Open Thread and Link Farm, Oh Fishy Fishy Fishy Fish Edition

  1. Treasury Secretary Warren? Progressives Line Up to Press Their Agenda on Biden – The New York Times. And an alternate link.
    “But as they adjust to the possible new reality of divided government, many progressive groups and leaders are focusing their attention on Mr. Biden’s executive branch appointments with intense urgency, viewing these positions as gatekeepers, in effect, for vast numbers of policy.”
  2. Why Trump and Republicans Are Undermining Democracy
  3. My Son is No Sex Offender – Persuasion
    “But like hundreds of thousands, he is unjustly trapped on the registry.”
  4. Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings – The Passive Voice
    Their theory is that, although the Sherlock character is public domain, Doyle didn’t develop Sherlock’s emotions until the later stories, which are not yet in the public domain; therefore a Sherlock with emotions is a violation of their copyright. (Although, needless to say, they have created nothing.)
  5. The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states – Vox
  6. The Only Time The Oscars Ended Early
    Turns out that ending early is a mistake. But also a great story.
  7. Is Plastic Recycling A Lie? 
  8. The Curse of Monster Island: an experiment in unmoderated free speech – The Skeptic
    The horrible people you attract might be even more horrible than you’re imagining.
  9. People’s Savings Are Down To $0 Because Of The Pandemic
    “Even people who built rainy day funds over years are watching their savings run down to zero, with no relief from the government in sight.”
  10. A short essay about Xander from Buffy, the episode “The Zeppo,” and trans masculinity.
    “The Zeppo” is one of my favorite episodes, and I’ve seen it many times, so I love reading some thoughts on it that I haven’t even considered. (Probably because I’m cis.)
  11. How to address police “testilying.”
    Police routinely lie and never face consequences. And it’s unclear how to change that.
  12. All U.S. Residents Deserve to Vote, Not Just Citizens
    Including immigrants, documented or not.
  13. Was Nazi Germany Everyone’s Fault? – Pacific Standard
    I’ve heard many arguments that the Nazis were widely supported by ordinary Germans, so reading a counter-argument is interesting.
  14. 5 Ways Weight Stigma Harms Fat People’s Health | The Mighty
  15. The magical thinking of guys who love logic | The Outline
    ” Calling your opinions and feelings ‘rational,’ as opposed to the ‘irrational’ opinions and feelings of others, is a shortcut to boosting your self-esteem. And it’s certainly not as though this tendency is unique to reactionaries; I think we’re all prone to this sometimes.”
  16. When YouTube Red-Pills the Love of Your Life
    This article is referenced in the above article, but the reference isn’t totally accurate. I wonder how common these relationships are. That some redpilled guys have produced “guides” to converting girlfriends and wives to redpill ideology is disturbing.
  17. G.O.P.-Appointed Judges Threaten Democracy, Liberals Seeking Court Expansion Say – The New York Times. And an alternate link.
    “Republican appointees interpreted the law in a way that impeded ballot access 80 percent of the time, versus 37 percent for Democratic ones. The numbers were even more stark when limited to judges appointed by President Trump, who has had tremendous success at rapidly reshaping the judiciary. Of 60 rulings in election-related cases, 85 percent were “anti-democracy” according to the analysis.”
  18. ‘We’re like athletes’: the secret lives of giant-vegetable growers | Vegetables | The Guardian
    I think, but I’m not sure, that I have Mandolin to thank for this link.
  19. A bunch of people over the years have asked why on earth Democrats oppose Voter ID. Here’s a succinct explanation (including references) on Twitter, and in case the Twitter copy doesn’t persist, here’s another copy.
  20. Donald Trump Didn’t Really Win 52% of White Women in 2016 | Time
    “…the percentage of white women who voted for Trump was actually 47%, compared to 45% for Clinton. That’s still a plurality… But it’s essentially a tie, which makes for a very different story than a 9-point margin for Trump.”
  21. What happened to that ‘blue wave’? – The Washington Post. And an alternative link.
    ” Republican presidents going back to Eisenhower have systematically invested in their party’s organizational capacities at the national, state and local levels: funding local party-building initiatives, assiduously recruiting activists, volunteers, and candidates, teaching campaign techniques, and launching fundraising systems. Democratic presidents, in contrast, have repeatedly emphasized enacting policies over party-building.”
  22. Why the First Monument of Real Women in Central Park Matters—and Why It’s Controversial | Smithsonian Magazine
    The process of making the statue – which depicts Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fourteen feet high – was interesting. Originally it was just Anthony and Stanton depicted; after objections to the whiteness, Truth was added in, and after further objections, Truth was made to be active rather than just listening. I favor all that, but some (not all) of the objections remaining – like that the three of them probably never literally planned together atthe same table – seem silly to me.
  23. I adore this AP photo of the sculptor working on the statue.
  24. Here’s a double-page fight scene from issue three of the current “Black Widow” comic. Art by Elena Casagrande, colors by Jordie Bellaire. And here’s a twitter thread where I discuss why I like this spread so much. (The reproduction of the art in the twitter thread is low-res and some important details are lost, which is why I included a separate link to the art).

Posted in Link farms | 27 Comments  

Aunt Linda and Uncle Frank were playing on easy mode back in 1966

Guest post by Brendan Wright

I just found another scintillating read– the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures 2019. There’s some very interesting take-aways. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that think I understand why many well-meaning baby boomers think (wrongly) that young people could afford homes if we just cut back on luxuries a little bit. It’s become a bit of a trope that your boomer relatives think that you could own a home if you just cut back on the avocado toast and Lulu Lemon pants. Aunt Linda probably thinks that way because she and Uncle Frank made similar sacrifices, and it landed them in a nice split-level ranch!

