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Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama visited with Pope Francis today, and during the meeting the president gave Pope Francis some seeds used in the White House garden. Then he said, ‘Don’t plant these where anyone can see them. They’re straight from Denver. ‘” – Jimmy Fallon

“It’s traditional for world leaders to exchange gifts when they meet for the first time. The Pope gave Obama his book and two medallions. The president gave him seeds from the vegetable garden. The Pope said, ‘Great, my favorite.’” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Pope Francis and President Obama met for the first time today and prayed together. Said Obama: ‘Lord, please help me accept the things I cannot change, which is everything.’” – Seth Meyers

“President Obama was at the Vatican today. He had his first meeting with Pope Francis. It was a casual meeting. They spoke privately for about an hour and grabbed lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Today the U.N. approved a resolution calling Russia’s annexation of Crimea illegal. For those of you who don’t know what a U.N. resolution is, it’s about as powerful as a negative Yelp review.” – Seth Meyers

“Mayor Rob Ford is running for re-election in Toronto, and last night’s first debate was about public transportation. Ford said it’s important to preserve the city’s bus and subway stations. Then he said, ‘I rely on those things. I’m way too drunk to drive myself.’” – Jimmy Fallon

“After discovering a new dwarf planet orbiting the sun beyond Pluto, scientists have named it ’2012 VP113′ or ‘Biden’ for short. Scientists say they chose the name because the planet, like Biden, is pretty far out there.” – Seth Meyers

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Late Night Political Humor

“Intelligence officials say they had a hard time predicting Russia’s invasion because Vladimir Putin doesn’t own a cellphone or use the Internet due to fear of being tracked. You can tell Putin doesn’t spend much time online. When he says ‘LOL’, he means ‘Look out, Latvia’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“That’s right, Putin doesn’t have a cellphone. And just like everyone else without a cellphone, he won’t stop bragging about it.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Vladimir Putin was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and two weeks later he invaded Crimea. So here’s what the United States did. They tossed him out of the G-8 meetings. Really? I mean, that’s like being told you can’t go to the Daytime Emmys.” – David Letterman

“It’s not every night that we get a great audience. Last night, we had an ugly crowd. Halfway through the show, they voted to join Russia.” – David Letterman

“Ukraine said it has finished withdrawing the last of its troops from Crimea, so the split is now final. Well, they’re not calling it a split. They’re calling it a ‘conscious uncoupling’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Today Pope Francis had to fire a German bishop known as the ‘Bling Bishop’ after he spent over $43 million to renovate his house. Pope Francis was nice enough to describe it as a ‘conscious unbishopping’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“In a speech, Pope Francis criticized the Mafia and urged its members to repent. Which is why now every morning the Pope makes his assistant start the Popemobile.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama went to the G-8 meetings. He’s filling in for Dennis Rodman.” – David Letterman

“One of President Obama’s secret service agents is in trouble now after getting drunk and passing out in a hotel hallway. In his defense, it’s spring break! He was wearing a helmet with a beer on either side. That was a bad idea.” – Conan O’Brien

“A group of Secret Service agents went to Amsterdam ahead of President Obama’s visit, but three of them were sent home after they stayed out all night drinking and one of them passed out in the hotel’s hallway. I always thought Secret Service agents wore sunglasses to look intimidating. Turns out they’re just hung over.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The first lady is in China. During her trip, Michelle Obama fed panda bears. Like most people the first lady feeds, the bears politely ate the bamboo and then had a cheeseburger the minute she left.” – Conan O’Brien

“Americans have been given another month to sign up for Obamacare as long as they check a box on the website saying they tried to sign up before the original deadline. It’s expected to be answered as truthfully as boxes that say ‘Yes, I am 18′.” – Seth Meyers

“First lady Michelle Obama is in China right now. Today she was busy doing some official business. She placed a wreath on the grave of General Tso, the creator of spicy chicken.” – David Letterman

“In an interview, former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he does not have a racist bone in his body. However, he admitted he has three sexist bones and his spine is homophobic. ” – Conan O’Brien

“Toronto held the first mayoral debate of 2014 tonight. Rob Ford faced four challengers. When Rob Ford ran for mayor in 2010, his slogan was ‘Stop the gravy train’. Then he realized he loves gravy. And you need a train to get it there.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“This is the difference between our countries. None of the other candidates specifically mentioned drugs. They let Mayor Ford say over and over again that he’s the only candidate with a proven track record. He’s also the only candidate with a proven crack record.” – Jimmy Kimmel

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What in the Name of Science?

