Cartoonists Chit Chat

Since there aren’t already enough white guys discussing the news, myself and Matt Bors decided we’d give it a go in a Google Hangout last week. Here are the sloppy results:

We’re going to do another one this afternoon at 4EDT/1PDT so you can goof off at work. Check this post around then for the livestream, or follow Matt and me on Twitter for a link when we start. And this time I’ll lock my chair so I don’t constantly rock back and forth like a mental patient.

D-Plus Solutions for D-Plus Problems

D+ Solutions for D+ Problems

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A long time ago, before I started a career in the silly-picture business, I studied mechanical engineering. At the time, I thought of civil engineers as lazy folks who couldn’t handle the systems and dynamics involved with mechanical engineering and opted for the relative ease of designing static bridges and levees instead. I was kind of a dick back then.

The truth is that civil engineers design and make most of the shit we need to live in the modern world. And when they say our shit is falling apart and in need of repair, I tend to believe them. Their grade went up a bit from a D to a D+ in the four years since the last report, and most of that improvement can be attributed to the 2009 stimulus and rail monopolies improving stuff they own; not the socialist roads and bridges we use every day.

A lot of dummies will decry infrastructure improvement as EVIL GOVERNMENT SPENDING. But done right, it’s actually an investment that can grow the economy by adding jobs and making private business operate more efficiently. Those who disagree are free to use only private roads and bridges, and shit in a bucket in their backyards instead of using our collective commie sewer systems.

Bloomberg’s Food Rules

Bloomberg's Food Rules

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Oddly enough, one of my more “New Yorky” Strips didn’t appear in Sunday’s NYTimes. It wasn’t censored or spiked in deference to Bloomberg, just to make space for an ad. Yay, capitalism!

I don’t really have an opinion on Bloomberg’s soda ban other than it was a dumb idea. People should drink less diabetes-juice, but the proposed ban was incredibly arbitrary. A better way to reduce consumption of that junk would be to tax and stigmatize it like cigarettes.

In actual news, a class action suit started today against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, which affects around 500,000 people a year. Most of them are considered “suspicious” for carrying around too much melanin.

I don’t know enough to say whether the NYPD killing of Kimani Gray was justified or not, but they sure used a lot of bullets and many of them were in his back. Based on their long, horrible history, the NYPD shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Dow Jones Industrial Average

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The Dow Jones reached record highs last week! The recovery’s over … for the rich. The rest of us have had more productivity squeezed out of us for the same, or even lower wages, or are one of the 12 million or so who want a job but can’t find one.

February’s jobs numbers were pretty decent, for an average month in the 90’s. But to make a dent in unemployment, those numbers would have to be significantly higher than that for a year just to bring us back to 2007’s not-so-great numbers. Unfortunately, it’s easier to report on the Dow with a green or red arrow and a number, than to explain the fall in median incomes and household wealth. It’s not impossible though. This video was everywhere last week, which shows the public actually wants to hear about this stuff:

And the stupidity of austerity, which we’re euphemistically calling “the sequester” because everyone knows austerity doesn’t work, won’t begin to gum up our already shitty economy until the end of this month. FUN TIMES.

I don’t own a portfolio, so I generally don’t read The Wall Street Journal, but this article about the poor, long-suffering banks is an example of how far up its own ass the financial sector is, five years after ruining everything:

Moreover, as investors chase stock returns, they are dumping fixed-income products, which will likely put pressure on interest rates. Over time, this will help the lending side of the ledger, which has been squeezed by razor-thin interest margins.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that even when all of the financial-crisis overhang subsides and the economy is thriving, it is unlikely that banks will be able to engage in the level of leverage that created outsize profits and stock valuations of the bubble days. U.S. regulators might not be able to rein in pay incentives as their European counterparts have, but they have been aggressive on balance-sheet risk.

Aw, those poor banks! They won’t be able to repeat the same disaster we’re still living through! They’ll have to come up with new bullshit schemes to extract wealth from ordinary Americans. And even though it’s a given that the U.S. won’t cut the bankers’ balls off like the Swiss did, there’ll be some unpleasant rules to make sure their balance-sheets are slightly grounded in reality. Fuck those guys.

Lastly, Eric Holder admits he’s a wuss.

The Injustice of Racial Entitlements

The Injustice of Racial Entitlements

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Justice Scalia said a bunch of dumb things last week during the Supreme Court’s hearing on striking down part of the Voting Rights Act; most notably saying reauthorization of Section 5 was a “perpetuation of a racial entitlement.” That section makes states and regions with a history of racial discrimination submit any changes to their voting laws to the Justice Department for approval before they’re implemented, AKA “preclearance.”

Opponents of Section 5 claim it puts an unfair burden on the states and regions it applies to. But most have glossed over the fact that there is already a process to get out of Section 5 called “bail out.”

Almost ignored by the justices, however, was that the Voting Rights Act has a provision that allows states to “bail out” of Section 5 coverage if they go a long time without proposing discriminatory voting changes. Almost 200 jurisdictions have bailed out of Section 5 since 1982, at a cost of about $5,000 each. Shelby County, Alabama, can’t do that, though, because in 2006 local officials redistricted the only black lawmaker in the city of Calera out of his seat.

Essentially Section 5 has its own sunset built-in. When racial discrimination in voting laws is eliminated in every American jurisdiction, and they all bail out of Section 5, it will be rendered moot. Striking the section before its time will ensure discriminatory shenanigans like Voter ID laws, gerrymandering and reducing voting hours in majority-minority precincts will continue well into the 21st century.

However, there are obvious problems with Section 5, especially that it mostly applies only to the South. This allows states elsewhere (And ALWAYS GOP-led) to enact bullshit laws designed to reduce minority turnout (who ALWAYS vote overwhelmingly for Democrats) in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. This could be easily fixed by placing the entire Republican Party under the jurisdiction of Section 5 until they stop being racist, or in practical terms, forever.

Lastly, Justice Roberts screwed up when he cited my state of Massachusetts as being more discriminatory than Mississippi. I’m not saying it’s free of racism, just that its large population of racist Irish drunks (As a progressive Irish drunk, I can say this.) don’t exert much influence on our voting laws.