Ted Rall

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Updated: 36 min 46 sec ago

Back to Normal

8 hours 56 min ago

Pundits and politicians are looking forward to the “recovery” following race riots in Ferguson, Missouri. What will “back to normal” look like? Police randomly stopping young black men in the streets just because, checkpoints by heavily armed uniformed goons, police shootings of unarmed men, high unemployment and underemployment.

LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Bootlegging the Bootleggers (Apartment Edition)

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 09:45

Every year in Los Angeles, the city housing department learns that 600 to 700 enterprising urban homesteaders have built “bootleg apartments” without bothering to obtain permits. According to a Times piece by Emily Alpert Reyes, this activity has brought an “unusual alliance of landlords and tenants” who want the city to issue an amnesty for those units that conform to safety codes.

“Landlords argue that many of these nonconforming apartments are perfectly safe. And tenant advocates say they often provide rare patches of affordable housing in a city of whopping rents,” writes Reyes.

Current practice, Amos Hartson, chief counsel and director of legal services at Inner City Law Center, is to “evict tenants and rip out the unit” after they’re discovered. Both sides see this as a waste of perfectly good housing.

Reyes: “The details are still being worked out, but backers say the idea is simple: Landlords could come forwardand fix plumbing, wiring or other issues without enduring a lengthy, expensive process to comply with city codes. Tenants could avoid being displaced from decent apartments.”

Not everyone is cool with this. “If you follow this lawless path, you’d very quickly see the quality of life deteriorate for residents in lawful, permitted apartments,” said Steve Sann, chairman of the Westwood Community Council. “It’s a fiction to say you can cram more people in the same space and nobody loses out.”

Though seemingly novel, there are precedents for retroactively legitimizing living spaces that began outside the normal legal strictures. New York’s SoHo district, now a tony tourist neighborhood choking with high-end boutiques, was populated during the bad old 1980s days by artists roughing it in former industrial lofts, sometimes without running water, much less certificates of occupancy. A “Loft Law” allows people who can prove they’ve been in their now-seven-figure spaces since the “C.H.U.D.” period to keep them. Also in New York, squatters have occasionally been allowed to keep “their” homes — sometimes even collecting city loans to help them make improvements.

In Los Angeles, the police won’t arrest a squatter unless there’s proof a crime has been committed — and he can only be evicted as the result of a civil proceeding, which can take many months. But that’s an ad hoc, not a systemic, policy.

Which brings us to Sann’s point. If anyone can create a bootleg apartment anywhere he or she wants, aren’t those of us who pay rents and mortgages — not to mention real estate taxes — suckers to play by the rules? The median price of a three-bedroom house in L.A. county is $668,000. Wouldn’t it be smarter to set ourselves up anywhere we want, then get legal later?

For this cartoon, I fantasize about moving into the ultimate view, from the top of the Hollywood sign. Because the setting doesn’t have a lot of intrinsic detail, I worked a little harder than usual on the foliage.

Because I Love You

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 09:32

My new book, “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests: Embedded in Afghanistan” comes out in two weeks! (I am SO going to regret choosing that long title.) I’m getting ready to do a series of discussions and book signings all over the United States during September, October and November, and in preparation I have been going through photos of my 2010 trip. That’s when I found this beauty:

 

It’s the courtyard of the empty wedding banquet hall where we stayed in Taliban-controlled Taloqan, in Takhar Province near the Tajikistani border.

Freedom, you see isn’t free – there’s a terrible price to pay in terms of taste.

Scramble the Jets! A Young Black Man is in Trouble!

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 03:40

President Obama suggested that My Brother’s Keeper, a broad coalition of backers of local and national leaders in philanthropy, business, government, faith communities, and media that meets periodically at fancy resort hotels to discuss the challenges facing boys and young men of color, might have saved Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, from being shot to death by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

Obama Says His Silly NGO Would Have Saved Michael Brown

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 05:31

This is an early release due to the timely nature of this cartoon:

President Obama suggested that My Brother’s Keeper, a broad coalition of backers of local and national leaders in philanthropy, business, government, faith communities, and media that meets periodically at fancy resort hotels to discuss the challenges facing boys and young men of color, might have saved Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, from being shot to death by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

Kill Ratio

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 03:05

What are Israel and Hamas representatives discussing at talks to end the current conflict in Gaza? Israel wants Hamas in Gaza to be disarmed. Given the lopsided death count of civilians, 1900+ to 3, shouldn’t Israel be disarmed?

