Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"A War Foretold"

The previously mentioned Mother Jones timeline of events leading to the Iraq War is now online, in a handy little interactive format.

Fascinating read, check it out...

Monday, August 28, 2006


Posts on the Fighting Words blog are now being cross-posted on the group blog for Cartoonists With Attitude (CWA), a cartooning supersite with contributions from Ted Rall, Jen Sorensen, Mikhaela Reid, Brian McFadden, Matt Bors, August Pollak, Masheka Wood, Stephanie McMillan, and yours truly. All of us will be at SPX in October, where we will be signing, selling, shaking hands, etc.

This is a very cool little project... and the site looks great (thanks to Brian).

Fighting Words: More on New Orleans, Katrina recovery...

Some sources for this week's 'toon:
  • Loyola law professor Bill Quigley gives a comprehensive report on "New Orleans a Year After Katrina," including revelations about the federal response such as "FEMA trailers did not arrive in the lower ninth ward until June" and "the official rate of increase in rents is 39%" (with no governmental efforts at rent control in sight).

  • An extensive pdf report by the Institute for Southern Studies on a recovery effort that is a disaster in itself, with especially good sections on the United States' failure to live up to international human rights obligations.

  • Neil deMause on the national media's glossing over issues of poverty when reporting on Katrina, quoting Slate's Jack Shafer: "What I wouldn't pay to hear a Fox anchor ask, 'Say, Bob, why are these African-Americans so poor to begin with?'"

  • John D. McKinnon on the political P.R. blitz surrounding the Katrina anniversary.

  • Two good columns by Paul Krugman on Bush economic policy, which he says resembles that of a 16th-century monarchy, and also is much more responsible for economic inequalities in society than they like to claim.

  • And, on a lighter note, check out this lexicon of "Yatspeak."

    Yeah you rite.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fighting Words: 8/28/06 Cartoon

"Who's the Most Screwed?"...

Check out more 'toons on New Orleans and Katrina here, here, here, here, and here (press the "back" button to return to this page).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Partisan" = "Progressive"

Via Cursor, the Diocese of Duluth, MN has cancelled an appearance by Sister Helen Prejean because of her prior support for an advertisement criticizing the policies of the Bush administration:
The problem wasn't the political nature of the issues raised in the ad, [Kyle Eller, communications director for the diocese] said, noting that the church and Prejean often take stands on political issues. But the ad's partisan attack of Bush crossed the line, Eller said.

"When it gets into attacking (a political figure), that becomes partisan," Eller said...

But in a letter on her Web site, Prejean said the ad properly criticizes Bush's "reckless pursuit of war in Iraq, which has helped to destabilize the entire middle East; his approval of torture; his zealous promotion of imprisonment and executions; his fiscal policies which make the wealthy people more wealthy and poor people poorer."

Funny how Sister Helen's entirely legitimate criticisms of Bush's disastrous policies can be considered "partisan," and something like this is not:
One of the most blatant examples of [Pope Benedict XVI, fka Cardinal Joseph] Ratzinger’s intervention into the political affairs of a country was his role in the 2004 US presidential election. A number of American Catholic bishops publicly declared in the run-up to the election that they would deny Holy Communion to Democratic candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, because of his pro-choice stance on abortion rights. Their intervention, a brazen violation of the secular foundations of the US Constitution, was tantamount to a religious injunction to Catholics to vote for George W. Bush.

In June 2004, Ratzinger issued a statement of guidance to US bishops that, in effect, gave the Vatican’s seal of approval to Church officials who were using the abortion issue to discourage a vote for the Democratic candidate. In his missive to the bishop of Washington DC, Ratzinger wrote: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia.”

I'm not sure how Sister Helen's political leanings could come as a surprise to anyone... she's been a well-known social activist for years. I had a few friends during law school that worked with her at the Moratorium Campaign, and they all said that she is quite an impressive person...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We interrupt your regular programming...

...for a special announcement from "the Commander-in-Chief-of-the-World" on Global Warming.

