle of data have panned out, but the infamous pee tape remains pure conjecture and will likely remain so. If it exists, it's almost certainly being held as the ace in the hole, to be played only when absolutely needed, and, at least for now, confusion seems more useful to our enemies than an actual impeachment.
And Tom the Dancing Bug has a longer cartoon about the confusion caused by Trump's bald-faced lies, which, yes, do seem like the lies we tell, and eagerly stretch to believe, in a failing marriage. Go read the rest here.
I think Ann Telnaes gets down to what Putin really has hanging over Trump's head, because, even without knowing everything the investigators know, it's becoming clear that the tangle of business dealings has left the Trumplings vulnerable.
Which leaves the fascinating question of how much Papa Strompf cares about his kids, because his willingness to throw others under the bus in order to save his own skin has never been tested quite to that degree. On the other hand, his level of rank narcissism has also never been fully probed.
Another question being can the kids fall without taking down the old man?
It's an interesting question. If I were one of the kids, I'd be particularly interested, because, sheltered and pampered as they may have been, they're old enough to know who they're dealing with. If nothing else, they have their mother Ivana's example to ponder.
All of which leaves us here, as shown by Clay Bennett.
And, of course, even the release of Mueller's report will yield a chorus of "Did Not!" and "Fake News!" from Trump loyalists. One question is how many of them there really are.
If you take out the ones who were simply voting against Hillary, the ones who expected him to lose but wanted a strong showing to shake up the system and those who wanted him at the time but have since recanted, it may not be a huge number.
Another question is how much do his allies in Congress have invested in retaining power, and how far are they willing to dive into muck in order to preserve it?
Again, the mid-term elections will tell the story and perhaps moreso than anything Mueller reveals, in a world in which nobody knows what truth is anymore.
Meanwhile, in lieu of a musical moment of zen,
here's a podcast of yesterdays 1A radio show in which Rob Rogers, Ann Telnaes, Pat Bagley and Scott Stantis had a 47 minute discussion of editorial cartooning in the current atmosphere. 1A is one of the brighter new shows at NPR and it's worth a listen.
I was not quite 13 and in the eighth grade, and I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Crisis in Berlin and several other things that made our relationship with the Soviet Union more than a bit fraught at the time. I even remember when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia in 1960.
But, even if I didn't, it was on the tests New York State students had to take, even the ones in military school.
I would feel foolish saying that our relationship with the Russians is worse now that it was then.
Nobody who was in junior high or older could possibly believe such a thing, unless he tried very, very hard. Or was astonishingly ignorant.
Perhaps the people who were shouting for Obama to release his academic records should demand to have a look at the report card of a man who doesn't know there once was a Cuban Missile Crisis, or any of a number of other dangerous, brink-defying events back then.
Because we sure had plenty of them.
It was in all the newspapers, and Gib Crockett didn't have room to draw everything. In Southeast Asia, the French and Viet Minh were going at each other and Laos was trying to remain neutral, while over here, Cuba was being armed by their friends in the Soviet Union, and in Europe there was a crisis in Berlin, where the wall was a year old and the Soviets wanted the Allies out. Down south, Argentina had just had a coup and, in our own backyard, Oxford, Mississippi was in the midst of integrating Ole Miss, with Gov. Ross Barnett facing legal action for having impeded the process, and George Wallace ready to step up for his turn at obstructing justice in Alabama.
Which still doesn't bring in the Congo or Algeria nor does it include the fact that it had been a year and a half since the Bay of Pigs invasion, but we were still negotiating to free more than 1,000 men captured in the misadventure, which Bill Mauldin suggests was a source of amusement for Castro.
Berlin was seeing people scale the Wall and be shot, or tunnel under it, while the tension in that divided city, as Bill Crawford suggested, was building to a serious state, with Khruschev and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko, ratcheting things up, testing America's young president.
