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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Cartoon Blogging – June 10, 2019

We’re back from the beach to review the week that was! Trump toured Buckingham Palace. The world observed the 75th anniversary of D-day, and the 30th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square. Some are saying that the vicious attack by security forces on protesters in Sudan is Africa’s first Tiananmen Square-type event. At home, Joe Biden renounced the Hyde Amendment that barred public financing for abortions, a position he held for nearly 40 years. Republicans pounced, framing Biden’s change in position as a gaffe. You might say he was for it before he was against it. On to cartoons.

Biden has another bi-partisan moment with GOP:

 

Trumpy oh Trumpy, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the Queen:

What D-Day shows us about today:

Mueller’s subliminal messages:

GOP ponders raising voting age:

Trump has genuine concerns about voting:

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Monday Wake Up Call – May 20, 2019

The Daily Escape:

Steps leading to Franciscan Sanctuary, La Verna, Tuscany, Italy – photo by Guiseppe Pepperoni

Over the weekend, Wrongo and Ms. Right, along with a few friends, saw “Hadestown” on Broadway. It is a theatrical home run that has received 14 Tony nominations. Describing the plot is difficult. Most reviews focus on the mythology at the heart of the play. The story is a re-imagination of Orpheus and Eurydice set in contemporary time.

The mythological story is that Orpheus is the world’s greatest poet, and Eurydice is his bride. It is intertwined with the love story of King Hades and his wife Persephone. During the play, we take an epic journey to the underworld and back.

In the myth, Eurydice is killed by a snake bite, and the mourning Orpheus travels to the underworld to beg Hades to return his wife to life. To make his case, Orpheus sings a song so beautiful that Persephone begs Hades to let Eurydice go.

That is loosely followed in the play, where these mythic characters are pawns in a central metaphor of capitalism as death. That seems so current in today’s predatory capitalism, and yet, the play is not a polemic. In the play, Eurydice isn’t bitten by a snake. Instead, she’s lured into Hadestown by Hades’s promise of work and food.

Hadestown is a factory town, and Hades is both the god of death and a merciless taskmaster, forcing his subjects to build an endless wall around Hadestown. In his April 15thMonday Wake Up Call”, Wrongo used Hades’s call and response song, “Why We Build the Wall”. The song seems right for 2019 because of our Orange Overlord, but in reality it was written in 2010.

Wrongo posts a sample lyric for you:

Who do we call the enemy? The enemy is poverty, And the wall keeps out the enemy, And we build the wall to keep us free. That’s why we build the wall;

We build the wall to keep us free.

The Wall makes us free. Arbiet macht frei. The few Trumpets in the audience demonstratively did not applaud the song, while the vast majority cheered. Partisanship is an always-on emotion.

Some call-outs to cast members: Patrick Page and Amber Gray are standouts, he as Hades, and she as Persephone. The legendary André De Shields, plays Hermes. He’s the show’s narrator. His cool swagger pulls the audience into the play from the opening curtain.

See it if you can.

During our pre-theater meal, we talked about the Democratic presidential candidates, a list that seems destined to continue growing. Our friends at dinner follow politics quite closely, and none are fully happy with any of the Democrats on offer.

Most defaulted to “electability”, espousing the view that it is “Do-or-Die” time in America, that we can’t take four more years of what we are experiencing now. That leads them to accept Joe Biden’s candidacy. Wrongo has a different view, as captured in this Vanity Fair article: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Since Vietnam, every time a Democrat has won the presidency, it’s because Democrats voted with their hearts in a primary and closed ranks around the candidate who inspired them, promising an obvious break from the past and an inspiring vision that blossomed in the general election. Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton. Barack Obama. All were young outsiders who tethered their message to the culture of the time. When Democrats have picked nominees cautiously and strategically—falling in line—the results have been devastating, as Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton made plain.”

So, what will happen this time? Those who believe in Biden’s electability should remember that there are 45 million Americans with student loans: 22% of those loans are in default, and 99% of them fail to qualify for loan forgiveness.

It was Biden’s decision to make student loans not dischargeable in bankruptcy. That’s going to be one large group of people who, when they learn who is behind their plight, probably will vote against him.

Biden has been on the job in Washington for around 50 years. Suddenly, according to Bloomberg, he wants to “Fix Things”?