SYNDICATED COLUMN: We Would Never Have Had a National Conversation on Racial Profiling if People Hadn’t Rioted in Ferguson

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 10:13

Ferguson, Missouri offers a lesson for those of us who are trying to make life more fair: if you want the powers that be to pay attention, violent protest is more effective than nonviolence.

At this writing, race riots following the shooting of an unarmed young black man by a white cop in a suburb of St. Louis are dominating newspaper headlines and network news coverage. Federal and state officials have taken the rare step of chastising local police authorities, with the second-guessing going so far as to include a do-over of the autopsy of the 18-year-old victim, Michael Brown.

Violent demonstrators have the attention of the attorney general and the president of the United States, the latter of whom broke away from his vacation to call for both “respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.” (After his administration’s coordination of the brutal crackdown against the peaceful Occupy Wall Street movement, and his decision to shunt marchers at the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions into distant, hidden, caged “free speech zones,” Obama’s defense of the right to protest is a startling 180° turn.)

After years of ignoring the problem, we are finally beginning a national conversation about police racial profiling of African-Americans, especially young men. “Driving while black,” “stop and frisk” and the militarization of local law enforcement that always seems to fall heaviest against black communities (c.f., New Orleans during Katrina) have gone on for decades — but no one besides blacks seemed to care.

Thanks to Ferguson’s rioters, mainstream (white, wealthy) America is questioning those oppressive tactics.

This is a political breakthrough. And it’s only happening because people are throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, and breaking windows and looting, and coming out night after night to confront the police even though — arguably because — the police are shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at them.

Michael Brown’s death fits a standard narrative: White Policeman Shoots Unarmed Black Youth. Happens all the time. White cops who kill unarmed black people are rarely charged with a crime; those who get charged are rarely convicted.

As far as I can tell, no white policeman in the United States has ever received a lengthy prison term for killing an unarmed African-American civilian.

Police shootings provoke anger among the black community — and there it remains. This is because black political and religious leaders usually persuade citizens to limit their tactics to peaceful protest.

Peaceful marches don’t scare the ruling classes. Which is why they don’t lead to meaningful change.

Nonviolent protest was the reaction last month when a NYPD officer killed 43-year-old Eric Garner, suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes, using an illegal chokehold. “We’re not gonna start fighting and pushing each other and breaking windows, right?” Garner’s mother urged at a rally.

So far, the protesters’ decision to respect private property rights has had zero effect. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, yet the cop remains at work and uncharged.

Also in New York, another unarmed 18-year-old, Ramarley Graham, was shot to death by an undercover narcotics officer who broke into his apartment without a warrant in 2012. Protesters adhered to the usual nonviolent tactics. As usual, results were nil. From The Los Angeles Times: “A judge threw out a manslaughter indictment against the officer who shot Graham on a technicality. A second grand jury failed to indict the officer, saying there was insufficient evidence to charge him. Graham’s family and local lawmakers have called for the Justice Department to investigate.”

I’m a white guy, so I don’t have to worry about getting shot by cops if I’m in a car accident. As a black man, however, Manuel Loggins, Jr. wasn’t so lucky. After Loggins wrecked his SUV, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy shot him — he was unarmed — in front of his 9- and 14-year-old daughters because he had a “mean” expression. This was in 2012. Again, there were peaceful protests. As usual, the deputy was not charged.

This is how it always goes.

Ferguson’s protesters include old-school nonviolent civil rights types as well as younger activists who are fighting back against the police in kind. At a meeting, The New York Times reported, “clergy members despaired over the seemingly uncontrollable nature of the protest movement and the flare-ups of violence that older people in the group abhorred.” The paper quoted an older man from East St. Louis: “These kids do not understand why the nonviolence movement is the best way to get done what we need to get done.”

