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JHB's Journal
JHB's Journal
July 5, 2021

TOON Bonus - Bloom'n Hobbes

As of July 31, 2021, the crossover story arc is complete. Be sure to catch The Compleat Bloom'n Hobbes here.

Berkeley Breathed has been continuing Bloom County on Facebook, allowing a much slower pace than syndication, and has recently visited another old friend.

April 2, 2021

We do need more brackets that stretch higher up the income scale, though the details...

...should be open for debate. The main goal is reversing what the 80s ushered in, that the highest virtue was shooting money skyward -- as much as possible, as fast as possible, as high as possible. Even with all the loopholes that let the well-off and wealthy avoid paying the top rates, the old high-level brackets put a damper in that upward geyser (and many of the loopholes still helped push money outward rather than upward). It was the 80s tax cuts and other policies that removed that damper and eliminated drawbacks to grabbing for every last dollar.

Back during the centennial of the Income Tax in 2013, the Tax Foundation put out a spreadsheet of historical tax rates (in both original and inflation-adjusted terms). Since "Is $250K/year 'rich'?" was still making the rounds in tax discussions (or blather, from some sources) and I know things had been very different pre-Reagan, I crunched some numbers and wound up focusing on the number and spread of brackets rather than the rates themselves.

For instance, here's the distribution of brackets from 1942 to 2013 (using 'married couple filing jointly' inflation-adjusted data):

I used 1942 as a start because in inflation-adjusted numbers spiked so far upward before then (and even more just before the Roosevelt administration but quickly came back to a less-astronomical top bracket boundary) that I would have needed to build a "skip" in the graph, and my Excel skills weren't up to that.

The compression of rates as you move forward in time is how inflation shows up in the inflation-adjusted numbers, and you can see when various tax reform efforts changed things. It wasn't until the mid-80s that tax brackets indexed to inflation and stayed relatively steady across years.

But look how far up the income spectrum those past brackets ran. To pick one year, "good old 1955" as the movie said, there were 24 brackets. Adjusted for inflation, 16 of them affected taxable income over $250K. Two thirds of all the brackets. 11 of those affected income over the equivalent of $500K. About 45% of the brackets. The top rate (91% that year) kicked in for taxable income over the equivalent of about $3.3 million.

Here's the yearly breakdown for total brackets vs number affecting inflation-adjusted income over $250K and $500K:

The reason I think raising awareness of these bracket spreads rather than the raw rates is because how it changes the framing and terms of the debate. Instead of going hammer and tongs over particular thresholds like $250K or $400K, it points up that there is a lot more room to maneuver. Historical bracket levels were wiped out in the 80s and have never returned. They should, even if the actual rates are open to debate.

April 2, 2021

From 2005:

Little Red State Fundy sez...

Whatever will we tell the children?

One day we will have to explain to the children what happened when Thurston Howell III lost his right mind and decided that for the sake of some tax cuts to make him incrementally more comfortable, his very bestest buddies in the whole, wide world were the Ultra Right Wing Gorgons down in Jesusland.

May I suggest the following?

The Story of Little Red State Fundy

Little Red State Fundy found a grain of hate.

"Who will help me plant the hate?" she asked.

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she buried the hate in the bloody ground of the Old Confederacy. After a while it grew up paranoid and ignorant and violent.

"The hate is ripe now," said Little Red State Fundy. "Who will do the mass mailings and preach bigotry from the Pulpit?"

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she licked envelopes until her bill was cracked and dry and stood up into the House of God and crowed to her flocks in their millions that God Loved Them for hating and killing creatures who were not like them.

Then she asked, "Who will help me focus this hatred politically?"

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she made databases and phone banks, and walked door-to-door with petitions that talked of Gods Great Hatred of Gays, and Gods Great Hatred of Judges that did not worship the Hate God in exactly the way the Little Red State Fundy told them to.

Then she carried the hate to steps of the Congress and the White House.

"Who will make a mandate from this hate?" she asked.

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she got on the phone with her very good friend Karl Rove and with his help organized carpools to the polls, and get-out-the-vote drives, anti-gay marriage amendments and smear campaigns. For Jesus.

