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TARP and Twitter

I had an interesting web experience. My tweet noting that the US Treasury made a profit on TARP got a relatively large number of replies. Many people were outraged in many contradictory ways.

Twitter is damaging the discussion. Trump on twitter lowered the level of debate. I am now a carrier of Twitteritis into the Angry Bear community, because I am brining a tweet debate here.

The discussion starts with this tweet

tarptwitter

note it is the 5th of a series. Trying to summarize, I realize that I should quote

1. To those saying there is no such thing as a good Trump voter. Context man. Context
2. Imagine a scenario. You got two choices, as understood by you
. This is the key. This is how you see it, not how others think you see it
3. Vote for candidate
A) who will devalue you socially & economically
Or
B) who might devalue economically, but will value you socially
4. What will the majority of any group do? Including blacks & Latinos?
If you don’t give them SOMETHING to vote for they won’t vote for it
5. Mistake is thinking that Trump voters believe they are getting anything economically out of a Clinton administration. (TARP cough TARP)

I will briefly summarize my impresssion of @Chris_arnade thoughts on the topic expressed on twitter.

Overall the point is that it is possible to understand why people voted for Trump. Consider TARP. Anger at TARP (and NAFTA) helped Trump. I agree entirely, and think this is important. Hatred of TARP helped Trump.

I am trying to get to responses to my tweet

“@Chris_arnade TARP was a Bush admin initiative and a gigantic success. US gov made a profit”

They do not include anyone suggesting it is unfair to Consider Clinton responsible for TARP (I agree — she deserves credit only for her yes votes in Senate roll calls). The fact that TARP was a Bush administration initiative is clearly considered irrelevant to the question of whether Democrats should be punished for TARPing.

I’m going to put alll of my thoughts after the jump.

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Breaking: David Axelrod Switches Gig From CNN to Fox

David Axelrod 

@davidaxelrod

Now Ds who were savaging Comey a few days ago will praise him & GOPers who were behind him will turn on him again. http://wapo.st/2fpVRCL 

3:38 PM – 6 Nov 2016

Um … no.

No.  No:

Mark Harris 

@MarkHarrisNYC

“HEY EVERYONE THERE MAY BE A FIRE I’LL CHECK HEY EVERYONE I CHECKED NO FIRE APPRECIATE THE CONGRATS”
-James Comey in a crowded theater

4:32 PM – 6 Nov 2016 · Manhattan, NY, United States

Mr. Axelrod, do update us on all those Ds who are praising Comey.  From your new perch at Fox. Twitter waits breathlessly.

And, just to avoid, well, comments of a certain type: The title of this post is facetious.

Maybe.

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The New Transparency in Government Will Make America Great Again. Believe Me. [Links repaired, 11/5 at 11:29 a.m.]

The people familiar with the investigation said that senior officials had been informed weeks earlier that a computer belonging to former congressman Anthony Weiner, D-New York, contained emails potentially pertinent to the Clinton investigation. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, shared the computer with her husband, from whom she is now separated.

….

It is unclear what FBI agents have learned since discovering the emails in early October. But officials say they gained enough information from the email metadata to take the next step, seeking a warrant to review the actual emails. That legal step prompted Comey’s letter to Congress, which has made him a central figure during the stretch run of the presidential campaign.

“He needed to make an informed decision, knowing that once he made that decision, he was taking it to another level,” an official with knowledge of the decision-making process said.

FBI leaders knew about new emails for weeks before Comey letter, Sari Horwitz, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, Nov. 2 at 7:37 p.m.

 

 

When it was revealed last Friday that there had been a Comey recount and Clinton lost, Solomon turned into Torquemada. But, of course, Comey had no choice. How could he have sat on a trove of 650,000 newly discovered emails and kept that knowledge suppressed until after the election?

