Category Archives: Video

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

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And from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Fright night

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Next, the editorial cartoonist of the Columbus Dispatch:

Nate Beeler: Growing Ulcer

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And from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Political messaging

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Next, from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Clay Bennett: The Debate

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Finally, from the Miami Herald:

Jim Morin: Whatever you say . . .

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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.

Graphic Representation: Scams you can bank on


When it comes to the fine art of fleecing their customers, one bank has ’em all beat.

First, from the editorial cartoonist of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Steve Breen: They do it in stages

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Next from the editorial cartoonist of the Kansas City Star:

Lee Judge: A case of highway robbery

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And from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Giddyup

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So what’s the big deal?

We’ll let the country’s leading exposer of financial shenangians explain it all.

From Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

Senator Elizabeth Warren questions Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf at Banking Committee Hearing

Program notes:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s two round of questions for Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf at the September 20, 2016 Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled: “An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Unauthorized Accounts and the Regulatory Response.”

The full hearings are posted here.

We leave the last word to the editorial cartoonist of the Washington Post:

Tom Toles: Even scarier close up

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David Horsey: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition — or President Trump


An homage to Monty Python from the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times:

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And for those unfamiliar with the reference, here’s an excerpt from the 22 September 1970 episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, one of the greatest shows ever to come from Old Blighty:

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?

Map of the day: Far-Right populism in Europe


From Business Insider, a map of countries where far-Right populist parties have made significant gains in the last two years:

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And from RT, a report on another major gain for Germany’s most prominent anti-immigrant populist party:

Anti-migrant AfD makes Berlin breakthrough, as Merkel’s CDU slumps

Program notes:

Germany’s anti-Islamization and Eurosceptic AfD entered its tenth state assembly, as voters deserted the mainstream parties in the nation’s capital. But a left-leaning coalition is likely to take control of the city.

From Deutsche Welle, Germany’s prime minister reacts to the Berlin vote:

In her first news conference after her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) recorded its worst-ever showing in a Berlin election, Merkel took partial responsibility for that defeat while again blaming opposition to her refugee policies on communication shortcomings.

“I’m the party chairwoman, and I’m not going to duck responsibility,” Merkel told reporters. “If one of the reasons for the CDU’s poor showing is that the direction, goal and conviction behind our refugee policy haven’t been explained well enough, I’ll endeavor to rectify that.”

Merkel admitted that some Germans may have objected to her declaration, “We’ll get it done,” when faced with hundreds of thousands of refugees and said it wasn’t meant to imply that it would be easy to deal with the influx. She also said Germany lacked sufficient practice integrating immigrants.

“It can’t be done quickly, among other things because we didn’t do everything correctly in past years,” Merkel said. “We weren’t exactly world champions in integration, and we waited too long before we addressed the refugee issue. We have to get better — I do as well.”

Merkel said Germany had placed too much faith in agreements to share refugees among European nations.

The real business of America. . .is religion


While the founders believed they were a creating a nation where Church and State were separate, including in the Constitution an Establishment Clause declaring that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” that First Amendment phrase has been subject to Supreme Court rulings allowing for churches to gain increasing power over the nation’s political institutions.

Among those rulings are decisions mandating the expenditure of tax revenues for religious schools, including direct funding through vouchers, payment for textbooks and computers, and even provision of funds for busing students to church schools and direct payments for educating students in charter schools and religious colleges. For a comprehensive review, begin here, here, here, here, and here.]

In addition, churches and their institutions receive massive tax breaks, with exemptions from income and property taxes, while salaries they pay may be exempt from Social Security and unemployment taxes.

Added to all those tax-exempt contributions from the faithful, the resulting picture is one of an institution with unparalleled economic and political clout.

No wonder that there are calls for an end of the religious tax exemptions. . .

And it’s a trillion-dollar business. . .

Just how much economic clout does organized religion wield.

In a word, huge.

From the Guardian:

Religion in the United States is worth $1.2tn a year, making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, according to a study.

The faith economy has a higher value than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the US, including Apple, Amazon and Google, says the analysis from Georgetown University in Washington DC.

The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis [open access] calculated the $1.2tn figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations.

Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate. More than 344,000 congregations across the US collectively employ hundreds of thousands of staff and buy billions of dollars worth of goods and services.

More than 150 million Americans, almost half the population, are members of faith congregations, according to the report. Although numbers are declining, the sums spent by religious organisations on social programmes have tripled in the past 15 years, to $9bn.

Twenty of the top 50 charities in the US are faith-based, with a combined operating revenue of $45.3bn.

Businesses with a religious twist

In addition to churches, schools, and religion-based NGOs, the paper also identifies major corporations with a strong religious link, including programs devoting to furthering religious agendas — programs that are also, in most cases, tax-exempt.

The following table from the study lists some of those major business entities:

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More from the study:

In 2014, a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court determined that the closely held for-profit corporation Hobby Lobby is exempt from a law that its owners religiously object to, as long as there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. That ruling was the first time the Supreme Court recognized a for-profit business’s claim of religious belief. While the ruling was limited to closely held corporations, it sets up the situation where the boundaries of faith and business are clearly not absolute. It is therefore reasonable in any valuation of the role of faith to the U.S. economy to recognize businesses that have religious roots. This expands our purview beyond companies that have a specific religious purpose, such as producing traditional halal or kosher foods, to companies that have religion as a part of their corporate culture or founding.

To identify such companies, this second estimate includes companies identified recently as having religious roots. For instance, Deseret News recently identified 20 companies with religious roots, and CNN produced a list of religious companies besides Chick-fil-A. Also, the recent book by Oxford University business professor Theodore Malloch produced a global list of such faith-inspired companies. Not all of these would identify specifically as being faith-based. But faith is part of the founding and operating ethos. Malloch notes that although the commercial success of Walmart is well known, “less well known are Walmart’s connections to the distinct religious world of northwest Arkansas and rural America … [and its] corporate culture and how specific executives incorporated religious culture into their managerial philosophy”. . . Likewise, although the Marriot Hotels are not religiously run, John Willard Marriott, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded the chain and supplied many of the rooms with not only the Bible but The Book of Mormon.

Some other companies listed, however, have a more overt religious identity. Tyson Foods company, founded by John Tyson, provides 120 office chaplains for employees, ministering to the personal and spiritual needs regardless of the employee’s faith or non-faith, as the case may be. The Deseret News story notes that Tyson speaks openly about the company’s aspiration to honor God and be a faith-friendly company. Also, as a further indication of the company’s faith-orientation, Tyson recently financed the launch of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas.

And to close, here’s John Oliver. . .

In a repost of a segment he did a year ago on America’s ,egachurches and their egregious tax exemptions.

From Last Week Tonight:

Televangelists: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with almost anything. We know this from personal experience.

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption will not be able to accept donations from Church supporters from the states of Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, or South Carolina. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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.