Category Archives: Liberal ideas

Why Farmers Ain’t Millionaires

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A professional baseball player goes up to the plate.  A hulking six foot man goes up on a little mound and hurls a stitched horsehide sphere at him, ideally around ninety miles an hour, hoping to throw it past him three times, or, failing that, coming close enough to his head that he forfeits the next two.  If the baseball guy swings his hitty-stick at the ball and smacks it into the field in a place where nobody can catch it three out of every ten times, that man will soon be a millionaire if he isn’t one before swinging the hitty stick for the first time.

As a public school teacher it was my job to teach kids how to read and write.  It is a lot harder thing to do when you consider how teachers are expected to do that job.  You are in a classroom of up to thirty kids, no more than ten per cent of whom are self-starting and self-maintaining.  The rest are problem-filled haters of reading and wordless when it comes to writing.  You have to lead them into the land of joyous literacy.  And when you step up to that plate, if you are getting a hit only three times in every ten at-bats (as measured by beloved state tests that are inherently biased in a multitude of ways) you will lose that lovely teaching job.  You are expected to hit 8 out of 10 or higher.  And that is just to keep your job year to year even though you make less money per year than a city garbage man.  No chance you will ever be a millionaire.  And they don’t even let you use a hitty stick to do your job.

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But I promised you this rant was about farming and farmers.

My roots are in the farmlands of Iowa.  I am the result of the union of the Beyer family farm and the Aldrich family farm.  I know what farming is all about.  And we do the job of feeding the nation, and possibly the world.  But it is not an easy job.  You gamble each year that you will be able to produce corn and soybeans and possibly beef or pork, and when the harvest comes, you have to hope you can sell it for more than it cost to produce it.  Tornadoes, hail, floods, and droughts get more than their fair say in the outcome.

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So, why isn’t what the farmer does worth more?

The answer is simple.  People with money and power are the ones who control who makes money and who doesn’t.  Through speculation and commodity trading they control the price of corn and beans, and they control who makes the profit.

We do the majority of the work and take the majority of the risk.  We don’t get the majority of the rewards.  Other people than farmers decide who does, and only rarely do they decide those matters fairly.  But thus the world is.  Or rather, thus we have let it become.

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Filed under angry rant, humor, Liberal ideas, politics

I Have No Idea

Yesterday I posted a weird picture that I haven’t used before and made myself cry gushers of tears again for the boy the picture is a portrait of.  I suppose it is a catharsis I didn’t really need.  I woke up today with a blistering headache to keep my perpetual backache company.  Could that have been caused by the crying and the blues that ensued?  Probably.

So, I have no idea for today.  My brain hurts and my heart is burned out.

I checked Facebook where I had posted this quote from Malala ;

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I wasn’t really prepared for controversy.  I should’ve been.  It is obvious from the guns versus books graphics that it would stir emotions in my liberal author and teacher friends, as well as my conservative cracker anti-Muslim friends.

My aunt, a former career teacher, responded first.  She wrote, “Like the thought.”  She was a great third grade teacher in Iowa for many years.  She loved all kids then and still does today.  I want to be like that in retirement too.

But the next response was from a former high school friend who voted for Trump and hates all the people the Republican Party orders him to hate.

“Sounds great like most sound bites. Much harder to explain and implement.”  My friend, Ali Hassenbutter (not his real name, but this will make him angry as well as protect his actual identity), likes to take jabs at me for being a liberal, and the subtext here is that, even though I was a teacher for many years, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to education.  So, I answered him with some heartfelt teacher-ism.

“I had Egyptian and Lebanese and Arab students in my classes at Garland ISD. They are people just like us. You help them learn English. They make American friends. Americans learn that most Muslims are not terrorists. What’s so complicated about that? Unless you start slamming doors in their faces and treating them as less valuable than you are.”   I admit to maybe being a bit snarky in that last line, but sometimes he gets my goat.  (I know I should just let him have it.  I have never liked my goat that much anyway.  It smells bad.)