And Mauldin recalled a different tantrum, from 1959, when, on a visit to California, he was barred from Disneyland for security reasons. “And I say, I would very much like to go and see Disneyland. But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide? What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me?”
Meanwhile, though we worried about Communist takeovers in our hemisphere, Eisenhower had also sent the first US troops to Vietnam and the process was being ramped up under Kennedy. Bill Mauldin was not impressed.
But when President Kennedy summoned all hands to Washington and scheduled a prime-time address to the nation, papers quickly sprang into action with maps and explainers about the medium-range Soviet missiles that air surveillance had discovered. Besides aerial photographs of the missile sites, they provided maps showing the range of Cuban missiles.
Kennedy threw a naval blockade around the island and needed only to stop a few ships before it was taken seriously, whereupon some Russian ships withdrew rather than press the issue.
(This Mauldin panel has turned up in some "best of" collections and commentaries on the Crisis.)
However -- and this is a critically important coda to the Missile Crisis -- Mauldin also observed that solving that problem was not the end of the entire matter, and that, regardless of how some President might view things a half century later, it didn't mean that our relationship with Russia was now hunky-dory.
Someone said the President's staff had given him 100 pages of briefing notes before his summit with Putin, to which my response is, "Well, there's your problem right there."
Shit, I wouldn't have read 100 pages of briefing notes, and I know how.
Next time, sing him a little song.
Clay Bennett posted this one a few days ago, which didn't seem much of a shocking prediction but mostly made me wonder when young dorm-dwellers switched from a tie to a sock as a sign that there was a romantic event going on that should not be interrupted.
Probably when most dorm-dwellers stopped owning ties, I suppose.
In any case, there were plenty of cartoonists expecting canoodling at the very least. Peter Schrank was out front with an early version of a number of balloon references (we'll get back to that) and also was firm in his analysis of the relationship, not so much a bromance but, as I note in the headline, subservience.
Historic Note: "So-and-so's Poodle" has come into common parlance for a toady, but, as far as I know, began as "Nasser's Poodle," a reference to Anwar Sadat, a slam not only at his subservience to Nasser but a reference to his hair and thus his black African origins.
However, it remains a good term even without the racist insult, given that poodles are generally seen as prancing little dandies of no particular value as hunters or protection. (Yes, I know they were originally bred as retrievers. A long time ago. Maybe that's part of it, too.)
In any case, Schrank not only references the Trump Baby balloon but immediately picked up on the absurdity of Trump's confident statement going into the summit. I'm more inclined to salute his creativity than his insight, however, as the statement stood out to nearly everyone.
Except for Trump's poodles.
Gary Varvel also anticipated the summit, and, given his recent writing about the president, likely more specifically than he expected, though, even in that column, he expresses reservations over the Russian probe.
This cartoon appeared in advance of the press conference, but, if it was originally a whatabout, it turned out to mirror the bizarre, unresponsive answer Trump gave to a question about Russian meddling, in which he never addressed that issue, but, instead, rambled on about missing servers and, yes, her emails.
It seemed to raise more questions about his psychological stability than his patriotism.
One more pre-summit cartoon, this one by Dwane Powell, suggested that Trump envies Putin's tyrannical power, which would be a liberal slam if Trump himself had not so often expressed his desire, and even his intention, to sue or jail journalists who insulted him, who praised white supremacists and who openly endorsed a policy of caging children as hostages to frighten aliens out of seeking to enter the United States, even if they did so legally.
As Steve Brodner says in this post-summit cartoon, it suggests that Trump has never read, and certainly has no understanding of, the document he swore to "preserve, protect and uphold."
Trump is not the first president to resent and dislike the press, certainly. Even Jefferson, who wrote so eloquently about the importance of a free press in keeping the public engaged and updated, hated not just the Sally Hemmings coverage but a lot of other oppositional writings about him.
But one of the first things he did as president was to sign repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which, as the Library of Congress summary says, "increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to imprison or deport aliens considered 'dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States' and restricted speech critical of the government."
