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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 26, 2020

A few random thoughts on Sunday:

  • Where Wrongo comes from, “take her out” means go on a date, or…something else. It has nothing to do with job termination.
  • The impeachment seems to be helping Trump so far. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Trump’s approval rating has climbed to match the highest of his presidency.
    • Axios reports that Trump’s net approval numbers improved in 31 states between September and December, according to Morning Consult data.
    • They improved by at least 5 points in Iowa, Utah, Maine, Montana and New Mexico.
    • An incumbent president with a growing economy and a low unemployment rate 6-12 months before the election can be tough to beat, even presidents who are bad at their jobs.
    • America twice elected Andrew Jackson. It elected Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan to consecutive terms. And we also did the same with Harding and Coolidge.
  • Are you following the Coronavirus outbreak in China? The number of confirmed cases in China stands at around 1,300. The virus has also been reported in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Malaysia, France, the US and Australia. The death toll in China from the Coronavirus outbreak jumped on Saturday to 41.
    • We don’t know how deadly the virus is. These outbreaks can range from low-to-highly contagious, and from low-to-highly deadly. There isn’t enough data so far to know where to place this virus on either the contagion, or the deadly axis.
    • An amazing development is the rapid and powerful response by global public health agencies. Modern transportation allows diseases to spread globally. But modern communications and effective government agencies can react as fast.
    • This could radically change the severity of epidemics. Modern communication plus modern technology makes the global response far more effective than in the past.
    • This is a bit of evidence that, in some ways, countries are working together to build a better world.
    • From Fabius Maximus:

“Extreme libertarians tell us that governments can’t do anything right, and that we should “starve the beast.” Conservatives also hate the UN. Here we see an example of strong government agencies – national and international – providing a vital service.”

On to cartoons. On Saturday, the GOP began their defense of Trump:

Some say the Senate could be doing something else:

The GOP’s impeachment strategy moves on:

Trump and Mitch both want America to eat mystery meat:

Country before Party: such a quaint idea:

Some kids can’t wait for recess:

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 19, 2020

What to make of the new trade deal with China? The deal seems to restore the US-China trade relationship to where it was before Trump launched his “easy to win” trade war. Nothing that China has agreed to departs markedly from what it agreed to during the Obama administration. In 2015, Obama and Xi Jinping announced an end to cyber-intellectual property theft and embarked on a next round of negotiations over market access.

Trump’s Phase I agreement barely restores China’s agricultural purchases to where they were before 2017, even though Trump presented it as a victory. If one of your main customers boycotts you and then agrees to start buying again, but is buying fewer goods, it’s disingenuous to announce that they had promised to buy more.

After two years of mounting tariffs hostilities, the Phase I agreement has cost the US more than $30 billion in subsidies to American farmers. It has cost American consumers tens of $ billions in tariffs. It has forced some US companies to diversify their supply chains out of China at an additional cost of $ billions.

Trump and his trade sidekick Peter Navarro, fundamentally misread the relative strengths of both the US and China. They thought that Chinese exports to the US are the key driver of the Chinese economy. If that were true, tariffs would be a potent weapon.

But a recent McKinsey study shows that China has aggressively shifted from an export-driven economy to a domestic consumer-driven one. Much of any gain in Chinese exports primarily accrues to the multinational companies like Apple that source in China, and not to the domestic Chinese economy.

At best, Trump fought China to a draw. At worst, China now understands that less economic engagement with America is in its self-interest. The trade war and its new, paper-thin truce leaves America with less leverage going forward. On to cartoons.

Was Round One a win?

Why are our sports teams held to a higher standard than our politicians?

Liz ponders:

There are Senate tools that always go unused:

What to expect from Ken Starr:

Pretty sure that’s Susan Collins:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 12, 2020

On Saturday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner while it was taking off from Tehran earlier in the week, killing all 176 people aboard. The admission raised a host of new questions: Who authorized the strike on the plane, and why Iran hadn’t shut down its international airport or airspace if it was expecting a US reprisal for their missile attack?

A few words about missile air defense. Wrongo ran an air defense missile unit in Germany during the Vietnam era. Each day, our unit would calibrate the radars by training them on commercial aircraft take-offs and landings at Frankfurt Main airport, about 80 miles away.

Airports keep a regular space between flights taking off, or landing. Those taking off are traveling at a higher speed than those landing. And in any event, they both are moving far more slowly than an aircraft on an attack run. Also, commercial aircraft look much larger on a radar screen than a fighter/bomber looks.

So, everyone who has air defense responsibilities near a large airport immediately knows the difference between a commercial airliner and a military fighter on their radar screens.