Wake up Democrats! Find a candidate who inspires YOU. Work for that candidate in the primaries. Don’t buy the argument “but he/she isn’t electable” until that is proven by the results of the primaries.

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Monday Cartoon Blogging – May 13, 2019

Too much commencement fun has led to Sunday’s cartoons arriving on Monday.

Enforced Mother’s Day is the law in Georgia:

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had a baby. Americans are envious:

Trump’s right to confront China. Too bad he’s using the wrong weapon:

Another cover up for the Orange Overlord:

Trump’s hiding a few things by using his tax forms to cover up. You can’t unsee this:

If its comfort food you’re after, Joe’s for you:

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Politics Friday

The Daily Escape:

Dun Briste Sea Stack – 2010 photo by John Coveney. The Stack shows 350 million years of sediment. In 1981, scientists found the remains of a medieval house, walls, cultivation ridges, and a corn grinding stone on the top. Must have been a tough commute.

We may be over-emphasizing the Mueller report. From Politico:

“The Mueller report may be consuming Washington — but it barely registers for vulnerable Democrats meeting voters outside the Beltway. In a half-dozen town halls from California to Connecticut this week, swing district Democrats fielded few — if any — questions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year probe, even as it threatens to dominate the party’s summer agenda.”

This is called a “District Work Period” for the House, and many members are conducting town halls. Politico reports that:

“Livestreamed events by Reps. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) began with Mueller briefings, but quickly pivoted to education funding and local pollution and mostly stayed there.”

More from Politico:

“I’ve been very surprised by how few people brought [Mueller] up since I’ve been back,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) after two weeks back in his suburban Twin Cities district.”

No one brought up the Mueller report at Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s (D-VA.) town hall in her district west of Richmond:

“In the big spectrum of everything, people are still deeply concerned about prescription drug prices….People are still deeply concerned about the opportunity to get their kid’s education. They’re wanting to see Washington focused on immigration reform.”

Rep. Josh Harder of California told Politico he had “10 times the amount of interest on issues like health care, immigration and student debt than on impeachment or investigations into Trump.”

Wrongo’s Congressperson, Jahana Hayes along with Antonio Delgado, are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Hayes’ roughly 90-minute event focused more on the Green New Deal and education spending.

So, it’s good to realize that the attendees at town halls may be more representative of the country than what we see on MSNBC, PBS or FOX.

Normal people aren’t political junkies.

In other political news, Joe Biden declared he’s running for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination. The NYT says that he’s starting with $0. This raises the question of funding strategy. Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren have sworn off attending high-dollar fund-raisers to bolster their populist credentials. Most others have said that they will not take PAC money.

Some top Obama fund-raisers are lining up with Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who are trying to have it both ways. From the NYT: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Unlike [Sanders and O’Rourke], Mr. Biden does not have an at-the-ready list of hundreds of thousands of contributors to ply for small donations. He must rely heavily, at least at first, upon an old-fashioned network of money bundlers….who can expedite dozens, if not hundreds, of checks for $2,800 each, the legal maximum an individual can contribute in the primary.”

This raises two questions. First, Biden has been a poor funds raiser in the past. He was near the back of the fund-raising pack in his 2008 presidential primary run. He raised $8.2 million from individual donors in 2007; while his competitor, Barack Obama, raised more than $100 million during the same year.

The Times says Biden felt that he couldn’t raise the tens of millions of dollars necessary to compete against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race. That was one reason why he decided in 2015 not to run.

A second point is that whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president will need to raise tons of cash. It is doubtful that individual donors can provide the $1 billion or so it will probably take to defeat Trump. If the nominee can’t rely solely on individual donations, he/she will need money from PACs and Corporations.

This is the inherent tension in the current funding strategy of the Democratic Party.

Biden will go after big donors, and he’s likely to succeed. He was the VP for 8 years, and he has deep ties to moneyed donors and big companies, many of which are incorporated in his home state of Delaware. The rest of the field has a choice to make: They can criticize Joe for taking corporate donations, but ultimately, the Democratic nominee will have to turn to the big “bundlers”, along with corporations and PACs to win the election.

Their current strategy runs the risk of making the ultimate Democratic candidate look cynical at a time when the candidates want to appear authentic, believable, and on the side of the little guy.

The NYT says that Biden has to raise $100,000/day from here to Christmas to match what Sanders has already raised. We’ll see if he’s up to it this time.

