Open Thread and Link Farm, Pie In A Mirror Edition


  1. The case for having the federal government guarantee a job for every9oe who wants one – Democracy Journal
    I’m worried about unintentional effects if this were to happen, but I’m also intrigued by the idea.
  2. One of the “Death Panels” Republicans talk about.
    End-of-life counseling is a good thing.
  3. What’s in a name? More than we can imagine – Media Diversified
    “The truth is, I only became Millie less than a year ago. Before that, I had a Sikh Punjabi first name.”
  4. The Conservative Christian Boycott of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Is the Height of Hypocrisy
  5. In Trump’s ‘Maternity Leave’ Plan, The Devil — and the Stereotypes — Are In the Details | American Civil Liberties Union
    Unmarried women are excluded. So are fathers.
  6. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case, But Justice Thomas Questions Constitutionality Of Asset Forfeiture
    One of those rare cases when I’m rooting for Justice Thomas to prevail.
  7. House GOP would let employers demand workers’ genetic test results
  8. After decades in America, the newly deported return to a Mexico they barely recognize – The Washington Post
  9. Trump’s Childcare Plan Will Only Help the Rich | The Nation
  10. The boycott against Beauty and the Beast is about much more than the movie – Vox
    In terms of the business the movie will do, or the audience’s access, it’s meaningless. But it is a chance for one or both sides to make a public display of their principles.
  11. Former Colorado GOP chairman Steven Curtis charged with voter fraud – 7NEWS Denver
    Last year, he said this: “It seems to be, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.” Incidentally, Curtis’ alleged voter fraud was committed with an absentee ballot (he’s accused of forging his wife’s ballot), so voter ID laws would do nothing in a case like this.
  12. The prison business is booming in rural America and there’s no end – Business Insider
  13. Payment Processors are Still Policing Your Sex Life, and the Latest Victim is FetLife | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  14. The new hysteria over campus speech – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  15. Charles Murray and the Problem With ‘Hiring Out’ to Understand the White Working Class – The Atlantic
  16. Marriage Equality = Fewer Adolescents Killing Themselves. Some Implications: | And Taking It Personally
  17. The FDA Has Revolutionized Drug Approvals Over the Past Decade | Mother Jones
    Approval wait times for new drugs may now be as low as we could reasonably want them to be.
  18. It’s Not Just Uber | Jacobin
    Sexism is not a solved problem.
  19. Dartmouth researchers find no evidence of bused-in voters
    Yet another lie about large-scale voting fraud that will be leveraged to justify voter suppression. Wheeee!
  20. Report: Trump transition ordered government economists to cook up rosy growth forecasts – Vox
  21. Seven Troubling Questions About Transgender Theories, Answered | Thing of Things
    Ozy answers some evangelical right concern-trolling.
  22. A Conservative Wisconsin Legislator Models Political Correctness – The Atlantic
    Conor’s framing creates a false equivalence; legislators acting this way are a far greater threat to free speech than campus protesters are. But I guess we should be grateful that he was actually willing to criticize a threat to free speech from the right.
  23. The Debate Link: Personal Responsibility and the Infantilization of the American Right
    This is an older post, but it’s spot-on, and Trump’s ridiculous claim that the Democrats are to blame for the AHCA’s Hindenburg moment has brought it to my mind again.
  24. Paper Cutouts by ‘Paperboyo’ Transform World Landmarks into Quirky Scenes | Colossal


Posted in Link farms | 22 Comments  

Health Care Policy, Controlling Costs, And Not Admitting What You Want


The AHCA, also know as “repeal and replace,” has suffered an embarrassing defeat, and that makes me happy. It’s looking likely that Obamacare is going to survive. For now.

The Republicans are in an interesting position. Most conservative intellectuals seem to think that the goal should be to keep health-care costs down, and to that end, the government shouldn’t be involved beyond trying to make sure everyone has access to low-cost catastrophic care insurance. In their view, it’s good for ordinary health-care expenses to be paid directly by consumers, because otherwise consumers won’t have any incentive to negotiate or shop around for better values, and health care costs inevitably rise.

Liberals, on the other hand, mostly believe that the way to keep health care costs down is through government price controls. These can be “hard” price controls, like some other countries have, in which the government simply tells medical care providers what they can charge. Or it can be the “soft” price controls of a superbuyer – if a government organization (like Medicaid or Medicare) is bvuying health care for millions of Americans, it can use that position of power to negotiate much better prices than consumers can on their own.

