Saturday, July 29, 2006
I'm posting next week's cartoon a little early, as I'm leaving for vacation. So this space will be quiet for the next several days.
To preempt any complaints from the interpretationally -challenged, this cartoon is not advocating intimidation as a political tactic. I am turning the tables in order to make a point about politicians (including several Dems, in this case) who fail to ground themselves in the social realities of others.
On that note, I am off to the beach, where I look forward to re-reading 1984 and other timely novels. See ya round like a donut.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Following up on my "Mustache Suicides" cartoon of a few weeks ago, I would just like to point out that Colin Farrell's cheesy handlebar mustache in the new Miami Vice movie is completely gratuitous and, I would posit, an abomination to those of us who admired Don Johnson's stubble back in the day.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Molly Ivins recently called Joe Lieberman "the most annoyingly sanctimonious person in politics." I'd say that's about right. Nearly as sanctimonious are the establishment pundits pooh-poohing the supporters of his challenger in the Democratic primary, Ned Lamont. The pundits blubber wrongly that progressives are creating a "litmus test" for Democratic candidates by opposing candidates solely because they support the Iraq war. Given that misconception, I regret that I only mentioned Iraq in this cartoon. I very much wanted to mention the fact that Joe sleeps with a pharmaceutical lobbyist (see Joe Conason's article from July 12), and that Lieberman led the fight in 1994 against expensing stock options on corporate balance sheets, thus paving the way for the accounting scandals that followed a few years later.
And yes, when memes are extracted from the brains of the misinformed, they really do look like blobs of glowing green energy.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Okay, I've taken the plunge into the cesspool of self-promotion and slutdom that is MySpace. Go check out my totally excellent taste in music and movies, or better yet, place a friend request.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I have worked both as a grocery store cashier and web designer, so you would think I'd have no problem with those computerized checkout machines that are infiltrating supermarkets everywhere. But you'd be wrong. I have yet to pass through one of those automated gauntlets without exploding with rage.
This is not to suggest I am opposed to all forms of automation. ATM machines, for example, are pretty handy. But the "U-Scan" machines at the grocery store do not make life more convenient. Especially if you buy a lot of produce or bulk items. A couple weeks ago, Mr. Slowpoke and I were forced to go through one of these bastard lanes because we were shopping late at night, and the store literally had no human cashiers on duty. Among our purchases were two ears of corn. To simply to locate "corn" on the computer was a labyrinthine process out of the movie Brazil. Though we were eventually rewarded with the hilarious bot-speak: "YOU HAVE SELECTED... (long pause)... CORN!!!"
Don't even get me started about the previous time, when the machine scanned an item twice.
The United Food and Commercial Workers' union has an article on self-checkout machines worth reading. In addition to the threat they pose to a shrinking pool of working-class jobs, they make for highly demoralizing work:
Margaret Christy, an Atlanta Kroger cashier of nine years and member of Local 1996, can feel Kimbro’s stress—times two. She’s in charge of eight U-Scan checkouts: four larger-sized carousels for any size order, and four smaller-sized ones for 15 items or less.The article goes on to report that the IHL Consulting Group -- a firm that collects data on retailing technology -- found that “the actual transaction process is faster with staffed checkout because of the experience of the checker and the avoidance of delays from the security features of the self-checkout devices.” Yes, the UFCW has an interest in protecting jobs. But the article strikes me as fair-minded. So, Kroger and Giant: next time you force me to do your labor, I'd like to be paid for it. And health insurance would be nice, too.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
A reporter for CampusProgress.org, a publication for progressive college students which runs my cartoons, has been denied access to the right-wing Young America Foundation's annual student conference... by the very same YAF spokesman who has reported on Campus Progress's events:
Yes—the same Jason Mattera who has refused Campus Progress a press credential for the Young America’s Foundation annual conference has twice written web pieces about the Campus Progress annual conference – the second time, just days after he denied me access.Read all about it here.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I received my copy of the new Field Guide to the U.S. Economy -- yes, that's a panel from one of my cartoons on the cover! Let me just say this book is great. It features the work of dozens of political cartoonists, and contains a wealth of troubling factoids about our so-called free marketplace. It should be essential reading for every American student. Hell, every American. I'm sure some kneejerks will call it biased, but as the saying goes, "the facts are biased."