Final days, awful choice, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, today

The Horwitz and Yakashima article was published online not just by the Washington Post and in its print edition yesterday, but also (apparently) by other newspapers.  The link for it that I’m using is to the Chicago Tribune website.  Presumably, it appeared also in yesterday’s print edition, along with all the good stuff about the Cubs’ 10th inning Series victory.

I pause here to say to the Cubs on behalf of my late, lifelong-Cubs-fan relatives: Thanks.

But along with that big sports story, there was this: The three paragraphs I quote above contain two profound misstatements—the error in the first of those paragraphs the apparent result of a quick, (I believe) verbatim, copy-and-paste by these journalists from the original, breaking story on Comey’s letter to Congress and quickly afterward, his email to FBI employees.

The letter in which Comey actually said he had sent the letter partly because he wanted to influence voters’ vote choices by providing them with the information in the letter—a fact that has received little press attention and none, to my knowledge, from Clinton and down-ballot Democrats.

Information, during early voting in more than 20 states and absentee voting in every state, and 11 days from the election itself, that Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, shared the computer with her husband, from whom she is now separated.

Information that Comey sent the letter to Congress after a search warrant was obtained and agents had had time to learn information about the metadata—inferentially including the approximate number of emails involved.

The first of those representations is almost certainly wrong, the second unequivocally wrong.

And Krauthammer, a nationally syndicated columnist, is unequivocally wrong, about two things: That, of course, Comey had no choice. And that all, or even remotely close to all, of the 650,000 emails on Weiner’s personal computer were emails between Abedin and Clinton.  The claim is logically absurd, and the leaks from the FBI since Friday estimate that about 30,000 of them are to or from Abedin.

The Washington Post’s story on the emails issue today does not repeat those errors.  But neither does it expressly correct its report from the day before, and say that it is a correction.  It should do this, online today and in print in Sunday’s paper.

Also widely reported over a period of several days, by many, many news organizations, was that Abedin had received a subpoena for all electronic devices she had used to send or receive emails about State Dept. matters, or to or from Clinton.  Yesterday, it was reported that that, too, is false.

The news outlets that reported the misinformation should prominently correct it.

But my immediate point is this: Every one of these errors by the journalists who made them—with the exception of Krauthammer’s—was absolutely understandable as inference from Comey’s two public messages on Friday.

But the larger point is that Comey told all the world that law enforcement prosecutorial powers of raw information- and evidence-gathering via the various means available only to law enforcement—including search warrants, grand jury testimony, informants, and plea bargaining deals—are now available to the public if a law enforcement officials or rank-and-file employees opt for transparencyAt least if a partisan legislative body has subpoenaed a law enforcement investigative-agency official about an ongoing or closed investigation, and in answering a query during his or her testimony, promises real-time release of any further information or evidence, even before it is known what, if anything at all, the information means that is relevant.

Presumably, this applies in investigations of pretty much anyone or anything. Irrespective of its political potential.  But a rule of thumb is that, the closer to an election, and the less known about what the information actually is and whether it is relevant to anything other than political smear, and the higher the office of the candidate at issue, the freer law enforcement officials and rank-and-file employees are to make it known to the public.

As Krauthammer and Comey both say: Of course.

Hope y’all  agree.  Cuz this is a genie that may be impossible to put back in the bottle.

But I do wonder about this: Isn’t it conservatives—Republicans—who are always raising shouting, “Separation of Powers!  Separation of Powers!”

Guess that, too, is no longer true.  Right?

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The 2016 election economy: the "Bread and Peace" model final forecast

by New Deal democrat

The 2016 election economy: the “Bread and Peace” model final forecast

One of the election forecasts I have referred to frequently for the last year is the “Bread and Peace” model by Professor Douglas Hibbs.  Hibbs himself has not published any forecasts for this election, but the result forecast by his model has been updated from time to time by the site “Pollyvote,” which describes his model thusly:

The Bread and Peace model, developed by Douglas Hibbs, predicts the two-party popular vote based on just two fundamental variables that systematically affected post-war aggregate votes for president:

  1. Weighted-average growth of per capita real disposable personal income over the term, and
  1. Cumulative US military fatalities due to unprovoked, hostile deployments of American armed forces in foreign wars.