Food expenses– both dining and at home– take up 15.46% of contemporary household income. Let’s call it 15.5% to make things easy. Apparel and Services take up about 2% of household income. Healthcare takes up yet another 6% of our income. The median price of a new home in 2019 was $320,700, according to money-zine.com— Approximately 3.9 times the annual household income reported by the Bureau of Labor statistics.

I busted out another thriller– “A Century of Family Budgets in the United States”, also by those raconteurs at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Table 4, “Historical Shares of Family Consumption” shows some interesting data for 1966– when Aunt Linda and Uncle and Uncle Frank were bright-eyed young things hoping to buy their first home. It lacks certain categories that the contemporary budgets have– like personal care. It appears to be a suggested budget, rather than what people were doing in the wild, but it’s based on actual income and expense data available to the BLS at the time. The BLS thinks that Uncle Frank and and Linda were spending 29.2% of their income on food, 10.3% on Clothing, and 6.4% on Healthcare. More importantly, the average household income in 1966 was $7400 (per Census.gov) and the average cost of a home was $14,200 (Doyouremember.com). That’s only 1.9 times average household income in their day.

If Aunt Linda and Uncle Frank were saving for 10% down on a home, they’d only have to save an amount equivalent to 19% of their annual income. If they managed to temporarily reduce the household food and clothing budgets by half– let’s say by thrift shopping, sewing their own, and eating less expensive foods– then they could free up 19.75% of their annual budget. In about a year of thrift, they could be walking into the bank and asking for a mortgage in one of America’s new suburban developments.

If a millennial wants to buy an average house right now with 10% down, they’re looking at saving about 39% of their annual income. (I didn’t factor closing costs into this, since I couldn’t find historical average closing cost estimates– but they aren’t cheap.) A frugal millennial who manages to spend half of the normal amount on food and the apparel/services category can expect to save up 8.75% of their annual income over the course of the year. In other words– they’re having to save about 4.5 times as long as Uncle Frank and Aunt Linda did. Emergencies can easily wipe out down payment savings before a would-be home buyer can use them to stabilize their housing situation. If your landlord decides to suddenly jack up your rent– common in many major cities these days– you might have to dip into those funds to pay for a deposit and moving van. Four and a half years is a much longer time to have to go without an incident.

I focused on food and clothing expenses because they’re usually the easiest for people to control. Costs decreasing in those areas mean that there’s less wiggle-room in millennial budgets. The big expenses tend to be harder to control– like housing or healthcare. Nobody asks their ambulance driver which hospital has the best prices on emergency appendectomies– they just care about getting to a place that can save their life. Housing is the big one for many young people, and there just aren’t a lot of good options in many areas. Many millennials dream of minimalist options like van life, but there are barriers– financial, social, legal, and otherwise– to get into tiny homes, van living, houseboats and many other off-beat alternatives. They’re not impossible, but they also aren’t easy and still have considerable costs.

Bottom line: Aunt Linda and Uncle Frank were playing on easy mode back in 1966.

Posted in Economics and the like | 31 Comments  

Cartoon: The Post Office Is Dying!


If you like these cartoons, please help me make more by supporting my Patreon! A $1 or $2 pledge really helps (plus, just as a matter of philosophy, I love the idea of earning a living through small donations from many donors.)


The post office is one of the most well-liked and successful government agencies. Its services are essential to many people – people who live in remote areas, people with small businesses that require affordable small-scale shipping, people who rely on the post to get them their medications, and – most crucially of all – people who buy self-published comics through the mail. Why does nobody think of them?

Naturally, Republicans – more specifically, the GOP-controlled Congress under the second president Bush – have put the postal service into intensive care. The Post Office faces many problems, but arguably the largest – and certainly the most avoidable – is a law called   The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). PAEA requires the Post Office – and only the Post Office – to prepay their expected retiree health care costs  for over fifty years. Jeff Spross wrote an article about this in The Week:

Consider your average 30-year mortgage. What if you had to set aside a few hundred thousand dollars right now, enough to pay the whole thing, even if you were still going to make payments over 30 years? No one would ever take out a mortgage. That’s the whole point: the costs only come in over time, and the income you use to pay them comes in over time as well. It works exactly the same for retiree pensions and benefit funds. Which is why, as economist Dean Baker pointed out to Congress, pretty much no one else does what the PAEA demanded of the Postal Service.

Meeting Congress’ arbitrary mandate required putting away an extra $5.6 billion per year. “It is equivalent to imposing a tax of 8 percent on the Postal Service’s revenue,” Baker said. “There are few businesses that would be able to survive if they were suddenly required to pay an 8 percent tax from which their competitors were exempted.”


In my original conception of this cartoon, “The Post Office” was going to be represented by someone in a post office uniform. I’m so glad I rethought that. Figuring out how to make a mailbox animated and give it expressions, while still keeping it a recognizable iconic mailbox, was an exciting challenge for me. I’m happy with how it came out (Frank Young did a bang-up job coloring it), and that fantastical element makes the strip a lot more fun for readers. (Or I hope it makes it more fun, anyway).

To save time, I used a specialized Photoshop brush to draw the “whiz lines” in panel 3. And when I say “to save time,” what I mean is that I spent an hour and a half searching for and trying out different brushes in Photoshop until I found one that worked. (Drawing it by hand would have taken me half the time.) But I am happy with how the whiz lines look.

