Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday morning toons: Rumors of Trump campaign demise "somewhat exaggerated"

I know candidate Clinton has made some speeches last week, captured some news – but for the life of me, I can't recall what at the moment.

I mean, really, all she had to do was bat away a forged document casting doubt on her health, and then pour a cold drink and kick back to watch the Trump campaign crash into tree after tree while proclaiming the Vulgar Talking Yam to be king of the forest.

But it has been a week for rumors. Oh, it has indeed.

Trump made an unprecedented public apology a couple of days ago for . . . something. Many hailed this as the long-awaited "pivot" toward "the center," until someone finally noticed he never really said what he was apologizing for. So it was rumored to be a sign of the backstage maneuvering in his campaign. Anyway, it was quickly forgotten, partly because it was such an obvious one-off for the campaign and partly because--

The word then came out that Roger Ailes, in disgrace with fortune and women's eyes, was coming on board the campaign. This rumor was immediately denied by all parties, until it was confirmed about a day later.

Next, the former Breitbart bomb-thrower Steve Bannon joined as campaign director, although this was never actually denied so it never really got legs as a rumor. Ailes brought the misogyny, Bannon brought the white supremacy, and the two joined long time rat-fucker and Hillary hater Roger Stone, plus Trump himself. The total effect was something like an alt-right potluck, or perhaps the Republican campaign equivalent of "The Suicide Squad" (with roughly comparable reviews).

The addition of Bannon triggered rumors that Paul Manafort, erstwhile-campaign director and part-time empresario to oligarchs from the former Soviet empire, might be on his way out the door. Those rumors lasted until this morning, when evidence that Manafort might have been paid millions as an unregistered foreign agent appeared, eliminating the need to call the story a rumor. He promptly left the pot-luck, which is just as well because he brought potato salad and so did everyone else.

But now that Ailes and Bannon have solidified their positions, it has breathed new life into rumors from a few weeks ago that this has all been a long con on Trump's part, positioning him to launch his own cable vanity network – one imagines something between Oprah's OWN network and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News – spearheaded by two former right-wing media dons and aimed at the Trump base his campaign has brought into the light. I'm not very convinced about this; Occam's Razor suggests that the more likely explanation is simply stumblebum luck rather than fiendishly clever and patient plan.

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,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Jeff Danziger.

p3 Legion of Merit: Clay Jones.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence: Jack Ohman and Glenn McCoy (and how often do those two turn up in the same breath?).

Ann Telnaes asks – and answers – the question how did we get here?

Mark Fiore drops the latest Trump campaign ad. Do not worry. Trust us.

Take my wife – please! Tom Tomorrow presents the Donald Trump Comedy Hour. (thump! thump!) Is this mike on? What is this – an audience or an oil painting?

Keith Knight has a fun fact: Think of it as our way of repaying everything Germany did for us in the 20th century.

Reuben Bolling brings us another installment of Billy Dare, Boy Adventurer, in the most meta- story you're going to read today.

Carol Lay presents a light bit of Hitchcockean fun, in which the third wedding invitation plays the part of the McGuffin.

The Comic Curmudgeon watches, first in horror at the darker practices of the Shoe-niverse, and then in disappointment as Beetle Bailey flubs one of the fundamental cartoon strip signifiers.

Comic Strip of the Day correctly identifies the real problem arising from the abusive, depressing factory farm run-off that is the typical news site's comment's section.

"Whoa, camel, whoa! Whoa!! WHOA!" To mark the occasion of Oregon's three days of temperatures circling the 100-degree mark this week, here's "Sahara Hare," directed in 1955 by Friz Freleng, from a story by Warren Foster (uncredited: Portland's own Mel Blanc as Bugs and Yosemite Sam, and musical director Milt Franklyn). Watch Sahara Hare at DailyMotion.

The Magnificent, Mighty Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman watches candidate Clinton execute.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen points out that the chickens are unable to come home to roost.

Matt Bors totally gets the latest iteration of Trump's immigration policy.

Jesse Springer seems to be settling into a pox-on-both-your-houses posture regarding the plan to raise corporate taxes on large and mostly out-of-state corporations (Oregon's corporate taxes are currently lowest in the nation).

