Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More on Iraq, Iran, and War as a Children's Game...

Lots and lots of inspirations and sources for this week's 'toon:
  • There were a few issues I wanted to touch on but couldn't work into the story, such as Bush's decision to send two aircraft carrier groups to the waters off Iran and his order to kill Iranian operatives in Iraq (which is called a "purely political" move). However, check out a terrific column by Robert Parry on the "logic" behind Bush's efforts to ratchet up tensions in the region.

  • Why would he do this? Because, of course, Cheney and the neo-cons want it that way. Apparently, back in 2003, the White House had an opportunity for "a diplomatic prize of unparalleled proportions" -- a reasonable negotiated settlement with Iran. Of course, they blew it off because they were still expecting to be greeted with rose petals in Baghdad (with an encore in Tehran), and because Cheney said they "don't negotiate with evil." Juan Cole says: "For the Love of God Impeach this Man."

    In case you were wondering, the third Li'l Bushie along with George and Dick is Bill Kristol... not the best caricature ever, but it was my first time drawing him. Check out a post by Glenn Greenwald on the resurgence of neo-con influence over White House foreign policy decisions. In particular, Fred Kagan is said to have "won the ear of the President" on Iraq and Iran, which is not good news for any of us.

  • I purposely avoided talking about the legality of the Iraq escalation or a possible Iran attack (I'll save that for another 'toon), but check out another excellent post by Glenn Greenwald on those issues.

  • Is George W. Bush CRAZY? Justin A. Frank, M.D. says that he does indeed exhibit sociopathic tendencies, in the sense that he is someone who "exhibits external and surface empathy and amiability, but internally cannot actually empathize with the pain and suffering of others." He is one of many who say Bush has now adopted a "bunker mentality," and he argues that Dubya turns everyone who disagrees with him into his father (for example, James Baker).

  • For in-depth analysis of the situation on the ground in Iraq, check out an article by Matt Taibbi, who argues that the whole idea that more troops will do any good in Iraq is "absurd on its face." He says that the majority of the troops there are holed up it Forward Operating Bases, simply trying to keep themselves safe, and that they are not actively engaged in keeping Iraq secure. The ones who go out on road patrol have been reduced to cannon fodder, forced to cross their fingers and hope they don't get blown up while driving around in circles.

  • Notice any similarities between the current rhetoric on Iran and the Vietnam-era rhetoric on Cambodia and Laos? You're not imagining it...

    James Ridgeway argues that the Iraq surge may be a Kissinger ploy, in the sense that Bush "will plunge into a counterinsurgency operation in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, and then amidst mass civilian carnage, declare victory and announce negotiations." I think the apparent resurgence of neo-con influence makes this a less likely possibility.

  • Do the Dems really have to cut off funding for the troops? Marty Lederman argues that they simply have to "pass an appropriations rider providing that no funds may be used to increase the number of troops in Iraq."

  • Lastly, check out a typically outstanding column by Molly Ivins, who apparently is not doing well right now. She's one of the greats... give it a read.

...and probably more that I missed. Read a lot last week...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fighting Words: 1/29/07 Cartoon

"Li'l Bushies 3: Real Men Go To Tehran"...

See the previous episodes here (4/17/06) and here (10/3/05).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Go Peyton...

Even though they ejected both of my teams from the NFL playoffs, I never really had much of a reason to seriously hate the Bears... until now. Now, all I want is to see these fat, sub-human asshole "superfans" crying on their deep-dish pizzas, which they will disgustingly gorge themselves with (on their way to "yet anudder 'eart attack") to drown their sorrows after their miserable team gets the ass-kicking it deserves. I want to see Rex Grossman get sacked 89 times...

(thanks to Myia for story)

In other New Orleans-related news, it seems the Prez-dent has completely forgotten the events that started his approval ratings on their gradual descent to Nixon country. Kudos to Jim Webb for being the first and only member of Congress that I have heard say explicitly what I was trying to express in this 'toon, that maybe we should use our money to take care of our own before dropping more into the black hole that is Iraq.

Here's a good place to start...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More on Predicting the Future with Bush...

A few articles relating to this week's 'toon caught my eye...