John Adams had, at least, the excuse of having come out of a bitter, divisive and bloody revolution, only the second head of a nation still finding its feet.
Even at the time, that LOC page notes, it was not universally hailed, with Madison writing to Jefferson that "The Alien bill proposed in the Senate is a monster that must forever disgrace its parents. I should not have supposed it possible that such an one could have been engendered in either House, & still persuade myself, that it cannot possibly be fathered by both."
Well, I'm sure Trump never heard of it anyway, given his, to use the word used by former CIA Director John Brennan, "imbecilic" statements yesterday.
"Our relationship has never been worse"?
He's certainly old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis or any of the Berlin crises; apparently he's not bright enough.
No surprise: His grasp of American history and government is appallingly non-existent.
Then again, as Mike Luckovich notes, Putin was only doing what Putin does, and what all great deal-makers do: Take whatever they are willing to give you.
And, as Pat Bagley observes, Trump was willing to give plenty.
Wouldn't you like to see one of these legislators, when somebody disrespects our Constitution, say, "Get that son of a bitch out of the White House right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!"
Well, don't hold your breath, because Darrin Bell goes back to the very beginning of a moment I've cited several times.
I remember the slow-motion chase, and feeling sad that OJ Simpson was soon to be pulled over and arrested, at which point he would confess his crime and be put in prison for life, which I think was the response of a lot of people who had admired him, as a football player, as a comic foil or simply as a Hertz Rent-A-Car spokesman.
Instead, of course, he simply brazened it out, denied the obvious and persuaded a jury to let him walk free.
Not something I want to see again, certainly not in our government.
But here we are.
Except, perhaps, that, as Bill Bramhall suggests, there was at least one time when Dear Leader told us the absolute truth.
And, Nick Anderson warns, be afraid.
Today's Baby Blues, if I were the cartoonist, would have had a fourth panel in which the other shoppers cheer.
Savvy shoppers can spot, and avoid, these Coupon Queens by the little accordion folders they carry, full of coupons, as Wanda says, organized and color coded and obsessively catalogued so that they only take an additional 15 minutes in the checkout lane instead of the 45 it would take otherwise.
Though true obsessives make up for that by filling out their own check instead of letting the cash register do it, and waiting for a final total before writing the name of the store and the date, and then balancing their checkbook on the spot and zipping it into the correct pocket of their purse.
But they saved 20 cents on the Del Monte diced tomatoes, or, to put it another way, they paid three cents less than if they'd bought the store-brand tomatoes, which are canned by the same packer who does the Del Monte run.
Everybody should have a system, but most of us aim for efficiency. When I was an at-home dad, I did my grocery shopping on weekdays, avoiding the noon hour when the amateurs were off work and, especially, the day the coupons came out in the paper and the Coupon Queens did their shopping.
The point was to get a week's worth of groceries into the cart, through the checkout and back home into the fridge during the brief period when younger son was cheerful and did not need a nap and older son was in his half-day pre-school.
Getting behind the person with a folder full of coupons would seriously throw that off.
(Coupon people will counter by telling you how much they save, which ignores the time spent compiling all those coupons, during which hosting a lemonade stand in their front yard would likely have earned as much.)
Phew. Wasn't expecting that ancient rant to surface on a sunny Monday morning.
But speaking of personal economics
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal notes the rising cost of college with a proposal that is both ridiculous and practical enough to earn my admiration.
For all that the Millennials annoy me -- starting with the fact that they're so co-opted that they embrace a Madison Avenue marketing label -- they have a good point in that we've accepted that a "college education" is necessary without accepting that therefore we should provide it, and, further that cost of college has gone over the moon.
I'm not sure this is the solution, but I am sure they need to be strategizing rather than simply falling into the trap, because, yes, something has gone horribly wrong.