Given how quickly the young firebrands are getting results, the old folks are the ones who don’t understand.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” out Sept. 2. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Nanny Journalism

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 03:03

Social media erupted with outrage after some journalists repeated details from the coroner’s report on Robin Williams’ suicide. It seems that many people didn’t want to hear the unpleasant details…er; reality.

Finally, on a Saturday during the dog days of August, the truth can be told

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 09:30

For anyone thinking of following Robin Williams’ example and killing themselves, here is why I don’t ever want to do that. There is so much worth living for, so many laughs you never know that you’re going to have, and here is something I never would’ve expected I would ever see. Be prepared to laugh:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=BTZBpBYq-DI

LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Killing My Metrics

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 03:46

An investigation by Los Angeles Times reporters found that the “LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies.”

Like all police departments, the LAPD strives to reduce crime. The trouble is, it looks like the numerical targets are having an unintended result. Rather than actually reducing crime — perhaps an unrealistic goal given that the economy has been significantly less than stellar for the last six years — there’s substantial evidence that cops are gaming the system by painting a rosier picture than what’s really going on on the streets.

Retired and current LAPD officers complain that the department is encouraging cops to underreport crime and reduce the seriousness of charges in order to meet statistical goals for lower crime: “The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in the LAPD’s published statistics on serious crime that officials and the public use to judge the department’s performance,” wrote Ben Poston and Joel Rubin.

Interestingly, the alleged misconduct did not occur across the entire horizon of criminality: “Nearly all the misclassified crimes were actually aggravated assaults. If those incidents had been recorded correctly, the total aggravated assaults for the 12-month period would have been almost 14% higher than the official figure, The Times found.” The effect was nevertheless significant: “The tally for violent crime overall would have been nearly 7% higher.”

The LAPD’s top-down target metrics approach is familiar to anyone who has worked for a major corporation in recent years. Do more with less resources, the directive goes, or else. Most of the time, of course, workers do less with less. Which may what happened here.

Like other government agencies, the police have suffered budget cuts that have hurt the ability of cops to do their jobs. Low starting salaries have made it difficult for the department to recruit new officers. With job growth in the “recovery” puttering along at 1.6% annual growth, long-term unemployment — either an indicator or a cause of crime, depending who you ask — remains high in the Southland.

For cops, it adds up to an impossible situation: harder job, less ability to do it, top brass in thrall to number crunchers insistent that what cops need is the pressure of higher standards. If some members of the force are cheating, you might be able to blame them — but you can’t be surprised.

It reminds me of the teaching test scandals, when California teachers helped their students cheat on the Academic Performance Index scores. It ain’t right. But neither is making impossible demands.

Death Threat

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 03:30

After police in Ferguson, Missouri shot a young African-American man named Michael Brown to death despite being unarmed, officials refused to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting on the grounds of death threats. But it was the highly militarized police who threatened local people protesting the shooting.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: “Ask the Pundit”: What Should the U.S. Do About ISIS?

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 08:11

Reader Brian McManus asks:

“Just wondering if you can find time to post a piece on what the U.S. should do (or not do) regarding the current situation with ISIS in Iraq. Not so much on how the situation got to be where it is, but what the U.S. and/or other nations should do in situations like this. Would appreciate your thoughts on the issue.”

Thanks for writing, Brian.

Americans are “can do” people. Optimism is an appealing national personality trait but it comes with the unfortunate tendency to overestimate what can be done and its more dangerous corollary, the will to act when doing nothing would be preferable.

We saw the pitfalls of can-do following 9/11. Initial reactions to the attacks were shock and confusion. Traditional ideological divides were blurred, but in those early days one could still discern the pre-GWOT liberal tendency toward treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue, versus the old hawkish rightist desire to lash out militarily. Then the Right trotted out a line that resonated across the spectrum and caused the antiwar left to dissolve as into mist:

We have to do something.

In the United States, “something” means military action.

The thing we “have” to do “something” about always refers to foreign policy.

Americans don’t feel that “have to do something” about domestic problems. Poverty? No need to act. Corrupt bankers? Inaction is fine. But if a crisis flares up overseas (a civil war as in Syria or Libya, a siege of civilians as in Sarajevo or Iraqi Kurdistan, cross-border encroachment as in ex-Soviet Georgia or Crimea), and especially if it involves opponents the media categorizes as “bad guys” (regional economic rivals such as Iran, China or Russia, radical Islamists who may or may not have gotten their guns from us), “we” “have” “to” “do” “something” (military action).

