Saturday, April 30, 2005
Regular correspondent James, a veteran who has lost friends in Iraq, responds to the faux-patriot brand of e-mail I discussed two posts below.
Tell your "patriot" he/she may feel free to head on down to their local recruiter's office, raise his/her right hand, and repeat the nice words the man in green is saying. After they do that, and serve out their first enlistment, they can then start questioning the patriotism of others... hopefully by that point they'll realize the difference between the nation (as embodied in the Constitution) and the Presidency (because he was probably one of those ninnies quite happy to tear down Clinton when the man inhabited the Oval Office)... As I've said before, you want to help a soldier, save the $3.99 [for a "Support Our Troops" ribbon] for a letter to your Congressman asking why they still don't have battle armor. The people who are wearing the uniform as we speak _should be_ wearing it so the average American doesn't have to fight, so the "would you do the same" is pointless posturing (did you ask the guy if he had a flight suit at home too?).Well-put, methinks.
Monday, April 25, 2005
There's this meme being spouted by the talking heads in the Republisphere that the Dems simply don't have any "ideas." While the Dems in Congress do seem to have a problem articulating a coherent, unified message, that hardly means progressives don't have thoughts about how things might be made better. The problem is, we're too busy trying to stop the barrage of insane bullshit to outline some Grand Vision. Not like the Repub majority wouldn't immediately crush any constructive plan the Dems put forth anyway.
The guy in the last panel is somewhat modeled after that tool David Brooks.
A reader wrote me about last week's cartoon, which included a character who refused to take down her Kerry sign (along with a footnote saying "see also the cartoonist").
I'm not surprised that you refuse to remove your sign. And that certainly is your right, one that I would fight and die for, would you do the same?I've heard shades of this comment before, usually something along the lines of: "You criticize this country, but at least you're free to do so here, unlike other places." To which I say, thank goodness. But also: if you think the Radical Reich has actually been fighting for my freedom to draw political cartoons, you are a gigantic butthead.
Let's be clear. The Iraq war has nothing to do with my freedom of expression. Can we please all agree on the simple fact that it was fought for strategic reasons -- namely, establishing military bases, projecting American power in the Middle East, and maintaining long-term influence over the flow of oil?
Secondly, do not even get me started on the Bush rallies where attendees must sign loyalty oaths and anyone wearing a Kerry t-shirt is forcibly removed, if not arrested. This is the most dissent-quashing administration in modern US history. So spare me the absurd argument that Bush is somehow a champion of the First Amendment.
Notice also the invocation of patriotism in the e-mail cited above. I may keep my Kerry sign up, but am I willing to fight for my country? My response: You are confused. Bush is not America, and keeping my sign up is a way (however miniscule) of fighting for my country.
Side note: use of the term "Radical Reich" inspired by this fine blog I recently came across.
Friday, April 22, 2005
It was recently pointed out to me that I now have my own Wikipedia entry. Cool!
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Good job, Vatican people. You've elected a guy who says, "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism... that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure" (See E.J. Dionne, Washington Post). Apparently the antidote to this is the utter conviction that your faith alone is correct and everyone else is wrong. Just what the world needs now, eh? All this crap about one's ego and desires floating in the abyss rather than being anchored by faith... you know, there was a little thing called the Enlightenment. Not that I expect the Pope to be a champion of reason, but it would be nice if he didn't paint secularists as morally unhinged hedonists.
An aside: I picked up a free "Biodot" at a work fair today, which is pretty much like a mood ring in sticker form. It's supposed to help you monitor stress. In the past few minutes, I see my biodot has gone from turquoise ("Relaxing") to reddish-orange ("Unsettled"/"Tense").
Monday, April 18, 2005
Some MIT students apparently wrote a computer program that generates academic writing, and got a paper full of meaningless gibberish accepted at a forthcoming technology conference. The paper is entitled, "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy." From CNN.com:
"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions.Hmm, I wonder if the program can generate humanities papers as well.
I'm proud to report that we're not the only people on our block with our Kerry sign still up. I guess we should take it down at some point, but I like the constant reminder of the alternate reality we could be living in. Not that many Americans are even aware of all the nefarious suckdom of the past few months. But what the hell.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Shown here are train tracks that cut through the heart of fraternity-land at U.Va. This area in particular is used by many as a shortcut. It is thoroughly festooned with garbage: empty beer bottles, plastic water bottles, dozens upon dozens of bright red and blue plastic cups. The photo here hardly does justice to the full panorama of trash that encircles you as you cross the tracks.
