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Will Durst Knows What They Did Last Summer

Will Durst (Comedy for people who read, or know someone who does) finds out what our top politicos did to recharge during their summer break from not doing anything in Washington:

Will Durst
Will Durst

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell learned how to say “No!” in 14 different languages.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio held a series of mock debates with himself on the subject of immigration and lost every single one.

President Barack Obama traded his foreign policy legacy for the chance to lower his handicap by a stroke.

Arizona Senator John McCain accepted the Curmudgeon Society of America’s “Man of the Year Award.” For the 12th consecutive time.

Secretary of State John Kerry wept like a little baby.

The 4 Conservative Justices of the Supreme Court battled the 4 Liberal Justices on the Supreme Court for the soul of Anthony Kennedy.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took remedial hugging lessons while surreptitiously measuring the White House drapes.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush looked into legally changing his name to something less incendiary. Like Manson or Hitler.

Speaker of the House John Boehner caught some bitchin rays. … Read More

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco.

Drug Ads Make Me Sick

Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising now annoys me more than ever. And it’s not just the icky erectile dysfunction ads that make us blush and leave the room when watching them with kids around. But during my recent adventures in health care through my parents I’ve learned that ads for inhalers and several other drugs are driving patients and their doctors to expensive brand names that are available far cheaper as generics. The ads don’t mention that, of course. Maybe the FDA should make them do that.


So I just figured out that the CEOs for the drug companies to whom my parents have paid nearly $3,000 in co-pays this year make a combined total of $12 million in salaries and benefits. Griping about stuff like that ought to be on the Tea Party agenda.

Trail Mix Facelift

blog-facelift4We’ve got a new look, partly due to an outdated blog theme that became obsolete, and also because it was time for something different.

We’ve had so many iterations since launching nearly 10 years ago (June, 2005) I’ve lost count. But through it all so many of you have stuck around and kept our little corner of the “internets” a safe haven for reasoned and reasonable discussion.

I still have a few tweaks to do on this format. Hope this adjustment is OK with everyone so far. Thanks, Craig

Chuck in Charge

Congrats to my pal, Chuck Todd, who’s taking over NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

chuckWashington Post (Ben Terris) — People can finally stop speculating about Meet the Press. NBC News President Deborah Turness announced that David Gregory, who has been hosting for almost six years, will leave the network.

Todd came to D.C. from Miami as an undergraduate at George Washington University, and landed a job in 1992 at National Journal’s Hotline.

“He was a force of nature from day one,” says Craig Crawford who was the Hotline editor when Todd started. “He was so deep into politics that he was as enthusiastic about city council elections as presidential campaigns. He had to compromise just to keep the Hotline from being 300 pages every day.”

“There is no one with a bigger passion for politics than Chuck,” Turness said in her email. “His unique ability to deliver that passion with razor sharp analysis and infectious enthusiasm makes him the perfect next generation moderator of this beloved broadcast.”

As his former boss Crawford says, knowing the material, that’s only half the equation for why Todd will be a good fit at MTP. “The other half is having an engaging personality,” Crawford says. “He loves people, and is chattier than Gregory. He’ll be able to break down barriers and get people off of their talking points.”

Will Durst: Stuck on Stuck

Will Durst (“Comedy for people who read, or know someone who does”):

Will Durst
Will Durst

“Just following the will of the people.” That’s been the GOP rationalization for accomplishing absolutely nothing for five and a half years. Doesn’t matter what the issue is. Immigration. Jobs. Infrastructure. Climate change. Banking reform. The proliferation of substandard dental schools in Nebraska.

According to them, the people want… zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And to mask their inaction, Republicans have coordinated a feeding frenzy that would make rabid hyenas jealous.

Something about Obama drives them crazier than chocolate banana fritters with raspberry sprinkles in a bento box. Maybe because he’s the smartest guy in the room and not the least bit shy about sharing that opinion. Maybe he’s the ultimate anti-Bush. Or there’s something about him that looks different. Extremely different. Could be the ears.

What it boils down to is… “Open Season on Obama.” The memos have circulated. The strategy is conspicuous. To derail any possible presidential accomplishment by stalling progress and tossing a continuous slew of dastardly insults onto and at his person. And the mud is flying faster than fingers in a steno pool. Different circus. Same clowns.