It’s gonna take lots of money to stand out in a field of 20 candidates.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 7, 2019

This year is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Times have changed:

Biden doesn’t get it right, but consider the alternative:

Trump wants to be the health care president. Won’t happen:

Feminists come in two sexes:

Elizabeth Warren said this on Friday:

“When Democrats next have power, we should be bold and clear: We’re done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats,”…. “And that means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”

Warren referenced a bill passed in the Senate last year that made lynching a federal crime, and pointed out that it was first introduced in 1918.

“It nearly became the law back then. It passed the House in 1922. But it got killed in the Senate — by a filibuster. And then it got killed again. And again. And again,” Warren will say. “More than 200 times. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right.”

Warren is correct on the merits about the filibuster, as she is on many other issues. The filibuster is a blunt tool for the reactionary forces in the Senate.

From a policy viewpoint, she is by far the best candidate. But she lags in the polls, and many are convinced that she can’t be elected. She also trails in funds raising, behind Bernie and Beto. Warren hasn’t released her first quarter totals, but her campaign’s finance director just left. HuffPo tells us that:

“A tricky gender gap is emerging in the race for donor dollars in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.”

That hasn’t affected Kamala Harris who is raising large amounts from corporate donors. Maybe she has corralled the bigger feminists.

Barr’s playing it cute with the Democrats in the House:

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Biden?

The Daily Escape:

Azulik Hotel, Tulum Mexico, – 2019 photo by Phoebe Montague

A long-time friend of Wrongo and Ms. Right who is also a reader of the Wrongologist, emailed that a friend who is a well-placed Democrat in DC, said the Party plans to push Joe Biden for a single four-year term “to bring us together in healing”. He would also appoint a younger VP who would appeal to Millennials.

After a little digging, it seems that may be the plan. CNN reports that Biden is considering:

“The early selection of a running mate, which one aide said would help keep the focus of the primary fight on the ultimate goal of unseating Trump.”

If Biden would commit to one term, selecting his VP candidate early would lay hands on that person as the presumptive Democratic nominee in 2024. It sounds like a really bad idea, one that also would preclude Biden’s selecting one of the existing candidates for the 2020 nomination.

This strategy would have precluded Biden getting the VP nomination in 2008. Obama couldn’t have picked Biden early, because Biden was also running for president. And even once Biden dropped out, he wasn’t prepared to immediately back Obama over Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

Biden has tons of history for his primary opponents and the Republicans to pick through. Ryan Cooper, writing in The Week, said:

“Joe Biden is about to ruin his reputation….The most immediate problem for Biden personally is that he has #MeToo written all over him…..there are already vast compilations of footage of him being far too handsy with women in public settings.”

More from Cooper:

“Biden’s actual policy record is probably almost as big of a potential problem. The Democratic Party has shifted markedly to the left over the last decade, as the consequences of the party’s policy record from the mid-1970s to 2008 have become clear….he was personally involved in almost every bad policy decision of the last 40 years.”

Democrats use identity politics to help win elections. They try to knit together disparate groups of voters to counter the GOP’s solid South and Western states. Biden is tragically flawed in this regard. When you have a long history, people can learn that he gave the eulogy at Strom Thurmond’s funeral.  Thurmond was one of the most notorious segregationists in history.

In 2020, Biden’s eulogy works with Democrats in South Carolina, but how Biden confronts his 2003 praise for a former segregationist elsewhere in the primaries could prove a big challenge. Biden would be trying to lead a party that says it’s committed to fighting racial inequality, but would he be seen as the right person for the job? Some in the party will reject whatever explanation he gives, while others will say he’s trying to persuade more white voters to join Democrats in 2020.

Many black voters failed to support Hillary Clinton in 2016 for much less than Biden’s praise of Thurmond. Like Clinton, Biden has already expressed regret for supporting criminal sentencing laws that disproportionately punished people of color. He needs to clearly explain his treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during Supreme Court confirmation hearings that Biden chaired in 1991.

Biden’s old Senate votes in favor of the Iraq War, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the North American Free Trade Agreement will be difficult to explain to young Democrats.

He has long said he believes in bi-partisanship, saying that the differences between Republicans and Democrats are superficial disagreements, not fundamental differences over matters of principle. Given Biden’s success in early Iowa polling, some might say that message is resonating. After all, according to orthodox wisdom, there is no more commendable virtue in American politics than bipartisanship.