I’m not as happy with the “WHAM!” lettering, which I drew by hand rather than using a font, but after a certain amount of time drawing and redrawing I decided that I had to live with it and move on. Hopefully I’ll do a better job of it next time a sound effect like that comes up.

My single favorite thing is the envelopes flying out of the mailboxes “mouth” in panel 3.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two characters: A businessman-looking character in a pinstripe suit, and an anthropomorphic blue mailbox – one of the big metal ones, found on street corners, that you can drop your mail into for postal workers to pick up. The recessed slot where mail is inserted is drawn to be the mailbox’s mouth, and it lifts one of its four legs to gesture with it like a human making a hand gesture.

All four panels take place in the same location, a sidewalk in a city or town. There’s some litter and pebbles scattered across the sidewalk, and also some fallen leaves from a tree. Across the street we can see another sidewalk and a building; a sign on the corner of the building says “back ground detail.”

PANEL 1

Pinstripes walks into the panel, holding his hand out towards Mailbox. Mailbox is grinning and gesturing towards itself.

PINSTRIPES: Post Office! I heard you’re nearly dead!

MAILBOX: No, no! I’ve had my ups and downs, adjusting to the digital age, but I’m still here! Honestly, I can last for decades! Or forever!

PANEL 2

Pinstripes rubs a hand over his chin thoughtfully. Mailbox leans back and laughs.

PINSTRIPES: What if I pass a law weighing you down by making you pay retiree health care costs over fifty years in advance?

MAILBOX: Ha-ha! That would be ridiculous! No corporation or public agency has ever been required to-

PANEL 3

A gigantic, heavy sack – bigger than either character – drops out of the sky, slamming Mailbox to the ground with a big “WHAM!” sound effect. Maibox is literally crushed under the weight, although its “head” is in the clear. Mailbox’s mouth is open in an expression of surprise and pain, and several envelopes come shooting out of its mouth. Meanwhile, Pinstripes watches with arms folded, looking satisfied.

PANEL 4

Smirking, Pinstripes puts a hand by his mouth to shout out, the other hand pointing at Mailbox on the ground. Mailbox, still trapped under the enormous weight, looks stunned.

PINSTRIPES: On no! The Post Office is dying! Now we have to privatize it!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., In the news | 4 Comments  

Cartoon: We can’t do THAT! It’s MEAN!


Please support these cartoons on my Patreon! A $1 or $2 pledge really helps.


I actually wrote this cartoon months ago, during the Democratic primary, out of frustration that so many Democratic Senators refuse to consider steps like ending the filibuster (fun fact: named after Buster Filly, an 1840s senator/drunkard who was famous for snoring so loudly in the Senate chambers that no work could be done), making D.C. a state, and (of course) expanding the Supreme  Court.

Meanwhile, the GOP seems to have few or no limits. And that becomes yet another structural disadvantage for Democrats; not only are Democrats often unable to win even with a majority of votes, due to gerrymandering (fun fact: named after Jerry Manders, who is famous for playing the title character on the TV show Leave It To Beaver) and the electoral college, but even when Democrats do manage to be a majority of elected officials, they are made unable to appoint judges or pass laws.

I’m particularly frightened by the prospect, brought up in this cartoon, of Republicans using their control of the Supreme Court to make it easier and easier for Republicans to suppress Democratic voters. (I’m still not over Bush v Gore, to be honest.)

But a few months ago, the cartoon seemed to me to lack focus, and I put it aside.

But now, with the sad passing of Justice Ginsberg, it took very little rewriting to give the cartoon focus.


One interesting thing about this cartoon, for me, is that it has the potential to be outdated very soon – Senate Democrats definitely seem more open to ideas like increasing seats on the Supreme Court. At last night’s astoundingly terrible presidential debate, Joe Biden declined to rule out either increasing seats on the court, or getting rid of the filibuster.

So we’ll see what happens. If this cartoon becomes moot, I will be delighted.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

PANEL 1

A large caption at the top of the panel says “REPUBLICANS.”

We see several people, most or all of whom seem to be white men, standing in some sort of business or office space. One man is speaking to the others: He is bald on top, and wearing an open suit vest over a shirt and striped necktie. He is grinning and gesturing as he speaks.

VEST: When Obama nominates for the Supreme Court, we just won’t allow a hearing.

VEST: We’ll make up some excuse, like, uh… We can’t confirm a new Supreme Court Justice close to a presidential election.

PANEL 2

A close up of Vest, who has steepled his fingers a bit below his chin, and is looking up a bit, perhaps staring at the beautiful future his imagination is conjuring.

VEST: Once we own the Supreme Court, we’ll step up on policies making voting harder for Democratic-leaning groups like Blacks and students!

VEST: Gerrymandering, closing polling places, and harsh voter ID laws are just a start! With the Supreme Court on our side, we can do anything!

PANEL 3

One of the other white men in the room has stepped forward, looking anxious as he asks a question. Vest just throws up his hands and grins.

ANXIOUS GUY: But what if there’s an open Supreme Court seat close to a Presidential election when a Republican is president?

VEST: Screw it, we’ll confirm ’em anyway!

PANEL 4

A large caption at the top of this panel says DEMOCRATS.

The panel shows a tablet being held in someone’s lap. On the tablet, we can see three people, a woman and two men, talking in a Zoom-like program. The woman looks determined, shaking a fist; the first man looks a bit afraid; and the second man is holding his hands on either side of his face and gasping in horror.

WOMAN: If we get the White House and congress, we should add seats to the Supreme Court.