This is not true.

There are always alternatives to military action. The success of the formerly Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria insurgency, which controls half of both countries, is no exception. Half-measures come in both military (money and weapons) and non-military (political advisors) forms.

We can do nothing.

Albania is doing nothing in Iraq. Cuba is doing nothing in Iraq. Vietnam is doing nothing in Iraq. These countries have not been harmed by their refusal to intervene militarily in Iraq.

As I see it, Brian, whatever appetite ordinary Americans have for Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS and other attempts to prop up the current regime in Baghdad stems from the investment of lives and treasure the U.S. has made since the 2003 invasion.

“To be sure, the cost was high,” then-Secretary of State Leon Panetta said when Obama ordered the main troop withdrawal from Iraq. “But those lives were not lost in vain. They gave birth to an independent, free, and sovereign Iraq.”

If ISIS captures Baghdad and establishes Taliban-style Sharia law throughout Iraq, complete with amputations of accused thieves and stonings of wayward women — leaving Iraq, already in worse shape than it was under Saddam, an unequivocal nightmare for its people and a base for radical jihadis out to overthrow U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia — Panetta’s statement will have been belied.

The war will have been exposed as a total waste.

Which it was. Every American who lost a life or a limb in Iraq was sacrificed stupidly, predictably, in a war that never could have been won even had the generals and politicians in charge of it weren’t idiots.

The attempt to salvage Iraq by saving the rump Iraqi state inside the Green Zone is a refusal to accept defeat. But that doesn’t change reality.

We lost the Iraq War years ago. The sooner we accept that there is nothing to be saved there and move on, the better off we’ll be.

Undeniably and regrettably, washing our hands of Iraq — aside from leaving ISIS alone, we ought to evacuate the embassy and other government personnel Obama says we need to “protect” — will result in awful consequences. Whether or not ISIS can close the deal by capturing Baghdad, the sectarian conflict will escalate. Areas within ISIS control will be lost for the foreseeable future. More civilians will die, many as the result of “ethnic cleansing.”

We know these things will happen because we’ve lost wars before. The U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam created the “boat people” crisis, opened space for wars between Vietnam and its neighbors China and Cambodia, and permitted a communist regime hostile to U.S. interests to consolidate power, and exclude American business for decades.

But consider the alternative.

Remaining in Vietnam would have required pouring more money and more soldiers down a hole, and slaughtering countless more Vietnamese. We still would have lost. All that post-withdrawal stuff — the civil conflicts, reprisals against our former local collaborators — would still have happened. It just would have happened later.

After we accepted defeat and walked away from Vietnam, on the other hand, things eventually worked out. Vietnam is now a major U.S. trading partner; nearly half a million American tourists visit Vietnam each year.

A guy named Barack Obama once summarized his foreign policy as “Don’t do stupid stuff” like invading Iraq in the first place. Hillary’s jibes and Obama’s actions aside, it’s good advice. To which I’ll add Ho Chi Minh’s legendary order to his general Vo Nguyen Giap, who was planning the decisive 1954 battle that would expel France from Indochina: “If victory is certain, then you are to attack. If victory is not certain, then you must resolutely refrain from attacking.”

            Victory against ISIS is anything but certain. Therefore, in this and similar situations, I would refrain from attacking.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” out Sept. 2. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

 

Fall 2014 Book Tour

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 11:25

Just added some new events for the tour for the new Afghanistan book. Here’s what we have confirmed so far:

Sunday, August 31, 2014
2:30 PM
AJC Decatur Book Festival
Decatur, Georgia

September 3, 2014
7:00 PM

The Strand
828 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Monday, September 22, 2014
6:00 PM
Book Passage
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

Saturday, September 27, 2014
9:00 PM
The Seminary Co-op Bookstores
5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
6:30 PM

(with Economist editorial cartoonist KAL)
KramerBooks
1517 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, October 2, 2014
7:00 PM
Books & Co.
4453 Walnut St
Beavercreek, OH 45440

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM

National Press Club Book Fair
529 14th Street NW
Ballroom
Washington, DC 20045

Would you like Ted to speak to your reading group,organization, rally, university, or local store? Click below!
BOOK TED RALL FOR YOUR EVENT

Ted Rall at the Dot

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 08:08

Check out my first weekly cartoon for The Daily Dot’s relaunched web magazine, The Kernel.

