Start with today's Barney & Clyde, which brings back an incident that made reporting fun.
My editor came up, dropped a fat envelope on my desk and said, "See what you can make of this."
Inside was a pile of anti-Walmart screeds, detailing all the horrible things that would happen to our town if Walmart opened there. (A little late: They had not yet broken ground, but the horse had definitely left the gate.)
I'm not a fan of Walmart, mind you, but I hate weasels even more, and this steaming pile of poison had no return address.
However, it had been run through a postage meter, so I took it across the street to the post office and asked them to look up the meter number.
Not to worry: They changed the regulation and now the post office isn't allowed to give out that information anymore. I never heard why they changed the rules. The "Poison Pen Protection Act" or something.
But it's a nice segue to the next item on our review of Scummy Practices:
There have been several variations on Nick Anderson's take, but I liked the two-faced element he brings to it.
Not only is it a false promise -- plenty of Carrier jobs are still leaving, and he rewarded them for staying rather than threatening to punish them if they left -- but this is precisely the kind of "executive action" the rightwingers have criticized Obama for over the past eight years.
I understand Trump not being able to run it through Congress until Jan 21, but Gov. Pence didn't seek legislative approval: He just sliced off a few million bucks from Indiana's resources and handed it to Carrier.
Several observers have noted that Republicans are praising Trump for the sort of action that Obama did more efficiently and with legislative approval in order to save far more jobs in the auto industry.
Not that it was as simple as "Obama did it," of course, but, at that stage, anything with Obama's name anywhere near it was bad, bad, bad -- even things Bush had actually started.
However you feel about all that, Paul Krugman notes how unsustainable it is, and how hard it would be to make a dent in the problem with this kind of showy-but-inefficient action.
Of course, before we can compare it to the action on behalf of automakers, we'll have to wait to see how much of this bailout Carrier pays back.
Ha ha. Just kidding.
And we may be entering the end of public education. Mr. Fitz often speaks out against the testing craze, but today's strip puts me in mind of the parallel move to drug-testing welfare recipients, which also costs a lot of money and yields virtually no violators.
That approach is based on not understanding welfare, just as relentless, pointless testing in schools is an approach for people who think that, because they have eaten in a restaurant, they are qualified to be chefs.
But neither can happen without a solid undergirding of hostility towards the poor, and the schools issue is going to be front-and-center, given that Trump is appointing an Education Secretary who takes the approach to educational problems that the guys at Car Talk recommend for automotive issues: Just crank up the radio until you can't hear the clanking anymore.
Education reform, to them, means to open enough charter schools to get the parents who give a damn out of the public system so you no longer have to serve the remaining kids, whose parents won't raise a stink.
Neither Trump nor De Vos invented this. You can trace it back to the Civil Rights Era when white parents who opposed integration began enrolling their children in all-white private schools and yammering for tax breaks.
And, in 2001, New York State politicians and courts argued -- I am not making this up -- over whether NYC's underfunded and underperforming schools could get off the hook by claiming that the state's guarantee of an adequate education would be satisfied by an eighth grade diploma.
I've already mentioned how I feel about weasels.
Meanwhile, over at Prickly City, Scott Stantis insists on being a conservative instead of a Trump enthusiast.
I think being in there is going to be more fun than being out here -- certainly the company will be better -- but we'll probably all have been kicked off the Internet and so we're gonna have to make our own music.
Bread and Roses
Sarah Laing, hot on the heels of releasing her outstanding graphic memoir, has begun to face the issue of "What's next?" and has launched a Patreon to allow her a modest income so she can resume cartooning at her blog.
In this portion of a longer, thoughtful introduction to the funding issue, she talks to fellow kiwis Dylan Horrocks and Sarah Maxey about the difficulty of making it as an artist. Maxey may not be well-known on this side of the Equator, but Horrocks certainly is, and to hear him talk about making ends meet is discouraging, indeed.
I'm in the school of "If I know who you are, you surely make more money than I do," and hearing Horrocks worry over the same things I've worried about is less an emblem of comradeship than it is a matter of "Geez, how good do you have to be before that ends?"
Well, it may be obvious, but quality and success do not go hand in hand, and waiting around for karma to straighten things out seems futile, though we've only got a few thousand years of evidence of that to go on.
Anyway, you might stop to chuck a few starfish back into the sea -- these or others -- because it looks like we're in for a long low tide.
We're gonna need all the starfish we can get.