And Little Red State Fundy delivered the margin of victory and was featured in many, many magazines: without Little Red State Fundy, the Republican Party could never, ever, ever win anything.

And now everybody knew it.

Then she said, "Now who shall help me Rule the Earth."

"We will!" said Moderate Republicans, Undecideds, and Libertarians.

"I am quite sure you would," said Little Red State Fundy, "but see, now you are all my bitches."

Then she called Randall Terry and Tom DeLay and Ann Coulter and Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson, and they and the rest of the Shining Path Republicans used what was left of the Constitution as ass-floss.
And judges were terrorized into silence.
And those deemed ungodly were beaten in the streets.
And they invaded whoever the fuck they felt like, for whatever fucking reason they chose.
And the very idea of a Free and Fair press died.

And to people who had been very clear all along that they genuinely believed in a Theocratic Nanny State and thought that precipitating Armageddon and triggering the Second Coming should be the highest calling of any worldly government, were handed over the police, courts, government, treasury and nuclear weapons stockpiles of the United States of America.

And in the end -- just as they had been warned for the past twenty years -- there was nothing whatsoever left at all for Moderate Republicans, Undecideds, and Libertarians.
Posted 24th April 2005 by driftglass
February 26, 2021

"Antichrist" you say? As God as my witness, I'll never pass up a chance to repost this

From http://www.dumbingofage.com/2016/blog/antichrist/

A little context: the cartoonist, Dave Willis, grew up in a strict conservative evangelical household, and Joyce, the little kid/older kid/young woman in this progression is something of an alter-ego of his about how that bubble bursts for some people, and of some of the hypocrisies that manifest in the people that never leave it.
February 21, 2021

Oh, plenty of people know about it...

...although less so among Americans, because it was before we got involved.

February 17, 2021

Virtual shots of Chinaco Anejo for everyone!

Gotta see if the real thing is available anywhere near me.

February 8, 2021

They "surrendered" to it because all their success rides on a cushion of rabid foam

The policies of the Movement Conservatives who took over the party, and their wealthy backers/allies, aren't popular and couldn't get passed on their own merit. They want to restore the Gilded Age, where wealthy men had few if any impediments to doing whatever they wanted, and they liked the government they bought. They want to wipe out every law and policy put in place since the late 19th century that works for ordinary people.

How many votes would they get running on that?

Not many, so instead they promote rage and foam, but tried to keep it under control. Buckley gets a lot of credit for sidelining the Bircher leadership, but he and his crowd were hardly less extreme. They were just better at strategy. There was no hope of splitting, say, conservative Jewish voters away from the Democrats if the face of conservatism were people who reflexively spout anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

They still encouraged bile and foam from the general public. In the 70s they used early forms of data mining to identify hot-button issues that could be used to split New Deal-era voting blocks, foremost among them abortion and guns.

By the 80s they were driving the Rockefeller Republicans, who they considered quislings, to political extinction. They'd gotten the numbers they needed to not bother compromising.

All through the late 70s, 80s, and 90s they encouraged axe-grinding and played footsie with RW crusades in order to get votes. Newt Gingich and Frank Luntz tested and compiled radicalizing language and promoted its use by Republican candidates.

They scare-mongered and scandal-mongered and played to all the bigotries and pet peeves, and called it "playing hardball". They wanted to get conservative Republicans elected, and there was no part of that job that involved "dialing it back." They painted Democrats as supervillains: utterly-corrupt, moral degenerates out to destroy the nation and all that's good and holy to get their voters all hot-blooded and into the voting booth.

Their entire success has been built on not compromising. The closest they come is when they act to blunt or stall actions by Democrats until Republicans are back in the driver's seat again.

But the drawback is: When you paint the story that way, it's supposed to end with you bringing the bad guys to justice. They rot in jail, or better yet get hanged or fried. Blow up the Death Star. Drop the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The Enemy surrenders unconditionally and their symbols get blown up.

They turned the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Salome. Salome is the base, and she grew increasingly pissed that the establishment Herods weren't bringing her the heads she'd asked for.

They turned the Party of Abe into the Party of Ahab. Ahab is the base, who if their chests were cannons they'd shoot their hearts out like cannonballs to trigger the libs.