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

Here are the latest updates on the North Carolina sea level change controversy and Republican attempts to de-prioritize government climate change research.

It would almost be funny if it weren’t all true. Do they really believe they can just legislate away scientific reality? If so, we are in a heap of trouble.

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Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama has convinced the leaders of the world’s biggest economies to move the G-8 summit out of Russia this summer and meet in Brussels instead. Then Vladimir Putin said, ‘All good. By summer, Brussels will be part of Russia.’” – Jimmy Fallon

“They’ve kicked Vladimir Putin out of the G-8, the most powerful economic organization. So now he won’t be getting his G-8 jacket. He won’t be getting the G-8 mug. And he’s not going to get the G-8 tote bag.” – David Letterman

“Tomorrow morning, Russia will fly an American astronaut to the International Space Station. And you thought driving someone home after a breakup was awkward.” – Seth Meyers

“Ukraine said it plans to take Russia to court to try to get Crimea back. So get ready next week for a very special ‘Judge Judy’.” – Conan O’Brien

“Ukraine is in a lot of trouble, and I was thinking about this. The only guy who can turn things around for Ukraine — Phil Jackson.” – David Letterman

“Michelle Obama is in China. I wonder if while she’s over there she could get them to do something about those leaky cardboard takeout containers.” – David Letterman

“There are reports coming out that Chris Christie has lost 100 pounds since having lap-band surgery. It’s a pretty big loss – you know, for my monologue.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Pope Francis called out the Mafia. He said, ‘You Mafia guys are all going to hell.’ It got me to thinking, who else is going to hell? What about those guys who honk the second the light turns green?” – David Letterman

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Sporadic Posts

Postings may be a bit slower for the next few weeks, but I’ll try to post as often as possible. Get out there and enjoy spring!

Oh, and sometime next week this blog will move to a faster server. Hopefully there won’t be many bumps or hiccups.

UPDATE: New server! System response seems to be faster.

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Health Education

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

What is going to happen as people realize that all the lies they have been fed about Obamacare aren’t true?

Indeed, the only complaints about the ACA that are actually true is that a single payer system would have been far simpler, easier to implement, and cost less. But of course the health insurance companies wouldn’t have allowed that! After all, they killed single payer back when the Clintons proposed it.

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Late Night Political Humor

“Let’s talk about March Madness. It starts out with 68. Then it goes to 32. And then it drops to 16. You know what it’s like? It’s like President Obama’s approval rating.” – David Letterman

“In March Madness, when No. 3 Syracuse was eliminated, I heard people say the Orange had been eliminated. They said the Orange and the first thing I thought was something happened to Speaker of the House John Boehner.” – David Letterman

“Over the weekend Vladimir Putin ordered fireworks to go off in Moscow to celebrate Crimea joining Russia – and also the fact that he had Stanford beating Kansas in his March Madness pool.” – Jimmy Fallon

“That’s right, Putin ordered fireworks to go off in Moscow. Either that or one of Putin’s rivals tried to start his car.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Today President Obama was in the Netherlands for a nuclear summit with 50 other world leaders. Putin didn’t even attend. He sent his foreign minister in his place. He said he doesn’t want to visit any country he can’t keep.” – Jimmy Fallon

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World’ ride. But they’re making some changes to it. They’re making the Russian section much, much larger.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama now is meeting with the G-7 leaders. Can you name all of the G-7? I try but I always forget Bashful.” – David Letterman