And also, a blurb on the real Commander-in-Chief's affinity for fart jokes. Stuff like this just doesn't surprise me anymore...

Monday, August 21, 2006

More on Commemorating 9-11...

Check out the homepage for that cheesy commemorative coin you've no doubt seen on TV (from a company headed by none other than Barry Goldwater, Jr.!); and reviews of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center by Jac VerSteeg, David Walsh, Michael Phillips and Ruth Rosen, along with a rather jerky interview given by him here.

For some information on the broader context: check out some archived Frontline episodes here, here and here; also keep an eye out for the current issue of Mother Jones, which contains a comprehensive timeline of events leading up to the war (apparently not online yet)...

8/21/06 Cartoon

"Remember 9-11"...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Onion

Cuz I got nothin':

Jessica Simpson's breasts need your help.

Randy Johnson asks for pitching advice "for a friend of his."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More on Big Oil...

Check out:
  • Articles by Barbara Lewis, Mary Pemberton, and Steven Mufson on BP's Alaska pipeline closure, which is expected to drive gas prices to $4/gallon here in the Pacific Northwest.

  • A PDF report by ExxposeExxon on ExxonMobil's largely successful efforts to profit from oil dependence, to downplay the feasibility of diversification into alternative energy sources, and to encourage further oil dependence by promoting junk science.

  • Derrick Z. Jackson on Big Oil's big profits, akin to a "looting" of America (raising a good question: why hasn't there been more pressure on Bush to freeze gas prices, especially in the South after Katrina?).

  • A NY Times report on the P.R. difficulties that come along with record profits, which almost makes you want to shed a little tear for ExxonMobil (yeah right).

  • An archived NOW episode, and an article by Edmund L. Andrews, detailing how Big Oil goes about dodging royalty fees for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which may end up costing taxpayers as much as $80 billion over the next 25 years.

See also some perspectives on Big Oil's impact on foreign policy, including:
  • Greg Palast, who argues that the real reason for the Iraq invasion was to keep Iraq's vast oil reserves in the ground, to avoid "drowning the market" and keep demand (and prices) high.

  • Joshua Holland, who goes further to uncover how the U.S. has crafted a law for Iraq that makes the undiscovered Iraqi oil fields, estimated to be as much as 84% of Iraq's total reserves, open to PSA's (privatization by American oil companies).

  • A characteristically excellent post by Juan Cole, who explores "Peak Oil Theory" as the thread connecting the Bush administration's policies towards Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah, all directed towards "politically reorienting" the entire Gulf. He says it also explains the mysterious Bush policy towards Pakistan:
    In a worst case scenario, Washington would like to retain the option of military action against Iran, so as to gain access to its resources and deny them to rivals. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, however, that option will be foreclosed. Iran may not be trying for a weapon, and if it is, it could not get one before about 2016. But if it had a nuclear weapon, it would be off limits to US attack, and its anti-American regime could not only lock up Iranian gas and oil for the rest of the century by making sweetheart deals with China. It also might begin to exercise a sway over the small energy-producing countries of the Middle East. (The oil interest would explain the mystery of why Washington just does not care that Pakistan has the Bomb; Pakistan has nothing Washington wants and so there was no need to preserve the military option in its regard.)

    Even an Iranian nuke, of course, would not be an immediate threat to the US, in the absence of ICBMs. But the major US ally in the Middle East, Israel, would be vulnerable to a retaliatory Iranian strike...

    It may be that that hawks are thinking this way: Destroy Lebanon, and destroy Hizbullah, and you reduce Iran's strategic depth. Destroy the Iranian nuclear program and you leave it helpless and vulnerable to having done to it what the Israelis did to Lebanon. You leave it vulnerable to regime change, and a dragooning of Iran back into the US sphere of influence, denying it to China and assuring its 500 tcf of natural gas to US corporations...

    The second American Century ensues. The "New Middle East" means the "American Middle East."

    And it all starts with the destruction of Lebanon.

