Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Living in present-day bonkers America puts me in a survivalist frame of mind. Not an underground-bunker-full-of-canned-lima-beans frame of mind, mind you, but the sense that we really must watch out for ourselves because regulatory agencies sure ain't doing it anymore.
For example, it's imperative that mercury pollution from coal-fired plants stop immediately. As a woman of childbearing age, there are some species of fish I'm not supposed to eat at all because they contain so much mercury. Frankly, I don't feel comfortable eating the "mercury-lite" varieties either. But what did I read in the Nov. 20 Times?
Fuel of the Future? Some Say CoalThe article hints at possible spending by the Energy Dept. on cleaner technology, but: a) fat chance of this whacked administration doing anything truly bio-friendly, and b) environmental experts say even so-called "cleaner" coal plants are disastrous. So fuck fish forever, I guess.
(I'd link to the article, but it's now pay-only.)
There was another article in today's Times about the possibilty of oil deposits under the Arctic Ocean, which reminded me of this tidbit that appeared in the Washington Post on Nov. 12 (not archived):
Scientists behind an eight-nation report saying the Arctic sea ice could almost vanish in summer by 2100 because of global warming said offshore oil and gas operations would be easier, but melting permafrost could destabilize installations on land.An oil company executive went on to say he wasn't sure the melting ice cap would help or hurt drilling, but it sure is an interesting possibilty to ponder, isn't it?
I also read recently that the administration is pouring $3.7 billion into nanotechnology research, but only some $3 million (I think -- it was definitely in the single millions) towards researching nanoparticles' effect on humans and the environment. Considering that certain nanoparticles have been known to cause tumors in rats, it would seem moral to provide more funding for safety testing.
Unfortunately, it seems there's only so much a Bush administration survivalist can do.
Monday, November 29, 2004
A pretty straightforward strip this week. This was somewhat inspired by a chapter from George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant! I read recently. A linguist, Lakoff brilliantly describes the savvy use of language and framing by the right. Essential reading!
A bit of trivia: after drawing the "Soon to be Halliburton Stadium" sign in the third panel, I did a Google search to make sure there wasn't already such a locale. As it turns out, there is a Halliburton Stadium -- for a high school football team in Duncan, Oklahoma, where Halliburton was originally established in 1919 as New Method Oil Well Cementing Co. I figured this was obscure enough that I could still use the gag.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
I know this is a cliched gripe, but seriously, what is up with businessmen with cellphones at airport gates? It's like they specifically seek me out (typically, I'm off in a quiet corner somewhere trying to read or nap). They invariably sit down in the seat directly behind me, whip out the infernal device, and start speaking in a booming, perfectly-modulated baritone about delayed motherboard shipments and the Johnson account. And they don't stop with one call. Oh, no. They dial and dial and dial, as though the phone itself were their very lifeline, and to sit in silence for even a few moments would negate their existence. Do they train to do this somewhere? Do they not realize that cellphone technology has evolved to the point that idiotic bellowing is unnecessary? Could this be some sort of bizarre mating display? I honestly think they're too oblivious for that to be the case.
I say "businessmen" because in my experience, it's usually guys that do this. Female business travelers don't seem to thunder into their phones quite so obnoxiously, though I'm sure there are many who are plenty annoying.
Fascinating if deeply disturbing interview in the Independent UK with right-wing ex-con and widely-broadcast talk radio host G. Gordon Liddy:
He used to take his kids to see Leni Reifenstahl's Nazi propaganda movie 'The Triumph of the Will.' When he was a kid himself, he went to insane ends to test his will-power. He stood in front of approaching trains, telling himself he would not die because "I am a machine too." During lightning storms, in order to demonstrate to himself to power of his will, he would climb onto tall trees and yell, "Kill me! Kill me!" He even trained himself to kill animals in anticipation of becoming a brutal soldier. He describes beheading chickens with glee: "I killed and killed and killed, and finally I could kill efficiently and without emotion or thought. I was satisfied; when it came my turn to go to war, I would be ready. I could kill as I could run - like a machine...Tip o' the mouse to the Man of Many Bulblets (inside joke).
Monday, November 22, 2004
After weeks of election-inspired political strips, I decided to take a break this week and do something light (regular readers will be familiar with Drooly Julie's Radio Lustlab).
