The Daily Cartoonist Weekend Update

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CSotD: weekend update

Jack Ohman (Counterpoint) notes the absence of conflict of interest rules for the Congress, in the light a proposal by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to prevent senior officials, including Supreme Court justices, from gambling in the stock market.

It sounds ridiculous and unnecessary, but the fact that it’s necessary explains why it’s not ridiculous.

It’s not entirely accurate to describe our government as a plutocracy, but it’s certainly accurate to note that we don’t have many shoe shiners and babysitters in Congress, and the handful of people from the middle and working class stands out among the millionaires. The days when an Abe Lincoln or a Harry Truman could rise from the dust seem long gone, and even then the ‘born in a log cabin’ story may be more political hype than strict accounting analysis.

As an example, here – stripped of its paywall – is an interesting account by Philip Bump of the far more complex reality behind the banal claim that Jimmy Carter placed his peanut farm in a blind trust. It’s worth reading because even a sincerely ethical man like Carter had a hard time disentangling himself from his possessions, and he was trying.

Not everyone makes that effort, and sometimes it’s out of greed, but other times it’s trying to explain “wet” to a fish. They’ve lived in a world of stock trading for so long that they don’t recognize it, and they certainly don’t realize that not everyone lives that way.

Although Marie Antoinette didn’t say it anyway, the old “let them eat cake” was based on the blind assumption that, if people didn’t have bread, they could instead eat buns and other baked goods, because – my faith! – everyone has them.

Another metaphor is to consider how we are hurtling down narrow roads at 55 mph, protected from oncoming traffic by stripes of paint on the asphalt.

It works fine until it no longer does.

Likewise, we have, through this whole sordid coup attempt, realized how our system is based on the good faith and honest intentions of the participants, and how easily it can implode when someone decides to exploit the lack of real constraints.

The biggest laugh being that when I was hired as a reporter I was told it was fine to own stocks but I shouldn’t do a lot of trading and trading and such, which might have mattered to the Washington Post or the NY Times, but seemed a bit silly to our little newspaper, because I kinda doubt that the fact that I’m writing about the new crosswalk near the The paper mill was going to have a big impact on Georgia-Pacific’s stock prices.

But we had these rules because ethics mattered.


juxtaposition of the day

(Bill Bramhall)

(Ann Telnaes)

Even admitting the limited constraints of existing law, it is clear that outright lying and fraud are not a matter of ethics but of legality.

As Bramhall suggests, it’s taken Tish James a while to put the hook in that Pinocchio’s prone nose, and she hasn’t landed the fish yet, while Telnaes points out that her catch includes the whole family, regardless of Bill Barr’s Defense poor orphan children who had no idea what was going on.

It’s not just that people in their 40s are far too young to be held accountable for their actions. It’s obvious, and that’s precisely why there is no one under 50 in any of our prisons.

But there’s an extra defense in there, when the president-elect held a press conference to explain how he was going to hand over all Trump operations to the little Trumplingsthe files of information they were supposed to rely on seemed empty.

The poor children had no advice!

Having covered real estate development for years, my expectations of the business are modest. “The art of the deal” is well formulated: many more shopping malls are nailed to golf courses than are meticulously planned in conference rooms.

So when – after million dollars Scaife and months of high profile but vague accusations – the facts of the Whitewater deal finally emerged, it may have shocked rubies, but those of us who covered commercial real estate were astounded, because it is how it works and we could point to a thousand offers exactly like that.

Which may have confused us when Trump took the throne, because he came across as another loud-mouthed, corner-cutting, self-promoting bullshit artist. A good one, watch out. A very good one. But still familiar.

However, most snake oil sellers are careful to walk very close to the line without crossing it completely.

Every once in a while, a high-flying tyro gets its tail caught in the crack, and the industry throbs with a combination of schadenfreude and existential dread.

Because no one – crooks or journalists – really expects a Tish James to come along and press charges.

I think I’m in love.

Still on the subject of scammers, I had a good laugh by Drew Sheneman cartoon, in which he notes that DeSantis and Abbott can honestly say they sent those Venezuelans to a much better place.

One could argue, for example, that spending money on Texas’ failing power grid might be a smarter move than using it for campaign stunts, but, then, the fact that an overwhelming majority of people support a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health did not prevent them from imposing a minority view on their states.

To hell with practical considerations.

I’m more concerned about people – including some cartoonists – who continue to repeat outright absurd lies about the Martha’s Vineyard scheme. I worry for a nation in which people honestly believe in such transparent and hateful nonsense.

Besides, I’m intrigued by Floridians who are proud to have fled Castro, but who have no compassion for those fleeing the communist government of Venezuela.

Salazar also bragged on Twitter about hating Chinese Communists, only for users to ask her why, so she voted against the CHIPS Act to bring high-tech production home.

Silly question. It’s all about team loyalty.

It doesn’t matter if they win or lose, cheat or play fair, as long as they are part of our team.

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