Calling the IDF

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 03:46

State prisons keep botching executions of inmates, prolonging death to obscene lengths of time such as nearly two hours in Arizona. How hard is it to kill a person? Israel has killed 1500 Gazans, all accidentally? Surely there’s a way to turn two wrongs into a right.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Barack Obama Isn’t Half the Man of Richard Nixon

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 11:10

Forty years ago, President Richard M. Nixon announced that he would resign effective the next day.

At the time, aside from a tiny minority of dead-enders and a few desultory Congressional Republicans, an exhausted nation had arrived at a consensus that Nixon had to go. Politics had become too toxic, distrust of government too profound, and – most of all – the seriousness of the president’s crimes couldn’t be ignored. Judicial sanction wasn’t in Nixon’s future — Jerry Ford’s controversial pardon ensured that — but the ultimate political punishment, impeachment, seemed like the absolute minimum sanction in order to send the message that no man, no matter how powerful, was above the law. Nixon’s resignation, Ford assured Americans and the media agreed, proved that the system works.

Looking back now at what felt like a national cataclysm, however, we probably ought to dig up Tricky Dicky’s bones and beg him to accept our big fat apology.

Students of the Watergate scandal that led to that surreal day in August 1974 — the third day, expunged from history for fear of a repeat performance, when great crowds surrounded the White House, demanding that Nixon depart— will recall that it wasn’t the botched 1972 break-in at Democratic national headquarters that did Nixon in, but the cover-up.

By today’s standards, however, Nixon’s efforts to protect his henchmen, including his screwing around with the FBI investigation that led to an article of impeachment for obstruction of justice, look positively penny-ante, more worthy of a traffic ticket than a high crime or misdemeanor. Obstruction of justice, scandalous and impeachable just 40 years ago, has become routine.

Case study: Obama’s cover-up of torture.

Much bigger crime.

Much longer cover-up.

Much less of a problem.

Five and a half years after taking office, President Obama finally admitted what informed citizens have known since 2002: the United States tortures.

Obama has been covering up Bush-era torture throughout his tenure. (Not the act of torture by Americans, which has been widely reported and has inspired best-selling books and hit movies, but the governmental admission that attracts widespread attention and eventually creates pressure for action.) And even now, after finally admitting that the U.S. ranks with Myanmar and North Korea when it comes to this most basic of human rights, Obama refuses to authorize a formal investigation and prosecution of America’s torturers.

Bush’s torturers shouldn’t be hard to find: many of them are still working for the U.S. government, either force-feeding hunger-striking POWs at Gitmo or working for one of the branches specially exempted from Obama’s “no torture” order.

“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe – and I think any fair-minded person would believe – were torture, we crossed the line,” Obama told a press conference last week.

Better late than never. But not much better. Because, like so much of Obama’s rhetoric, they’re empty words.

Normally, when one crosses a line – is there a more clearly disgusting line than torture? – one faces consequences. Thanks to Obama, however, no one from the CIA, US military or other American government employee has ever suffered so much as a 1% pay cut as the result of drowning detainees, many of whom were released because they never committed any crime whatsoever, sodomizing kidnap victims with flashlights and other objects, subjecting people to extremes of heat, cold and sleep deprivation – not even for murdering detainees or driving them to suicide at American-run torture centers like Guantánamo concentration camp.

Though Obama had repeatedly promised throughout the 2008 presidential campaign that he would investigate war crimes under the George W. Bush administration and prosecute anyone found to have committed torture, soon after moving into the White House in 2009 Obama backtracked and infamously said that it was time to “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” – in other words, there would never be a serious investigation.

That promise, he kept.

“At the CIA,” Obama said in 2009, “you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.”

The president didn’t explain why causing concern to torturers would be bad.