Test your toon-captioning mojo at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Quote of the day: This must be some new use of the term "explaining" I wasn't previously aware of

In explaining the decision, Comedy Central president Kent Alterman said Monday it came down to the show's inability to register with viewers. "Unfortunately, it hasn't connected with our audience in ways that we need it to," Alterman tells The Hollywood Reporter, "both in the linear channel and in terms of multiplatform outlets and with shareable content and on social platforms as well."
- That's the head of Comedy Central "explaining" why Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show was abruptly canceled.

"Both in the linear channel and in terms of multiplatform outlets"?

"In terms of multiplatform outlets and with shareable content and on social platforms as well"?

General David Sarnoff would have chased this guy up a tree and set fire to it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday afternoon toons: Parsing the Vulgarian, and other low return-on-investment pastimes

(This week's guest p3 Toon Review Avatar.
Betty will be back next week.)

Okay, I stand by my Eeyore-style rant from a couple of days ago, at least in its main outline: The way things are going, whether Trump drops out of the race, or stays and loses, or – lord help us – stays and wins, we're headed for a political crisis at best, a constitutional crisis at worst.

But I'm beginning to feel differently about the incident that prompted it – Trump's possibly-throwaway line about a "Second Amendment" remedy to the problem of Hillary Clinton unilaterally placing rabid anti-gun Supreme Court justices on the bench.

Lower electric — lower electric bills, folks. Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick…

(CROWD BOOING) If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day. If — if Hillary gets to put her judges — right now, we’re tied. You see what’s going on.

XXX you see what’s going on? We tied because Scalia – this was not suppose to happen. Justice Scalia was going to be around for ten more years at least and this is what happens. That was a horrible thing.
Now it's true that, earlier in the same speech, Trump could be read as coming close to equating the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association –
Your Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association endorsed and they endorsed me early, a long time ago. And they’re great people, Wayne and Chris, they are great people.
– which would give some support to those Trump defenders saying that the "maybe there is" line simply meant that the NRA's clout might prevent a pro-gun control nomination from getting confirmed. And that reading, however self-interested, got buttressed soon after when the NRA announced a big media buy on Trump's behalf.

But really, such arguments are never going to get anywhere. There's no way to pin down what he was trying to say in the original speech. The plain fact is that Trump's public language skills are barely those of a sixth-grader, with a limited vocabulary plus grammar and syntax more stream-of-consciousness (trickle-of-consciousness?) than Kennedyesque. And when it comes time to figure out what he meant in a given case, we don't even have the option of appealing to authorial intent, since when Trump is challenged on something he said, he's apt either to deny what he said on-camera or in front of witnesses, or to dismiss it however implausibly as a joke.

Short version: When Trump says something, there's really no reliable way to say what he meant – not at the moment, and not later. As Charlie Pierce is wont to say: This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

Trump lit the fuse on this early enough in the week that nearly every cartoonist out there had time to take a whack at it.

Oh yeah – and US Olympic gold medals something-something breaking all historical records something-something historically-awful coverage something-something.

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

p3 Best of Show: Darrin Bell.

p3 Legion of Merit: Jeff Danziger.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation From Another Medium: Clay Jones.

p3 "Humor Is Such A Subjective Thing" Award: Tim Eagan. (Source.)

Try as I might, I can't unsee Ann Telnaes's mashup of the week in Trump and the week in Rio.

Mark Fiore has an update for people who never made it farther than Rio or Trump's brain this week.

Tom Tomorrow presents Peter Thiel's Modest Proposal.

Keith Knight looks at the world back in Clint's day.

Carol Lay looks at those magic words: You must need something.

Red Meat's Old Cowboy takes the ride.

Comic Strip of the Day meditates on (among other things) the takeaway from the self-described "survivor's tale" Maus. Like many other readers, my introduction to graphic novels was through that book. (By coincidence, at the beginning of the summer I finally got around to reading – and thoroughly enjoying – Jeff Smith's Bone.)

