Friday, October 21, 2016

You heard it here at p3 first!

So Donald Trump Jr. (that's the brother who takes his hair grooming tips from early-1990s Bret Easton Ellis serial killers rather than from his father) had this to say about his father and the presidency:
“Unlike Hillary Clinton ― who’s gotten very rich being a politician, peddling American influence ― he hasn’t,” he continued. “This isn’t only a step down, but he wants to make sure that all Americans, all ethnicities and backgrounds, have the same opportunities to do what he’s been able to do, to start a great family, start a great business.”

Really. Seriously. This is what Donald Jr. considers a “step down” for his dad:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Well, first of all, of course he thinks that, because it's never entered the head of father or son that this might be about anything but money and brand.

But second, I called this! I called this back on July 5!

If Trump does bail out, I'd expect him to justify it much like Farage did: He's accomplished everything he set out to do (of course he has! he always does!), so why waste his time actually being President of the United States -- which he could easily do, if he wanted, and he'd be so good at it you wouldn't believe it -- when it's so obviously a step down from being Himself?

You're welcome, America.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quote of the day: Trophy kills

Adventure tourism for the idiot rich

- Matt Tiabbi, describing the buzz driving Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The description could be applied just as appropriately to the “big game” African safaris of his two sons. The only difference would be that the carcasses left behind by the father include the traditional transfer of presidential power, the modern Republican party, and the very idea of an American political commonwealth, whereas his sons left behind a trail of needlessly dead elephants, leopards, et cetera.

Donald Jr. (that's the one who takes his hair grooming tips from early-1990s Bret Easton Ellis serial killers rather than from his father) even carried on the family tradition of Love for the Little Guy by insisting that “the villagers were so happy for the meat which they don't often get to eat. Very grateful.”

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quote of the day: Dodging versus deferment

(Also known as the First Law of Conservation of Schmuckiness.)
If Trump is a draft-dodger for having taken a II-S (or four of them), he is among millions of "draft dodgers" and so you need to STFU because you're outnumbered.

The heel spurs letter is more interesting, mostly because of the timing.

Spurs are not permanent and, had the lottery not made it irrelevant, he'd have had to go back to confirm that they were still an issue, but, yes, he dodged the draft, based on one medical deferment. And, as Chris Britt notes, it puts him in no position to comment on other people's service.

Here's the thing: You don't have to lie to make this guy look like a schmuck, and you don't even have to lie to make him look like a draft dodger.

And you sure as hell don't have to slander the millions of us who took student deferments.

That's Mike Peterson, known to loyal p3 readers for his blog Comic Strip of the Day, clarifying an important legal and ethical distinction that seems poorly (sometimes, I suspect, willfully) misunderstood in the age of the all-volunteer army.

Eleven years ago, I found myself in the wretched position of having to defend the bloodthirsty likes of John Bolton and Dick “five deferments – count 'em, five!” Cheney, in defense of a larger principle. Or at least to make sure that they were damned for what they really are. As I wrote at the time:
Claiming a legal deferment instead of enlisting is no more "draft dodging" than taking the standard exemption on your 1040 form is "tax evasion."

On the subject of "dodging" the draft: If you don't want people to have legal ways of getting out of military service, don't create legal ways for them to get out of military service. If they avoided service legally, and you still don't like it, then your problem is with the law, not the person.

And--here's where the trouble lives--a law that's administered unequally, depending on how wealthy and connected you are, is a law worth having a problem with.

Legal ways to avoid service have always existed, often but not always tied to how much disposable income you have. The thing about Trump is that he thinks anything that doesn't benefit him first, most, and – ideally – alone, is for chumps. If, instead of a military draft, we'd had a Clinton-style national service program at the time, he'd have pulled whatever strings he could to get out of that, too. It's of a piece with his stated belief that not paying taxes makes him “smart” – he believes the opposite, that the idea of a commonwealth is stupid.

(And no one asked me, but I have to say that giving Ann Telnaes a live target would almost -- not quite, but almost -- be worth having Cheney back in the public light again.)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Let's review: The absence of a federal Election Day holiday is not theproblem

I've been seeing a lot of items on my Facebook feed the last day or two showing President Obama and Senators Warren and Sanders touting the notion of an Election Day federal holiday. 

 I still say that's a solution in search of a problem.

As I wrote in May:

A federal holiday for Election Day (or moving it to the weekend) misses the point. The problem is hardly that Americans are yearning for more time to participate in the Norman Rockwellesque living tableau of exercising their freedom to vote.[...]

Consider the status quo, where Republican-controlled statehouses, encouraged and abetted by the Roberts Court, are ever on the lookout for innovative ways – as well as tried-and-true favorites from the days of Jim Crow – to suppress voting by the wrong people, such as making them stand in line for hours at a polling place, perhaps only to find out that it had mysteriously run out of Democratic ballots, or had been deliberately understaffed, or moved to the far side of town, or closed altogether, or required some form of ID that was expensive if not completely unobtainable. And that's if they haven't had their names struck from the rolls by some bureaucratic error (always an "error;" never a "purge.")

All that a federal holiday for Election Day would accomplish is letting them draw holiday pay for the experience, rather than having to take the day off on their own nickle. I suppose that's an improvement, but not much of one. It certainly doesn't do anything to get at the basic problem, which is that one of our two political parties has vote suppression baked into its basic electoral strategy.