Candidates always try to assure voters that they will strive to “work across the aisle” to deliver “commonsense solutions”. But, Wrongo thinks his ratings are due largely to Joe Biden being widely considered a likable guy, genial Uncle Joe. A father who has suffered family loss, there’s also a halo effect from his relationship with Obama that drives his favorability.

Biden is 76. He’s one of a cohort of elder politicians running for President, including Bernie Sanders (77) and Elizabeth Warren (70 in June). There are several candidates in their 60’s, 50’s, 40’s and a few in their 30’s.

Biden starts with strength among Democrats who think a safe pair of hands is a tested white man, and with Independents nostalgic for the Obama administration.

He will be opposed by Millennials eager for a new generation of leaders, and people of color who won’t buy his explanations about Anita Hill and Strom Thurmond.

He looks like a divisive candidate to Wrongo.

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Hillary?

An important survey by Pew released this week says that Republicans are looking for “New Ideas”: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Since March, the share of all registered voters who say it is more important for a presidential candidate to have “new ideas and a different approach” has surged – with virtually all of the increase coming among Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Today, by more than two-to-one (65% to 29%), Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say it is more important that a candidate have new ideas than “experience and a proven record.”

(The survey was conducted on Sept. 22-27 among 1,502 adults, including 1,136 registered voters.)

Pew reports that Democrats have less interest in new ideas: 50% say it is more important for a candidate to have experience and a proven record, while 42% view new ideas and a different approach as more important. This is little changed from March (46% experience, 49% new ideas).

And Pew reports that Hillary has a bigger lead over Sanders than other polls show. Their poll includes Biden:

PEW Support for Dem CandidatesThis is a very different result from other polls which tend to show Sanders just a few points behind Clinton, (at least in New Hampshire) and which say that Biden hurts Clinton enough to open a path to the nomination for Sanders, should Biden enter the race.

But despite the Pew results, many Democrats think 2016 looks grim. Here is the Denver Post reporting that Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper used those exact words:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday became the latest Hillary Clinton supporter to express doubt about her candidacy for president, telling a Denver audience that the 2016 election is ‘kind of grim, to be blunt’.

The Denver Post also quoted former Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm, who (speaking about the email issue) said he believes:

There’s a one in three chance that if something worse does happen, that will cost her the nomination.

From 30,000 feet, the presidential race includes Hillary, a person many people don’t trust, who seems to lack the vision thing, and Bernie Sanders, who self-describes as a democratic socialist when he’s merely an FDR Democrat.

It just shows how ingrained the memes of the right are in our society, when a New Deal Democrat honestly believes that he is a Democratic Socialist.

Bernie should call himself an FDR Democrat, since he has to deal with corporate media in order to win. The Democratic Socialist label easily morphs into socialist, and then on to Marxist by our media elite. This means that intellectually lazy voters will misunderstand what Sanders is really about. Better for him to conflate his candidacy with a period of American economic recovery than for him to get twisted by the media echo chamber into a second coming of Lenin, or a Jewish Fidel.

And right now, Pew says that the Republican voters are more engaged in the process:

PEW More engaged votersThis shows that Dems are about as engaged as they were when Barak Obama was running against Hillary for the nomination, but Republican engagement has increased steadily since 2007.

Considering that the Democratic base seems mostly on auto pilot, it could be a lot worse, particularly since the Democratic National Committee is headed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who gave us a Republican House and Senate.

 

 

The key question is which candidate can keep the Obama coalition together. Today, it seems to be Hillary:

• If Bernie is the candidate, money is going to be a huge problem and not just for him. How does the DNC raise money? How do other Democratic candidates raise money with Bernie running against the big money donors? It’s all well and good to rail against the campaign financing laws, but Senate and Congressional candidates have to raise money too.
• Can the Dems win the White House AND the Senate on $30 individual donations?

If Hillary is the candidate, the issue will be Hillary making the case that she won’t preside over a third Obama term. Or, the central issue in Hillary’s candidacy could be her husband Bill, and a third Clinton term.

The assumption by Democrats in the primary contests should be that Republicans will still control the House. Even with a Democratic win, neither Hillary nor Sanders would be able to get much of a domestic agenda passed.

Either way, 2016 will be a repeat, more or less, of 2012, with the significant addition of Iran, Russia, and ISIS on the foreign policy front. That may make 2016 more of a balanced issue election.