As of one week ago, the site forecast:

The 2016 Bread and Peace model predicts a victory for Hillary Clinton with 53.9% of the major party vote (compared to 46.1% for Donald Trump).

On Monday September personal income was reported, rising +0.3%. The inflation measure rose +0.1%.  But real *disposable* income for the month actually declined, so here is what real disposable personal income per capita looks like through Q3, the last measure before the election:

Figure 1

The deceleration in growth of real disposable personal income is evident when we look at this data YoY:

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James Comey Must Go

Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post report

Senior FBI officials were informed about the discovery of new emails potentially relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server at least two weeks before Director James B. Comey notified Congress, according to federal officials familiar with the investigation.

The officials said that Comey was told that there were new emails before he received a formal briefing last Thursday, although the precise timing is unclear.

The information goes beyond the details provided in the letter that Comey sent to lawmakers last week declaring that he was restarting the inquiry into whether Clinton mishandled classified material during her tenure as secretary of state. He wrote in the Friday letter that “the investigative team briefed me yesterday” about the additional emails.

Almost everyone who read Comey’s letter was mislead because “briefed me yesterday” is truth and nothing but the truth, but not the whole relevant truth. The word “yesterday” is accurate, but its only effect is to mislead. The statement “I was told something about the e-mails yesterday” is not logically inconsistent with “and also weeks ago,” but the normal rules for understanding ordinary English imply an interpretation inconsistent with the facts. James Comey is a very skilled lawyer. He knew what he was doing. He deliberately mislead Congress.

More importantly, the anonymous FBI personal talking to the Post can’t get their story straight.

Comey did not notify Congress as soon as he learned about the emails because officials wanted additional information before proceeding, the officials said.

If they were willing to follow proper Justice Department procedures, they would have also wanted, indeed insisted, that the election pass before proceeding.

But now everything is different because metadata.

Even after Comey received the desired information, major questions still remain — for instance, how many emails are related to Clinton or contain classified information.

[skip]

It is unclear what FBI agents have learned since discovering the emails in early October. But officials say they gained enough information from the email metadata to take the next step, seeking a warrant to review the actual emails.

Comey also needed to get out of the period of 60 days before an election to take the next step. I assume that it was legal for the FBI to look at meta data. But it sure doesn’t seem that they have at least 2s weeks looking at metadata. it is clear what FBI agents haven’t learned since discovdring the e-mails. The sender and recipient of an e-mail are metadata. They should know if any of the e-mails were sent to or received from Hillary Clinton.

The current FBI position is that they learned something in the last two weeks of October *and* that they know nothing nothing. The anonymous source is taking advantage of the facts that he or she is anonymous (and not under oath). The explanation of the delay of over two weeks but not 11 days more is plainly false. Horwitz and Nakashima pretty much write this. In Postspeak “It is unclear” means “he’s lying” (or “she’s lying” but certainly not “s/he’s lying” because the “s/he” is even more unacceptable than the “lying”).

The utter contempt for Justice Department rules is underlined by this quote from the liar

“He needed to make an informed decision, knowing that once he made that decision, he was taking it to another level,” an official with knowledge of the decision-making process said.”

He absolutely did not need to make a decision about whether to seek a warrant until next Wednesday. After making that decision, he was forbidden by department rules to take it to another level.

I’m shifting to wild speculation after the jump.

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The Mad Hatter Columbia U. Law Prof. Who Advised Comey That He Needed to Destroy the Village In Order to Save It* – UPDATED (His name is Daniel C. Richman.)

Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president. “Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” Mr. Richman said. “If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price.”

Former senior law enforcement officials in both parties, though, say Mr. Comey’s decision to break with Justice Department guidelines caused these problems. Had he handled the case the way the F.B.I. handled its investigations into the Clinton Foundation and Mr. Manafort over the summer, the argument goes, he would have endured criticism from Republicans in the future but would have preserved a larger principle that has guided cases involving both parties. …

F.B.I.’s Email Disclosure Broke a Pattern Followed Even This Summer, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, today

Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

– Me, here, yesterday

The particular part of that Washington Post article yesterday, by Ellen Nakashima, that I had most in mind was this:

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Eric Lichtblau vs. Eric Lichtblau: Why is the NYT hiding key information that the FBI knows but claims not to know (and that Lichtblau knows because he played a role in it) about the connection between a Trump organization server and Alpha Server, a huge Russian bank with connections to Putin?

Okay, folks.  Read this entire article, or if you’re short on time, do a word find for “Lichtblau.”  Then read this article in today’s NYT by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers.

Then ask, rhetorically, why Lichtblau did not mention in the Times article what happened with the Trump server that the FBI claims is receiving only random marketing spam (but only from Alpha Bank), after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.

Also ask—rhetorically—why the Times article today simply reports the FBI’s stated reason for concluding that this marketing-spam thing is plausible (and that that’s why they haven’t sought a search warrant for the server?), but doesn’t mention what Lichtblau knows: that the scientists Foer and, as I understand it, Lichtblau have received their information concluded a month or two ago that that explanation is virtually impossible.

Nor does it explain what happened with the Trump server after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.  

Who in the FBI decided to accept that explanation, despite the fact that at least one of the scientists who told Foer that that explanation is highly implausible also works under contract for … the FBI or one of the other agencies working on the matter?

Lotsa rhetorical questions to ask, actually.  Start asking them, folks.  And not just ones for the New York Times.

____

UPDATE: Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

Added 11/1 at 1:32 p.m.

____

SECOND UPDATE: Reader JackD and I just had the following exchange in the Comments thread:

JackD / November 1, 2016 2:26 pm

Dailykos is currently reporting that the FBI is releasing its closed investigative files regarding the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Come supervised the latter as it concluded. I suppose it could just be a coincidence. I didn’t know the FBI released its closed files that do not result in criminal action. The timing certainly stinks and could be relevant to a finding of Comey’s intent for Hatch Act purposed.

 

Me / November 1, 2016 3:16 pm

Hmmm. Who knew that the REAL purpose of the FBI is to use its investigative authority to help the Republican Party regain the WH and hold the Senate and House? Guess Comey did, but I sure didn’t. Until now.

Jack, the Foer revelations ARE now getting some real news media attention, as is the CNBC report from yesterday that Comey argued against release of the report in early Oct. that the Russians clearly are behind the Dem hackings and that the purpose is to influence the election.

I think what Comey’s up to is a preemptive distraction from probable imminent leaks that the FBI buried their own scientists’ conclusions that that Trump server in fact was communicating with Alpha Bank–and that the FBI declined to request a search warrant to confiscate the server. There’s no longer any danger of a breach-of-national-security charge against the leaker for release of classified info. The info about the server is now out there.

But just think about this: Comey knows that a Trump server at a minimum may be, and very likely is, communicating with Alpha Bank very, very secretly, using very elaborate techniques, and has been doing so since last spring. Yet he’s releasing raw investigative info shortly before the election, and during early voting in more than 20 states, in order to help Trump and down-ballot Republicans win election.

This is the FBI Director we’re talking about here.

And he’s not even named Hoover.  Or so he claims.

Added 11/1 at 3:29 p.m.

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Taking the CEO Salary Fight Local

Portland, Oregon’s government will be the first to test the legislative waters on excessive CEO pay by companies if passed the city board December 7, 2016. If the pay of a CEO exceeds 100 times of what a typical company employee makes, a surtax will be assessed the corporation. More than 500 corporations do enough business within Portland to be affected by the new tax. Since the Republican led Congress has failed to act on CEO excessive pay based upon Risk, many states and cities are looking at taking it upon themselves to assess companies who pay their executives in stock options and similar performance methods as it is taxed at a lower level than regular income. With the new tax, Portland is expected to generate up to $3.5 million, which will be used to care for the homeless.