I have visions of rightward-moving DLC Dems who dream of appealing to the Puritanical vote cringing at this sort of thing, but I draw the line at surrendering popular culture to the archaic values coalition.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Jeep is considering adding two new vehicles to its lineup. One would be a truck called...
(are you ready?)
... the GLADIATOR!
The other would be a sports car called the Firepower. No kidding.
So... what do you suppose this says about the state of our culture?
So, I'm a blue person who grew up in a red part of a blue state who currently lives in a blue part of a red state.
What does this mean? Time to move beyond this binary nonsense. Or, if you must think in 1's and 0's, assign 1 to ordinary Americans, and 0 to the neocon imperialists running the show, who could simply not care less about how we're doing.
(To give credit where credit is due, this way of reframing the red-blue debate has been evoked previously by both my friend Adam and by Randi Rhodes, and many others, I'm sure.)
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
It seems my cousin has made it back safely from Iraq, though I gather he was involved in some dangerous firefights.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Well, I'm sure to receive some colorful e-mails over this one. This cartoon was partly inspired by a few missives from Bush supporters last week that suggested I wasn't "open-minded" enough.
I actually think the whole "who's more intolerant" debate is pretty silly, and a distraction from the Machiavellian machinations of Cheney & co., but alas, I will respond:
First, I'm a political cartoonist, which means it is my job to make fun of stuff. Secondly, and this is just a thought, but have you looked at your own party lately? You know, the one that's currently purging non-Bush loyalists from the CIA? The one that refuses to work with Democratic lobbyists in Congress? The one that is claiming a mandate based on 51% of the vote? The one that's excluding Democratic congresspeople from the legislative process? The one that demanded loyalty oaths at Bush rallies? The party of Ann Coulter? Of Bill "Shut up!" O'Reilly? Of Rush "feminazi" Limbaugh? Of Michael "die gay pig" Savage?
Anyone who does not renounce all of these things up front before criticizing the left for being "intolerant" is not to be taken seriously.
As I mentioned earlier, I think it was gross misinformation, not the fundamentalist vote, that carried the day. I do, however, find the unchecked power of extremist theocrats very chilling; witness this ever-so-tolerant op-ed piece by Frank Pastore in the Nov. 5 L.A. Times:
Christians, in politics as in evangelism, are not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that hold good people captive... we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.I don't believe Mr. Pastore is alone.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
I haven't been flogging it very hard in the blog, but for those of you who read the strip online every week, your purchase of America Gone Bonkers would make my heart flutter with joy.
Signed copies are available here. I try to get'em signed and shipped within a couple business days, add a day or so if you hit me just before a deadline. For all of you who have ordered, THANK YOU!
Friday, November 12, 2004
For the 0.001% of you who happen to live in central Virginia, I'll be holding an America Gone Bonkers signing and discussion at the Charlottesville Barnes & Noble at 7pm on Thursday, Nov. 18.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I got a kick out of this cartoon on Bush's so-called mandate, sent by reader Sergio.
Monday, November 08, 2004
A few conclusions after a weekend spent thinking and thinking and thinking about the election:
First, can we declare a moratorium on the terms "values voters" and "moral issues" right now? These are nothing more than Big, Fat Right-wing Euphemisms, and the media seems perfectly happy to deploy them uncritically. Such language falsely implies that Kerry supporters don't have values and don't care about morality, and that morality itself is pretty much limited to the circumstances under which people can bump nasties. As opposed to say, dooming thousands of people to premature death every month from air pollution, or screwing the poor.
What to call this particular set of the electorate, then? I'm still working on it, but so far I like the way my hubbo unit put it best: These are the people, by and large, who don't like The Simpsons.
I would add, as Bob Herbert says in his excellent column today, that the role of religion is being overplayed in post-election analysis. What's being underplayed, almost mysteriously so, is the role of misinformation -- most especially the tremendous reach of Fox News in creating a separate reality favorable to Bush. It's undeniable that television advertising works; now think about the effect of having a 24-hour ad campaign running since 1996. (If you haven't seen Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed yet, you should.)