Road runners can't read! A friend reposted this video of three bear cubs playing on a hammock on Facebook this morning. I told her it felt like discovering a lost Chuck Jones "Road Runner" cartoon: It's got nature. It's got a very simple concept. It's got perfect timing. It's got single-minded pursuit of a goal. It's got about a dozen increasingly-baroque variations on failure. No matter how many times they hit the ground, they're back up, apparently having learned nothing except to redouble their efforts. Then comes the final moment, when they think they've finally got it, but . . . In fact, all it needs is a caption, perhaps: "Bear (Hammockii Obsessivus)." In honor of those cubs and their wild ride, here's the very first Road Runner cartoon, "Fast and Furry-ous," directed by Jones in 1949 from a story by Michael Maltese. (Attentive readers may note that, in this premiere effort, Jones does briefly violate Rule #5 of the Road Runner / Coyote discipline to make the boomerang gag work. But it's about the only such instance I can recall. Sentence reduced to time served.) Watch "Fast and Furry-ous" at DailyMotion.

The Totally Classy Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman looks for the position of the next gunman.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen pays tribute to a chickenshit euphemism run amok.

Matt Bors has grave concerns about the next 85 days. Grave. Concerns.

Jesse Springer wonders if the fact that both timber trade groups and environmental organizations are filing lawsuits against the BLM's latest timber management plan for Western Oregon, means the two sides have finally found common ground and decides, on balance, no.

Test your toon-captioning mojo at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A quantum of umbrage: There is no line

People immediately jumped on Trump's shout-out to "the Second Amendment people" on Tuesday. DailyKos and Charlie Pierce were among the first out of the gate, but only by a whisker.

Both pieces took the same tack – and many more did the same over the next 24 hours:

This time he has finally crossed the line! This one is definitely, absolutely It. You thought it was bad when he did [insert your favorite list of Trump's insults, fabrications, demonstrations of ignorance, etc.]? Well, he's not going to skate through through this time.

Folks, I've got news for you. There is no line. Not any more.

I was going to respond yesterday, but I decided that Trump merely hinting that someone might want to assassinate Clinton is "dog bites man" territory. True, the dog's a little bigger than usual this time, but that's about the only difference. I waited, because the story is the reaction Trump's outburst gets – or doesn't get – from the sources of his political oxygen.

Maybe you could shut Trump down if top Republicans put an end to their mealy-mouthed "I wish he hadn't said that, but if you insist on knowing, I'm not withdrawing my support" bullshit. But that's not going to happen. The GOP at the national level only wants power; they don't want to have to actually work using it with a Democratic president, and it's been that way since 1992.

It might cramp Trump's style a little if the political media could resist showering him with more attention, but I honestly don't know how that could be accomplished at this point. Apart from the fundamental click-baityness of his campaign that makes him an ad-buyer's dream come true, there's the plain fact that, horrific as this sounds, he is the presidential nominee of one of the only two national political parties we allow ourselves to have. I see that some media outlets are slowly moving, like Tevye the Dairyman, to the realization that this time there may not be an "other hand" no matter how sweetly Both-Siderism calls to them. Can they do enough, and can they do it in time? I doubt it. (And, of course, any coverage that Trump doesn't like would stoke his narrative that the election was "rigged" against him.)

And the thought that his base might ever have second thoughts about him is preposterous – most Trump voters are still waiting for their first thought. The notion that their boy would put out a hit on the Hated Hillary would delight them – they're already at "jail the bitch," so "shoot the bitch" really isn't much more than a tap-in.

And really, what is the "line" we're talking about here except the accumulation of the unwritten rules such as that you don't "Willie Horton" your opponent? That you don't deny the legitimacy of an elected president simply because he (or she) is from the other party? That you don't invest millions in public and private money to disgrace or discredit him? That you don't call him a liar during the State of the Union address? That you don't conspire with foreign leaders just because you don't like the President's policies? That you don't shut down the government for temporary political advantage?

If that's what we mean by the line – and I think it is – the point is not that we have crossed it. The point is that, thanks to a generation of political nihilists who run one of our two national political parties, we really can't cross it because the line no longer exists.