Acquiring a selection of exotic cats is not the answer, but neither is it practical to borrow massive amounts of money. And whatever is in the middle seems a duct-tape-and-baling-wire solution.
I suspect the real answer has something to do with registering to vote, then reclaiming the system.
However, as today's Barney & Clyde suggests, there's some futility in expecting to restructure a system built on contributions.
With the exception of some kingmakers, most corporate donors spread the wealth around as Pillsbury suggests, and, while stalemate serves him well, the result of his balanced contributions is friends in the capital regardless of who wins or whether they accomplish anything.
The Republican party's loyalty to the Trump/Putin cabal is an easy target, but there are some interesting rumblings on the other side of the aisle, where young insurgents are challenging the old guard.
It's a little early to sort out what's happening with that (potential) Senate seat in Cali, but we've got an interesting skirmish under way in New York, and, much as the Anti-Soviet faction needs to regain control of the legislature, they won't do it by squabbling, because the old lions aren't going to just slink off into the desert without a fight.
But then this
I'm breaking the Prime Directive, not to mock Ted Rall's cartoon, but to point out a central fatal flaw in his argument, and to expand that into a constructive point.
It's not just Ted. This cartoon exemplifies an issue I've seen in several cartoons by young artists as well: A fundamental lack of knowledge of how things work.
There are places where a well-written federal law could resolve and withstand the Court's objections, when the Court has ruled that current law is silent, flawed or unclear.
But the idea that a pro-choice federal law would not be readily swept aside by a pro-life Supreme Court seriously misunderstands the structure of our government and the history of this topic.
It's hard to challenge a law that allows something, as opposed to a law that prevents something, because it's difficult to establish legal standing, to show that you were harmed by someone else's private actions.
However, it would be easy for a state with abortion restrictions to challenge the law on the basis of states' rights, and, given the likely makeup of the Court, to prevail.
It would take a pro-choice amendment, and that ain't gonna happen.
Here's what we've lost:
My generation ended a war, but the only reason we were able to do that is that the older part of our cohort had been the younger part of the Civil Rights Movement.
And the reason the Civil Rights Movement worked was because youngsters like Martin Luther King and John Lewis were schooled by old-timers like James Farmer, who had been laying groundwork for a whole generation before them.
There was a mentoring in both how the system works and how grass-roots movements succeed that had at least half a century of experience behind it.
Most of those teachers are gone, and their history wiped out with fairy tales about tired seamstresses and some great spontaneous moral awakening.
No, it was work, hard work, smart work.
Maybe we should skip the exotic felines and spend that money on tutoring from whatever mentors are still alive.
But first, Stephen Collins has a funny commentary based on the World Cup, though the tournament may be over before you see this. However, you should go see the whole thing, of which this is a snippet.
Glad to see someone, as they say in Britain, taking the piss out of the snobs who brag about not understanding sports, which is simply the egghead equivalent of rednecks who take pride in not knowing anything about Shakespeare.
I have sympathy for the victims of bullies, whether it was students who shoved them into lockers or teachers who harangued them when they couldn't parse a bit of Elizabethan English. But I'd have a great deal more respect for them if they said, "I had some unpleasant experiences with bullies, and, as a result, never got into sports/Shakespeare."
I was at a business luncheon once where we were talking about cars. I had just bought a Toyota; someone else a Nissan, and we were comparing them, when an old fellow said, "I don't buy Japanese cars. They used to shoot at my airplane."
It was both hilarious and unassailable, with the charm coming from his free admission that it was pure prejudice, given that it had been half a century since anyone had shot at his airplane and that he had no problem with other people buying Japanese cars.
But, my goodness, there's nothing witty in being ignorant about sports. It's actually a sign of a wasted education rather than a superior one: Anybody who knows the meaning of "mens sana in corpore sano" or has read Homer or studied any history at all would know the interplay of sport and intellect.