Lest there be any doubt about his intentions to kowtow to the national security police state, Obama even traveled to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia to reassure nervous torturers that they would have nothing to fear from him. In 2011, Obama’s Justice Department officially exonerated “anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees” — i.e., pretty much every U.S. government torturer.

Even now, while Obama is supposedly admitting that torture happened, he uses hokey countrified verbal constructions to diminish the horror while making excuses for those who committed them: “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important, when we look back, to recall how afraid people were when the Twin Towers fell,” Obama said, as though there had been a universal demand for indiscriminate torture against teenage goatherds from Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had.”

The torturers, you see, were the victims.

Incredibly, Obama added the following nugget to last week’s some-folks-tortured-some-folks statement: “The character of our country has to be measured in part, not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.”

Richard Nixon covered up political dirty tricks and got impeached for it; Barack Obama is covering up torture and continues to authorize it with impunity.

It hardly seems fair. But when we measure Nixon’s character against that of Obama’s, we’ll take note of the one who finally did the right thing and resigned.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” out Sept. 2. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

 

Tough Job

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 03:45

President Obama defended the CIA’s Bush-era torturers on the grounds that we shouldn’t judge the “tough job” they had to do to prevent another attack after 9/11. “Tough”? How? Amazing how the US government can turn the torturers into victims.

Neel Kashkari Takes to the Mean Streets of Fresno

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 11:46

Yes, Virginia, the Republicans are running someone against California governor Jerry Brown. His name is Neel Kashkari.

Kashkari has been virtually invisible throughout what has passed for the campaign. (Not literally. There is no evidence that he has mastered the ability to bend light around himself so as to render his physical form undetectable to the human eye. Just in the media, which has decided that he isn’t worth covering because he probably won’t win. Which is true, since the media won’t cover him. Funny how that works.)

What do you do when the struggle for visibility gets tough?

Publicity stunt!

In what his supporters would likely say was an earnest attempt to showcase the ongoing problem of un- and underemployment in California despite the economic “recovery” — if anyone bothered to ask his supporters — and what everyone else, including pundits, would call a cheap ploy, Kashkari says he spent the last week playacting as a homeless person in search of work.

Seema Mehta of the Times reports:

“Kashkari wrote that he took a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to Fresno on July 21 with ‘only $40 in my pocket (and no credit cards), a backpack, a change of clothes and a toothbrush.’ He said he planned to find a job. “I am an able-bodied 41-year-old. Surely I could find some work. ‘Kashkari was accompanied by two videographers, who produced a 10-minute video. The footage shows a scruffy Kashkari saying, ‘This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life.’”

All Gen X smirkery aside, I think it’s admirable that any politician, especially a Republican — the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Republicans don’t even pretend to care about poor people — is drawing attention to the misery experienced by millions of Californians suffering through grinding poverty with no foreseeable end in sight. Sure, Kashkari is a multi-millionaire who could, and did, go home whenever he wanted. But when’s the last time you slept outside to see what it was like? Hell, I don’t even like camping.

So, good on Kashkari.

Still, I have some logistical and logical questions for him.

Like, why Fresno? The economy isn’t that bad there, relatively.

Why forty bucks? Why not $20 or $100?

Did the $5 bus fare come out of the $40?

Did he panhandle? Steal? I would.

Why was a toothbrush deemed essential, but not floss? Was there even toothpaste, and if not, why not, and if so, why wasn’t it mentioned? How about mouthwash? (Note to Gov. Brown’s opposition research team: Kashkari’s commitment to oral hygiene halfhearted at best. 92% of voters say ‘ewww.’)

When the Man Who Would Be Governor approached foremen at Fresno area construction sites, how eager for work did he appear? After all, this was an experiment that would have failed mightily had his able-bodied 41-year-old self been scooped off the mean streets of the Raisin Capital and offered a zillion bucks to run a hedge fund. Did he, full of honesty and integrity, pledge to work hard at low wages with little concern for his personal safety? Or was he all Little Lord Fauntleroy about it: “I don’t do sweat, dude”?

So many questions. I’d ask them all, too. But that would be against the rules. He’s a long-shot gubernatorial candidate and I’m a pundit.