While Wrongo did this back in the dark ages, some rules of engagement are universal. Under normal circumstances, no individual air defense unit is authorized to fire at aircraft unless told to do so by higher command authority. There are exceptions: When communication is lost with command, or in the case of a “general release to engage” by higher authority. That usually would happen if under a verified attack by the enemy.

Iran has said that the air defense forces ringing the capital were at the “highest level of readiness”, and that they were “prepared for an all-out conflict.” While it may mean something different in Iran, for US air defense, that wouldn’t mean fire at will.

And it certainly wouldn’t mean fire at a huge, slow blip on your radar screen. The regime looks like dishonest incompetents to the rest of the world. On to cartoons.

The real reason for engaging Iran: (Graeme Keys, from Ireland)

Speaking of Obama, his rules still apply:

The real reason for the US standing down:

Having a policy means more than he thinks:

The reasoning for the attack keeps changing:

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 29, 2019

Happy almost New Year! It only recently dawned on Wrongo that we’re not just coming to the end of another year, but also the end of the decade. There have already been many “end of the decade” summaries, but Wrongo is more interested in the future.

The only comment about the past that matters now is that we went from being optimistic after Obama’s election to being pessimistic after Trump was elected. To get elected, our first black president had to be a nearly perfect human being.

Trump only had to meet the low bar of representing the worst of us to gain power. And now, we’re even more divided than we were in 2016.

2020 will start with an impeachment trial, and a partisan acquittal. 2020 will end with a presidential election. Realistically, should we be expecting change? The answer is possibly: The Republican Senate majority suddenly looks to be in jeopardy. Republican strategists and campaign staffers said that with the polarization of the Trump era, key House and Senate races will depend even more than usual on the presidential race.

Democrats are raising more money and are polling better than Republican incumbents in several battleground states. Dems are outraising the Repubs in Arizona, Iowa and Maine, and they only need three net new seats to be the majority in the Senate.

Trump’s Impeachment trial works as a political strategy to get Republican senators on the record about Trump. Putting those GOP swing state senators on the hot seat may be very important in November 2020.

If you look at polls from the swing states, it’s possible that Trump can win again in 2020. OTOH, it is difficult to believe that, after four years of living with him, America will see Donald Trump as their best option for the next four years.

On to cartoons. The Christmas week always brings a shortage of good things to present, but this kinda sums up the season:

GOP’s 2020 strategy:

Dems 2020 resolutions:

2020’s New Year’s babies get dose of reality:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 15, 2019

Paul Volcker died last week. It’s likely that few readers know who he was, or what he did. He was one of the most important persons in finance in the last 50 years.

Volcker was Chairman of the Federal Reserve under Carter and Reagan, until Reagan fired him in 1986. He is widely credited with having ended the high levels of inflation in the US during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Earlier, he was an important part of Nixon’s team that took the US off the gold standard in 1971.

In that time of red-hot inflation, Volcker’s goal was to stop the growth of prices, while keeping the dollar strong globally. Back then, Americans saw inflation as our most pressing economic problem. Volcker’s goal was to reduce wages as a way to reduce price inflation. As an example, during his time as Fed Chair, Volcker carried a card listing the wages of unions in his pocket to remind himself that his early goal was to crush the unions.

When Reagan and his people complained that interest rates were too high, Volcker would pull out his card on union wages and say that inflation would not come down permanently until labor “got the message and surrendered.” Volcker said that the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s was a:

“hall of mirrors”, and that the…”standard of living of the average American must decline.”

Volcker’s jacking up of interest rates eventually purged inflation from the system. Along the way, it hurt small businesses, farms, banks, and home owners who needed a mortgage. Mortgage rates reached a peak of 18.63% in October 1981.

While Wrongo briefly worked for Volcker at the big bank in the early 1970’s, we had no relationship.  Wrongo reported to a guy, who reported to a guy, who reported to Volcker. Despite that (minimal) connection, Wrongo knows that Volcker’s stint at the Fed helped to shatter the American middle class. It might not have been his intent, but it was what he did. On to cartoons.

Trump outdoes Obama:

McConnell says he’ll take his instructions from the defendant:

 

Trump’s Xmas list:

The people would rather have a lump of coal:

21st Century Wise Men:

Greta vs. the Rest:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 8, 2019

(Wrongo and Ms. Right are off to New Orleans for a few days. Regular posting will return on December 13th)

Trump’s former UN ambassador and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Friday that the Confederate flag represented “service, sacrifice and heritage” for people in her state before mass murderer Dylann Roof “hijacked” its meaning when he shot and killed black Americans at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC in 2015:

‘Here is this guy that comes out with his manifesto, holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of…people saw [the Confederate flag] as service and sacrifice and heritage, but once he did that, there was no way to overcome it.’