A BIT AFRAID: We can’t do that! It’s mean!

GASPING MAN: Gasp!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics | 42 Comments  

Cartoon: Waving The Magic Congress Wand


If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon. A $1 or $2 pledge really helps!


This was originally drawn in February, but I never posted this cartoon outside of Patreon until today. Back in February, Covid took over, well, everything, and it never seemed the right time to post it.

And I just wasn’t satisfied with the cartoon.

This month I went back to it and made a number of changes. I changed it to be about someone running for Congress, instead of running for President, because this is a cartoon about the generic tenor of political campaigns in the USA, and that doesn’t feel relevant to Donald Trump. (Of course, Trump does promise many things he can’t and won’t deliver on – but it’s almost hard to notice those promises, coming as they do as part of an ongoing, oceanic torrent of lies).

I improved the art, adding in balloons and confetti to the end, and making small changes to a few other panels. The biggest improvement, though, was asking Frank Young to do the colors, giving it a treatment that I didn’t feel I had time to do myself. Frank, as usual, did a great job.

Here’s what the cartoon looked like back in February – I hope you’ll agree with me that it’s enormously improved. (You can visit the original post to see it in a larger size.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has thirteen panels. Each of the panels shows a man standing at a podium, speaking to a crowd (the crowd isn’t in every panel). The man has very carefully coiffed hair and is wearing a suit and tie. Let’s call him “the politician.”

PANEL 1

In the foreground, we can see a large crowd from the back; we see the backs of their heads, and their arms waving in the air. They’re facing a man on stage, who is waving a hand and speaking to them from behind a podium.

POLITICIAN: When you elect me to Congress, I’ll enact big, big changes!

PANEL 2

A closer shot of the politician shrugging.

POLITICIAN: That’s if our party controls congress. Because if not, I literally can’t do anything.

PANEL 3

The politician rubs his chin and looks upward a bit, thoughtfully.

POLITICIAN: But if we’re in control, I’ll ask my allies to bring my plan into committee. And if I’m lucky, the committee will only rewrite it a little!

PANEL 4

This panel is an extreme close up of the politician – so close that his ears aren’t even in panel. In the five panels that follow, the “camera” will gradually zoom out, away from the politician, until he’s a tiny full-figure.

POLITICIAN: Actually, since big policy changes are complex, many committees will rewrite parts of my plan!

PANEL 5

POLITICIAN: And then the CBO scores it, which means more rewriting.

PANEL 6

POLITICIAN: And more rewrites, and more, until something that only slightly resembles my plan passes Congress!

PANEL 7

POLITICIAN: And that’s only if I’m lucky!

PANEL 8

POLITICIAN: Even then, it could still be vetoed. Or struck down in court.

PANEL 9

The “zoom out” is now complete; the politician is a tiny figure, no longer using a lot of energy to speak, raising one hand in a “let me explain this” gesture.

POLITICIAN: Because even if I’m elected, that won’t give me the power to just make laws happen.

PANEL 10

A close up of the politician, who is now grinning big and waving his arms as he yells.

POLITICIAN: So let’s hear it for big big changes I can’t promise!

PANEL 11

A shot from behind the politician, so we see the back of his head, and the crowd looking at him. The crowd is totally silent and is glaring at him; they look angry.

PANEL 12

A profile shot of the politician, looking nervous; cartoon beads of sweat are flying off his face, and a sound effect says “gulp.”

PANEL 13

A front shot of the politician, grinning and spreading his arms in the air as he talks loudly, one hand making a thumbs up sign. He is surrounded by balloons and confetti falling through the air. In the foreground, we can see members of the crowd grinning and waving their hands.

POLITICIAN: What I meant to say was, Once I’m elected, I’ll wave my magical Congress wand and my ideas will become law like POOF!

VARIOUS PEOPLE IN THE CROWD: Yay! What leadership! Huzzah!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics | 29 Comments  

Cartoon: The Great GOP Anti-Voting Cycle


If you like this cartoon, help me make more by supporting my Patreon. A $1 or $2 pledge really helps!


I worry a lot about how Republican court-packing makes it easier for them to win elections, making it easier for them to do more court-packing, and on and on.

It’s a prospect that sincerely terrifies me, but I’ve had trouble thinking of ways to talk about it in a cartoon. I’m amazed it took me so long to think of illustrating it in a loop cartoon (like this cartoon about Puerto Rico).

I initially planned to draw three separate panels, floating in white space. (Like the cartoon about Puerto Rico). But after I thought of having Republicans from the three branches of government tying up some ordinary citizens in the middle, it had to be a single panel. (Even though I almost never do single panel cartoons).

The background to this cartoon – simple as it is – is well outside my comfort zone, and took longer to draw than anything else in the cartoon. As is usual for me, I drew the perspective by eye. Then – as is also pretty common for me – I threw out everything and redid it the proper way, with perspective lines.

I didn’t draw that swirly carpet pattern; I found a free carpet pattern online, and then changed its colors and put it into perspective in Photoshop.

I also spent a long time drawing the female senator’s high heeled shoes – I am terrible at drawing this kind of shoe, but they seemed necessary in this case. With a lot of work, I finally drew shoes that, if not exactly good, were at least not unacceptably bad. Then I drew the male senator, and didn’t realize until after I’d positioned him that his hand covered up her shoes. Oh, well.

I also spent an enjoyable time trying playing with all the elements to try and make the circular motion apparent. What ended up working best was using the word balloons to guide readers’ eyes along the circle, supplemented by actual dotted-line arrows.

