The Week’s Best Cartoons 7/23

It seems that these days the political cartoons are darker … but then, so is our political environment, so I suppose it’s natural.  At any rate, once again TokyoSand has culled some of the best from this past week … a week in which there was plenty of material, from the Secret Service supposedly erasing their text messages from January 5th and 6th, to Steve Bannon being found guilty of ‘Contempt of Congress’, to Thursday’s January 6th committee hearing that revealed much, although the cartoonists, understandably, seized on Josh ‘yellow-belly’ Hawley’s frantic escape!  Be sure to click the link at the bottom to see the rest of the ‘toons!  Thank you, TS, for gathering the cream of the crop for us every week!


Click here to see ALL the ‘toons!!!

♫ What A Wonderful World ♫ (Redux)

I think right about now there are a lot of us who are feeling discouraged about many things, maybe even the future of life on planet Earth.  I know I’ve been in a royal funk for a couple of days now, unable to write or do much of anything, so I thought maybe it was time for a song with a genuinely upbeat spin, and who better to do that than the immortal Louis Armstrong?  I last played this one in June 2020 … just over 2 years ago.


I was probably around ten years old when I saw Louis Armstrong in person.  I remember being agog at how big he could make his cheeks when playing the trumpet!  I also fell in love with his gravelly voice and the look of kindness in his eyes.  Ever since, I have been a Louis Armstrong fan.

I just finished writing a post about the slaughter of beautiful animals, and was feeling the need for a song about appreciating the beauty around us.  This song is just that.

Although Louis Armstrong was mainly a jazz musician, this song is the one most often associated with him.  Though it was first released in 1967, it didn’t become a hit in the U.S. until 20 years later when it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam.  However, it went to #1 in the UK.

The song was written by Bob Thiele (as “George Douglas”) and George David Weiss, both of whom were prominent in the music world (Thiele as a producer and Weiss as a composer/performer).  Armstrong’s recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

What a Wonderful World
Louis Daniel Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele
What a Wonderful World lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Concord Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc

We need to treat climate change as the emergency it is

The past few weeks have brought record high temperatures around the globe. We here in the U.S. are lucky, for most homes are air-conditioned, but in the UK, air-conditioning has always been considered an unnecessary luxury, since it is typically almost never hot there. But a few days ago, it reached 104° F (40° C) in the UK. And yet, people still call climate change a hoax. Our friend Pendantry shows us a picture that says it all. Few words, only an image, one that should stay in everybody’s mind. Thank you, Pendantry.

Wibble

Global heat map comparison, 1976 and 2022

There are still far too many in denial of reality.

I’ve said it all before. I’m tired of being told I’m an ‘alarmist’.

‘Enjoy’ the heatwave, folks. And remember, from here on it only gets ‘better’.

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Rose Tinted Glasses Please.

Our dear friend David has written an uplifting piece today that is a perfect accompaniment for this morning’s ‘good people’ post. If everyone took the advice he offers here, the world would be a much nicer place. Thank you, David … and you just keep those hugs coming, okay? 🤗

The BUTHIDARS

During the 1960’s I was young and no doubt naïve and yet many of the people I came into contact with seemed to feel the same way. There was a feeling of great hope for our world and what it could become. My hopes diminished a bit as I saw new politicians voted into, place only to become the politicians they replaced. Is the system geared up to ensure meaningful change could not be possible?

I’ve often been accused of viewing the World through rose tinted glasses. I’m not going to make excuses for this since my view is nicer than most, I was very much against apartheid and gave support when I could. What a delight when Nelson Mandela came to the stage. What an exceptional man who could forgive those who imprisoned him and move on to create a great Nation while still talking of Love for his…

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Celebrating The #MandelaDay 2022

A while back, our friend Roger introduced me to a new blog, one that is focused on human rights issues around the world. The writer, Saadia Haq, writes today about an important day to remember and reminds us why Nelson Mandela deserves a day dedicated to him! Thank you, Saadia, for this very timely reminder!

The Human Lens

In 2009, United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/64/13 which marks July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day. It was a result of his noteworthy contribution to peace and culture as coincides with his birth anniversary.

The UN resolution underlines the importance of the principles propagated by Mandela in his struggle to bring democracy to South Africa.

The resolution, according to the UN, also acknowledges the contribution of the former South African President in “conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty and the promotion of social justice”.

