The Washington Post’s Insane Canonization of Editor Fred Hiatt (Who?)

[NOTE: This piece was edited on  Dec. 14, 2021 at 12:04 pm EST to reflect the addition of a 11th Washington Post article about Fred Hiatt that appeared that morning.]

         As if we needed reminding that Americans don’t trust the news media, a recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford found that the United States ranks dead last in news consumer confidence out of 46 countries surveyed.

            One major criticism is that too many journalists appear to reside in a bubble far removed from the day-to-day life of most Americans. Reporters overwhelmingly vote Democratic, are whiter and clustered along the coasts. They are far likelier than the average news consumer to hold a master’s degree and therefore to come from a privileged background.

            Given the elitism endemic to American journalism, it isn’t surprising that so many stories and issues that concern millions of ordinary people go undercovered or ignored by the press. From the gutting of the Midwest by deindustrializing free-trade agreements to the opioid crisis to wages that have been frozen in real terms for half a century, the media keeps missing big trends with major ramifications like the surprise victory of Donald Trump—an event that only came as a shock to people who don’t spend time in flyover country.

            Sometimes, like this week, one major news outlet’s navel-gazing shines a spotlight on the insanely disconnected cluelessness of the professional journalist class. This one involves the recent death by heart attack of Fred Hiatt, the 66-year-old editorial page editor of The Washington Post.

In addition to an obituary and selected outtakes from his opinion writing, the Post published a fawning editorial remembrance (“Fred Hiatt was an editor of surpassing integrity, intelligence and compassion”), an over-the-top essay by a former publisher (“I’ve never known a better editor than Fred Hiatt—or a better person”) and six pieces (so far) by staff columnists: “Fred Hiatt was a bulwark against the culture of contempt,” by Marc A. Thiessen; “Fred Hiatt led with wisdom, wit and a transfixing whisper,” by David Von Drehle; “Fred Hiatt deserves to be remembered long after he is gone,” by Charles Lane; “What I never got to say to Fred Hiatt,” by Dana Milbank (“a man of towering intellect, unerring judgment and moral courage,” Milbank wrote); “The enduring power of an independent voice,” by Colbert I. King; “For Fred: A letter from the heart,” by Kathleen Parker; and “When everyone urgently wanted to talk to me, Fred Hiatt just wanted to listen,” by Shabana Basij-Rasikh.

That’s 11 articles about a person whom 99.9% of Americans, and probably 90% of Post readers, have never heard of. Having met and talked to Fred Hiatt a number of times over the years, I have to think that he would have strongly disapproved of hagiography reminiscent of Libyan newspapers under Colonel Gaddafi.

Or of the goes-to-11 media coverage of the 2008 death of Tim Russert, host of “Meet the Press.”

While it is tempting to chalk up this excess to a combination of genuine sadness, gratitude to a boss who hired (or at least didn’t fire) staffers during the great meltdown of the American journalism industry, and the absence of someone at the helm self-aware enough of the optics to tell his third or fourth or fifth or sixth columnist to write about something else, surely there is something notable about this craziness considering that it emanates from the Post, arguably the most financially-secure print news organization in the United States thanks to its ownership by the world’s second-richest man.

In a business with more than its fair share of gruff, unappreciative executives who never return emails, Hiatt’s professionalism and courtesy stood out. He got back to everyone and treated people with respect. It’s easy to understand why his colleagues liked him. Taking note of the passing of your own tribe is understandable. But a newspaper isn’t supposed to be about the people who make the newspaper.

And 11 pieces? The Post only published two articles about the death of President George H.W. Bush. (They also covered the fact that Donald Trump didn’t attend Bush’s funeral.) Think of all the news and opinion that will never see the light of day in order to make room for that nonsense. For example, the Post has never covered the Steven Donziger scandal.

Like most people, Fred Hiatt was far from perfect. A long-time neoconservative, he pushed the Post’s editorial page, which still doesn’t employ a single progressive, much less a leftist, to the far right. Under Hiatt the Post’s robust support for invading Iraq was so enthusiastic and sustained that it’s possible to argue the war wouldn’t have happened without him, which would have saved over a million lives. He never apologized.