What’s interesting is that both parties have incentives to not admit what they want to the public. Republican complaints about the ACA include high co-pays and deductibles – but actually, in their view, having people pay a lot for non-catastrophic medical care is a good thing.

Similarly, very few elected Democrats will talk about “price controls,” because that sounds scary and communist and such, plus they don’t want to piss of the doctors.

Of course, I’m not saying both parties are equally bad – on health care, the GOP is clearly much, much worse. But it’s still an interesting parallel: Neither party dares admit to their voters what price-control policies they actually want.

Anyway, feel free to use this thread for all ACA and AHCA related discussion.

Posted in Health Care and Related Issues | 53 Comments  

Cartoon: Who We Call Racist


Please support these cartoons at Patreon.

One thing that continually bugs me is the “racists are unicorns” view, which I hear usually but not exclusively from the right. Basically, in this view, almost no one is racist, and no act is racist. Sure, KKK members are racist, but nothing else – not vote suppression, not claming a judge is biased “becuase he’s a mexican,” not the racial wage gap – can be called racism. Because naming racism is considered worse than racism itself.

Artwise, this is one of the cartoons I did with superdistorted figures – huge heads, tiny everything else. It’s always a fun challenge to try and make these anatomically impossible people work out well. I also decided that the mentor character should keep his nose held high, high in the air in all four panels.


Panel 1
An older white man in a three-piece suit is lecturing to a younger white man wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a tie. We can see that they are indoors; there’s a window with curtains behind them. Throughout this cartoon, the older man has his head lifted veryhigh (i.e., “nose in the air”).

OLDER MAN: Liberals call anything they disagree with “racist.” But we Republicans are more serious.

Panel 2
The older man continues lecturing, holding out one hand in a “stop” or “slow down” gesture.
OLDER MAN: Racism is a serious accusation. Before calling anyone “racist,” we always ask, “is racial animus the only possible motive here?”

Panel 3
A close-up on the older man, who is now looking positively indignant.
OLDER MAN: And we NEVER call our enemies “racist” just to score a cheap political point!

Panel 4
The younger man asks a question; the older man looks pleased with himself as he answers.
YOUNGER MAN: Wow. So is there ANYONE we DO call ra-
OLDER MAN: “Black Lives Matter.”

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues, Racism | 125 Comments  

Cartoon: Treadmill


If you like these cartoons, please support my Patreon!


Panel 1
A toddler runs on a full-sized treadmill, carrying a teddy bear in one hand. A woman in a tight black dress squats, smiling, to address the toddler.
WOMAN: A teddy bear? You need better toys! Or else the other kids won’t like you!

Panel 2
The same scene, but the toddler is now a child, and no longer holding a teddy bear. The woman, who is now standing and facing away from the child with a dismissive air, has not aged.
WOMAN: If you don’t have cool clothes and a cool phone, then you’re a loser!

Panel 3
Same scene. The runner is now a young woman. The other woman exhorts the runner on.
WOMAN: You’ve got a mountain of college debt! Run! RUN!

Panel 4
The runner is now a bit older – 40s? – and a desk has been set up on the treadmill, with a laptop. The woman types on the laptop with one hand; her other arm is holding an infant. The woman has gotten more intense, waving her arms and yelling.
WOMAN: Your kid is DOOMED if you don’t get a big house near a good school!

Panel 5
The runner is now considerably older, her hair turning white. She’s running hard, sweating, both hands typing on the laptop.
WOMAN: Now pay for a decent college, or your kid will be POOR her whole life!

Panel 6
The runner, now older still, has collapsed and lies dead on the treadmill. The woman in the black dress leans over the treadmill, cheerily addressing the corpse.
WOMAN: You should invest in the deluxe casket.

Posted in Capitalism, Cartooning & comics, Class, poverty, labor, & related issues, Economics and the like | 4 Comments  

Christian Teen-Torture Camps And Republican’s Reality-Denying Bubble


A new 20/20 report has put the issue of Christian teen-torture camps back in the news, but this has been going on for decades. From the Mother Jones report:

When another girl snitched, Roxy said, McNamara locked some girls in makeshift isolation cells, tiled closets without furniture or windows. Roxy got “the redshirt treatment”: For a solid week, 10 hours a day, she had to stand facing a wall, with breaks only for worship or twice-daily bathroom trips.