I find this spot a rather telling metaphor for the bigger picture of environmental destruction. After all, many of these kids are eye-poppingly privileged, tooling around town in shiny Land Rovers with "W: The President" stickers. Before long, many of them will be running our companies. And the grand tradition of not giving a fuck will continue.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
In the Times today: "New York Assembly Democrats Close Off Death Penalty for 2005." A good friend of mine was instrumental to this effort, and she is quoted in the article:
"There is going to be a ripple effect coming out of Albany against capital punishment, no question," said Shari Silberstein, who attended the hearings and is co-director of the Quixote Center, a group that describes itself as faith-based and is pressing for moratoriums on executions. "When a major state like New York moves away from the death penalty, other states take notice and ask questions of their own."I have to tip my hat to Shari and the many others devoting themselves to non-profits. These are the people making things happen.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Textbook case of he-said/she-said, empty-headed reporting in the NY Times today. The article implies that the Dems are now trying the same "partisan" tactics the Repubs used back in the days of Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution." It begins:
Newt Gingrich, the conservative firebrand who won control of Congress a decade ago by campaigning against an entrenched, arrogant and all-powerful Democratic majority, is once again an inspirational figure on Capitol Hill.Yes, the Dems were SO arrogant back then, they made the neocons look positively cuddly.
The article goes on to make other comparisons, suggesting that the criticism of Tom Delay is a partisan attempt to mimic the ousting of Democratic speaker of the house Jim Wright over ethics violations. As if Tom Delay isn't already the poster child for absolute corruption. (Psst-- he's INDICTED!) Sheesh, what does a guy have to do before the Dems can fairly point out he's a crook?
Anyone who's seen or read "The Hunting of the President" knows that any comparison between the mild-mannered clucking of present-day Dems and the creative viciousness of '90s Repubs is completely absurd.
There's more egregious disregard for context throughout the piece. The facts don't matter; only what people are saying matters, and all criticism of the Bush administration by the Dems is seen as strategy-driven. At a time when we desperately need reporting to provide a reality anchor in a sea of spin, this kind of "analysis" does nothing to help.
Monday, April 11, 2005
This cartoon grew somewhat out of my frustration at the recent spate of overhyped media spectacles (Schiavo, the Pope) which have rendered invisible all the truly sick crap that's going on (Darfur, the bankruptcy bill, refusal to raise the minimum wage, the threat of absolute Republican power, appointing that flaming nutball John Bolton to the UN, etc). Tens of thousands of people die of pollution from coal-fired power plants every year, yet those victims don't make the news at all.
Rather than address overplayed subjects directly (I was loath to even reference them here), I thought it would be more interesting to ponder the efficacy of the regressives' media machine. Now, I know they weren't exactly responsible for the Pope-a-thon, but the ease with which their BS floats from blogs to Limbaugh to Fox to the mainstream press (or some other sequence involving Rove or Norquist or some dippy think tank) is remarkable.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Reader Dustin has some constructive thoughts on that ubiquitous directive to "Support Our Troops":
We all know it the phrase is supposed to be an endorsement of the administration's policies that directly affect the troops, although the troops have no say in the policies. The best way to fire back would be a campaign centered on "I support Veterans"--every bit as patriotic as "Supporting the Troops" but requires us to put money helping sick and injured vets rather than finance a war machine.I wholeheartedly agree. It's a golden opportunity to reframe their asses. Let's hope the Dems haven't forgotten their Lakoff already.
Monday, April 04, 2005
I spent a lot of time on highways over the last two weeks, which meant having to look at lots of those yellow ribbons reminding me to "Support our troops." Given the context of these bizarre political times, in which opponents of the war are routinely tarred as unpatriotic, those ribbons strike me as sanctimonious and grating. I am speaking as someone who had a relative serving in Iraq.
This cartoon was written on a train, the last leg of my trip home from the Northeast. I've concluded I could use a train ride every week for writing purposes.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Can be viewed here.
Three parking tickets, countless futons and fold-out couches, and some 2,000 miles later (for me, anyway), our tour has concluded. I was quite literally sick and tired – but happy – at the tour’s end. Our readings had all gone well, especially in NY and DC, where the spaces were packed with large and enthusiastic crowds. Somewhat amazingly, we managed to get press coverage (either blurbs or actual writeups) in the NY Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, New Haven Advocate, both Philly weeklies, and the Washington City Paper. And perhaps most importantly, we had an extreme amount of fun.
I had planned on returning home on Wednesday night, but we finally got booked on Air America, which entailed a little detour back to NYC. For those who listened, I’m sorry it was lame. I've done a couple successful radio interviews in the past; never before has the word "Slowpoke" not come up once. I somewhat clumsily tried to steer the conversation back to cartoons on a couple occasions, but got the sense that we were expected to keep it moving by gassing on about random stuff. Ironically, we had great conversations about the tour and cartoons during the commercial breaks that I imagine would have interested the listeners more. On a positive note, everyone was very friendly, and I’m happy to report that the Air America studios are not nearly as grim as everyone says they are.
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