Blog Archives

Cartoon(s) of the Week – What will we do for humor when Newt is gone?

Signe Wilkinson in The Courier-Journal:

One of these days, Newt, POW….

– and –

Chan Lowe in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Are his hopes up in the air?

– and –

David Horsey in the L. A. Times:

He’ll treat us like family…

– and –

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

But he’s open to review…NOT.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – If we could all get along!

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

We often think there is a way to compromise…

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Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

… even with Mitch McConnell

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Jeff Stahler in the Columbus Dispatch:

… but do any of us really mean it?

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Drew Sheneman in the Newark Star-Ledger:

So let’s not waste time on compromise, but get back to giving the voters what they want.

 

Cartoon(s) of the Week… Teabaggers Topple Traditional Tag Teams…

Jeff Danziger in the L.A. Times:

Post Primaries’ Pachyderm Pandemonium…

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Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

Rough Ride Racks Right…

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Chan Lowe in the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Couch Candidates Claim Congress…

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Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Reality Rejected Republican Rhetoric…

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Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Whores Walk With Wealth.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – The Questionable Issues of Republican Politics

Jeff Stahler in the Columbus Dispatch:

How do you make a scared American?

– and –

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

How do you create a phony issue?

-and –

Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

How do you build on the public’s knowledge of American History?

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Milt Priggee at MiltPriggee.com:

If you can’t do all these things to avoid REAL Issues, how can you be a Republican?

Cartoon(s) of the Week — Race Raises Its Head

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

The Shirley Sherrod incident brought up the Race issue this past week and it wouldn’t go away… for this we thank the Right (and their amazing Murdoch-iated Media at Fox News) for catching us AGAIN!

– and –

Pat Oliphant, NYT Syndicate:

And , of course, these situations bring out the REAL PROFESSIONALS…

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Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

And it is easy fool all of the people some of the time… hell, you can probably do it ALL of the time.

I was never more disappointed as when I discovered that Andrew Breitbart was Orson Bean’s Son In Law!

Here’s an editorial I reprint from Truthout in its entirety:

Yes, Virginia, There is a Legitimate Case Against Free Trade

Sunday 25 April 2010

by: Ian Fletcher, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

There is a myth in wide circulation that the superiority of free trade is simply a settled question on which all serious economists agree. The flip side of this myth, of course, is that anyone who criticizes free trade must either be ignorant of economics, or the spokesman of some special interest which hopes to benefit from trade restrictions. Such critics are not only wrong, the story continues with admittedly impeccable logic, but profoundly worthy of public contempt, as they are necessarily either dumb or corrupt.

Unfortunately, this myth is just that: a myth, promoted by special interests which benefit from free trade, whatever the harm to the rest of the economy. Serious economists actually recognize a number of very serious criticisms of free trade – even economists who ultimately decide that free trade is better than the alternatives. They generally don’t talk about the flaws of free trade too loudly, for fear of provoking the public into supporting stupid forms of protectionism, but they certainly know they are there.

Thanks to recent developments in economics (most visibly signaled by Paul Krugman’s winning the 2009 Nobel Prize), these criticisms are becoming more serious every day. There is, in fact, an inexorable erosion of the credibility of free trade going on in the academy, not that you’d know it from watching the economists who show up on TV.

The rest of this article is just a wee bit technical. The point is not to baffle the reader, but to pry open the mysterious “black box” of free trade economics a little, and let non-economists in on the big secret that economists regard as dangerous to talk about too loudly: free trade economics is a package of mechanisms that, like any piece of machinery, can and do break down all the time. And when they break down, free trade ceases to be a good idea.

Let’s crack open that intimidating black box, shall we, and have a look at the machinery inside? Free trade has roughly ten very serious problems.

The first problem is the assumption that trade is sustainable. But a nation exporting non-renewable resources may discover that its best move (in the short run) is to export until it runs out. The flip side of this problem is overconsumption, in which a nation (like the present-day U.S., maybe?) borrows from abroad in order to finance a short-term binge of imports that lowers its long-term living standard due to the accumulation of foreign debt and the sale of assets to foreigners.