“When Obama meets with the G-7 leaders it must be fun for him to put faces to the voices he hears on the wiretaps.” – David Letterman

“While in China, first lady Michelle Obama commented on Chinese censorship. Or as the Chinese news reported it, Michelle Obama greatly admires Chinese censorship.” – Conan O’Brien

“On Sunday Mitt Romney suggested that he had a power to ‘see the future,’ and could have stopped Russia from invading Crimea if he had been elected in 2012. Though if he could really see the future, he wouldn’t have run for president in 2012.” – Seth Meyers

“In an interview with ‘Meet the Press,’ former President Jimmy Carter said he won’t send emails because he believes the NSA is reading them. And also because he can’t find the ‘send’ button on his typewriter.” – Seth Meyers

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Intolerance

I’ve been watching the kerfuffel about Mozilla (the nonprofit that produces the Firefox browser among other things) and its new CEO with quite a bit of interest. Personal interest, because to me Brendan Eich is better known as the creator of the JavaScript language, which I use to earn my living. And political interest, because it brings up an interesting irony about tolerance, namely is it ok to be intolerant of someone who is intolerant?

The facts are that in 2008 Eich contributed $1000 to the campaign for Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage (SSM) in California. This contribution became public knowledge in 2012. At the time, Eich was the CTO (Chief Technical Officer) for Mozilla, an organization which he co-founded. A couple of week ago, Eich was promoted to CEO, and that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan. Many people both inside and outside Mozilla were upset about Eich’s beliefs against same sex marriage, and believed that they made him unfit to be the CEO of a community based organization like Mozilla. One website urged a boycott. Ten days later, Eich resigned.

It is worth noting that Proposition 8 passed in California (although it was later overturned by the state supreme court). That means that in at least some sense Eich’s opinions were not out of the mainstream at the time. Public opinion about SSM has changed dramatically in the last few years.

And Eich himself promised to continue Mozilla’s policy of inclusiveness, including for gay rights, and to separate his personal beliefs from his professional life. According to people who worked with him, he has kept that promise and never let his personal beliefs influence his work or how he treated others.

In a legal sense, this played out as it should have. Of course Eich has a right to his personal opinions. And of course Mozilla has a right to get rid of their CEO for any reason, including if public outcry will hurt the organization.

I have been a CEO in my life, so I understand that a CEO represents a company in a way that the CTO doesn’t. Even so, should Eich be punished for an action he took back when it was mainstream, but which no longer is?

I can see both sides of this issue, so why does this bother me so much? I think Andrew Sullivan (who is a gay conservative columnist) hit the nail on the head:

The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out.

I have watched with amazement and awe as the fight for gay rights has been won in a stunningly short amount of time. It really was just back in 2008 when California passed Prop 8. I live in Oregon, and it too passed a constitutional amendment banning SSM. Opposition to gays was one of the strongest red meat causes of the religious right. And now, just a few years later, those laws are being overturned and few people question gay rights.

In my opinion, this fight was won because it was not a fight. Gays did not win because they banded together and fought straight people. They won by being normal and non-threatening. They won because TV shows and movies started showing gays as real people who were not so different from everyone else, and who shared the same dreams and aspirations. They also won because we all started recognizing that the many contributions by gays made the world a better place. Gay people were not scary or evil. They were normal. Rather than a threat to the family, they were an asset.

In the past I have written posts where I did not support SSM. Not because I didn’t believe that gays should marry, but because I thought that marriage should not be the domain of government. Instead, I wanted everyone (gay or straight) to have a right to a civil union, and leave marriage to the church. Any church that wanted to could perform marriages for gays, but all the legal rights would be stripped from marriage and transferred to civil unions. We are supposed to keep church and state separate, right? As they like to say, my opinion has evolved. Should those old posts be used against me now?