A fellow ESL teacher from Garland chimed in even though she doesn’t know Ali.  “And these students added spice in our classroom…  Just like they do in the USA.”  She knows all the students I was referencing.

Then one of my other Belmond classmates who knows and probably detests us both as heathens added his words of wisdom, “The real concept here is that we are in fact ALL HUMAN.”  See there?  The Bible banger gets it.  And I really appreciate when he steps in and tries to make peace.  He’s somewhat nutty at times, but his new-found religion allows him to believe like I do that we should choose love over hate as our default response, even to terrorism.

But Ali comes back with;   It takes both approaches to this problem. But then there is Berkley as a shining example of education gone off the rail.”  He’s at least trying to sound like he is listening to our comments, but then he pulls this old red hot chestnut out of the fireplace.  He offers it like the opinion of the crazy, racist uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner.

“Yes, because it was the teachers’ fault at Berkley. That poor young racist agitator from Breitbart was supposed to have a peaceful forum for spewing his hateful mouth garbage at young liberal college students, and the college administrators who granted him that right didn’t bend over backwards far enough to prevent a violent reaction.”  I know, sarcasm is the resort of the defeated.  I should be championing love over hate and freedom of speech over my personal revulsion to Milo.

My teacher friend had this to add;  “I understand the “right” instigated that incident.”

“Yes, but they wore masks to hide their identity. That makes them automatically liberals, doesn’t it? If I am able to follow Fox News Logic, anyway.”  Sez I.

And so, there we stand, at the very beginning of a month-long Facebook love/hate debate.  And I will lose.  You can argue with brick walls and score more debate points than you can arguing anything political with Ali.  And the frustrating thing is, he’s an ordinary decent human being and stand-up guy too.  Not just a dismiss-able deplorable because he voted for Trump.

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I have no ideas today.  I have a headache.  If I can’t defend Malala’s heroic logic, then I can’t even argue my way out of a bowl of chicken soup.  Doomed to drown in chicken broth.  At least I will die healthy at the bottom of that mixed metaphor.  That should be worth a laugh.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, compassion, education, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, humor, Liberal ideas, politics, strange and wonderful ideas about life

…In the Eye of the Beholder

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Meet Xandu, the Beholder… I can’t say he’s a bad guy, but only because he’s a giant floating head full of eyes, and doesn’t have the proper parts to be considered a guy.

Those of us who were nutty about playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980’s hear the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder” and we’re automatically thinking weird thoughts about Xandu, and maybe even questioning, “Which eye do you mean?”

Beholders have one big eye, and a lot of little ones equipped with death lasers, gazes of perpetual sleep, nausea looks, and fear-eyes that make you run away in terror.  With that kind of surreal right-brain crapola going on in my stupid old dungeon master’s head, it’s no wonder I might go into this discussion of the Beholder with monsters on the brain when I really intended to talk all along about this particular beholder;

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Tomi Lahren is the darling of the right wing media, broadcasting her loud, angry racist-Barbie rants for Glen Beck’s lovely fear and hate smorgasbord known as The Blaze.  You can tell just by looking that she is a genetically German/Norwegian Midwesterner who could be an Iowegian if only she had had the good sense to be born in Iowa instead of the big bowl of blah that is Rapid City, South Dakota.  I know that may sound like some kind of reverse racism to say I can tell those things “just by looking”, but it isn’t, because I meant you can just look those things up on Wikipedia like I did.   To hear her shout her opinions on immigration in her closing segment called “Final Thoughts” you could swear she was channeling Donald Trump and lulling you into a stupor with her gaze of perpetual sleep power.    She is also known for giving San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick the nausea look for silently protesting racism and social injustice by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.  And she reserves both the fear eye and the laser death eye for Black Lives Matter activists, calling them the equivalent of the KKK because…  Well, I can’t read minds, especially hard little white power minds that say “all lives matter” because they really want to say “black lives DON’T matter”.

But, honestly, I don’t dislike this blond beholder who is more than just a floating head full of evil eyes.  She was cute on The Daily Show talking to Trevor Noah.  And she used her indoor voice even when saying slightly racist things.  The two of them seemed almost friendly, though ideologically they are worlds apart.