The second problem is that free trade increases inequality even if it makes the economy grow overall (which is itself questionable). Because free trade tends to raise returns to the abundant input to production (in America, capital) and lower returns to the scarce input (in America, labor), it tends to benefit capital at labor’s expense. Economists call this the Stolper-Samuelson theorem.

The third problem is so-called “negative externalities,” the economists’ term for when economic value is destroyed without a price tag being attached to the damage. Environmental damage is the most obvious example, but there are others, like the cost of writing off expensively-developed human capital (otherwise known as “people”) when free trade wipes out entire American industries.

The fourth problem is positive externalities, like the way some industries (mainly high technology) open up paths of growth for the entire economy. All industries are not alike, and the profits of an industry today do not necessarily predict the industry’s long-term value for the economy. Free trade can allow these industries to be wiped out because it ignores this hidden value, harming the rest of the economy for decades to come.

The next four problems concern the all-important Theory of Comparative Advantage, the theoretical keystone of free trade economics. This theory, invented by the British economist David Ricardo in 1817, says that free trade will automatically cause nations to specialize in producing whatever they are relatively best at, and that this will lead to the best of all possible worlds. To wit:

Problem number five is that Ricardo’s theory assumes factors of production are mobile within nations. Unemployed autoworkers become aircraft workers, and abandoned automobile plants turn into aircraft factories. But this doesn’t always happen, and when it does, it is often at considerable cost.

Problem number six is the assumption, in Ricardo’s theory, that the inputs used in production (like labor, capital, and technology) are not mobile between nations. His theory says that free trade automatically reshuffles a nation’s factors of production to their most productive uses. But if factors of production are internationally mobile, and their most-productive use is in another country, then free trade will cause them to migrate there – which is not necessarily best for the nation they depart.

Problem number seven is that Ricardo’s theory assumes the economy is always operating at full output – or at least that trade has no effect on its output level. But if trade puts people and factories out of action, this isn’t true.

Problem number eight is that Ricardo’s theory assumes short-term efficiency is the origin of long-term growth. But long-term economic growth is about turning from Burkina Faso into South Korea, not about being the most-efficient possible Burkina Faso forever. History has shown time and again that the short-term inefficiencies of a tariff, properly implemented, are more than compensated for by the long-term spur to industry growth it can provide, largely because growth has more to do with the industry externalities mentioned above (problem number four) than short-term efficiency per se.

Problem number nine is that Ricardo’s theory merely guarantees (if true, which is itself questionable due to problems five through eight) there will be gains from free trade. It does not guarantee that changes induced by free trade, like rising productivity abroad, will cause these gains to grow rather than shrink. So if free trade strengthens our economic rivals, then it may harm us in the long run by stiffening international competition, even if it was advantageous for us to buy goods from these rivals in the short run.

The final problem is that, in the presence of scale economies, the perfectly-competitive international markets presumed by the theory of comparative advantage do not exist. Instead, industries tend to be imperfectly competitive and quasi-monopolistic. Under these conditions, outsize profits and wages accrue to nations that host such industries. And free trade will not necessarily assign any given nation these industries.

Hopefully, the above list should convince the reader that free trade is, at the very least, an extremely complicated question, and by no means something that anyone is entitled to consider simply settled. Therefore, it is high time that free trade’s critics were given the serious hearing that they deserve. America desperately needs a full-fledged debate on whether to continue with its Cold War policy of free trade or return to the protectionism we embraced from Independence until roughly the end of WWII.

Truthout / CC BY-NC 3.0

Cartoon(s) of the Week – couldn’t decide between these two…

Tom Oliphant in the Boston Globe:

Even Minorities don’t want Steele…

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Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Trust. What a concept.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – I had two favorites.

Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant:

Don’t Criticize Judges. They Bite.

Clay Jones in the Fredericksburg Free Lance – Star:

History in the Sight of God! Goodbye Reality.

Cartoon(s) of the Week

A few goodies this week:

1.) Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

This one made my Groundhog Day…

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Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Quite an accurate picture of the Republican response to bipartisanship…

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John Trever in The Albuquerque Journal

Budget figure problems are all in your point of view.