Most of us know at least a few reasonable people who simply refuse to believe that certain terrible things could ever happen in our great American society, especially in "this day and age." They dismiss any notion that these things could happen as being "alarmist" or "science fiction." Things like the United States government maliciously spying on its own citizens en masse, not in any imperative quest to keep them safe from an outside threat, but rather in an effort to check political speech and document dissent. Or like our own government manufacturing a fake international incident in order to intentionally provoke a war, in an effort to fulfill dubious political goals. Or like our own government responding to a terrible disaster befalling its citizens, and basing its response on the racial makeup or political demographics of the citizens involved (let alone intentionally exacerbating the disaster in an effort to harm certain citizens). Generally, I think one should try to listen to such people, and take what they say into account... some conspiracy theories are, in fact, absurd.

  • I already talked about the "Crusty" response to allegations of mass surveillance a few weeks ago...

    Check out this article by Paul Craig Roberts on the possibility that the Bush administration may be trying to engineer another "Gulf of Tonkin" incident in an effort to provoke all-out war with Iran, or perhaps another "U.S.S. Liberty" incident in partnership with Israel:
    In 1967 Israel attacked and destroyed the US intelligence ship Liberty, because Liberty'’s crew had picked up proof that Israel had initiated the war with Egypt and intended to attack Syria the next day. Some have speculated that Israelis hoped their attack on the Liberty could be blamed on Egypt and used to draw the US into the war against Egypt.
    In 2003 the Moorer Commission, headed by Admiral Tom Moorer, former Chief of Naval Operations and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, concluded:
    "That in attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against American servicemen and an act of war against the United States.
    "That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty.
    "“the Captain and surviving crew members were later threatened with court-martial, imprisonment or worse if they exposed the truth; and were abandoned by their own government.
    "That due to the influence of Israel'’s powerful supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people.
    "“That a danger to our national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of 'any foreign nation, and specifically are unwilling to challenge Israel'’s interests when they conflict with American interests.'"”
    On the 30th anniversary of Israel's destruction of the liberty, Admiral Moorer said that Israel attacked the Liberty because Israel knew that the intelligence ship could intercept Israel's plans to seize the Golan Heights from Syria, an act of Israeli aggression to which the US government was opposed. Admiral Moorer said, "“I believe Moshe Dayan concluded that he could prevent Washington from becoming aware of what Israel was up to by destroying the primary source of acquiring that information--the US Liberty. Moorer reports that after a 25 minute air attack '“that pounded the Liberty with bombs, rockets, napalm and machine gun fire . . . three Israeli torpedo boats closed in for the kill . . . the torpedo boats'’ machine guns also were turned on life rafts that were deployed into the Mediterranean as well as those few on deck that had escaped damage."
    Admiral Moorer says, "“What is so chilling and cold-blooded, of course, is that they [Israel] could kill as many Americans as they did in confidence that Washington would cooperate in quelling any public outcry."

  • A bombshell from Brownie, as he reveals that political concerns were ultimately driving decisions on the federal response to the Katrina disaster. To be honest, Brownie has about as much credibility on the issue right now as the White House does. And his accusation is that the White House wanted to federalize New Orleans, which I really wish they would have done much earlier in the process. However, Brownie's gradual revealing of previously hidden facts has the feel of an inside story that we haven't heard the last of, in the sense that there may have been many more decisions that were made based on political concerns. It's stories like this that make me more inclined to buy into suggestions like those made by Spike Lee in When the Levees Broke, that the levees were intentionally blown in an effort to fundamentally change the political makeup of Louisiana.

    I mean, would you really put it past them?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fighting Words: 1/22/07 Cartoon

"The Amazing Madame Zorah"...

"Classic" Fighting Words this week... doing some stirring on my creative juices, while also trying make a little progress on the 18,000 ongoing projects that I've been working on. Back soon with some bloggy goodness for you...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More on the New Orleans crime wave...

A few bits of New Orleans-related news for this week's 'toon:
  • A number of commentaries on the recent spate of murders, including a couple by friends of independent filmmaker Helen Hill. One man's description of the wounded city that is fighting for it's survival: "New Orleans is dying, y'all." The violence was the impetus for a series of marches to City Hall on Thursday, attended by up to 3,000 people, including a few friends of mine.

    It's unclear from my reading this week whether more federal assistance would help with the current crime wave, or whether it's purely a local problem. However, by most accounts, a large part of the problem resides with the "cash-strapped" judicial system, including a public defender's office that is stretched so thin that judges are having to hold them in contempt when they fail to show up for hearings. It's hard to believe that the federal government couldn't help with this in some way, a feeling echoed by some of the people at the marches, who carried signs seemingly directed at District Attorney Eddie Jordan saying "FEDERALIZE NOLA." Regardless, there is a clear consensus that flagging attention from the rest of the country on New Orleans' continuing difficulties does not help matters...