John Boehner plans to sue the President. For what? Not even he knows, but you can be sure, the term “smarty pants” will be bandied about. He did drop some tidbit about objecting to the President changing the employer mandate to Obama Care, but that can’t be the source of his irritation, since the GOP insisted on it. It would be like slapping some other family’s child for obeying you.

Dick Cheney called him the Worst President of his lifetime. Which is quite a coincidence, since many argue Dick Cheney was the worst president of Obama’s lifetime. Obama should actually take solace from this charge, since Dick Cheney has been pretty much wrong about pretty much everything since at least 1999… Read More

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco.

Flashback Sunday: 1945

Bill Crawford
Bill Crawford

Trail Mix Southern Command (Orlando) — Rummaging through some old photos we came across this image of my parents with their high school graduation class (Mt. Vernon KY, 1945).

Bill Crawford
Toby Crawford

They were dating at the time, so not sure why they’re on opposite sides of the photograph (Dad says they were “off and on” — perhaps this was an off day; Mom says she was probably mad he skipped a date to go squirrel hunting). They celebrate their 64th Wedding Anniversary next month.

Mt. Vernon High School (KY)
1945 Senior Class
(click to enlarge)

By Craig Crawford (Chicago Tribune)
1945, What a Year — Losing FDR, Winning Two Wars, Building a New Nation

1945 Oscars

  • Best Picture:
    “THE LOST WEEKEND” — Nominees:  “Anchors Aweigh” / “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / “Mildred Pierce” / “Spellbound”
  • Actor:
    RAY MILLAND in “The Lost Weekend” — Nominees: Bing Crosby in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / Gene Kelly in “Anchors Aweigh” / Gregory Peck in “The Keys of the Kingdom” / Cornel Wilde in “A Song to Remember”
  • Actress:
    JOAN CRAWFORD in “Mildred Pierce” — Nominees: Ingrid Bergman in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” / Greer Garson in “The Valley of Decision” / Jennifer Jones in “Love Letters” / Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven”

Top Five Songs

  • Les Brown & Doris Day, “Sentimental Journey”
  • The Andrews Sisters, “Rum & Coca-Cola”
  • Perry Como, “Till the End of Time”
  • Johnny Mercer, “On the Atcheson, Topeka & the Sante Fe”
  • Les Brown & Doris Day, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time”

Solar India

Our ole pal, video journalist Andrew Satter, ventured to India recently and found this. Check it out.solarindia

As I watch employees of one of the country’s many fast-growing clean energy startups install solar panels on a local villager’s roof — their sixth installation of the day — I realize I am witnessing something transformational. It is a glimpse into the future of how the world’s rural poor could access electricity: off-grid, distributed, renewable, and most importantly, affordable. It’s happening all over rural India and in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and is turning the entire narrative around energy and development on its head.”

andrew satter
Read Andrew’s full report at Watch How Solar Power Is Transforming Rural India

Supreme Buffering

Among the lesser covered Supreme Court decisions released in the pre-vacation rush was one declaring protest buffer zones outside abortion clinics unconstitutional. Having done so the justices will now have to reconcile that ruling with their own buffer zone, which faces a lawsuit working its way through federal courts.

The Court ruled that a Massachusetts law establishing 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics is a violation of the First Amendment.

But what about the Court’s own rule forbidding protests on its grounds?

scotusbufferFrom the Court’s own rule book: “No person shall engage in a demonstration within the Supreme Court building and grounds. The term ‘demonstration’ includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

A Maryland man who was arrested on Supreme Court grounds for protesting police treatment of minorities has sued and claimed the law violates the Constitution. The trial court agreed with him. In September the U.S. Court of Appeals hears arguments.

It’ll be fun to watch the justices buffer their own ruling.

Declaring the 4th

As the holiday week begins it’s time for our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, but this year with a brand new video I made using paintings from those days, and again with the great Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson.

May the 4th Be With You!

Edited by Craig Crawford
Performed by Bill Barker of Williamsburg, Virginia

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signers of the Declaration (in the order of their signatures)

John Hancock

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton