Category Archives: Humor

Graphic Representation: The Masterdebaters

We confess that we didn’t watch last night’s debates, and everything we’ve seen and read today confirms that we didn’t miss much, given that the outcome was precisely what we’d expected.

So we’ll let some of America’s few remaining editorial cartoonists sum up.

We begin with the editorial cartoonist of the Kansas City Star:

Lee Judge: The decisive debate

And from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Fright night


Next, the editorial cartoonist of the Columbus Dispatch:

Nate Beeler: Growing Ulcer

And from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Political messaging

Next, from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Clay Bennett: The Debate

Finally, from the Miami Herald:

Jim Morin: Whatever you say . . .

And a bonus. . .

Steven Colbert covers the debate.

From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

The First Presidential Debate Lives Up To the Hype

Program notes:

At the first debate the candidates delivered plenty of barbs, insults, and one of the biggest lies of the entire campaign.

And now for something completely different. . .

Those Taiwanese Animators are at it again, with two twisted takes on political stories that have the world’s attention.

First up, their take on the American presidential race:

Trump vs Hillary: Trump and Clinton are neck-and-neck in the battleground states

Program notes:

With only seven weeks to go until Election Day, the race for the White House is getting close.

The Clinton camp is now officially in panic mode as her campaign tries to do anything it can to fend off a surging Donald Trump.

Hillary’s lead has been declining for weeks, and now a recent poll by CBS shows her and Trump neck-and-neck in key battleground states at 42 percent apiece.

It didn’t help Clinton when she described half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”.

Let’s not forget about her collapsing while trying to get into a Secret Service van at a 9/11 event.

This may help explain why she’s collapsing in the polls amongst black voters too.

And what about Trump’s tax returns? Is his 12,000-page tax return really that complicated?

Well, at least we all have the upcoming debates to look forward to.

And, for them, a story closer to home:

Philippines President Duterte is nuts: Duterte needs to put a sock in it already

Program notes:

President Rodrigo Duterte is putting the country in a rather precarious situation.

An ex-militiaman testified in front of the Senate last Thursday that President Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered him and other members of an extermination squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead, according to the Associated Press.

Since becoming president in June, Duterte’s anti-drug campaign has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead.

Last week, Duterte also said he would no longer allow joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with other countries, according to the Philstar.

He also said he was considering buying defense weapons from Russia and China, the Philstar reported.

What will come out of Duterte’s mouth next? Will he follow through on those promises?

John Oliver tackles, destroys charter schools

Charter schools, those private institutions so beloved by Republicans, have been judged and the results are mixed.

One recent study [open source] concluded:

We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings.. . .Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings.  In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality.

More on the study from Education Week:

Texas charter schools on average have a negative effect on students’ future earnings, according to a new working paper by two economists.

Although attending a “no excuse” charter school, which the study describes as having stricter rules, uniforms, and longer school days and years, leads to higher test scores and four-year college enrollment, it has no meaningful effect on earnings.

Other types of charter schools, however, stumble on all three measures: hurting test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings.

These findings are almost the opposite of another study of Florida charter school students released in April from Mathematica Policy Research. It found that attending a charter school had little impact on test scores, but students went on to earn higher salaries than their peers in district schools.

Enough with the prefacing, and one with the show.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Charter Schools: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded, and irregularly regulated. John Oliver explores why they aren’t at all like pizzerias.

And now for something completely different. . .

Would you believe the best photobomb ever?

Judge for yourself, when a smiling youngster with some smooth moves upstaged Louisiana television reporter Justin Jaggers when he was covering the floods in the Pelican State.

Via SupremeGamer:

Louisiana Kid Cheers Everyone Up By Busting Dance Moves Behind Flood Reporter!

Program notes:

A kid brought a brief moment of hilarity amid the Louisiana flood devastation by dancing in the background of a reporter’s live broadcast.

Footage shows the little boy throwing down some serious dance moves while a WMC Action News 5 journalist updates everyone on the latest flood news from Baton Rouge.

As soon as the studio cuts to reporter Justin Jaggers, the kid is on screen — he’s ready. The dance floor didn’t stand a chance.

The kid photobombs, dabs, gets on his bright-green bike and leaves.

Trump’s racist idiocy and the Baltimore police

Following up on the previous post comes a blistering takedown of the latest idiocy from Donald Trump, with the Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah contrasting a call by the Donald for black support and his declaration that more police was the solution for black community problems with the brutal reality of embedded in culture and policies of the Baltimore Police Department.

It may be the best thing Noah’s done thus far.

From The Daily Show with Trevor Noah:

The Daily Show – Uncovering Discrimination at the Baltimore Police Department

Program notes:

After Donald Trump calls for heavier policing in African American neighborhoods, Trevor examines racial bias within the Baltimore Police Department.

On the death of humor in American politics

Everyone seems to agree that Campaign 2016 marks a turning point in American politics, a moment when the old order is shattering and something, that “rude beast” of Yeats’ memorable poem, is slouching towards a new Bethlehem.

Simon Doubleday, Professor and Chair of History at Hofstra University, dissects the humorless state of the candidates in historical context in an essay for The Conversation, an online open access journal allowing free reproduction of its contents

And do continue after the jump for the a clip from the 1999 comedy film featuring a certain democratic socialist playing  rabbi:

Are U.S. politics beyond a joke?

“I really do respect the press,” President Barack Obama joked at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2013, shortly after his second successful election campaign. “I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be president; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I’m doing my job better.”

Obama’s comedic skill has, itself, been a key ingredient of his political success. Yet neither of the current presidential candidates appears to have much interest in following in his footsteps. “Wit and humor have been drained from our politics,” the Washington Times lamented earlier this month.

The emptying of humor in the current U.S. election campaign is striking, reflecting both the personal limitations of the current candidates and the exceptional gravity of the moment. Whether or not we are witnessing the rise of American fascism, the end of the Republican Party or the disintegration of freedom in the Western world, there is clearly a crisis in U.S. democratic culture.

In this dark political climate, displays of humor – for centuries, a mainstay of leadership – have become increasingly out of place.

A serious turn

Hillary Clinton, it is true, has attempted the occasional humorous barb. Donald Trump, she observed wryly this June, “says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”

But – Saturday Night Live appearances notwithstanding – she has hardly been distinguished by her comic touch. Confronted with deeply embedded prejudices against women in politics (and in comedy), it’s understandable that female candidates may find it shrewd to display gravitas. Nonetheless, Clinton’s ventures into humor seem manufactured.

Equally, Trump’s particular brand of populism is scarcely to be confused with comedy. While he has sometimes been treated as a buffoon, and Trevor Noah has hailed his stand-up’s sense of timing, Trump’s appeal to voters rests less on humor than on the performance of anger.

The “serious turn” in U.S. presidential politics marks a break from the past – from Reagan’s cinematic smile, Obama’s skilled performances at White House Correspondents’ Dinners and American political norms that, according to one study, value smiling much more than the Chinese.

There’s more, including Bernie’s Hollywood moment, after the jump. . . Continue reading

John Oliver tackles used car loan sharks

The latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackles predatory used car lending, complete with abducted babies, annoying beeps, and warnings that yet another lending bubble is about to burst.

As usual, it’s both amusing and omnious, and, as always, well worth your time.

From Last Week Tonight:

Auto Lending: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

Auto lenders can steer vulnerable people into crushing debt. Keegan-Michael Key and Bob Balaban help John Oliver show exactly how.