They built a base that wants this:

But never gets it.

When you tell that story for decades, continually amping it up to keep the audience's blood at a rolling boil, you create an expectation that you can never really deliver on. You can justify decades of investigations and re-investigations and re-re-re-re-re-re-re-investigations, but that's not going turn up anything that will hold up in court. So you put yourself into the position of portraying the other side as unbearably evil and an active threat, and then don't do anything about it. The base still has their hot buttons pushed, still believes every word of it, they just start thinking you're ineffectual at best, or more likely are part of the problem.

January 30, 2021

Real "cancel culture": For Better Or For Worse, 1993

In one of my captions for today's TOON post, I repeat a question I've asked a lot lately: "Does anybody actually use 'woke' and 'cancel culture' anymore except right-wing assholes?" They're the new favorite chew toys, only partially at the expense of the quarter-century favorite, "political correctness."

They seem to just latch onto these things to vomit bile into, long after the original contexts and people who used them in those contexts have discarded them like worn-out underwear. They were useful at the time, but reasonable people move on.

In this frame of mind, while checking on non-political cartoons that are sometimes worth including, such as Non Sequitur and Pearls Before Swine, my eyes fell on Lynn Johnston's slice-of-family-life For Better Or For Worse (now ended but in perpetual reruns). And boy, did I remember a rock-solid example of "cancel culture" in action. Real cancel culture, the right-wing kind.

In 1993, she was contemplating why one of the regular supporting characters had drifted out of use, and getting a handle on the character (Lawrence, one of the neighbor kids and childhood friend to Patterson family's son Micheal) to better include him. As she put it, "After 'being' with him for some time, I realized the reason he was having so much trouble communicating with Michael and his friends was because Lawrence, now in his late teens, was different. Lawrence was gay."

So, she came up with a four-week story where he comes out to his friend, and his mother and step-dad.

And that was simply beyond the pale for some people.

From https://www.fborfw.com/features/lawrence/index.php

A Major Controversy
Within one week, nineteen papers had cancelled For Better or For Worse outright. Editors who decided to run the series were attacked for having the gall to do so. Those who chose not to run it were accused of "censorship." Editors and publishers were damned if they did, and damned if they didn't. They called the syndicate. Editors at Universal Press worked overtime, diffusing the anger, answering questions, calming, and reassuring these people who were being harassed, picketed, and were in the eye of a storm generated by ignorance. Those editors who wished to confront me personally were given my phone number. My phone rang constantly from 7 am to 10 pm every day. I answered all my calls. I spoke with everyone who needed to know why, what was I trying to do? Did I realize what I had done?

Editors, particularly from smaller communities, were in a most uncomfortable position. In rural areas, where everybody knows everyone else, they were singled out, their children were harassed at school. One editor confessed to me that his brother was gay. He was 100 percent supportive, but if anyone in his area knew that he was in favor of running the story, he would lose his job.

The "No" Mail
It was mostly from the United States that the sound was heard. Canadian papers carried the pro and con letters on the editorial pages. There were two cancellations and a few letters came to me, but by and large, it was a southern and very religious population that responded first and loudest and with a clenched, unyielding fist.

I cannot deny that it was upsetting. When 1,000 people organized to cancel their subscriptions to a Memphis paper, one editor's bitterness came through loud and clear. I had no right to "do this" to people. This subject was best left alone. I think the letter that hurt the most, was one of the first I received. It was from a woman who said she had loved my work for years but I was now no longer welcome in her home. She enclosed about a dozen yellowed strips she had kept on her refrigerator. That made me cry.

All of this, we called the "no" mail.

But also:
As the mail arrived, my assistant and I sorted the letters into boxes marked "Yes", "No" and "Articles" (we had many, many newspaper clippings!). Altogether, over 2,500 personal letters were counted, and, of these responses, over 70 percent were positive.

January 28, 2021

Our Funeral Home is Overwhelmed With Bodies

Caitlin Doughty is a Los Angeles-area funeral home owner and is host of the YouTube channel Caitlin Doughty – Ask A Mortician

She's fine with "big government" and thinks we need a lot more of certain kinds of it, really fast.

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