In the end, I’m pretty happy with how this cartoon looks. I hope you like it.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON 

The cartoon shows four people walking clockwise in a circle around three people. The four people are an older white man in a suit – let’s call him The President (he isn’t drawn to look like Donald Trump, he’s just a generic politician). Next, going clockwise, are two well-dressed middle-aged people, a woman and a man. We’ll call them The Senators. And moving clockwise, next is a white-haired man with a beard and mustache; he is wearing judge’s robes, so we’ll call him The Judge.

It’s a big hall of the sort you find in some nice government buildings – fancy wainscoting on the wall, wooden floors, a large institutional-looking carpet with swirly patterns, a big potted plant (more like a small tree) near the wall.

Each person or pair – the President, the Senators, and the Judge – is holding a rope, which they are wrapping around the three ordinary citizens in the middle as they walk in a circle around them. They all look cheerful. The three ordinary citizens, who look unhappy and a bit stunned, have been thoroughly tied up.

There are dotted line arrows – the sort that indicate “read this next.” One points from the President to the Senators. One points from the Senators to the Judge. And a third and final arrow points from the Judge to the President.

PRESIDENT: And after Republican judges allow the anti-voting laws, I’ll be president even if most voters prefer the Democrat. Then I’ll nominate more Republican judges.

An arrow leads from the President to the Senators. The male Senator speaks.

SENATOR: And after the President nominates more Republican judges, Republican Senators can confirm the judges and write more anti-voting laws!

An arrow leads from the Senators to the Judge.

JUDGE: And after Republican Senators confirm us, Republican judges can rule that their anti-voting laws are constitutional!

An arrow leads from the Judge back to the President.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics, Supreme Court Issues | 1 Comment  

How Amp Voted, 2020

I got my ballot in the mail yesterday. And that means – time to vote! Time to go through the whole ballot and figure out who I want to be Circuit Court judge (4th district position 12), who should be the east soil & water director-at-large 2, and many other exciting races!

I live-tweeted filling out my ballot, and used those tweets to make this post.

And before anyone asks, yes it is legal to take photos of your ballot in the state of Oregon.

The Federal offices come first.

For president, I’m voting for Biden. I don’t have to – Oregon is a safe state, so I could vote third party – but I’m hoping Biden’s popular vote win will be enormous, and taken as a repudiation of what the GOP has become.

For Senator, our main choices are Jeff Merkley, who by some measures is the fourth most liberal Senator, or the Republican candidate for the Senate, who is literally a Q-Anon follower.

Gosh, WHAT a tough decision. Merkley it is.

I’m in the third district, so the winner for the House race will be Democrat Earl Blumenauer, possibly the whitest man in the world. Earl’s been in office 25 years, so he has seniority up to his bow tie, and he’s very liberal. Plus, I want a resounding Dem victory. Earl it is.

Secretary of State!

The GOP candidate, Kim Thatcher, is very very concerned about a handful of alleged voter fraud cases, which is GOP-speak for “I will try to prevent Black people and college students from voting.” And she hates Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, which works great.

I realize I’ve just been voting straight party line so far. Boring, I know. The Democrats aren’t that good (although Oregon has some good ones), but the Republicans are that bad.

State Treasurer, we have Tobias Read, who is experienced and has been working to grow Oregon’s state-sponsored retirement programs (oregonsaves.org). His opponent is Jeff Gudman, who has zero relevant experience and would try and cut back such programs.

The same two candidates ran for Treasurer last time, and Read beat Gudman by a fairly small margin. So this isn’t a race to make a symbolic vote for the Progressive party.

Read it is!

Attorney General.

The Republican candidate is a joke, which won’t prevent people from voting for him, alas. He’s not a lawyer and knows nothing about the job, but he thinks it’ll be a good position to keep Gov. Kate Brown (D) from doing anything.

The incumbent, Democrat Ellen Rosenblum, was a judge before becoming Attorney General, and says she sees corporations and President Trump as the enemy, not Oregon’s own governor.

Given the choice, there really is no choice. Rosenblum.

Next come a number of state races where someone is running unopposed. State senator 23rd district, Judge of the Oregon Supreme Court – really? No one decided to challenge the incumbent?

I’m writing in “April Ludgate” for all those positions.

Judge of the Circuit Court, 4th Distinct, Position 12. A race where I haven’t heard even remotely of either candidate.

Time to consult Oregon’s 177-page “voter’s pamphlet.” I love my state!

Actually, both of these women – Adrian Brown vs Rima Ghandour – seem terrific. Neither one seems likely to be a rubber-stamp for the police.

When two candidates seem similarly good in most ways, I go to identity politics as the tie-breaker.

Ghandour would be Oregon’s first Arab-American women on the bench. And she’s an immigrant. In a time of raging anti-immigrant sentiment, that could matter. Ghandour it is.

Time to vote for Portland Mayor!

Iannarone is a smart activist with great positions on affordable housing, on police reform, and other issues. She’s an ally of Jo Ann Hardesty, who Iannarone would put in charge of oversight of the Police Bureau.

The downside to Iannarone is that I’m not sure she’ll get anything done. Lack of experience, not at all diplomatic.

Ted Wheeler, on the other hand… Well, he could be worse. And he knows how City Hall works. But he’s been completely incoherent when it comes to the protests.

For this race, I’m going to vote my idealism and hope it works out. Sarah Iannarone it is.

Mingus Mapps vs Chloe Eudaly for City Commissioner, position four.