Firms that do business in Portland would owe a 10 percent surtax on the city’s existing business tax if they pay their CEOs more than 100 times what their workers receive. For example, if a large company owes the city $100,000 and has a pay ratio of 175-to-1, its surtax would be $10,000. Other cities such as San Francisco are considering taking similar action.

Peter Drucker had strong feelings on the subject and he once termed sky-high CEO compensation ‘a serious disaster,’ which was well worth revisiting in light of the news that the men who sat atop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FRE) (BusinessWeek, 9/10/08) could be eligible for as much as $24 million in severance and other benefits after being ousted from their positions. Last week the federal government was forced to step in and rescue the faltering mortgage giants in a move that could cost taxpayers billions.”

Around that time CEO’s had income packages worth $10.5 million or about 344 times what the average worker was making. Peter Drucker felt a CEO’s pay should not exceed 20 times (1984) what the average worker was making in income. As of 1993 the problem has worsened as companies dodge corporate income tax by paying their CEO is stock options which can be deducted from corporate income tax and are tax at a lower rate than ordinary income tax at ~39%.

References:

“Put A Cap on CEO Pay” , Rick Wartzman, Bloomberg, September 12, 2008.

“Take The CEO Pay Fight Local”, Sarah Anderson, US News, October 21, 2016.

Institute for Policy Studies — Talking Points —, Sarah Anderson, October, 2016.

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Several thoughts about Paul Krugman’s NYT column today – UPDATED regarding the Fourth Amendment issue, and (separately) the suddenly real possibility that Putin had the emails planted on Weiner’s laptop

Paul Krugman’s column today titled “Working the Refs,” which I linked to this morning in this post, is absolutely wonderful for its account of the breadth of what amounts to largely successful attempts at movement-rightwing takeover of so very much of American public life—journalism reportage and editing methodology, political punditry, decisonmaking by college and university academic hiring committees, self-styled-centrist fiscal policy organizations. (There is also the courts, but that’s really a separate matter.)

But there are two points I want to make about statements in his column.  One concerns the nature of Comey’s misconduct, which Krugman describes as violating “longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and [doing] so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.”

That is only part of it, albeit the most immediately harmful part.  But pundits, and the public, should understand that it is a profound misuse of government investigatory and prosecutorial powers to release to the public raw information obtained through compulsory, and secret, investigatory information gathering—information gained through search warrants, grand jury testimony, etc.—and that this is so not only for politically sensitive investigations.

Comey’s deliberate decision, his acknowledged motive, to affect voters’ decisonmaking in an imminent election strikes me as criminal misconduct, as does the release of raw investigatory information irrespective of its political intent.  But these are two distinct issues, of equal importance.

Then again, as I said here yesterday, by Comey’s definition of cover-up, he is engaging in it, as Harry Reid noted in the letter he released yesterday.

I also want to point readers to Orin Kerr’s Washington Post blog post from yesterday titled “Was it legal for the FBI to expand the Weiner email search to target Hillary Clinton’s emails?”  Kerr blogs at the Washington Post’s The Volokh Conspiracy blog, whose contributors all are former law clerks to Republican-appointed justices, and current law professors.  All are center-right libertarians. Kerr, perhaps the least right of them is a law professor at George Washington University and a former law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. 

Kerr’s post begins:

FBI Director James B. Comey recently announced that the FBI had discovered new emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The emails were discovered in an unrelated case, and the FBI now plans to search through the emails as part of the Clinton server investigation.

Comey’s announcement raises an important legal question: Does expanding the FBI’s investigation from the unrelated case to the Clinton case violate the Fourth Amendment?

We don’t know all the facts yet, so it’s somewhat hard to say. But here’s why the expansion of the investigation might be constitutionally problematic. Consider this a tentative analysis unless and until more facts emerge.