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Speaking of Napoleon Dynamite and "Vote for Pedro" t-shirts, as I've done here recently, the NY Times had an eyebrow-raising article the other day about the town of Preston, Idaho cashing in on its newfound celebrity with an annual Napoleon Dynamite festival, complete with a tater tot-eating contest.
As far as quirky Idaho movies go, though, I prefer My Own Private Idaho.
SavetheInternet.com, the group fighting the telecoms' efforts to control internet content, featured my "Web of Deception" cartoon on their blog yesterday. Note to the astroturfers at "Hands off the internet" -- this is what an actual grassroots cartoon looks like.
I didn't have room to go into much detail about the Supreme Court decision mentioned in the cartoon, but the gist of it was that they rejected Vermont's campaign spending law which limited how much a candidate could contribute to his or her own campaign, citing the precedent of Buckley v. Valeo, which conflates money with free speech.
Such dreadful legal precedents are the subject of a book I read a couple years ago called Gangs of America, by Ted Nace. It's a very evenhanded, meticulously-researched history of corporate power in the United States. On the 1976 "money = speech" ruling, Nace writes:
In essence, the Court ruled that since spending money is often necessary to communicate a message to a large audience, restrictions on political spending or donations must satisfy the same difficult standard that speech must satisfy in order to be considered constitutional.I will let my cartoon speak to the absurdity of that argument. The only way out of our current crisis is 100% public financing of elections, which seems about as likely as me orbiting Pluto in a tutu tonight. (I'll let you know if that happens.)
Beyond the Supreme Court ruling, I think the strip wound up being a nice metaphor for how many aspects of life actually work in this country, including health care, as one reader suggested.
And yes, the cartoon is a not-so-oblique reference to the old Constitutional clause stating slaves counted as 3/5 person. Bear in mind this did not give them voting rights, but allowed them to be counted for the purposes of electoral college representation, so the South had more political clout to keep slavery legal. It's an irony worthy of today's standards!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
I am deeply tired of seeing Johnny Depp dressed up like a pirate. That's all I have to say.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
In an article about natural hot dogs, the NY Times reproduces the "PC food" meme I criticized last year in this cartoon:
In a country increasingly enamored of specialty sausages and natural beef, hot dog sales have slumped. But a new dog might save the day, one that is better for the environment and the animals, healthier for the body and, perhaps most important, doesn't taste like some kind of jailhouse punishment lunch.It seems like a harmless joke, but it really does reinforce the right-wing narrative that caring about the environment and our health is some sort of repressive adherence to a snooty set of beliefs. Look, being opposed to poisoning humanity is NOT a form of elitism. It is basic morality. For goodness sakes, we're living under the Church Lady administration! If anyone is "politically correct" it is these people.
I hear progressives throw around the term "PC" all the time. Each time we do, we re-create the Republicans' version of reality. Also, the joke is really getting old.
Monday, July 03, 2006
The germ behind this cartoon was the allmusic guide biography of Ladytron, which I consulted after picking up a used copy of Light and Magic on my trip to Seattle. The review quoted some critic as saying the band sounded like "...a teasing glimpse of how Britney Spears might have sounded, had she been born in the GDR and a heroin addict." So initially I was going to do a cartoon satirizing the cliches of rock criticism, but decided to fold it into the larger context of a Hyperbole Convention.
Further trivia: I considered naming the band mentioned in the second panel "Suckbucket" before deciding on "Flank Steak." In researching the word "suckbucket" to see if a band already had that name, I came across an actual product called the Suckbucket, which appears to be a trash can with some sort of vacuum apparatus that holds garbage bags against the sides of the can. Soon you'll be wondering how you ever lived without one.
I'm experimenting with a new logo design; feel free to let me know what you think.
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