If nothing else, you should know the term "Renaissance Man," and bonus points if you decry its gender-specificity in light of people like Elizabeth Carter, of whose well-rounded character Samuel Johnson, said, “My old friend, Mrs. Carter, could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus from the Greek, and work a handkerchief as well as compose a poem.”
I don't like basketball or modern dance, but I certainly know what a three-point line is and I've heard of Alvin Ailey, and, if not, I'd hide my ignorance, not make it a point of pride.
Now where were we?
Oh, yes. Thank you, Matt.
David Rowe may have the best overall commentary on Dear Leader's visit to England, or the UK, or wherever the hell he was.
(And note that, while the mutt had deposited his load for Theresa May, the Queen's corgi is anticipating an insult yet to occur when the cartoon was drawn.)
Trump apparently was not clear on how all this United Kingdom/Great Britain/England stuff works, telling the Sun, “You don’t hear the word ‘England’ as much as you should. I miss the name England. I think England is a beautiful name. And you don’t hear it very much anymore. But (the football team at the World Cup is) playing as ‘England.’ That’s very interesting. That’s good.”
Well, they'd been eliminated two days earlier, but never mind. It's more important that, as Pat Bagley observed, he went on to decry immigration from shithole countries:
I think what has happened to Europe is a shame. Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way. So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture.
Later it was explained that he hadn't actually said any of those things and you could listen to the tapes and you'd see, and then the Sun released the tapes of the interview, but the moment had passed and we were on to other things.
Not that Peter Brookes didn't continue to reference that interview, and that balloon, under which marched either 100,000 or 250,000, but, as wags have noted, certainly more people than had showed up for the inauguration.
Never mind, he was off to Scotland, an important part of the tour, since selling rooms to his security detail would double the July income of his failing golf resort. Which sounds outrageous, but, really, as of yesterday, he had only spent 30% of his time as president at one of his properties.
That's not nearly half and, in fact, it's not even a third. Quite.
Not to worry. He's going to give the profits back to the US Treasury.
Which is only fair.
Or, at least, as fair as the accounting.
Meanwhile, as Kal Kallaugher notes, he's off to Russia, where I suppose he'll tell Isvestia, “You don’t hear the words ‘Soviet Union’ as much as you should. I miss the name Soviet Union. I think Soviet Union is a beautiful name. And you don’t hear it very much anymore."
But, since everything about our nation revolves around how Dear Leader is treated and revered, I'm sure it will be a lovely visit, particularly since Putin also misses the term "Soviet Union" and will be extra nice to anyone who sympathizes.
Patrick Chappatte wouldn't be welcomed there, since he hearkens back to the days when the USSR broke up.
I'm not sure anyone here remembers or cares. Anyone born in the last year of the Reagan presidency turns 29 this year, and so, given that the median age in the US is 37.7, I'd suggest that half the country has no real memory of those days.
Those that do may recall that, while Reagan may get credit for luring the Soviets into overspending trying to counter a "Star Wars Defense" that appears to have been mostly imaginary, what really brought them down was having pissed away millions of rubles and thousands of lives in a pointless, futile war in Afghanistan.
And those old enough to know that apparently took no lesson from it.
Or they believed this and hope to replicate it:
Graeme MacKay uses the matryoshka doll image well here, both because we all recognize the Russian toy and because, in this case, the layers of hiding boil down to that last tiny doll, the one that is just a little wooden nib at the end.
Mueller's indictments are important because they aren't simply accusations, but proof that, however much mewling and whining there may be over the "witch hunt," he persuaded a grand jury that he's got the goods. It's a legal truism that "you can indict a ham sandwich," but it's not easy to indict a dozen ham sandwiches, and it remains the first step towards convicting a ham sandwich.
Pretty good sign that something isn't kosher.
Several observers have noted that Mueller has no prayer of dragging any of these Russians into an American court, but that his announcement is a way of signalling "I've got the goods" and persuading so-far unindicted co-conspirators that they should probably start thinking of making a deal.