On the occasion of this year’s celebration the Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, said, “His mission as an anti-apartheid revolutionary was establishing equality and freedom for all women, men and children. He stood for the fundamental rights of all human beings, regardless of…

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Top of mind issues that aren’t

Our friend Keith reminds us that amidst all the political bickering and the corporate game-playing focused only on profits, there is one issue that has far more relevance in the long-term. If we fail to take care of and to repair our environment, it won’t matter who wins elections or how much money corporate CEOs have, for the human species won’t survive. All the money and power in the world are irrelevant as compared to potable water, breathable air, and safe food. Thank you, Keith, for reminding us of the most important issue facing us today … we sometimes get so wrapped up in other things that we forget or push it aside, rather like Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone with the Wind’ saying, “Oh, I won’t think about it today … I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

musingsofanoldfart

Issues that need to be top of mind aren’t being discussed because we would rather talk about more exaggerated and contrived issues.

The global water crisis lives here, especially in drought prone areas like the Southwest United States, which is running dangerously low on water. Climate change only makes matters worse. And, this is even before we speak of the lead water pipe structures which have their own set of toxic issues as in Flint, Michigan.

Miami is the most at risk city in the world for encroaching sea levels due to climate change, but the governor calls more dramatic solutions liberal based ideas. Miami has built right to the coast and the limestone guarding the largest aquifer is porous. The fact the number of sunny days flooding has increased with sea water coming up through the street drains in Miami Beach should give people pause. Call me crazy, but…

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Filosofa Is Grrrrrrrrrrrrowling!

When I heard yesterday of so-called Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s betrayal, I growled and damn near threw something (but, I’d just have to clean up the mess, so I held back).  Once again, Manchin seems to be the fly in the ointment, seems for all intents and purposes to be against the people of this nation, and in this case, against the entire human species!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  It has led me to the idea for tomorrow’s music ♫ post – anybody have any guesses? (Hint:  think O’Jays)  Anyway, Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has a good take on the topic of Manchin’s perfidy, so let’s hear what he has to say …


The hidden absurdities behind Joe Manchin’s ugly new reversal

By Greg Sargent

Columnist

July 15, 2022

This will surprise only people who haven’t paid even cursory attention to the last year of Democratic politics, but Sen. Joe Manchin III may have just killed any hopes for a resuscitated version of the Democratic agenda.

The West Virginia Democrat reportedly told party leaders late Thursday that he won’t support any new incentives to combat climate change or any new tax hikes on corporations or the wealthy. The Post reports that in private talks, Manchin appeared close to a deal, only to renege at the last minute.

Yet as ludicrous as this turnaround is on its face, there are still more hidden absurdities behind the situation that show what a farce it has truly become. They turn on the specifics of what Manchin appeared to reject, and his inflation-related excuse for doing so, which amount to a display of towering bad faith.

First, a caveat: After those stories broke, Manchin claimed on Friday that he’s still open to a deal and wants to see July’s inflation numbers before deciding. So perhaps he just doesn’t want to act quite yet. But given all we’ve seen, let’s inaugurate the Manchin Rule: Until the senator actually shows he’s operating in good faith, we’ll presume otherwise.

The deal would have raised around $1 trillion in revenue from rolling back some of the 2017 GOP tax cuts. Half of that revenue would have gone to deficit reduction, and the other half would have gone mostly to funding the transition to green energy.

Also in the mix were provisions empowering Medicare to negotiate down prescription drug prices, which would produce substantial savings. Those could be used to continue funding expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies, which are set to expire after originally passing in last year’s covid-19 rescue package.

But Manchin has rejected the tax hikes and the climate provisions. For now, he is open only to some kind of deal in which savings from the prescription drugs provisions fund expanded ACA subsidies.

By the way, the subsidies highlight another problem with Manchin’s position. Even if he does just want to delay another month, extending the subsidies this month is critical, because states will soon have to assume they’ll expire and send out notices of premium increases.

Regardless, how Manchin reached this point is hard to discern. As The Post reports, he has long supported tax reforms such as those being debated, yet he seemingly backed away from them, including a measure to close a loophole enjoyed by the very wealthy to sustain Medicare.

What’s more, Manchin is still reportedly telling people he wants to secure a few hundred billion dollars in deficit reduction. How he would do this without raising high-end taxes is unclear.

It gets worse. A Democrat briefed on the conversations says Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sought to meet Manchin’s concerns about the climate provisions head-on.

This included reducing spending on green energy tax incentives to $375 billion, the Democrat says. It also included nixing incentives for electric vehicles, which Manchin had objected to as well.