She was monitored day and night by two “buddies,” girls who’d been there awhile and knew the drill. They accompanied her to the shower and toilet, and introduced her to a life of communal isolation and rigid discipline. Girls were not allowed to converse except from 6 to 9 p.m. each Friday. They were not allowed contact with their families during their first month, or with anyone else for six months.

And that’s far from the most shocking treatment teens have received.

Although the people who run these camps are extremists, the reason the problem continues is that mainstream Republicans politicians protect the torture camps, and mainstream Republican voters do not object or pressure their politicians to change.

Congress has tried, and so far failed, to rein in the schools. In 2007, a spate of deaths at teen residential programs prompted a nationwide investigation by the Government Accountability Office. Its findings—which detailed the use of extended stress positions, days of seclusion, strenuous labor, denial of bathroom access, and deaths—came out in a series of dramatic congressional hearings over two years. The result was House Resolution 911 (PDF), which proposed giving residents access to child-abuse hotlines and creating a national database of programs that would document reports of abuse and keep tabs on abusive staff members.

Hephzibah House’s Ron Williams and Reclamation Ranch’s Jack Patterson urged supporters to fight the bill. In an open letter, Williams argued that it would “effectively close all Christian ministries helping troubled youth because of its onerous provisions.” They were joined by a group called the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, which opposed HR 911 on the grounds that states—despite all evidence to the contrary—are best situated to oversee the homes. The bill passed in the House, but stalled in a Senate committee.*

In March 2010, the House passed the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill that would have banned the use of seclusion and physical or chemical restraints by any school that benefits from federal education money. (It, too, died in the Senate.) Andy Kopsa, who covers abusive homes in her blog, Off the Record, noted that GOP members whose districts host tough-love schools rallied against the act.

House Resolution 911 passed with the votes of 231 Democrats and 64 Republicans. 1 Democrat and 101 Republicans voted against the bill. The Keeping All Students Safe Act was voted for by 238 Democrats and only 24 Republicans; 8 Democrats and 145 Republicans voted against the bill.

I think the problem here isn’t that ordinary conservatives favor torturing teens. Rather, it’s that the conservative leadership and media has spent decades teaching conservatives to assume that all criticism of conservatives are lies told by mainstream media, and that all evidence, no matter how strong, is a conspiracy used by liberal elites to keep down the poor oppressed Christians. The people who run these torture camps move from state to state, seeking out states like Texas and Mississippi, where Christians control the legislature and make sure that no regulations intended to protect teens from being tortured by Christians ever passes.

“It’s hard to understand it, but faith-based is just taboo for regulation,” says Matthew Franck, an editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who authored an investigative series on the state’s homes in the mid-2000s. “It took decades of work to get just the most minimal standards of regulation at faith-based child-care centers,” he adds. “I just knew that when certain lobbyists would stand up to say, ‘We have a concern about how this affects faith-based institutions,’ the bill was immediately amended—it was a very Republican legislature—or it would immediately die. That’s still true.” (Missouri isn’t alone. In April, Montana state Rep. Christy Clark, who campaigned on a “faith and family” platform, joined 11 other Republicans in scuttling a bill that would have regulated religious teen homes; a mother of three, she cast the homes’ residents as unreliable witnesses who “struggle with truthfulness.”)

This is the same anti-truth impulse that convinces conservatives that global warming is a myth, that Obama is a secret Muslim, and that elections are being stolen by undetectable illegal voters. They live inside a paranoid bubble that tells them that no evidence, no expert, no contrary worldview is ever to be trusted.

Things may be about to get worse. Briarwood Presbyterian Church is working with Alabama’s compliant conservative legislature to pass a law allowing them to create the country’s first Church-owned police force. If they succeed and other churches follow suit – I would think it’s unconstitutional, but with Trump selecting justices, who knows? – then Christian torture camps may face an even lower risk of interference by authorities.

Posted in Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues | 4 Comments  

On Wedding Cakes, Gay Weddings, And Free Speech

wedding cake

This is a reply to a comment left by MJJ on the Muslim Ban thread. I’m putting my response here, and hopefully further discussion of this issue will move to this thread.

I didn’t think Melissa’s cakes has gone bankrupt? They were fined $135,000, but they also received over $500,000 in donations to help them pay the fine, so if they really did go bankrupt it’s hard not to suspect that it wasn’t because of the fine.

Personally, I’m iffy about that case – both the size of the fine, and the ruling itself. But it’s a complex issue. IF we say that wedding cake makers can discriminate, how about grocers and hotels? How about doctors, pharmacists, and lawyers? Many of the same people arguing that Melissa’s Cakes should have been able to discriminate against a gay wedding say the same thing about city clerks – but it seems REALLY dubious to say that government employees should be able to pick and choose who to provide government services to.