All Dems can reasonably expect from a presidential win in 2016 is Supreme Court nominations, holding on to the Obama gains, and pushing the country to return towards more economic equality than in the years since 2008.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 30, 2015

That light from the city on the hill isn’t a beacon. It’s the flash of gun fire.

The snuff video of two TV journalists this week got everyone talking about gun ownership and gun control for the umpteenth time. Phys.org pointed out that despite the fact the US ranks in the middle among other industrialized countries in virtually every form of crime, and only has 5% of the world’s population, we have had 31% of the mass shootings since 1966.

By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the NRA has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. Mother Jones had a chart for you to consider:

Gun Ownership and Gun Deaths
Gun ownership is a part of our culture. We could have a conversation about why Americans need so many guns, but the current level of gun ownership is not going away. And there is a large disconnect between the current gun control proposals and the facts in the Virginia case. The TV killer wouldn’t have failed any test, either now in place, or contemplated under the new proposals.

A simple solution to the problem of gun deaths would be to require gun owners to have liability insurance for any gun that they buy. Mr. Market (beloved by the right) would then come up with solutions to keep that liability insurance costs low enough that people could own their guns, but fewer third-party deaths and injuries would occur, and there would be compensation for victims. You could still carry guns, but you would have to be able to produce proof of insurance. Like driving a car.

On to cartoons. The gun culture has a new Caliph:

COW Gun Culture

New media and old media loved talking about the killings, live on your TV:

COW News Cycle

Hillary’s week didn’t improve, so she got help:

COW Hillary Email

I’m you from 2015, Hillary. I’ve come back to help you set up your e-mail.

Biden called in a few favors:

COW Biden Back Rubs

Trump’s week was fine. Republicans? Not so much:

COW Anchor Baby

China’s stock market fell:

COW Bear Market

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 22, 2015

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs”− John Rogers

On Friday, we wrote about the Randian/Republican ideologues who want to keep myth alive in our discourse about economics. Today, we note that the Oklahoma Tea Party wants to change AP History courses in the state because maybe, they teach too much of the bad parts, like that messy land grab from Native Americans and all that civil war violence in the west. The bill would require schools to instruct students in a list of “foundational documents,” including some good things, such as the Federalist Papers, along with some questionable items like the Ten Commandments, two sermons, and three speeches by Ronald Reagan. In addition, they want included:

Founding documents of the United States that contributed to the foundation or maintenance of the representative form of limited government, the free market economic system and American exceptionalism

Limited government, the free market system and American Exceptionalism? Nope, no political agenda there.

The bill designates a total of 58 documents that “shall form the base level of academic content for all United States History courses offered in the schools in the state.” Many of the texts are not controversial and are undoubtedly covered in AP US History courses around America. Things like the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg address. The bill was approved by the Education committee on an 11-4 vote.

It’s all great stuff if you want to raise a state full of conservative think-tank weenies.

But we must go further. TPM reported that Fox host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery suggested getting rid of the nation’s public schools altogether on Thursday’s “Outnumbered.” She was talking about that Oklahoma bill:

There really shouldn’t be public schools, should there?…I mean we should really go to a system where parents of every stripe have a choice, have a say in the kind of education their kids get because, when we have centralized, bureaucratic education doctrines and dogmas like this, that’s exactly what happens.

Sure. Bring back the 16th century, because in the 17th century, the first public school in America was founded (1635). So public education must have been holding us back ever since. Oh, and a glance at Ms. Montgomery’s Wikipedia page shows that she is a product of public education, from Lakeridge High School in Oswego, OR and from UCLA, it was public schools all the way. Hard to judge if that is a good thing, though. She seems to have graduated from both.

The news this week included snow, the dog show, the stay of the immigration executive order, Jebbie talking foreign policy, Biden acting frisky with the new Secretary of Defense’s wife, and A-Rod’s apology.

The Northeast has its own bad torture movie:

COW Snow

 

After the Beagle won at the Westminster Dog show, there were consequences:

COW Beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeb Bush spoke about foreign policy. Mostly, he tried to flick away his bad angel:

COW Jebbie Flick

 

Activist judge changes immigration policy, and the GOP is for it:

COW Activism

Biden misunderstood exactly WHO was being too frisky this week:

COW Biden

A-Rod found pie on his menu in NY:

COW ARod

 

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