And a Democratic aide tells me much of the legislative text on green tax incentives had been written, and haggling was down to minor points. Manchin’s turnaround floored those working on that text, given what had been happening only hours earlier.

A sympathetic reading of Manchin’s motives goes like this. As someone who represents a state that’s both deep red and relies on fossil fuels, he has understandably sought a balance. He’s open to the government facilitating innovation that aids the transition to green energy, but only if it does not inflict damage too quickly on the traditional energy sector or the people reliant on it.

But even so, the dropping of incentives for electric vehicles represents a big concession toward his values. After all, a transition away from gas-powered vehicles is an essential piece of cutting emissions at the pace necessary to minimize long-term risk.

Indeed, the package of climate incentives that still remains plainly falls within the parameters of the balanced approach he wants. That is, if Manchin — who has personally grown rich off the coal industry — means what he says.

Nor does Manchin’s own explanation make much sense. His spokesperson insists we must “adjust to the economic realities the country faces” and avoid “steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

But climate change is also a reality, and without something like this agenda, it may be impossible to come close to hitting climate targets scientists say are necessary to avoid disaster.

And how much would the package offered to Manchin actually increase inflation? Economist Dean Baker notes that half would go to deficit reduction, which Manchin wants, and the nixing of incentives for electrical vehicles removes another spending piece.

What’s more, Baker says, spending on ACA subsidies would be offset by less spending on prescription drugs. “It’s basically impossible to see how that would be inflationary,” Baker tells me.

Manchin is free to disagree with that, but he hasn’t offered a serious case that something like this package would disastrously fuel inflation. Nor has he meaningfully explained why whatever inflation it would allegedly produce is worse for the country than the climate future he’s consigning us to.

Instead, he’s betting the word “inflation” will simply turn off our critical faculties. We shouldn’t let that happen. The absurdities behind his position should be mercilessly exposed.

The death of honeybees and the Precautionary Principle – a needed reprise

Bees. Without them, the human species cannot survive. Period. Please take a moment to read what Keith is telling us about the bee population and how it is being diminished by the greed of the wealthy, If this doesn’t scare you, it should! Thank you, Keith, for a timely and crucial post.

musingsofanoldfart

In my last post on the existence of glyphosate in the urine of 80% of the random tested individuals, I mentioned the Precautionary Principle. A huge part of these stories on chemicals being found within us is a long time cover up by their makers, whether it be Round-up, Teflon, or some other product, that these chemicals are harmful to people. It reminded me of a story on the impact of neonicotinoids on honeybees, a major pollinator I wrote in 2013. Here it is.

There was a story by Michael Vines of the New York Times this weekend entitled “Soaring honeybee deaths renew alarm.” I first learned of this story about a year ago on “Real Time with Bill Maher” regarding the major decline in honeybee populations. Apparently since 2005, there has been a major colony collapse epidemic where beekeepers are losing 40% to 50% of their bee populations. For some the…

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Similar, But With Critical Differences

I have often noted the similarities between Boris Johnson of the UK and Donald Trump, starting with the creepy things each wear upon their heads, the mysterious way in which each has garnered an almost cultist following, the way each seems to think their office is created for their own personal gain, and more.  In all my comparisons, though, I have felt that Johnson was the less dangerous of the two, that he lacked the utter cruelty and vileness of Trump.  And now, I have been proven right.  While Trump has spent more than two years railing that his defeat was illegitimate, calling for violence by his followers, throwing the nation under the bus, and is by all accounts planning further demolition by throwing his hat in the ring yet again in 2024, Johnson did finally resign.  Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post takes the comparison further, looking at the difference in the systems as well as the two players.


Tories awaken to the cost of being led by an entertainer. The GOP still hasn’t.

Max Boot, Columnist

July 8, 2022

Every stage of Boris Johnson’s political progression has been utterly ludicrous and farcical — and that extended to his downfall, or “clownfall,” as the Economist dubbed it. Suddenly, in the past few days, there was a mass exodus from the British government among cabinet ministers who professed themselves to be shocked by the prime minister’s duplicity. “A decent and responsible Government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect,” thundered Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in his letter of resignation.

Well, yes. But it’s hardly news that Johnson possesses none of those qualities. Dishonesty wasn’t a bug in the BoJo operating system, it was the system itself. “People have known that Boris Johnson lies for 30 years,” says Rory Stewart, a former Conservative member of Parliament. “He’s probably the best liar we’ve ever had as a prime minister.”