NY Times Editorial: It Happened in Our Backyard

clipped from www.nytimes.com

We sympathized with the concerns about security and inconvenience raised by the Justice Department’s plan to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, at a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, a short walk from ground zero.

But caving in to political pressure and agreeing to move the trial, as The Times reported the Obama administration has decided to do, was the wrong move. New York was the right place for this trial. This is where the attack occurred, and New Yorkers should have been proud to see justice done here. The United States District Court in Manhattan has a long, successful record of trying terrorists, including the ones responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
President George W. Bush’s decision to hold prisoners outside the law and then attempt to try them in rigged military courts was legally wrong, and hugely damaging to American values and this country’s global image.
  blog it
There’s more to be read in this editorial HERE.

And just in case you are wondering, I agree with the Times’ editors.

Cartoon(s) of the Week… concerning Haiti

Is there a more important story this week? I doubt it.

Ed Stein at UFS:

Enough said.

You can make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donors can designate their gifts to Haiti relief. You can also donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “HAITI” to 90999.

Tony Auth at the Philadelphia Inquirer:

…and if you were going to donate money to Robertson’s ministry, perhaps you’ll give it to Haiti instead.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Thanksgiving and Politics

Couldn’t make up my mind on these… so I’ll let you do it.

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

So we know what THEY give thanks for…

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Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Naaah.. those Republicans aren’t going to pass ANYTHING!

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David Horsey in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

…and this is where we leave American Capitalism…

Cartoon(s) of the Week – and a week defining America it was!

I’ve picked two that stood out for me on two issues, war and politics. There were more, but these will serve.

John Sherffius, Boulder (CO) Daily Camera:

JohnSherffiusBoulderDailyCam

As we get closer to a Viet Nam-like War, I remember my Uncle Butch who is on The Wall, as another war seems to be fought for invented reasons…

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Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal – Constitution:

LuckovichAtl-JC

And we watch the Republicans move further towards shrinking their party…

Truthout has a pertinent editorial on this Anniversary Day

I’m glad to see the editors of Truthout, which has always seemed to me to maintain a distanced and balanced viewpoint on partisan politics, has taken a strong view on the Afghanistan War. I read it (as I sat here and listened to John Carter, Republican of Texas, trying to get Charles Rangel pulled off the Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee) and I hope you will read it, too.

Here’s a clip from the summary:

As members of the Senate and House go into conference to decide the fate of the defense spending bill in the coming weeks – and as they consider additional war funding for 2011 over the next few months – we hope they will recognize the futility of escalating violence and the urgency of searching for peaceful means to end the conflict.

President Obama has called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity.” We entreat Congress and the administration to reframe the official story on Afghanistan and reveal the true necessity at hand: to stop funding directionless violence and bring the troops home.

Go HERE to read the whole thing.

N.Y. Times Editorial: A Strong Health Reform Bill

The Times says it’s a “Bill worth fighting for.” Here’s a piece of the editorial… go HERE to read the whole thing.


July 16, 2009

While the Senate continues to struggle over its approach to health care reform, House Democratic leaders have unveiled a bill that would go a long way toward solving the nation’s health insurance problems without driving up the deficit. It is already drawing fierce opposition from business groups and many Republicans. This is a bill worth fighting for.

The bill would require virtually all Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. And it would require all but the smallest businesses to provide health insurance for their workers or pay a substantial fee. It would also expand Medicaid to cover many more poor people, and it would create new exchanges through which millions of middle-class Americans could buy health insurance with the help of government subsidies. The result would be near-universal coverage at a surprisingly manageable cost to the federal government.

Cartoons of the Week Leftovers

I knew I missed a couple good ones when I did the All Sarah Palin Quits Cartoon Festival two days ago. Here are two I missed:

Jeff Stahler in the Columbus Dispatch:

Stahler

. and .

Ben Sargent in the Austin-American Statesman:

Sargent

Can you believe the wealth of material that this archetypical Repugnican has provided to our best art-commentators?