Meanwhile, unbelievably, some Democrats have displayed a spectacular lack of a learning curve by insisting that the party hasn't been centrist enough. This, after the 2002 debacle which followed numerous concessions to Repubs; this, after Daschle and Kerry, both of whom voted for the authority to go to war in Iraq, both lost. If milquetoast Dems were mice in a Skinner Box, no amount of electric zapping would deter them from going after the cheese the same way. Note to wimpy Dems: No matter how you vote, your record will be distorted and your character demonized, so you may as well vote what you believe.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Looking back over the past year, I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, Scorsese's After Hours, in which a hapless guy keeps finding himself in increasingly surreal situations one night in New York City. One misfortune leads to another, more bizarre misfortune at every turn.
I'll start by saying I am still skeptical about the Ohio results. Exit polls gave Kerry a decisive lead yesterday, and I still cannot find any detailed reporting on exactly what happened. Under normal circumstances, I would accept the results at face value, but we've heard too many stories about foul play -- from both the 2000 election and this one -- to think Karl Rove would leave Ohio to chance. These people have amply demonstrated that they do not believe in democracy. Maybe the numbers are legitimate, but they have given us every reason in the world to doubt the system.
Ohio aside, what we have witnessed is the triumph of unreality, a prospect I find more terrifying than anything. When reality ceases to matter, and when no checks and balances remain, anything can happen. This is how great tragedies come about.
The very first post in this blog, written back during the primaries in January, was an argument against picking Kerry as our nominee. I thought he would be too easily caricatured, and that he didn't have the charisma to win, since the whole damn thing is nothing but a beauty pageant anyway. But I don't think we can blame Kerry. While I'm curious about the alternate realities that might have played out with Clark or Edwards, I think we need to point our blame squarely at the disgusting campaign run by the Right. They "won" the race on bigotry and lies. Gay civil rights referenda brought hate-filled wingnuts out of the woodwork in eleven states; the smear campaign against Kerry was unforgivable, and the media's willingness to grant it legitimacy was beyond sad.
So, how to feel better about all this? Well, on the one hand, you are not alone. You are, in fact, joined by half of America and the rest of the planet. The human race is on your side. It's only a tiny number of insane people who have been successful. Unfortunately, they happen to control the most powerful nation on earth.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
It was a perfect day for voting here in Charlottesville -- sunny skies and a balmy 80 degrees. The lines were blessedly long at our polling place; it took us about an hour to get through. We then stopped in Al Weed's campaign HQ -- Weed's the Democratic challenger to Rep. Virgil Goode (R, good ol' boy) -- and got recruited for a "visibility operation"; that is, holding up Weed and pro-Kerry signs at a busy intersection. Some observations:
We probably got about twenty horn honks for every pro-Bush remark/middle finger/boo. Granted, C-ville is a college town where many people actually read, and is not to be confused with the rest of the state.
Unsurprisingly, one Bush supporter yelled, "Al Weed is for homos!" Other Bush supporters tended to low out their windows like cattle: "Boooosh." Nearly all of them drove enormous vehicles.
Speaking of which, the Bush campaign was driving around a red, jacked-up pickup truck with those ridiculously huge tires and a big American flag flapping in the back. It's as if they were trying to be a caricature of themselves.
Lots of people stopped on the sidewalk to thank us, including one guy who said he was an ex-felon who couldn't vote, but that he could pray. He noted that we were doing the lord's work in front of "the good house" (we were in front of a Baptist church).
So here we go, into the night. I can hardly imagine the Powerists surrendering power, but we'll see.
Monday, November 01, 2004
I have to say, my greatest concern about the election is that the stories we've heard about cheating, voter intimidation, trashing of registrations, etc. -- almost exclusively at the hands of Republicans (this is fact, not opinion) -- is only the tip of the iceburg. That is, the malfeasance, or malfee-ance as our prez might say, is so widespread and systematic that we may never know the full extent of it.
I did some phone banking yesterday. Cold-calling people normally goes against every fiber of my being -- I'd rather work in a salt mine than be a telemarketer -- but this felt mighty good. Because when you volunteer for your local Democratic Party or with MoveOn.org, you are doing exactly what the bastards don't want you to do. My calling experience was almost wholly positive; there was one awkward moment when I called a deceased man and got his wife, but that's about it. Many people were grateful. It's not too late to make some calls yourself. You'll be glad you did.
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