It’s swell to hear that his columnists enjoyed working for him, but in politics and media what matters is not one’s affable office manner but what winds up on the printed page. Fred Hiatt’s editorial pages were and remain a paragon of center-right militarism and milquetoast corporatism, championing middlebrow politics and culture to prop up an establishment dependent on poverty, racism, exploitation of workers and all manner of oppression.

Post readers know what the newspaper is. The orgy of self-congratulation via the lionization of an obscure newspaper executive serves only to further increase distrust of an important media outlet.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Say You Ain’t Running Again, Joe

When you're too old to be president: Gene Lyons - Chicago Sun-TimesDemocrats need to stop playing cute about the president’s reelection plans.

Asked in March whether he’s going to run in 2024, Biden’s answer was, shall we say, less than unqualified: “The answer is yes, my plan is to run for re-election. That’s my expectation.” He added: “I’m a great respecter of fate. I’ve never been able to plan three-and-a-half years ahead for certain.”

Eight months and ten approval points later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “He is [running]. That’s his intention.”

Weasel words like “expectation” and “intention” signal that Biden is sticking to the “alternative strategy” that The Politico revealed in December 2019: “quietly indicating that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise that he and his advisers fear could turn him into a lame duck and sap him of his political capital.”

According to aides, Biden expected to be a “transitional” figure due to his age. The Politico piece quoted an unidentified advisor: “He’s going into this thinking, ‘I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that’s not possible or doesn’t happen then I’ll run for reelection.’ But he’s not going to publicly make a one term pledge.”

With an approval rating of 28%, Kamala Harris is not that running mate. She is the least popular vice president in the history of polling. But running again is unrealistic for the oldest president in history. He would be 82 years old when he runs again and 86 when he completes his second term.

An 86-year-old president today would be the third-oldest head of state on earth.

And Biden isn’t the sharpest 79-year-old. He is visibly infirm, gets easily confused and can’t be trusted to hold a traditional press conference involving an unscripted back-and-forth with members of the press corps.

Whether he knows it or not, Joe Biden will almost certainly not run for reelection. Political insiders know it. (“One Democrat involved in campaigns said they couldn’t think of a single person they had spoken to in the last month who considers the possibility of Biden running again to be a real one,” The Washington Post reported recently.)

Voters know it too: 54% of Americans, including 45% of Democrats, told an August Quinnipiac poll they don’t believe Biden will be a candidate in 2024.

Democrats should deep-six this absurd game of “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” and admit the obvious truth. A man in Biden’s mental and physical condition at age 79 will not rally. He won’t get stronger by age 82, when he will be required to hopscotch the nation for a grueling series of campaign appearances and presidential debates, while simultaneously heading the federal government.

Credibility is the most valuable coin of the realm in politics. Anyone with a scintilla of common sense knows that Democrats are lying about Biden’s current fitness for office as well as his plans for reelection. There are lies and then there are lies that insult your intelligence; Trump’s ridiculous claim that Mexico would pay for his border wall stood apart from his other untruths.

It would be hard to overstate the brand damage caused by political messaging that doesn’t pass the smell test. “What [Biden] is saying publicly is what he firmly believes. There’s no difference,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell told The Washington Post. “He will not run if he feels he can’t do the job physically or emotionally.” Biden once had a word for this kind of playing-both-sides statement: malarkey.

“The message,” notes the Post, “is aimed in part at tamping down the assumption among many Democrats that Biden may not seek reelection given his age and waning popularity, while also effectively freezing the field for Vice President Harris and other potential presidential hopefuls.”

This strategy is misconceived. Harris is hobbled by her unpopularity. How can she intimidate potential primary challengers, much less clear the field? How can you freeze the field for Harris and someone else at the same time?

So the real question is about Biden. If he runs, the DNC will back him. Democratic candidates and donors are understandably reluctant to committing time and money toward 2024—something they need to begin now—if there’s a strong possibility that Biden will run. More candidates, running longer campaigns, improve the likelihood that the eventual nominee will emerge well-funded, seasoned and tough enough to face Donald Trump or another Republican.

There are, of course, costs and risks associated with exposing a sitting president as a lame duck. First and foremost would be Biden’s ability to push through major legislative initiatives. Which is why he should delay his admission that he plans to be a one-termer until after the passage of whatever is left of his Build Back Better social-spending bill next year. BBB is the last major law Biden will ever have the chance to sign; he’ll be a de facto lame duck anyway.