    ...and making this outstanding point:
    If the theory is even remotely correct, then global warming is not the only danger in continuing to rely so heavily on hydrocarbons for energy. Green energy--wind, sun, geothermal-- is all around us and does not require any wars to obtain it. Indeed, if we had spent as much on alternative energy research as we have already spent on the Iraq War, we'd be much closer to affordable solar. A choice lies ahead: hydrocarbons, a 20 foot rise in sea level, and a praetorian state. Or we could go green and maybe keep our republic and tame militarism.

Monday, August 14, 2006

8-14-06 Cartoon

"The Public, the Oil Company, and the Politician"...

I love those old Sergio Leone movies... check out an earlier 'toon with Bush disguised in a similar motif.

See also a previous 'toon on the oil vampires in the Bush administration.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fantasy Baseball Fans Rejoice

In case you missed it, a federal judge on Wednesday ruled that player names and stats are not the intellectual property of Major League Baseball or the Players' Association, who were seeking to bar fantasy leagues from using that information. So, good news: the games will go on.

Unfortunately, the judge failed to use her authority to tack on an extended jail sentence for Minnesota Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire for botching the handling of my fantasy team's best pitcher, super-rookie Francisco Liriano (whose season now appears to be over due to an arm injury).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid

The Bush administration wastes no time in getting their fear-monger on:
Terrorists were in the "final stages" of a plot to simultaneously blow up as many as 10 jets leaving Britain for the U.S., sending the planes and thousands of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.
The U.S. raised the terror threat level to "severe," or red, for all flights leaving Britain for the United States.
Chertoff said the plotters were "getting close to the execution phase."

"There were very concrete steps under way to execute all elements of the plan," he said.
The plot was "as sophisticated as any we have seen in recent years as far as terrorism is concerned," Chertoff said.

And this gem:
Hours after the news broke, Bush said it was "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

Thanks, assholes... I seem to remember a situation in late August of last year, a pending disaster (with several days reasonable notice, as I recall), and you worthless idiots were nowhere to be seen until 4 days after the disaster occurred.

However, as a number of satirical depictions have pointed out, it's much harder to make political hay out of hurricanes than terrorists:
(Will Forte as) George W. Bush: ...We all know, in the days after the hurricane, I said I wasn't warned about how bad the hurricane might be, and.. now there's a tape showing you that I was warned! ...So, who's got the last laugh now, huh? The main thing to remember here is: it's been six months, and there hasn't been another hurrircane! The hurricanes are on the run.

Back to the Old West

Perhaps a similar theme to my next cartoon...

15 states in the South and Midwest have enacted "shoot first" laws that expand the right of self-defense, allowing crime victims to use deadly force in situations that might formerly have subjected them to prosecution for murder:
The central innovation in the Florida law, said Anthony J. Sebok, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, is not its elimination of the duty to retreat, which has been eroding nationally through judicial decisions, but in expanding the right to shoot intruders who pose no threat to the occupant’s safety.

“In effect,” Professor Sebok said, “the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property.”

Of course, I'd imagine that such laws will not benefit many of the folks who favor them, their chief obstacle most likely being the fact that they're too drunk or inbred to aim straight...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fighting Words News

I've been invited to join the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists! Check out my page here, as well as the pages of familiar names like Bors, McFadden, Rall, Reid, Sorensen... among many others.

Monday, August 07, 2006

More on corporate media consolidation...

Check out David Hirschman, William Douglas and Dan Froomkin on upcoming changes to the White House Press Room; E&P on the "anti-press" policies of the Bush administration; David Neiwert's "open letter" to his fellow journalists; Catherine Komp on the need to restore local media ownership to fight hate radio; and Peter Phillips on the "mainstream" corporate media:
Can we trust the news editors at the Washington Post to be fair and objective regarding news stories about Lockheed-Martin defense contract over-runs? Or can we assuredly believe that ABC will conduct critical investigative reporting on Halliburton's sole-source contracts in Iraq? If we believe the corporate media give us the full un-censored truth about key issues inside the special interests of American capitalism, then we might feel that they are meeting the democratic needs of mainstream America. However if we believe - as increasingly more Americans do- that corporate media serves its own self-interests instead of those of the people, than we can no longer call it mainstream or refer to it as plural. Instead we need to say that corporate media is corporate America, and that we the mainstream people need to be looking at alternative independent sources for our news and information.