Maybe Eich’s opinion hasn’t evolved the same way as mine, but I’m still afraid that hounding him out of his job because he is was (and may still be) a heretic is a terrible strategy for the gay rights movement. As one commenter on Sullivan’s site put it:

I don’t spend my money at Chik-fil-A because I don’t like the idea of it being funneled into an anti-equality organizations. I don’t buy Barilla because their CEO explained that they don’t make their products for me, which I assume means they don’t need my money. I don’t watch Duck Dynasty because – well, I never did. But this is a horse of different color. I don’t want to be party to purges and I sure as hell don’t want to give the likes Sarah Palin the satisfaction of an “I told you so” moment. Snap out of it people! We’re winning! We don’t need to do this!

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High Frequency Theft

Finally, high frequency trading is getting some attention (I first blogged about it almost four years ago!) The new book “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis has Wall Street fat cats in an uproar (just what you might expect when they get caught with both hands and maybe even a foot or two in the cookie jar).

MSNBC puts it bluntly — “Yes, the stock market is rigged” (that link actually has an easy-to-understand description of how you are getting robbed every time you buy stock).

Even better (and more entertaining) is Jon Stewart’s interview with book author Lewis. I’ve posted all three videos of the extended interview, and if you care at all about the economy, business, and how far the playing field has been tilted against you, you gotta watch it all:

It is fascinating not just that most stock markets are rigged, but that those in the media who purport to be giving you financial advice to help you are actually purposely helping Wall Street to fleece you out of your money. With the full cooperation of the government who have been pushing the middle class to trust their retirement savings in the market.

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Resources and Energy?

I’m not just talking about natural resources or fuels. Do we have the political resources and energy to solve our most pressing national problems: namely global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity.

While it is clear that our elected representatives don’t have the political resources or energy to tackle these problems, a group called The Solutions Project has decided to take matters into their own hands.

We’ve all heard the naysayers and propagandists who claim that we don’t have the technology to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, or that it would hurt our economy, or cost too much money. So the group came out with a detailed, state-by-state plan for how we can completely transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. This is not just about technology, it also details the benefits, including how much money can be saved, how many jobs will be created, and even more importantly, the thousands of lives that can be saved every year by switching away from polluting fuels.

You can see an easy-to-understand infographic about their plan at their website. Just hover over your state, or click on it to see the benefits.

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Deadline

Stephen Colbert is on a roll lamenting the fact that Obamacare exceeded the enrollment expectations by its March 31 deadline:

Note that 7.1 million people enrolling exceeds the original projections for the ACA, before all the problems with healthcare.gov and the (premature) reports from conservative sources that enrollment numbers would not reach even the lowered projection of 6 million.

In addition, a new poll shows that more people support Obamacare now than oppose it.

In a related story, the best numbers showing how many people have signed up for Obamacare are not coming from any official source, nor from the (worthless) mainstream media (whose job it is to do stuff like this). They are coming from blogger Brainwrap who runs a website ACASignups.net with his own unpaid time and money. God bless the Internet.

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Why ask a question if you don’t care about the answer?

On March 24, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), he who shut down the government in a failed attempt to repeal Obamacare, went to Facebook and posted the following:

Quick poll: Obamacare was signed into law four years ago yesterday. Are you better off now than you were then?
Comment with YES or NO!

Did he really expect that Facebook would reply with anything less than a tsunami of YES votes?

The question becomes, will Ted Cruz change his mind about Obamacare now? I’m not holding my breath (despite the fact that I now have better, cheaper health insurance under the ACA).

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Late Night Political Humor

“Absolutely nothing new has happened with the missing plane. It is astounding how they continue to report ‘news’ even though they have zero information; although, it never stopped Fox News.” – Bill Maher

“Fox News, they may be a little biased, we had an earthquake here on Monday and they reported that the Earth’s crust was emboldened by Obama’s weakness.” – Bill Maher

“First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia are visiting China for the next week and the president said the White House feels very lonely without them. Then he said, looking around, ‘OK, I think they bought it. Time for some March Madness, baby. Let’s do it!’” – Jimmy Fallon