Congressional Democrats won’t like going into the midterm elections without a strong president, but they’re going to get shellacked no matter what. They can recover their losses in 2024 on the coattails of a presidential nominee made stronger by a vigorous primary battle and Biden’s willingness to step aside.

 In any case, voters might give Democrats credit for being honest about the physical and mental health of the president, for being mature enough to prepare for who will follow Biden and for treating them like adults.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

DMZ America Podcast #25: Ethan Crumbley Tried as an Adult, Sex Offenders and Criminal Justice Reform

Ted and Scott dedicate the whole podcast to a subject nobody cares about: the abominable state of America’s criminal justice system. Major focus this week is on the decision by Michigan prosecutors to charge a 15-year-old child as though he were an adult. From the need for top-to-bottom reform at all levels of the criminal justice system to finding a place of agreement on sex with cats. This may not be the podcast America wants, but it is the podcast America needs!


DMZ America Podcast #24: Another School Shooting (in Michigan), Roe v. Wade on the Ropes, What’s Wrong with the Left, Time for Joe to Admit the Truth?

Best friends and political cartoonist Ted Rall and Scott Stantis dissect a busy news week. Yet another school shooting, this one north of Detroit, prompts the question: can we do anything to control guns? Abortion rates are before the US Supreme Court and this time it’s really serious. This segues into an unscheduled digression about what the hell is wrong with the American left or even if one exists. And finally: should Democrats admit the truth — Joe Biden isn’t really running for reelection?



How Liberals Censor Leftists

Myles Stanish Archives - New England Historical Society

            Just a few decades ago it was still possible for the left to find space on corporate-owned airwaves. Progressive talkers like Tom Leykis, Lynn Samuels and Phil Donahue found wide audiences until they got pushed off the air by the corporate powers that be. I worked talk radio in Los Angeles and San Francisco until 2007.

            The same applies to print. Until the 1990s the New York Times occasionally found space for the occasional progressive-minded op-ed; no more, not ever. A memorable turning point was former columnist Bob Herbert’s 2010 remembrance of radical historian Howard Zinn. Zinn’s passing, Herbert wrote about his friend, “should have drawn much more attention from a press corps that spends an inordinate amount of its time obsessing idiotically over the likes of Tiger Woods and John Edwards.” I was surprised that Zinn was friends with a prominent writer at the Times. The paper, Herbert included, rarely if ever mentioned him.

            Between the warmongering and essays by torture apologists, there wasn’t space.

            It’s their outlet so it’s their rules. They don’t have to broadcast or publish anyone or anything they don’t like. Problem is, they don’t want anyone else to broadcast or publish anyone or anything they don’t like.

            There are many shades of Republicanism but, for all the headline-grabbing scuffles between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump, the Republican Party remains a big tent embodied by the range of speakers at CPAC. Big-business Republicans like Mitch McConnell and small-government libertarian Republicans like Rand Paul refrain from criticizing the GOP’s allies on the far right, including white nationalists and other extremists whose ideas capture the imaginations of the rank-and-file, and whose raw numbers they need to win elections.

When an insurgent candidacy gathers momentum from outside the establishment, GOP leaders bow to the will of their voters, as when the California state party did— to the corporatists’ initial displeasure — when actor Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as the frontrunner in a state gubernatorial recall election. Of course, national officials have fallen in line behind Trump.

            Top Democrats, on the other hand, would rather lose elections than yield control to their party’s progressive base. They deployed sleazy but legal tactics, as well as Nixon-style dirty tricks, to block Bernie Sanders in consecutive sets of primaries even though polls consistently showed him to be the strongest candidate while their chosen nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost. Sanders remains one of the most popular politicians in America yet party leaders and their media allies are still congratulating themselves for stopping him as they scramble for a viable presidential candidate for 2024: Joe Biden (going senile, approval rating 36%), Kamala Harris (unlikable, 26%) or maybe Pete Buttigieg (wet behind the ears, 37%).

            Democrats want progressive votes but only for free, nothing owed, and then on sufferance. One of the main ways party leaders announce their contempt for progressives is to demonize and marginalize progressive pundits and commentators. While their framing often falls flat and they’re weak in negotiations with Republicans, the Democrats’ censorship of the left is ruthless and cunning.