This sort of discrimination has, in the past, been a cudgel for bigots to punish marginalized groups with, by making some basic necessities of life unavailable on the market to disfavored people. Everyone has a right to say and think whatever they want; but businesses the provide public accommodations (like selling to people) are more limited. What if the Kleins had refused to provide a cake for a wedding of two Asian customers – should that be legal, in your view?

Regarding two other arguments you made, I’m going to quote from the Judge’s ruling in the Colorado case. Regarding the idea that they weren’t discriminating against lgb people:

Respondents deny that they hold any animus toward homosexuals or gay couples, and would willingly provide other types of baked goods to Complainants or any other gay customer. On the other hand, Respondents would refuse to provide a wedding cake to a heterosexual customer if it was for a same-sex wedding. The ALJ rejects Respondents’ argument as a distinction without a difference.

The salient feature distinguishing same-sex weddings from heterosexual ones is the sexual orientation of its participants. Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not “because of” their sexual orientation.

And regarding the idea that baking a cake is an act of speech (which might therefore receive first amendment protection):

The undisputed evidence is that Phillips categorically refused to prepare a cake for Complainants’ same-sex wedding before there was any discussion about what the cake would look like. Phillips was not asked to apply any message or symbol to the cake, or to construct the cake in any fashion that could be reasonably understood as advocating same-sex marriage. After being refused, Complainants immediately left the shop. For all Phillips knew at the time, Complainants might have wanted a nondescript cake that would have been suitable for consumption at any wedding. Therefore, Respondents’ claim that they refused to provide a cake because it would convey a message supporting same-sex marriage is specious. The act of preparing a cake is simply not “speech” warranting First Amendment protection.

The same thing is true of Melissa Klein; she refuses to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, regardless of what message the cake conveys or what the content of the cake is. I don’t see how her speech is infringed by a generic wedding cake with no words or figures on it, for example. And if providing a generic good is an infringement on speech, then who else can claim that providing goods to a wedding is speech? The company that sells the aisle runner? The company that sells the disposable plates?

Posted in Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc., Same-Sex Marriage | 146 Comments  

Cartoon: Muslim Ban


IF you like these cartoons, please support them at my Patreon.

This is another one inspired by current events (as I’m sure you’ve already figured out). The point being made – that folks favoring the Muslim ban because of terrorist attacks would never hold Christians, white people, or men to the same standard – is obvious, but sometimes it’s important to make these obvious points. (And make them again, and again, and again….)

In my first draft script, two of the panels referred to Christianity. I changed that because many Christians have been advocating for the US’s duty to help refugees, and in light of that I didn’t want to seem to be picking on Christians. So I changed one of the panels to be talking about men and mass-murder, instead. And having three different topics (four including the last panel) improves the cartoon.

Artwise, I felt it was important to get this strip out promptly, so some of the things I sometimes do (full backgrounds, nine-panel strips, etc) weren’t right for this strip. Instead, I focused on keeping the drawings loose and lively (as best as I can, anyhow – my drawings usually come out stiffer than I’d prefer). I also worked on making each of the characters from the first three panels very distinct and clear, so that they’d be recognizable as the same characters when they reappeared in the final panel.

Related: Why Trump EO is Still a Racist Muslim Ban | Informed Comment

We’ll See You in Court, 2.0: Once a Muslim Ban, Still a Muslim Ban | American Civil Liberties Union


Panel 1
A woman with cat’s-eye glasses is anxiously explaining something.
GLASSES WOMAN: The people who murder abortion doctors don’t represent Christianity.

Panel 2
A man in a suit and tie is explaining something, looking very concerned and raising his arms for emphasis.
SUIT MAN: The white guy who shot up a Sikh temple was just one guy. We can’t tar all white people with that brush!

Panel 3
A balding man in a black t-shirt is speaking calmly, his arms crossed.
BLACK TEE MAN: Sure, about 98% of mass murders are committed by men. But the vast majority of men are nothing like that!

Panel 4
A new character, a woman with black hair and reading from a smartphone, has entered. The three characters from the first three panels are reacting with panic and yelling.
NEW WOMAN: “Police speculate that the attacker may have been Muslim–”

Posted in Bigotry & Prejudice, Cartooning & comics, Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc, In the news | 98 Comments  

Cartoon: The Two Party System


In my youth, I was very tempted by third parties. Not so much nowadays.