I see one of two scenarios playing out over the next three months. Neither is good. One is that Trump, being bored with the game or secretly fearing he won't be able to spin his defeat as a victory, will continue to raise the stakes with things like yesterday's outburst, and probably making demands of the Commission on Presidential Debates that he knows they won't agree to, and then – claiming that he'd accomplished everything he set out to do anyway – he'd pull off the ticket. That would be a political crisis – it would expose the power vacuum at the top levels of the GOP, and it would make Clinton's victory certain but its meaning ambiguous at best.

The other scenario is that he stays in the race (more outbursts, more feuding with the CPD, etc. – that's just a given), then loses to Clinton, probably by a substantial electoral margin and perhaps a substantial popular margin too. At that point he holds a press conference to announce – based on evidence that is unconvincing, assuming it's even provided – that the election has been stolen. At that point it's not a political crisis any more; it's a constitutional one. I remember the 2000 end game far too well to place much trust in our institutional ability to navigate our way out of that one. (And I suspect it's already occurred to many #nevertrumpers that this would finally put them back on familiar territory: Doing their level best to hamstring a Clinton presidency. Good times.)

Maybe I'll feel better as November nears, and in any case I'm going to vote, but that's how it looks to me at the moment: There is no line, ladies and gentlemen. There's just more and more of the same until something blows up.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday morning toons: Trump hasn't gone "off-message" – that is the message

Inviting Russian Intelligence to hack Hillary's email? Gold Star families? Joking about always having wanted a Purple Heart? Having mothers and their crying babies ejected from events? Those, as avant garde filmmakers used to say, are not mistakes; those are choices. (The bit about his wife possibly having violated immigration law when she first began working in the US as a model – that feels like a well-timed oppo research dump. The rest is Pure Trump.)

It's like an old Scholastic's riddle: Trump is so easily baited that he can't keep his mouth shut (or his thumbs off of Twitter) for even a full day at a time, and yet ever since he mocked John McCain's years at the Hanoi Hilton last winter, it's become clear that there's nothing he can say that will finally be too much for his base. So is there a point where the irresistable force of his yuge mouth finally meets the immovable object of some (so far theoretical) "at long last, sir, have you no decency?" boundary? I really don't know anymore.

One thing's for certain: He won't withdraw his name from the GOP ticket just because the party elites want him to. That's the way to make certain that he will never, ever quit.

I still think that, if he actually does bail before the election, it will be because he's somehow sensed he's about to lose. It's hard to believe him thinking that about himself, but it's also hard to tell how much of his bragging he actually believes. Instead, I stand by my prediction from early July: He'd claim that, simply by getting the nomination, he's made his point and accomplished what he set out to do and so there's no need to bother with the formality of a general election. And in fact, taking on the duties of the President of the United States would be a step down from simply being his awesome, classy self. (He said as much when he floated to Kasich the idea that, as VP, he could run the country while Trump focused on "making America great again.")

Or perhaps, as some observers claim, his insistence this week that the election is being "rigged" against him is simply Trump's way of covering his bets by mainstreaming a story that will make his loss in the general everyone's fault but his, which is the Broadway and 42nd Street of his comfort zone.

Of course, even in the wildly unlikely event that Trump were to drop out of the race, who would the Republican National Committee select to take his place on the ticket? One of the two dozen also-rans from this spring's GOP primaries, whose clock Trump so thoroughly cleaned? Mitt Romney? Ted "Last Candidate Standing" Cruz? Someone untested (and hence, unvetted)?

Today's toons were selected by the 168 members of the Republican National committee from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Matt Davies.

p3 Legion of Merit: Steve Breen.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Steve Benson.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 1): Robert Ariail and Darrin Bell.

p3 Certificte of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 2): Kim Warp and Nate Beeler. (Honorable mention: Clay Bennett.)
*This piece by Mike Luckovich is also awarded the coveted Driftglass Legacy Award.

Ann Telnaes watches in awe as the Republicans stand by their man. You know what they say: Give a party enough necktie, and . . .

Mark Fiore promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this video about Trump's sacrifices – although be warned: the phrase "cleavage doesn't grow on trees, you know" does appear.