And on his website, MacKay notes that it's a way of persuading a few GOP legislators that perhaps they want to step away from the guy at the center of this, that lockstep loyalty is gonna get them hurt. He quotes John McCain to that end, but also Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse:
All patriotic Americans should understand that Putin is not America’s friend, and he is not the President’s buddy. We should stand united against Putin’s past and planned future attacks against us.
But being patriotic and standing united means being willing to pierce the layers of that doll to find out what's in the middle and ask Howard Baker's question: "What did the President know and when did he know it?"
Trump foils the inquiry a bit by playing the buffoon and by -- as Jeff Stahler notes -- changing his story so often that it's hard to pin down his current notion of what's what, and it's an interesting strategy, if he's doing it on purpose.
There was a time when a lot of people believed that the scandal under the umbrella term "Watergate" was simply "a third-rate burglary" conducted without Nixon's knowledge, but, as the investigation got closer to the top, Nixon had the problem of having earned the "Tricky Dick" nickname by underhanded tactics. It made it easier to believe that he must have known something was up, even before the tapes emerged.
By contrast, Reagan ducked responsibility for Iran Contra by being a genial buffoon, the issue there being two fold: One was that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer, which we didn't know, but there were jokes about his inability to focus and process what was going on. It would be hard for Trump to fake honest senility as a defense.
The other was that Reagan had the protection of an emerging rightwing media that turned Oliver North from a conspirator to a hero. His assistant, Fawn Hall, first became famous for helping him destroy evidence and then as the first celebrity guest invited to the White House Concubines Association Dinner.
But we're not there yet. We're currently at our
Juxtaposition of the Day
I don't agree with Gorrell that Strzok's testimony was unclear, but I certainly agree that everyone came away with whatever they brought in.
While I wasn't glued to the full ten hours of testimony, I heard several exchanges in which he tried to speak but was cut off, including some where he requested extra time to answer questions that had been piled on, one after another, interrupting his responses.
But this was a show trial, a political stunt for the cameras so that, as in Gorrell's cartoon, both sides could walk away confident that their point had been proven.
And it worked, such that some people would echo Matt Davies' viewpoint, that GOP inquisitors tried to studiously ignore the fact that they were saying the same things about Donald Trump at the same point in time, while Democrats on the panel gleefully brought it to the fore.
Others, however, walked away with the idea that, because Strzok had personal opinions which he expressed in emails to a girlfriend, it proves his work was tainted with prejudice.
Which, as he noted, doesn't explain why he didn't leak what he knew about the Russian issue before the election, but, more to the point, shows both a lack of knowledge of police work and a very foolish concept of "neutrality" in general.
As Strzok noted, everyone has personal viewpoints. The issue is whether you can keep them out of your work.
As a former reporter, I've been appalled at the conflicts of interest which have been routinely revealed at the national level, and not just at the WHCA dinner.
We were not to sport bumperstickers or buttons or to donate to political causes, and, while we could march in demonstrations, we were forbidden to take a visible role in them.
To be honest, my biggest conflict was that the biggest assholes are often the most charming. Neither element is supposed to show up in your work.
And, as I watched Strzok take both merciless grilling and hilarious support with the stone face Summers attributes to him, I was thinking that he was one helluva good cop. (Okay, he smiled at "Springsteen.")
What makes bad cops so appalling is that they let their personal feelings intrude on their business, whether that means shooting unarmed minorities or simply refusing to assist people they don't like. In my longhair days, I was street-hassled by Chicago cops and saw them beating the living shit out of peaceful demonstrators.
I've been around a lot of drug cases, one murder case and several silly but potentially harmful cases, and, in all of them, I saw the stone-faced neutrality that Strzok exhibited throughout yesterday's hearing.
As did those fellows sitting behind him, BTW,who sure look like the heat to me.
Perhaps it's easier when you know what's brewing. (Andy Marlette)