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And this is what we really need to see more of, the two sides of an issue actually being able to talk about issues acknowledging that each side has a right and a reason for the views they personally hold, and you can’t get the bugs out of the batter before you bake the cake if you don’t work together.  Lahren was even willing to be brave and appear on the liberal comedy talk show Real Time with Bill Maher where conservatives are often chewed up and spit out in front of a distinctly liberal audience.

But she is still a beholder.  She views the world through one big eye, one point of view, with little room for opposing viewpoints.  You will definitely have to decide for yourself as you enter the next dungeon room and come face to face with the beholder, which one is worth the roll of the dice to defeat, and which one you should run away from screaming like a little liberal snowflake girl.

 

 

 

 

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Cartoonists Trying to Save the World

Back in the 1870’s (you remember it as well as I do, don’t you?) a cartoonist named Thomas Nast basically invented the political cartoon.  Back then, a bloated New York politician and his gang of criminals were busy getting wealthy through corrupt business and government relationships.  Nast used his gift for scribbly-art satire to lampoon the buffoons and make the public laugh at the evil he exposed.  Of course, they knew about the corruption of Boss Tweed before they laughed at the cartoons, but the focus on the problem created by Nast’s magnifying glass focusing the rays of sunlight on the problem is often credited with helping to burn up the scandal.

Cartoonists had power back then.  Power over public opinion.  The power to help fairly uncomplicated (and sometimes stupid) folk to recognize the absurdity of the situation and the need for changing it.

So why haven’t cartoonists fried the Make-America-Great-Again orangutan running the country now with his brand of corpulent corruption already?  Believe me, they are trying.

They have already highlighted the way the Bozo Administration manipulates the focus of the mainstream media.  Every time media coverage begins to converge on one scandal, he creates another big, smelly media poop of a controversy to redirect their focus.

And while he is doing his big shoe dance on the tables in the spotlight, congress is doing his rich friends’ evil will in the back rooms.

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The end result of this malevolent dog-and-pony show is patently obvious.

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Unfortunately, in the 1870’s, the stupid people that Thomas Nast was enlightening had not yet achieved the profound levels of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity that Trump supporters have now mastered.  Poor and middle-class Republicans, Texans, and other dim folk continue to take the Great Pumpkinhead at his word and believe every utterance of his mouth to be sacred gospel truth.  I have had conservative friends arguing themselves into pretzel-knots to defend his policies and dastardly deeds.

But if cartoonists can’t succeed in shining sunlight on the bloodsucking vampiric old moneybags and kill him soon, his reign will become immortal and we are all gonna die.

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Seriously.  We stand at the end of a long chain of greedy b*st*rds raping and pillaging the environment for profit and not caring about the impact of their actions.  We are dooming the planet to environmental collapse because the orange-faced name-stamper cares more about short-term profits for himself and his friends than he does about whether or no his own grandchildren will have water to drink, air to breath, and a place to live cool enough that metal doesn’t melt in the sunshine.

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So, I hate to be a double-trouble downer about the whole thing, but the truth is if we are depending on cartoonists and humorists to save the world, we are in trouble.  It is not working the way it did in Nast’s day.  Cartoonists are doing their lampooning and doing it well.  But more is needed.  And if we don’t get that something more soon, then (to incorrectly paraphrase and misquote T.S. Eliot), “This is the way the world ends… Not with a whimper but a bang!”

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Making Fun

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So I made a funny picture of the Keebler elf we put in charge of the Attorney General’s Office of the United States.  This is my homage to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the elf who invented the best-selling cookie in the South, the Keebler Kluxie Cookie.  But, of course, if I call the man a racist, angry Trumpkins are going to immediately tell me that I am the real racist.  I admit it, though, I am prejudiced against people who hate others based on skin color, religion, or other factors that allow them to feel they are inherently better than the group that they hate.  And I don’t apologize for making fun of the people I am prejudiced against.  I have, after all, a good reason for making fun.  I am a cartoonist at heart, if not a professional.  And making fun of the things that I hate and fear makes me fear them less.  I feel it is a much better response than to build more bombs and give the police more freedom to murder those I hate and fear.  Laughing at the darkness is, I think, better than filling my own heart with the darkness and allowing it to snuff out my light.