Many years ago, I’d sometimes chat with Chloe when buying books from her store. I like her. Mapps seems good, but there’s no way he’d be as firm pushing against the police (who endorsed him). Chloe Eudaly it is.

Okay, now comes the big event – the EAST MULTNOMAH COUNTEY SOIL AND WATER DIRECTOR POSITIONS!

There are three contested elections in this category. (And one non-contested, for which I wrote in April Ludgate.)

Hey, remember the Oregon Voters’ “Pamphlet” I consulted before – the 177 page monstrosity?

Well, it’s completely useless for the Soil & Water positions. For Soil & Water, I have to turn to the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet, which clocks in at a relatively modest 120 pages.

120 pages but it doesn’t actually list all of the candidates.

I’m going to take not even getting your case for why I should vote for you into the Voters’ Pamphlet as a signal of being less effective or committed. So if you’re not listed, I won’t vote for you. Sorry, Rick Till.

With Rick Till eliminated, the director at-large position one is a race between Devin Portwood and Jim Carlson, both of whom have submitted photos with wonderfully dorky expressions. (That’s Devin on the left).

I’d happily play AD&D with either of those faces.

Portwood’s statement emphasizes “the practical side to going green,” but gives no specifics, and none of his past experience (veterinary tech) seems relevant. I’m not convinced he’s done the research.

James (Jim) Carlson says he wants to add new ideas to the board, but doesn’t say what any of those ideas are.

Carlson does have experience in local government (been on a couple of committees). Lacking anything else to go on, I’m voting for James (Jim) Carlson.

Now for director at-large position two, which is Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky vs Lars Granstrom.

Granstrom’s only argument for voting for him is his experience as a farmer, but Zimmer-Stucky is also a farmer, so that’s a wash.

But Zimmer-Stucky seems to have more relevant education (barely relevant, but still), and she talks about specific ideas she’d like to pursue. She also has a list of endorsements; Granstrom does not.

Basically, she’s trying harder, and that gets her my vote. Zimmer-Stucky it is.

East Soil & Water, Director, Zone 2.

Laura Masterson vs Grant Eisele. Masterson made it easy for me by (it would seem) not submitting a page for the voters’ pamphlet.

From his listing, organic farmer Eisele seems like a nice guy who’s eager for the position. Eisele it is!

Okay, I’ve now completed the front side of my ballot. The back side, with 11 ballot measures on it, comes next.

The too long, don’t read on these ballot measures: Just vote “yes” for every single one of them. They’re all good.

First, a couple of state legislative measures, which means that Oregon’s congress voted to have us vote on them.

Measure 107: Allows local governments to make laws limiting political campaign contributions, and laws requiring disclosure of spending to influence an election. YES.

Measure 108: This increases taxes on cigs, cigars, e-cigs, and “vaping products.” The money is used for health care. YES.

Measure 109: Shrooms! Opens up the door a crack to allowing patients whose mental health would benefit from it, to legally buy and consume psilocybin, “a psychoactive component found in certain mushrooms.”

A small and cautious step, but it’s in the right direction. YES!

Measures 109 and 110 came from citizen petitions, by the way, not from congress.

Measure 110: Creates free centers to treat drug addiction. Makes having small quantities of coke, heroin, meth, oxy, lsd, etc a “non-criminal class E violation,” with a maximum penalty of $100.

Carrying more than the allowed amounts would be a misdemeanor, not a felony.

Of course, this won’t change federal law, but it’s still a significant step towards legalizing drugs.

YES!

That’s it for state measures; now let’s do county measures!

Measure 26-211: Bond to fund improving existing and building new libraries. YES!

Measure 26-214: Free preschool, paid for by increasing rich people’s taxes. YES.

And now, City of Portland measures!

Measure 26-213: Improve and restore Portland parks, paid for by an increase in property taxes of eighty cents per $1000 assessed value.

YES.

Measure 26-217 says that the city can create a police oversight board, empowered to investigate and to take disciplinary action.

A world of YES.

Measure 26-219 would make it legal for land already owned by the Portland water bureau to be developed for use by the public. For example, the land surrounding a water tower could be turned into a public park.

YES.

Measure 26-218.
A Metro Region ballot measure.
It would fund about 150 infrastructure projects (buses, bridge repair, sidewalks, traffic signals, traffic safety, etc) by taxing employers with more than 25 employees.

YES.

Lastly, a Portand School District Measure, measure 26-215. This would replace some tapering-off bonds with new bonds, so the net effect is, tax levels don’t change. The money is for school improvements (textbooks, computers, roof repair, modernization, expansions, etc.)

YES.

And that’s it!

Vote, please. It’s not hard, and it’s kind of interesting to learn who some of these people are and what the ballot measures (if passed) would do. And if you can, turn in your ballot early.

End of rant!

Posted in Elections and politics | 27 Comments  

Cartoon: Meet My Liberal Beliefs


If you like these cartoons, please help me make more by supporting my Patreon!


There are a number of self-identified liberal or centrist democratic pundits who spend virtually all their time attacking the left – attacking Black Lives Matter, attacking so-called “SJW” “left identitarians” and so on – but who, when they’re referred to as conservatives, will say that’s completely unfair because they’re pro-choice and they plan to vote for Biden and so on.

But that’s the only time they bring these things up. They never publish an op-ed or even argue on social media in favor of reproductive rights; they just bring it up as a credential to better position themselves to attack the left.

They have a right to focus on whatever they want. No one has time to write about every worthy issue in the world. But I’m not criticizing them for not defending (for example) choice; I’m criticizing them for not defending choice while repeatedly using their pro-choice views as a credential.