“This morning Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tackled a journalist on his way into City Hall. The craziest part of that story is that Rob Ford is still going to City Hall.” – Seth Meyers

“This week scientists revealed that a massive solar blast narrowly missed the Earth back in 2012. Or as the Mayans put it, ‘Almost told you so.’” – Jimmy Fallon

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Political Whores

Another chapter in the ongoing saga of Tesla Motors. Telsa sells sophisticated electric cars, and like other manufacturers of electronics, they want to sell their products directly to consumers. After all, nobody objects to the stores owned by Apple, or Sony, or Microsoft (or AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) selling their products directly to consumers. Tesla’s point is that traditional car dealers know little about electric cars (and even less about repairing them) and actually get in the way. Besides, does anyone actually enjoy the experience of buying a car through a typical car dealer?

Nevertheless, powerful car dealership associations have struck back, managing to make it illegal for Tesla to sell their products directly to consumers in five states (Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, plus restrictions in four others). Hypocritically, many of these states are controlled by Republicans, who claim to be the champions of free markets and haters of government regulations and other interference in free markets. As someone in a movie once said “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Indeed, in a free market, the market should decide whether car dealerships provide any value to consumers, not the government.

Now here’s the fun part. Tesla has announced that they will be building a “giga factory” to produce the batteries for their cars. The factory will cost $5 billion, and will employ up to 6,500 workers. Plus it will be powered primarily by solar and wind energy, so Tesla is looking to build it in the Southwest.

And like the whores that they are, politicians from Arizona and Texas are lining up to try to sweet talk Tesla into locating the factory in their state. Ironically, one Republican politician wrote a letter to the Tesla to encourage them to locate in Texas, touting his state because “Texas has the best climate in the country to run and grow business because of its low regulations and limited government interference.” Seriously. Texas’ “low regulations and limited government interference” won’t let Tesla sell their cars in Texas, but they are only too happy to take their sweet jobs.

In a related story, I’ve been wondering for a while why Republicans (and some Democrats) are falling over each other trying to get the environmentally problematic Keystone XL pipeline approved, which would take tar sands oil from Canada and pipe it all the way across the US to ports in Texas so it can be shipped to other countries. Like, how does this benefit the US? According to PolitiFact, this pipeline will create a whopping 35 permanent jobs.

So it was hardly a surprise to find out that the largest lease owner of Canada’s tar sands is not a big oil company like Exxon Mobile or Shell, but is a subsidiary of Koch Industries. I guess the investment the Koch brothers have made in politicians is paying off.

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Welfare Reform

Nicholas Kristof has a must-read editorial in the NY Times. Kristof looks at the conservative mantra that government assistance reduces initiative, causes dependence, and increases the deficit — and agrees!

He helpfully suggests five public welfare programs are wasteful and have turned us into a nation of “takers”. They should be eliminated as quickly as possible:

  • Welfare subsidies for private planes. Astonishingly, the US government offers three different kinds of subsidies to tycoons with private jets. Even Dubya tried but failed to eliminate some of this boondoggle.
  • Likewise, subsidies for yachts. Here we have direct evidence that this has increased dependence, as the owner of a $2.6 million yacht complaining about efforts to end this subsidy, “It is so unfair to target people who want to use their boat as a second home.”
  • Government welfare for hedge funds and private equity. This has been called the single most outrageous tax loophole in America. Ronald Reagan eliminated this loophole, but it has snuck back. Freedom requires eternal vigilance.
  • The $83 billion a year subsidy to the too-big-to-fail banks. We’ve seen what that buys us!
  • And finally, tax subsidies paid by cities, counties, and states to big corporations to build factories and offices locally. This is one of my pet peeves. It is normally done in the name of creating jobs, but it does not create any jobs (it just moves them from somewhere else). In fact, by starving local governments of money, it hurts infrastructure, which destroys jobs.

Yes, America has become a welfare state. A welfare state for the top 1%, sapping their initiative and even worse, causing economic bubbles. No wonder we are worried about our economy. It is time to act.

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