            Democrats represent half the country and progressives represent half the Democrats. In other words, progressive Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Squad voters account for roughly a quarter of the electorate. But these one out of four voters have only token representation among politicians and zero representation in mainstream media.

            Anti-progressive censorship is so thorough that we had might as well be living in the Soviet Union. In the 2016 presidential primaries, only two major newspapers endorsed Sanders. None did in 2020. Sanders was blacklisted by cable news; MSNBC’s strict no-Bernie-coverage rule even led to the firing of a host, the late Ed Schultz. No major daily newspaper in the United States employs a progressive or other leftist on staff as an opinion columnist or editorial cartoonist—while hundreds of mainstream liberals and conservatives ply their trade.

            Reveling in brazen hypocrisy, corporate Democrats censor progressives and other leftists who criticize them from their left flank—then they discredit them using a fiendish tactic: guilt by forced association.

Since it’s impossible for a left-of-the-Democrats talk host to find work on either terrestrial or satellite radio or television, some manage to turn up either on foreign-owned or conservative media outlets that welcome criticism of the Democratic Party even if it comes from the left. And when they do, lefties get smacked down for the sin of trying to earn a living.

During the Bush years, English-language services of the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera website and cable TV provided a haven for Bush-bashers like yours truly, who by then had earned persona non grata status at places like CNN and MSNBC. Now Russia’s RT and Sputnik News employ a roster of progressives exiled from the walled garden of mainstream media.

Having thoroughly silenced every progressive voice, Democrats and their media allies resort to absurd victim-blaming: how, they ask, dare they work for foreigners? Especially foreigners who aren’t aligned with the U.S. government?

Conservative news outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the New York Post give more space to progressives than do “liberal” media. The “enemy of my enemy” motivation is at work; if the left wants to beat up Democrats, who is the right to refuse? As a former frequent guest on Fox News, I took heat for legitimizing pigs like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. But I went on Fox because, for the left, it’s the only game in town. CNN or MSNBC won’t have us.

Nowadays center-left liberals are beating up lawyer-turned-pundit Glenn Greenwald, known for the Edward Snowden revelations and cofounding The Intercept. (Disclosure: My admiration of Greenwald dissipated after he slithered out of covering the L.A. Times firing me as a favor to the LAPD. He couldn’t even be bothered to fart out a supportive tweet.) Greenwald has become a regular guest of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Criticism ranges from Greenwald being too chummy with Carlson to legitimizing him to actively promoting him.

I can’t argue with Greenwald’s defense. “I used to go on MSNBC all the time at the beginning of the Rachel Maddow Show because I would go on and bash Bush and Cheney and I would argue even in the early Obama years that Bush and Cheney ought to be prosecuted,” he points out. MSNBC’s invitations ended as Obama turned right and Greenwald went after him on the same set of principles. “I know that the reason I go on Fox is because Tucker has a story that he thinks…I’m an important piece of and can tell.”

            As Greenwald says, “Every cable show uses people.”

If corporate liberal media outlets and their fans don’t want lefties like Greenwald to allow themselves to be “used” by Fox or Press TV or Al Jazeera, they can make it stop right now. All they have to do is invite us on.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


DMZ America Podcast #23: The Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict, Does America Need a New Constitution?, Biden Taps the Strategic Oil Reserves & Harris vs. Buttigieg

Our cartooning colossuses have a full plate this week. As Scott and Ted predicted last week, Kyle Rittenhouse got a get-out-of -jail-free card for early Christmas. We discuss the political and practical ramifications. In addition, we discuss whether or not the U.S. Constitution is in dire need of an upgrade.  Also, piggybacking on Ted Rall’s column we dive into inflation.  With Scott getting bent all out of shape over President Biden raiding the Strategic Oil Reserves and the boys giggle over a potential Harris vs. Buttigieg contest in 2024. 


Our Inflexible, Outdated Constitution

College of DuPage explores voter suppression and voting laws in honor of Constitution Day

           A national constitution ought to reflect a society’s fundamental values by defining a set of legal principles that can be periodically adjusted in order to reflect a society’s changing mores, culture and technology. By that standard, our Constitution is woefully out of date.