He goes on to raise two Fourth Amendment concerns, one which he says, and I agree, seems sort of weak, the other which he says is a significant concern, his take on which is the same as mine in the comments thread to this post.

The FBI obtained a search warrant late yesterday, so the judge who granted it thought the Fourth Amendment wasn’t a bar to it.  But it should be noted that Comey issued his announcement before a search warrant was obtained and in the face of a potential Fourth Amendment issue that might have prevented the FBI from obtaining one.

The other point concerns Krugman’s awesome recitation, yet again, of how deficit mania grabbed a stranglehold on elite policymakers and so-called public intellectuals for so very, very long—and how devastating it has been throughout the last decade.  What he doesn’t mention—appropriately, I think, in that column, whose point is much larger, but inappropriately in any discussion by him (there have been many) of Hillary Clinton and her candidacy in the two or three weeks since a stolen WikiLinks document—this one, a transcript of a paid speech by her to (I think) Morgan Stanley in 2013—in which she says she supports the really awful Bowles-Simpson proposal that Krugman has deconstructed so often since it was announced years ago.

I do get his reluctance during this campaign to address that.  And Clinton clearly has reversed her views on virtually everything in that proposal, a change on her part that I believe is genuine.  But what angers me about Krugman’s consistent refusal to acknowledge this and other significant changes in Clinton’s policy positions, prompted to a significant extent initially by Bernie Sanders’ campaign—not least the healthcare insurance “public option” proposal”, which Clinton should campaign on at rallies—is Krugman’s borderline-vile attacks on Sanders during the primary season.

Clinton’s win in this election will be based on the sheer awfulness of Donald Trump and on the policy proposals Clinton adopted last summer because of the strength of Bernie’s campaign.  All that matters now is a Clinton victory and Democratic control of the Senate and large gains in the House.  And I plead with Bernie, with Elizabeth Warren, with Michelle and Barack Obama, to campaign maniacally for these candidates in the now-waning days of this campaign.

___

UPDATE:  About an hour ago, Politico posted a lengthy discussion of the Fourth Amendment issue, by Josh Gerstein, Politico’s legal-issues correspondent.

Gerstein’s article also discusses the fact that Abedin says she does not know how what appears now to be a huge trove of emails of Abedins came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–an issue I discussed here yesterday in a post suggesting the possibility that NYC FBI agents planted it on Weiner’s computer after they gained custody of it.

But Gerstein’s article notes this: that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s server.  Is it a reach to now suspect that Putin planted those emails on Weiner’s computer and planned somehow to make public just before the election that State Dept. emails are on Weiner’s computer hard drive?  As I mentioned in the Comments thread yesterday on my earlier post, in response to a joke by a reader’s comment, I’d considered that possibility by rejected it as implausible.

It’s now not at all implausible.  And it makes it imperative that, as Harry Reid demanded in his public letter to Comey yesterday, the Justice Department release the information it and other national security agencies have indicating direct coordination between Trump, or people on behalf of Trump, and Putin.

Adedin and Clinton and the Democratic National Committee should file an emergency court petition requesting a court order requiring release of that information.  I absolutely mean that.

And as I suggested in my earlier post, they should petition a court to allow private computer forensics experts, along with FBI forensics experts from an office far from NYC and Washington, DC. to examine the computer in order to determine when and how those emails came to be on it.

I absolutely mean that, too.

And please remember: Trump kept saying that Abedin was a State Dept. security risk because Weiner would have access to her emails.  He’s now saying he called it correctly.  The court petition should note this.

____

PS: Since I’m more or less the legal-issues guru on this blog, I want to point readers to Jennifer Rubin’s blog post on this, with which I agree in every respect.

And since I’m also one of the political-issues gurus here, I want to recommend two perfect political cartoons, one by Tom Toles, the other by Ann Telnaes.

Added 10/31 at 4:08 p.m.

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