Also check out "who own's what" among the "big ten" media conglomerates on interactive pages from The Nation, NOW, and CJR.

8/7/06 Cartoon

"Corporations: Ensuring Quality Media Through the Free Market"...

See more from the Corporation Guys here, here, and here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The "Convert"...

Splendid. (via HuffPo)

However, we're way, WAY beyond "I told you so," Pat...

Fight Club

This was not THE Fight Club cartoon I've been trying to do...

Since before I started Fighting Words, I've had a running theory involving this movie and the novel it's based on, regarding the social movement of this decade that has coincided with George W. Bush's presidency. Fight Club gives us a penetrating image of my particular demographic (disaffected, middle-class, mostly white suburban males who came of age in the 80's and 90's) and offers an unforgettable commentary on our superficial, consumer-driven society. However, the message often gets missed and/or is manipulated to serve a conflicting interest; specifically, it has been perverted to the point where it gets connected with this moronic social movement we see before us. This anti-intellectual, white trash worship, monster truck-driving, NASCAR-watching, designer trucker hat and wifebeater-wearing, propaganda-swallowing subculture that has allowed a goofball rich kid like George W. Bush to be given two terms in office based largely on a populist platform. You've seen the stories: empty-headed teenagers and 20-somethings see the movie and get hyped up to go form underground fight clubs just to beat the shit out of each other.... which is fine, if they know WHY they're doing it. You gotta have the balls to crack a book every now and then to find out why you're angry at the world.

I'm not sure if Fight Club has a causal relationship with this social movement or if it's just a coincidence, but I'm pretty sure there's something there... I just haven't been able to articulate it in cartoon form yet. Someday...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More on the Israeli-Lebanese conflict...

Many, many sources for this week's cartoon... check out:
  • An Amnesty International report summarizing the war crimes committed or possibly being committed by both sides in the current Israeli-Lebanese conflict

  • An article in Salon by Mitch Prothero, who claims that it is a "myth" that Hezbollah "hides among civilians," and says that Hezbollah actually avoids civilians for fear of betrayal (a claim that now seems to be wrong or outdated given the CNN footage of rockets being fired from behind an apartment complex -- which, of course, should not be an excuse for Israel to turn that building into rubble and kill everyone inside)

  • Gideon Levy on the childish underlying motivations for this bloody war, such as rectifying "humiliation" and "restoring lost dignity"

  • An extraordinary post by Juan Cole, who says that Israel's war on Lebanon has been planned for at least a year, with Rumsfeld's input, and that powerpoint presentations were being shown to right-wing DC think-tanks last year detailing a "Three Week War" that would happen during the summer (so as to minimize the possibility of protest demonstrations on university campuses in the U.S. and Europe)

  • A speech given by Zbigniew Brzezinski, where he equates the Israelis' actions in this conflict to the "killing of hostages"

  • Robert Parry on Israel's proud use of disproportionate force (quoting their ambassador to the U.N., who, when asked if Israel was overreacting, replied, "You're damn right we are")

  • Joe Conason, Glenn Greenwald, and Michael Lerner on the "bloodthirsty" rhetoric used by neocon war advocates like William Kristol and Newt Gingrich, who've seized on these events to eagerly push for "World War III: War of Civilizations" (partly as a means of providing ex post facto justification for the failed war in Iraq)

  • Robert Parry again on the possibility that the conflict will put the nuclear option back on the table with regards to a pre-emptive attack on Iran

  • Frank Rich on the P.R. challenges that the conflict poses for the Bush administration, which, of course, has always been their sole concern

  • An older Robert Parry article on Condi's propensity for justifying war crimes in the pursuit of grand, sweeping neocon foreign policy objectives

  • Martin van Creveld on the Bush administration's Clausewitzian war philosophy