From the electoral college to gun rights to the hilariously archaic right to refuse to quarter troops in your home and the $20 threshold for a civil jury trial, the U.S. Constitution contains many head-scratching relics of an America we wouldn’t recognize. Living in the age of the musket, James Madison might not be so quick to argue for legalizing the AR-15, assuming that a well-regulated state militia was still a thing.

A work of genius the U.S. Constitution is not. It is almost impossible to amend—it is in fact the hardest to amend in the world. The immutability of the document is highlighted by the inability of the world’s most powerful democracy to enshrine a right as basic as gender equality, a principle that the vast majority of other countries, even dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, have managed to include (at least in theory) in their founding charters.

We haven’t successfully amended the Constitution in half a century—and barely then. Which is really weird. “Most liberal democracies—including the nice, stable ones in Western Europe—amend their constitutions with great frequency,” University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner pointed out in 2014: “Germany amends its Basic Law almost once per year, and France a bit more than once every two years. Indeed, most states in the U.S. amend their constitutions every couple of years.”

            Because Americans are saturated from birth to death by “living document” propaganda about the eternal majestic genius of the Founding Fathers, the constitution is treated like a sacred stone tablet personally engraved by God rather than what it is, a 234-year-old train wreck. From progressive Democrats to right-wing Republicans there is no thought, much less political will, to suggest that this relic might be altered to better serve 21st century Americans.

            We may not see its flaws, but everyone else does. As recently as 1987, most countries’ basic legal charters were directly or indirectly inspired by the American constitution. Not any more. “Among the world’s democracies,” a 2012 NYU law review study found, “constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall.” When a new country like East Timor or South Sudan emerges on the world stage now, their legal experts look for guidance to the more modern constitutions like those of Canada, India, South Africa and New Zealand. The right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and healthcare—standard rights around the globe—are absent from the U.S. Constitution. The climate crisis should prompt consideration of a constitutional right of nature, as several countries have.

            If we we’re a vibrant democracy, we should act like one. We ought to ask ourselves: if we were writing a Constitution today from scratch, what would it look like?

Would a contemporary U.S. constitution include an electoral college system? Perhaps— we might join Burundi, Estonia, India, Madagascar, Myanmar, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu, which have electoral college systems.

But probably not. It’s far likelier that popular opinion would prevail and that we’d choose our leaders the same way most of the world does. A 55%-to-43% majority of Americans told a January 2021 Pew poll that they would prefer the president to be elected by popular vote.

Lefties’ complaints about the not-guilty verdict in the recently-concluded Kyle Rittenhouse trial prompted me to start thinking about the question of what a 2021 Constitutional Convention would come up with. Legal experts weren’t surprised that Rittenhouse got away with killing two men and wounding a third. By every credible account, the jury followed Wisconsin law.

“America today: you can break the law, carry around weapons built for a military, shoot and kill people, and get away with it,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. Well, yes. Not because the jury messed up. Because they followed the law.

Which means the law is the problem.

If you don’t think the law should allow a 17-year-old kid to take an AR-15 military-style assault rifle to a riot, play junior vigilante supercop and wind up shooting three people, I agree. The root of that craziness, however, is not to yell vague complaints about “the state of America”—it’s to repeal or amend the antiquated Second Amendment.

The constitutional right to keep and bear arms is a uniquely American oddity. Only two other nations besides the U.S. have one—Mexico and Guatemala. And those two countries’ gun laws are nowhere as liberal as ours. Mexico bans the sale or possession of automatic or semi-automatic firearms entirely; there’s only one gun shop in the whole country, on a heavily-guarded army base in Mexico City. Guatemalans can buy semi-automatic weapons, handguns, rifles and shotguns but only with a permit that is hard to get. And ammunition is rationed.

A brand-new United States freshly liberated from the yoke of British colonialism probably wouldn’t draft a Second Amendment as we know it. We’re no longer a rural society, 95% of Americans don’t hunt and guns have gotten bigger and scarier.

One of three Americans own a gun, so guns would probably remain legal. But there would be regulations limiting firepower and some sort of licensing regime. Following endless mass shootings, Americans currently favor stronger gun-control laws by a 64%-to-28% margin, according to an April 2021 Politico poll. “Almost half — 46%— said that limiting gun ownership was more important than protecting the Second Amendment, while 44% said that gun ownership rights were a higher priority,” reported The Hill. If gun rights made it into our new constitution, odds are that such a provision would be far weaker than what we have now.