It’s hard to take the “I’m pro-choice, so I have credibility when I say feminists are evil” mantra seriously when saying that appears to be the entire extent of their (public) commitment to reproductive rights.

And the same for their commitment to gay rights, to environmentalism, to anti-racism, and so on. For public figures like pundits, they don’t deserve credit for liberal positions they’ve virtually never argued for or defended. And they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to use their nonexistent support of liberal positions opportunistically to bolster their attacks on the left.

(I swiped some of the phrasing above from this 2016 blog post I wrote. So this has been on my mind a while!)


This was fun for me to draw. I got to draw a superhero! That doesn’t come up often for me. The thing I worked hardest on here was drawing the superhero’s face – that handsome square-jawed thing isn’t my usual style. I ended up having to flip the drawing left-to-right and redraw it from there (that’s an old cartoonist’s trick; flipping a drawing like that can make errors apparent that you’d failed to notice).

I also used a different font than my usual. I absolutely love the font I usually use, Moritat. Moritat is legible and tidy and super-energetic all at once.  But Moritat is an all-caps font, so you can’t really Capitalize Words. And I really wanted to be able to capitalize the first letters in “My Liberal Beliefs,” as if it were a name. So I went with J Scott Campbell, another font I like (I use it to letter “SuperButch”). Both fonts are made by Comicraft.

Wow, I bet that last paragraph bored everyone reading this who isn’t a cartoonist!


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, plus a small “kicker” panel under the bottom of the comic strip.

PANEL 1

We’re in a hilly park or field. Two people appear to be having an argument. One is a brown-skinned woman with black hair, with a couple of pink streaks running through it.  She’s wearing a white tank top with broad blue strips on it. Let’s call her PINKY. The other person is a white man wearing a white tee shirt with a “!” design on it. He has fluffy brown hair and a full beard. Let’s call him BEARDO.

Pinky is looking angry and pointing a critical finger at Beardo. Beardo is looking angry, too, and is making a big “I’m frustrated” arm gesture.

BEARDO: It’s illibral to accuse people of “racism.” Where’s due process? Where’s freedom of speech?

PINKY: I’m so tired of that right-wing —

PANEL 2

Pinky jumps back in alarm, while Beardo talks on cheerfully. Between them, a superhero has appeared in a puff of smoke (there’s a “poof” sound effect). The superhero is wearing a tight blue outfit, with boots and a cape and a shield-shaped symbol on his chest that says “MLB.” He is standing in with his hands on his hips and his chest thrust up a bit. His expression is happy but also smug.

PINKY: Whoa! Where’d HE come from?

BEARDO: This is My Liberal Beliefs. He suddenly appears and protects me when I’m accused of being right-wing.

PANEL 3

There is a close-up of a bunch of political logo pins, pined to My Liberal Beliefs’ chest. We can see Beardo’s hand as he points at the pins. There are five pins, and here’s what they say:

“Pro Choice until I decide it’s gone too far”

“I will probably VOTE democrat.”

“I fight for FREE SPEECH of wealthy pundits s who are very like myself.”

“Gay Marriage Yay!”

“If I had been around back then I’m sure I would have marched with MLK.”

BEARDO: Just LOOK at all My Liberal Beliefs! How could I possibly be right-wing?

PANEL 4

Pinky looks a little annoyed, while Beardo, who has his arms folded across his chest, looks quite cheerful. In between them, My Liberal Beliefs has disappeared, leaving a “poof cloud” in the air behind him.

PINKY: So do Your Liberal Beliefs ever speak aloud?

BEARDO: That’s not what they’re for.

SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE CARTOON

Beardo, looking a bit angry, is talking to Barry the cartoonist.

BEARDO: So if virtually every public argument I make is attacking the left, THAT makes me right-wing?

BARRY: Only literally.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics | 36 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Half Amused Edition

  1. Strawmanny Questions About Genital Preference, Part One | Thing of Things
    “I recently stumbled across this set of questions for trans people about sexual orientation and genital preferences. Since there is nothing I enjoy more than answering strawmanny questions, I decided to help…”
  2. A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion – The New York Times
    This is a really enjoyable article about a 1830 woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai: “Ejiri in Suruga Province.” But what’s really amazing about it, for me, is the format; as you scroll down the article, the view of the print changes, zooming in on details the article is highlighting. An impressive use of web design to improve content.
  3. The Attack on Voting in the 2020 Elections – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    “As we approach an election in which the threat of voter fraud is being used as a justification for unprecedented legal and political interventions in our democratic process, it is important to understand what this claim actually represents: It is nothing short of a decades-long disinformation campaign…”
  4. A man’s journey from dismissing to getting sick and spreading coronavirus – The Washington PostHow a conservative’s covid denial destroyed his family.
  5. The Supreme Court will hear a case that could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act – Vox
  6. Trump’s New Supreme Court Is Coming for the Next Elections
  7. “Lovers make the easiest marks”: Profile of a romance scammer
  8. Does Call of Duty Believe in Anything? – YouTube
    A 25-minute video about how ridiculous it is to insist, as the creators do, that this hugely successful video game series is “not political.”
  9. US democracy is broken: How to fix voting rights, elections, the Senate, and the Electoral College – Vox
    Humanitarian Camp Raided by Border Patrol and BORTAC, 30+ People Arrested – UNICORN RIOT
    Because God forbid that any unauthorized migrant fail to suffer an incredibly awful death. These people would have 100% been on the concentration camp side during the Holocaust, while making similar excuses.
  10. Inside eBay’s Cockroach Cult: The Ghastly Story of a Stalking Scandal – The New York Times (Alternate link.)
    Who knew Ebay had what was, in effect, a dirty ops team? And an incompetent one, at that.
  11. Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Talk to You — ProPublica
  12. The Monkeys You Ordered: New Yorker cartoons with literal captions.
  13. The Mythical Taboo on Race and Intelligence – John P. Jackson, Andrew S. Winston, 2020
    “There are two rival explanations for why hereditarian research is not widely accepted outside their small circle of researchers. The first is the banal explanation is that they are not, in fact, producing reliable and empirically robust, scientifically meaningful conclusions; an explanation clearly unacceptable to hereditarians. Thus, they offer their rival explanation: there is an unacceptable political dogma preventing discussing the scientific truth of racial differences.”