Tom Tomorrow identifies a recurrent (and quite persuasive) theme at the DNC – and also brings the first of an unlikely Bill O'Reilly trifecta of appearances in this week's p3 toon review.

Keith Knight serves up the second of three Bill O'Reilly-themed pieces this week (Matt Bors, below, is the third). BO really is a jerk, and it's never amiss to be reminded of it.

Although I vowed I wasn't going to go down the "Manchurian Candidate" road, Reuben Bolling does end up pretty much the same place I was headed, and he manages to make the Useful Idiot even more idiotic, which is no small achievement.

Carol Lay gives new life to "happily ever after."

Red Meat's Bug-Eyed Earl greets the day.

Although I like the art on a particular Jim Morin piece this week – I think he gives great elephant – Comic Strip of the Day does a more thorough job than I would have of explaining why idn't make the particular cut here at p3 although indirectly, of course, it did.

The Comic Curmudgeon brings up an interesting point: Ever since high school in the early 1960s, the output of Peter Parker's photojournalism "career" has consisted of selfies.

Vitaliky is Personaliky! I don't think I could find a better summary of "Vim, Vigor, and Vitaliky," directed in majestic monochrome by Dave Fleischer in 1936, than this log line from IMDB: "Popeye is running a women's gymnasium next door to Bluto's cabaret; seeing Popeye's greater success with women, he dresses in drag and challenges Popeye to various feats of strength," although that stops far short of capturing the essential weirdness of the piece. I thought it was weird when I was a kid, and I think so today. (Seven years later, Popeye got dressing-in-drag revenge on Bluto, in "Too Week to Work." If you're good, I'll dig it up for next week. Uncredited work by Jack Mercer (Popeye), Mae Questel (The Slender One), Gus Wickie (Bluto), and Sammy Timberg (musical director).

The Exalted Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman watches as one of our nation's highest awards is bestowed.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen has her moment of reckoning at the DNC.

Matt Bors celebrates a blessed birth.

Jesse Springer isn't in love with a corporate tax increase to protect Oregon's public retirement system.

Test your toon-captioning kung fu at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A quantum of umbrage: Dog Bites Trump

Well, the lede certainly got buried on this story:
There wasn't enough room for all the ticket holders at Friday's rally for Donald Trump at UCCS, who called out the fire marshal several times during his speech.

11 News spoke to Brett Lacey, who said the problem was with the event. He said organizers handed out too many tickets and there wasn't enough space in the auditorium for that many people.

"Now because of your fire marshal, who I am not a fan of, he's probably a Democrat, probably a guy than doesn't get it, I'm going to go into the other room and say hello to people that didn't get your location," Donald Trump said at the end of Friday's speech.

At one point, Trump's campaign tried to bring more people in, but police had to turn them away.
Ho hum. Trump was uncivil to someone who was simply doing his (important) job – and who demonstrably knows more about doing his job than Trump does? That's dog-bites-man territory, people.

But then, the next day, the rest of the story dropped:
Also on Saturday, the Colorado Springs Fire Department confirmed that the reason Trump’s event started late was because he got stuck in a hotel elevator and had to be rescued by Colorado Springs firefighters.

The fire department said in a statement that Trump was trapped inside an elevator at The Mining Exchange Hotel with about 10 other people. Fire officials said Monday those inside were trapped for no more than 15 minutes.

Firefighters opened the top elevator hatch and lowered a ladder to get everyone out of the elevator.
Again, this got treated as simply an extra layer of Trump-being-Trump: You thought he was being a jerk when he did that? Well, wait until you hear what else he did! Orange sprinkles on top of the orange icing on the orange cupcake of boorishness that is the GOP nominee.

But here's the point everyone missed:They had him trapped in an elevator between floors, they were presumably the only ones who knew he was there – and they let him out! What were they thinking?

People, repeat after me: "Uhm, that rescue call? Oh, that turned out to be a false alarm. I think we saw Mr. Trump get into a limo a couple of minutes ago. Yeah. Pretty sure."

Mr. Trump may have no good reason to be upset with the local fire department, but I'm beginning to think the rest of us might. True, it means his Secret Service detail, who were also stuck in the elevator, would have to take one for the team, but they're trained to accept that possibility.