But the Second Amendment, and all the rest, remains impervious to change. Which itself won’t change until we start asking ourselves: why?

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Inflation Has Been Killing You for 40 Years. Why Are You Noticing Now?

Alternate Inflation Charts

            Far be it from me to carry water for the Biden Administration or to downplay the impact of inflation on working families as White House officials did in June when they dismissed rising prices as merely “transitory.” When 87% of Americans say they are very or extremely worried about higher prices, and one out of ten people say they can’t afford to buy holiday gifts this year, it’s a serious issue.

            Still, you can see why ruling elites are a little mystified by the collective freak-out, and it’s not just because they’re rich so they don’t care (although that’s true).

            Truth is, nothing new is happening.

Real inflation has been soaring for four decades. What changed is the artificially-deflated official inflation rate. Which is why people are finally paying attention.

            Presidential administrations have repeatedly changed the methodology the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate the U.S. inflation rate. Why? Politics, of course. The government wants to fool voters into thinking that they are better off, or at least thinking that they aren’t losing ground as quickly as they actually are. Lowballing price increases also saves the Treasury money on big costs like Social Security payouts, which are tied to the official inflation rate.

Housing, food and fuel account for a significant share of typical household expenses, but because they have been rising steadily in price for years, the feds keep lying about how much people really spend on those items. They’ve also factored in “shadow inflation”—the relative cost from year to year of, for example, a phone, is discounted going forward because an iPhone is of higher-quality, with more features, than Ma Bell’s “old reliables.” In reality, of course, you need a standard phone—which, today, is a smartphone. It’s not like you can time-travel back to 1980 to buy a rotary dial. So the BLS doesn’t count a $1000 iPhone as a significant price hike over a $20 plug-in model.

John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics presents inflation the old-fashioned way, as it was calculated in 1980. The difference is significant, often as much as 10% per year. In September, for example, Forbes reported that the BLS announced the official inflation rate to be 5.4%. But the “real” inflation rate was 13.4%.

            According to the official inflation rate, an item that cost $100 in 1980 now costs $336. Because inflation—official inflation—ticked up a few percentage points each year, it has not been a major political issue over the last 40 years.

No one was paying attention to the truth: inflation has been destroying living standards for many years. According to Shadow Government Statistics, due to exponential calculations that $100 item in 1980 now costs about $2,200. But median family income has stagnated; a $100 paycheck in 1980 is now a $335 paycheck, almost exactly the official inflation rate. Wages haven’t come close to keeping up, except for the top 1%. They’re doing great.

Median monthly rent has skyrocketed from $243 in 1980 to $1098 this year; median house-purchase price rose from $47,200 to $382,000. Gas was $1.19 per gallon; now it’s $3.41. College tuition, room and board was $3,900 and is currently $35,720.

So inflation is an ongoing problem. The only thing that’s new is that we are noticing it because it’s being reported. Although, it’s important to note, the inflation rate that is tanking Biden’s poll numbers is still being radically downplayed.

Because the rate is now high enough to register officially, Joe Biden is the first president since Jimmy Carter to be blamed for inflation. Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, Obama and Trump had high inflation too—but they got off scot-free.

“There is a psychology to inflation that is different from everything else, and it tends to drive how people view the economy because they experience it every day whether it is at the grocery store, gas pump or buying household goods,” says Democratic pollster John Anzalone. As the last 40 years prove, though, the government is also very good at convincing people not to believe their own lying eyes.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

DMZ America Podcast Episode #22: Kyle Rittenhouse, anti-SLAPP Saves Trump Again, Russiagate Becomes Hillarygate, and It’s the Leadership, Stupid

Another busy news week and America’s cartooning sweethearts are here to break it down for you. Conservative cartoonist Scott Stantis and progressive cartoonist Ted Rall are best friends who agree to disagree. Kyle Rittenhouse looks like he’s about to walk on charges of shooting three people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin last year. The Steele Dossier has completely collapsed but media organizations won’t admit they published garbage. Donald Trump shakes off yet another of his alleged sexual assault victims using America’s corporate-backed anti-SLAPP statute. Biden passed infrastructure but his numbers are still tanking and we know why.