Posted in Link farms | 28 Comments  

Cartoon: Why Aren’t You Wearing A Mask?


If you like these cartoons, help me make more by supporting my Patreon!


I posted this cartoon on patreon a little over a month ago, but it resonates differently now, with President Trump sick with Covid. I don’t want Trump to die, but the phrase “you brought this on yourself” very much applies here.


I generally create “evergreen” cartoons – cartoons that are about ongoing, often underlying issues, rather than about a passing news stories. But sometimes I can’t resist doing a cartoon about current events, and this cartoon is one of those times.

(At least, I really hope the need for people to mask will be a passing thing.)

People refusing to mask really infuriates me,  because it’s not just about them. All of us are in more danger – and all of us are further away from a return to anything approaching normalcy – because of people refusing to take coronavirus seriously.

It’s unbelievable, but every panel of this cartoon is based on things real anti-maskers have said. For instance, a citizen at a public meeting about covid, in Canyon County, Idaho, said that if God wanted us wearing masks we’d have been born with them. (This was reported by Don Day on Twitter.)

That medical authorities – or “the deep state” – is purposely delaying progress on covid until after the election, in order to hurt President Trump’s re-election chances, is believed by many on the far right, including President Trump himself, because Republicans really, really wanted an delusional narcissistic ignoramus to be the most powerful person in the world.

The “Chinese globalist Bill Gates bioweapon attack” idea comes to us from megapopular far-right pundit Alex Jones.

One of these panels, however, is based on a personal encounter. I needed to go the pharmacy, so I took the bus. Portland buses are usually very good – everyone masks (there are free masks available for anyone without), the seats are marked off for social distancing, and there’s a hand sanitizer dispenser by the door. But this time, a man a couple of seats in front of me was yakking on his cell phone, with his mask pulled down around his neck.

I’m very non-confrontational in person, largely because I have a phobia of being punched in the mouth. But this time, as I was exiting the bus, I turned back to the man (we were at least six feet apart) and reminded him that we’re required to wear masks on the bus. He grinned and said “I AM wearing a mask,” pointing to the mask around his neck. He clearly thought this was very clever.


This cartoon is in one of my favorite formats, which I haven’t done in a while – a different character in each panel, all talking directly to the viewer about the cartoon’s theme.  Not having to be consistent from panel to panel, either in character design or in setting, makes these cartoons a lot of fun for me to draw.

I was having trouble drawing the hands in panels four and six, so I took reference photos with my webcam. I tried to imitate the expressions I’d drawn on the characters, but without much success.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. In each panel, a different white person speaks directly to the viewer. In addition, a seventh, small “kicker” panel is underneath the final panel.

PANEL 1

Most of this panel is taken up by a large caption. In big, friendly lettering, it says “Why aren’t you wearing a MASK?”

Below the caption, an older-looking man in a polo shirt and wearing a “MAGA” hat holds up his hand dismissively, an angry expression on his face.

MAN: Why bother? Once Biden wins, they’ll announce a “cure” the next day.

PANEL 2

A man with a wide grin, wearing a fleece vest over a long-sleeved shirt, has a mask down around his neck, which he is pointing to with one hand.

MAN: I am wearing a mask! Around my neck IS wearing it!

MAN: Ha-HAH! You’re wiggling in the mighty claws of my invincible logic!

PANEL 3

A woman with long blonde hair, wearing a shirt with short, puffy sleeves and a red skirt with a pattern of white dots, stands with her arms folded, looking angry. Behind her is a stone wall, with some trees visible above the top of the wall.

WOMAN: Early on scientists said NOT to wear masks. When scientists change their minds because they’ve learned more, that PROVES they can’t be trusted!

PANEL 4

A man with very round wide eyes, and a huge wide grin, holds up a forefinger to point at the sky. There are clouds in the background; coming out of one of the clouds is God’s head, drawn as an older Black woman, looking down at him.

MAN: If God wanted us to wear masks, we’d be born wearing masks, right?

GOD: Nope nope that’s totally wrong.

PANEL 5

A hand holds a smart phone. On the phone’s screen, a young man in a plaid shirt over a black tee-shirt speaks with a wide mouth, waving his arms in the air.

MAN: Masks are a CHINESE GLOBALIST BILL GATES BIOWEAPON ATTACK ON OUR FREEDOM! And that’s just SCIENCE!

PANEL 6

A balding man, wearing a collared shirt with a necktie and an open vest, speaks angrily, pointing to himself with one of his thumbs.

MAN: A MASK? Do I LOOK like a woman to you?

SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE COMIC

The “do I look like a woman to you” man, looking a little confused, is speaking to Barry the cartoonist. Barry is wearing a surgical-style mask.

MAN: Toxic mascu-WHAT now?

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 12 Comments