But this cartoon isn’t about that; it’s about the ridiculous choice between two major parties, one of which is a bit technocratic and complacent, the other of which is both ridiculous and vile. This isn’t how things are supposed to work, but it feels like we have no viable alternatives.

I’m rather pleased with the art for this one, and have left it in black and white on purpose. I think most of my cartoons from now on will have color of some sort, though.

If you like this cartoon, you can read a bunch more for free at my Patreon! And please consider supporting these cartoons. The support I get from readers on Patreon enables me to do many more political cartoons.

Transcript of cartoon

Title at the top of the cartoon: The Two Party System

Panel 1
A woman is standing in front of a little booth with a sign that says “DEMOCRATS.” The booth is in the style of Lucy’s psychiatry booth from the comic strip “Peanuts.” Seated behind the booth is an older white man, leaning his face on his hands; he doesn’t look very energetic.

WOMAN: Poverty is a national disgrace!

Panel 2
A close-up of the Democrat dude.
DEMOCRAT: That’s why we Democrats want to expand the earned income tax credit.
WOMAN: Okay, good. And?

Panel 3
A shot of the two of them. His head is still leaning on his hands; she’s waving her arms angrily.
DEMOCRAT: And there’s some other technical fixes we could do…
WOMAN: Tiny technical changes aren’t enough!

Panel 4
A close-up of the woman. She’s talking angrily and checking off things on her fingers.
WOMAN: What’s needed is single payer! Or free child care! Or a real game-changer, like a universal basic income!

Panel 5
The woman stomps away from the booth. The Democrat doesn’t even lift his head out of his hands.
WOMAN: Forget it! I’m out of here!
DEMOCRAT: You’ll be back.

Panel 6
The woman angrily walks to the right; in the background there’s a stone wall, and beyond that a hillside with trees on it.

Panel 7
The woman has arrived at a similar booth to the Democrat’s booth, but this one is labeled “GOP.” She talks to the middle-aged white an at the booth. The man behind the booth reacts angrily, grabbing the booth with one hand and leaning very far forward, thrusting his other hand out in a “STOP!” gesture.
WOMAN: I’m concerned about poverty. What will Republicans do for-
GOP MAN (very large letters): NO!

Panel 8
A close-up on the GOP man. He is yelling, eyes bulging, spittle flying.
GOP MAN: Not MY fault you’re a lazy welfare queen DEPENDENT wallowing in false victimhood! Take responsibility for your own life, LOSER!

Panel 9
The woman, visibly deflated and shaken, hugging herself, is stumbling back to the Democrat’s booth.
DEMOCRAT: Told ya.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Economics and the like, Elections and politics | 40 Comments  

Cartoon: Think of the Children!


This cartoon was written and colored by Barry Deutsch, and drawn by Becky Hawkins.


Panel 1
A man in a suit and hat is speaking loudly to a crowd of people watching him. He is holding out a book called “The Talmud Unmasked.”
MAN: We can’t allow Jews in our club! They’re perverts and deviants! Think of the children!

Panel 2
A woman and man stand in front of a suburban home. Behind them, on the lawn, two adorable children are playing catch. The man has his arm around the woman’s shoulder, and the woman is holding a baby in her arms.
WOMAN: Blacks integrating into our neighborhood? No! Think of the children!

Panel 3
Several protesters are marching in front of a school building. One protester, a woman holding a child (who is struggling to get away) with one arm and a sign saying “FIRE HER!” with the other hand, is speaking.
WOMAN: A lesbian can’t be a teacher! Think of the children!

Panel 4
A man in a suit stands on the steps of what looks like a government building. Many reporters are holding out microphones to record what he’s saying. He has a small girl with him, patting her on the head with one hand while pointing at her with the other.
MAN: We need to keep transsexuals out of public bathrooms! Think of the children!

Kicker panel.
The small girl has turned to face the man with the suit. He speaks to her sternly, holding up an admonishing finger.
GIRL: But I’m trans.
MAN: Don’t confuse me!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Homophobic zaniness/more LGBTQ issues, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 6 Comments  

Eight new SuperButch Pages Since I Last Posted About It

So, the last time I remembered to post a SuperButch update here, we had just posted page 8. Now we’ve just posted page 16. Oy.

I’ll try to do better – honest. But if you want reliable SuperButch updates, I’d suggest going to the SuperButch site and using the “subscribe” options in the sidebar.


Posted in SuperButch | Leave a comment