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For example, here is a vicious real-life Boris Badenov who really scares me.  He is a very angry man who wants to punish people for being immigrants.  He also hates Jewish people and is on record blaming them for the world’s troubles in a way that sounds frustratingly retro-Nazi-fascist in tone.

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This is, of course, the same kind of fun-making that Jay Ward unleashed on the Russian threat that had American school children learning how to “duck and cover” in response to fears of imminent nuclear first-strikes back in the 60’s when I was a small boy.  Rocky and Bullwinkle made us laugh and made it better.  In this picture I have stolen you see Steve Bannon using a cane to threaten the All-American Moose.  And you know that however dastardly the plan, there is every reason to believe the Moose will magically survive and we will get a good laugh at the bad guy’s expense.

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And making fun of these cartoon villains (there is no member of Trump’s basket of villains who is not a human cartoon character) is not a matter of actually hating the people.  I don’t personally hate any of these individuals.  I make fun of them because it makes me feel better.  It may also make some of you who I share these things with feel better too.  I do hate many of the things they have said and done.  And I feel I have a right to make fun of these things and thus make fun of the cartoon villains who said and did them.

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I identify as a liberal for these reasons, and do not apologize for it, so make cartoons of me too if you feel the need.

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Dammit, Betsy!

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Filed under cartoons, commentary, education, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Liberal ideas, monsters, photo paffoonies, satire

Truly Terrible Trump Tricks

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Yep, I have tried thinking about the many uses for barbed wire and dead cats rather than have to think about what Trump has been doing, and it just isn’t working.  After looking up the tensile strength of various common barbed wires from different barbed wire companies, I could not find one appropriate for a cat-a-pult, and it turned out that the whole idea was a joke anyway.  But he just keeps getting worse.

Here is John Green, an author I love and listen to, explaining the Immigration Boobilly Boo-Boo;

The Trumpinator has gotten the idea that he can hammer the world into a shape he likes using mallet-like executive orders.  But no amount of hammering is going to turn the globe into a giant banana.  His executive orders are not put through a review process, and so, are often nonsensical, inappropriate, and even dangerous.

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The fact that you had to take a moment to decide if you needed to ask me if this photo was real or not tells you a lot about what you already know about Trump.  He is petulant.  He is childish.  He throws tantrums at the drop of a hat, or the smirk of an underling, or the comments of a celebrity… I wonder if he throws tantrums about barbed wire and dead cats?

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“Oh, no!  Thinking about Trump made me accidentally strangle Mr. Tinkles.”

And even worse are some of the detestable deplorables that he has working for him.  A man like Steve Bannon with his Breitbart background and his white supremacist crossword puzzles of racism, antisemitism, and nihilism would never have gotten power in the first place if it hadn’t been for Trump.  And now he is at least the second most powerful man on Earth.  Arguably, he’s the first, depending on how much his Wormtongue skills are affecting the baby mind of President Babyhands.

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So, here is my pitiful attempt at mocking the evil Steve, Darklord Bannon;

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I know, the angry eyebrows are simply not enough.  Let me try again;

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Okay, I know it’s not good enough.  I promise you, if I can find a cartoon way to harpoon the great white whale, Moby Steve, I will, and then post it for all to see.  I would like to be able to make a single cartoon so snarky that Bannon’s pet snake would drop over dead at the shockwaves from little old Republican ladies laughing at it and changing their opinion of Trump forever.  Of course, I know, better cartoonists than I have tried and failed.  That doesn’t mean it is not worth the effort.

You have probably discerned by now that I did not vote for Trump.  And I have given him more than enough chance to prove what he will do for this country.  I will never call him President using his proper name.  He is not my president.  And I do not want to live in Trump’s idea of America.  This I will probably achieve sooner than expected because what he is doing to Obamacare will undoubtedly kill me.

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