Here’s Nikki Haley going all in on winning the David Duke vote. Haley’s comment is of a piece with Trump’s comment that there are “good people on both sides.” Dylann Roof didn’t hijack the “meaning” of the Confederate flag, he lived out its meaning of hate, racism and white supremacy.

The Confederate flag is a symbol of the institutional racism that many in this country refuse to acknowledge, let alone fully rectify. People who regard the Confederate flag as an icon, with a glorious past that should be retained, ignore that it represents a social and economic structure that enriched a very small group of white people by enslaving and brutalizing a large group of black people.

That same small group was willing to destroy the US to preserve their oligarchy. The Confederate flag is about “heritage” the same way the swastika is about heritage.

What Haley said is incredible. What Wrongo means by incredible, is Nikki Haley has no credibility. On to cartoons. Dems and GOP are playing their hands:

Trump has nothing to fear:

The Grinch takes food stamps from 700,000 more Americans:

Elephants can’t spell:

People now think Trump is a comedian:

Biden goes viral in a bad way:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 24, 2019

Trump survived the week. The Democrats got just about everything they hoped for out of 32 hours of impeachment hearings. Current and former Trump administration officials told different parts of a consistent story, and reinforced a consistent narrative of wrongdoing.

But Trump liked the week, since no cracks emerged in Republican defenses. On to cartoons. The real Impeachment jury:

Hearings gave another platform to GOP conspiracy theories:

Behold the noose of Sondland:

GOP talking points:

Trump and Bibi: Two pleas in a pod:

One if by Facebook! Two if by Twitter:

Prince Andrew will be spending more time with family and less with underage women:

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Monday Cartoon Blogging – November 18, 2019

On Saturday, the twitterverse was alive with the news that Trump made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed Hospital. At least, that’s the story they’re putting out there:

“Trump, 73, made an unannounced visit Saturday afternoon to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

‘Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed’, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.”

So was something wrong? Nobody who knows the truth is saying, and there’s an excellent chance you will know the truth before you read this.

There are many theories circulating, including that they’re trying to extricate Lindsey Graham, whose head is apparently stuck in Trump’s ass.

There are really just two options: Either Trump had a sudden health scare, or that the White House is so incompetent they had no idea a surprise hospital visit by a president would lead automatically to us believing that something is wrong. On to cartoons.

The real Quid Pro Quo:

Both sides have an argument:

Some will excuse any evidence:

Dems feel they’re writing the last ticket:

What’s good for the goose would never be good enough for the Trump gander:

Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone guilty on all counts:

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 3, 2019

(Sorry for going dark, but we lost internet here at the Mansion of Wrong for two days. It’s back, but since it is supplied by Spectrum, it’s very slow, despite Wrongo paying for a premium pile of megabits.)

The WaPo reports:

“Smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through…”

Apparently, they’re using a battery-powered Sawzall, like this one that you can order from Home Depot:

It can cut through the bars of steel and concrete in a few minutes, if equipped with specialty blades made with diamond grit. The blades sell for less than $15. The Trump administration has so far completed 76 miles of the new barriers that are now being breached by Mexican smugglers. These are the sections of wall that Trump boasts are “virtually impenetrable”. He has called them the “Rolls-Royce” of walls that border-crossers cannot get over, under or through.

Who knew that for $100, and a few $15 blades, you could defeat the wall that will eventually cost us $10 billion?? On to cartoons.

Al-Baghdadi was killed. Trump said he died like a dog:

Republicans are now trying to smear a military hero to protect a draft dodger. Trump equates dogs with cowards, while an actual military dog served heroically, without claiming Paw Spurs.

Trump says he’s moving from NY to FL. New Yorkers cheer:

Dems are placing way too much faith in the process:

It is looking like the Boeing 737 MAX should never fly again:

Signs of the season won’t go away:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 27, 2019

Wrongo and Ms. Right will be heading back to the US on Monday morning, so this is the last post from London. The news from America was both typical and troubling again this week. But let’s start with a UK-based cartoon from the Financial Times that drives home the point about how long it’s taking to negotiate a Brexit deal:

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the GOP Congress Critters who broke into the hearing were simply following orders:

What happens when you have the best lawyers:

New White House Ukraine strategy:

Let’s send healing thoughts to Jimmy Carter, who broke his pelvis this week:

Nice message from London:

October 2019 iPhone photo by Wrongo

It occurred to Wrongo that the diversity in England is due at least in part to being the headquarters of the British Empire, followed by being a part of the EU for what is now 47 years. With Brexit, those who voted “Leave” wish for a country that is less diverse.

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