If you want a voting system that tends to raise participation while being nearly, if not completely, impervious to suppression (as well as statistically nonexistence “voter fraud”), you want the Oregon vote-by-mail model.

And as a bonus, you won't have to listen to the Chanber-of-Commerce types complain about yet another federal holiday for which workers will expect to get paid.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Quote of the day: The great white absence-of-hope

If all the jobs are moving overseas, why wouldn’t the white working class vote for Trump? What good reason do they have for not doing so? I know why the black and Latino working class won’t–because of the racism of the Trump campaign. But if you have no hope except for being white, why not vote for your racial dominance? That’s what Trump offers.

- That's Erik Loomis, putting it about as clearly as I've ever seen it. Jeezus.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The unforgiving minute: Decideds and undecideds

Last night I heard a woman sitting a few seats down from me say this to the man she was with. For verisimilitude's sake, you have to imagine it delivered in a classic early 1980s Valley Girl-speak, and without the slightest trace of irony:

"I've decided to be less judgmental of women. [Pause.] It's not fair to hold them up to my standard."

My initial impulse, of course, was to grab the man by the arm and shout, "Run away! Run away!"

/But then I realized that he knew perfectly well what he had gotten into; they'd been trading passive-aggressive barbs since the moment he sat down with her. He'd long-since made his choice.

I feel much the same way about voters in this election. I've read a number of posts and articles this week mentioning "undecided" voters. I don't believe there are very many of those -- certainly not if the choice is about Trump versus Clinton. Maybe a few dazed or confused Democratic or Republican  voters can still be picked off by third-party candidates, or vice-versa. And a lot of voters -- particularly Trump voters, I suspect, and particularly Trump voters who haven't been in the habit of voting for years -- may be undecided about whether they'll actually cast a ballot at all.

But this year, pretty much anyone who makes it to the voting booth has already made up their mind about who they're voting for, and why.

Turnout, I suspect, will be everything.

Minute's up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday evening's toons: I'm not sure why we're even calling it a “debate” anymore

Welcome to a Very Special Post-Debate edition of p3's Sunday morning toon review.

So it's come to this: America is the Argument Clinic customer and last night we were shut up in a room with Mr. Vibrating. The host – it's silly at this point to use the term “moderator,” let alone “judge;” probably “ringmaster” is nearest the mark – has promised no penalty for making stuff up. (Unlike the establishment media, I have no problem pointing out that Trump is a liar; if I sometimes avoid the word, it's because actually lying is only one of the weapons in his arsenal: along with self-contradiction, there's subject-changing, free-form delusion, as well as the standard tools of the craft.) The Republican candidate has promised – by his extensive track record of mendacity and by his opposition even to the flimsy and inadequate practice of “fact-checking” – that he's going to be making stuff up. And now the head of the Commission on Presidential Debates has said that she believes it's good enough simply to have Candidate Clinton use her own response time to fact-check Trump. (Has this person watched even a minute of television in the last fifteen months?)

So if you were hoping for to see a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition last night, you should probably have looked elsewhere than the first round of presidential whatever.

Any political cartoonist who tried to capture last week the full magnitude and horror of what we were going to get last night would be laughed out of court, so cartoons prior to Monday night that dealt with the debates were forced to go for the evergreens, picturing Hillary surrounded by books, legal pads, pencils, etc., while Trump is admiring himself in the mirror, practicing insults, etc. Or fact-checking. Or the low bar. Among the best in this difficult catgegory: Clay Jones, Jack Ohman, Joel Pett, Gary Varvel,

Some of the more interesting work came from artists who were sketching in real time, including Ann Telnaes and Matt Davies.

 Although a few got out there quickly with images that seemed to reflect the (un)reality of the evening, including Clay Bennett, Jen Sorenson, Tom Toles,

Deadlines drove some cartoonists last night. R. J. Matson posted this on Facebook today, and admitted he wasn't quite satisfied with it:

”I drew this before the debate started last night to meet Roll Call's publication deadline for today's paper. It's not entirely off target, considering what transpired on stage and in spin rooms everywhere, but it could be sharper. Back to the drawing board today...”
(If I were going to quibble – and regular readers (all five of 'em) know that's so not me – I'd say cartoon's problem is not so much about sharpness as that Trump is shown clearing his much-lower bar, but a lot of post-debate commentary, focus groups, etc., suggest he didn't even manage that.)

One last thought on last night's debate (and the campaign in general): When Trump says not paying taxes “makes me smart,” when he brags about having made money off the Great Recession and insists that doing so is simply “called business,” when he muses on the equivalent of strategic bankruptcy for the federal government, when he says he'd tear up existing international treaties (the equivalent in his mind of business contracts?) – those are all morally sketchy but currently acceptable business tactics that have helped bring him whatever wealth he has. In a smarter world than ours, this would put to death forever the foolish idea that America is a business and should be run as a business by a CEO in Chief.

Meanwhile, it's still 2016 in America, so every cartoonist has many opportunities to sharpen his or her cartoons about police shooting black citizens. Since there are only so many ways you can depict police standing over a dead civilian or black parents having The Talk with their children, kudos to Mike Luckovich for finding in the particulars of the Terence Crutcher killing something on which to base some novel but admittedly ultragrim humor.

Today's toons were selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, The Nib, and other fine sources of cartoon goodness.

The regular p3 toon review will be back Sunday-ish.