In this respect, Johnson was very much like former president Donald Trump. The difference, of course, is that while Trump continues to exercise an inexplicable hold on his political party, Johnson’s grip has finally been broken. The questions are: How could Conservatives have ignored for so long what was so blindingly obvious? And how can Republicans still stay in denial?

Until this week, the Conservative Party chose to overlook Johnson’s pathological mendacity because he was so popular. The secret of his popularity was that he was terrifically entertaining. Like a certain orange-tinted former U.S. president, he did not present as a normal politician. He made a virtue of his lack of seriousness to make it seem as if he was just a regular bloke despite his posh background. He bumbled his way to the top.

But the joke wore thin when Johnson actually had to govern. He promised to miraculously make Britain stronger and wealthier by exiting the European Union; he’s achieved just the opposite. Johnson’s management of the covid pandemic was no more successful. A House of Commons committee found that Johnson “made a serious early error” by flirting with the crackpot theory that allowing people to be infected would lead to “herd immunity.” The result was “many thousands” of avoidable deaths.

Eventually, Johnson instituted a strict lockdown, but he failed to abide by it. The result was the “Partygate” scandal, as evidence emerged of Johnson and his aides illegally partying at 10 Downing Street. Johnson was finally felled by one scandal too many. His chief deputy whip, Chris Pincher (a name straight out of Dickens), had to resign after being caught groping men in a bar. Johnson professed shock, until it emerged that he had been informed of similar misbehavior in the past when he had brought Pincher into the Foreign Office.

The lessons of Johnson’s rise and fall are simple and old-fashioned: Don’t treat politics as a branch of the entertainment industry; it’s too serious for that. Knowledge and competence are important in leaders; their lack is not a virtue. And character counts above all: Someone who can’t be trusted to tell the truth can’t be trusted to govern. It’s staggering that it’s taken the Tories this long to accept those basic home truths.

What’s even more staggering is that Republicans in the United States still have not, even though Trump’s political sins are far more serious. Johnson did not, after all, incite a mob to ransack Parliament in order to stay in power. His offenses are political misdemeanors compared to Trump’s major felonies.

Why, then, is the BoJo show closing while the Trump show rolls on? In part it’s because British politics is less populist and Tories are less radicalized than Republicans; there are Murdoch-owned newspapers but no Fox “News” Channel in the U.K. It’s also because British political parties are more powerful. While Tory parliamentarians don’t choose their leader, they do winnow the field down to two candidates for a vote by the party rank and file. Even if the winner becomes prime minister, that person can be, and often is, toppled by colleagues in the cabinet and the House of Commons.

If the United States had a similar system, with the Republican establishment in control of the primaries, the likely GOP nominee in 2016 would have been Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump. And if it were routine for Congress and the Cabinet to evict underperforming presidents, Trump might not have lasted long in office.

But our political parties are too weak and our standards for evicting an incumbent are too high: The president has to commit either “high crimes and misdemeanors” or be unable to discharge “the duties of his office.” Of course, Trump did commit high crimes and he was unable to discharge his duties. But Republicans feared the wrath of their rabid base if they were to make him the first president ever removed under either the Constitution’s impeachment clause or the 25th Amendment. (Richard M. Nixon resigned before being impeached.)

Now, despite everything, Trump could still make a comeback, because he retains a Svengali-like hold on the Republican base. It’s a tribute to the British political system that Boris Johnson is finally being removed from office, and a terrible indictment of the U.S. political system that Trump — who has done far worse — could still return to it.

Shinzo

Clay Jones lends his thoughts to the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. Last year, Japan had one gun death … the U.S. had over 45,000. Pay particular attention to the 12 steps a Japanese citizen must go through in order to qualify to own a gun. Japan actually HAS requirements, testing, mental health evaluations and all the things that could save so many lives if only the U.S. weren’t a third-world, gun crazy nation!

claytoonz

Japan is in shock over the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He was a towering figure in the nation having served as Prime Minister twice, stepping down both times for health reasons. He was shot while campaigning for the Liberal Democratic Party, which is actually the conservative party of Japan that consists of right-wing nationalists. Abe was the longest-serving Prime Minister in post-war history.

The nation isn’t just shocked over the assassination, which many are comparing to the assassination of JFK, but that he was murdered with a gun in broad daylight and that the shooter was able to get so close to him.

Japan has strict gun control laws and shootings are rare. Japan doesn’t have a gun-worshiping culture as we do here in the United States. Even the Yakuza, Japan’s mafia, refrains from using guns. Just one person was killed by gun violence in Japan in…

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