  • Commentary from HuffPo on the cost of Bush's escalation (let's call this what it is... it ain't no temporary "surge"). The administration is saying $5.6 billion, with another $100 billion needed in the near future. These little estimates are pretty meaningless in the long run... the total cost of the war is going to be at least $500 billion, and probably much, much more depending on how long we stay (which works out to at least $1,666.67 per American). All of which is deficit-financed, the interest on which, of course, we pay for as well. All for George W. Bush's futile attempt to save his political legacy...

    I can only think of a few million things I'd rather have my money spent on, how about you?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Fighting Words: 1/15/07 Cartoon

"Metaphor Theatre: America Goes to the Doctor"...

Posting this one a little early so I can devote my Sunday to watching the Seahawks lose. Irregardless, if by some miracle they actually win, my loyalties will shift back to the Saints next weekend...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Incovenient Ignorance

Welcome to Federal Way, WA, home of a very special people commonly known as White Trash. Shockingly, the Federal Way school district has placed a moratorium on the showing of An Inconvenient Truth, after a couple of parents complained about their children being indoctrinated with such "controversial" ideas:
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."

Fortunately, the likelihood that any of Frosty's seven kids are going to grow up to be in a position to make decisions for the rest of us on such issues of consequence is extremely remote. Parents like Frosty will likely have their greatest ambitions for their children realized when little 15 year-old Joe Dirt or Tiffani-Ann gets ripped on Stroh's at the big monster truck extravaganza at the Tacoma Dome, and then knocks up (or gets knocked up by) their cousin in the back of a 1984 Pontiac Firebird with a "Calvin pissing" sticker in the back window.

Good job, folks!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More on domestic surveillance...

For this week's 'toon, I wanted to stay away from the legal issues (which I touched on in this 'toon) and the theoretical social problems (which I talked about here) involved with the N.S.A.'s domestic spying program, so I could focus on issues like historical context and scope. But that doesn't mean I didn't read some good stuff on those other issues...
  • Check out Glenn Greenwald on the gutsy decision a couple months ago by District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, which flat rejected almost all of Bush's domestic spying program on almost all grounds. The fact that she even held that the program violates the First and Fourth Amendments is important because this would not be overcome by a Specter "compromise" bill (that, seemingly, would just let Bush do whatever he wants anyway). See more great stuff on the Taylor decision from Julie Hilden (twice).

    The decision was stayed until it could be reviewed by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which apparently will happen on January 31st. From there, it will probably go to the Supreme Court...

  • Guess what? George W. Bush just declared in a signing statement that he has the right to open your mail without a warrant... and you bet your ass he's gonna do it. At what point have we officially crossed the line from "free society" to "police state?" Will someone let me know when it happens?

  • Robert Parry on the previously proposed Total Information Awareness program, which was to include the use of "transactional data" (financial, educational, travel, medical, etc.) and "biometric signatures" (faces, fingerprints, gaits, and irises). The proposed office even set off alarms with the Da Vinci code conspiracy crowd, who noted the Masonic symbol in the logo and the ominous acronym that was going to be used.

  • As far as I can tell, the use of surveillance cameras has not been identified as being part of the N.S.A.'s current snooping activities... but would you put it past them? Apparently, it's not outside the realm of possibility in the Western world these days... some sources say there are over 4 million surveillance cameras overlooking the streets in the UK, many with listening capabilities. I've noticed a few here and there in downtown Seattle... who do they belong to?

  • Lots on the historical context of the current N.S.A. program, including this super-cool site from GWU with documents describing previous programs such as ECHELON, SHAMROCK, MINARET, CHAOS, and COINTELPRO. It also recounts the genesis of the FISA law that Dubya is openly violating, which, at the time of its development, was (of course) vehemently opposed by then-Ford staffers Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

    As one would expect, the ACLU has an excellent page on warrantless wiretapping, and also check out this cool online documentary from Julian Bond. See also Tim Shorrock on the scope and history of such programs.

See also my previous posts on this stuff...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fighting Words: 1/8/07 Cartoon

"Crusty McCrotchety on Domestic Surveillance"...

Trying something a little different artistically again... see the previous Crusty episode here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Energy follow-up...

Apparently, energy is going to be a "central theme" in the upcoming State of the Union, to the extent that Dubya sez it's gonna "knock your socks off!"

How's that going to happen? Well, I'm no Pat Robertson or anything when it comes to divining the future, but I can take a wild stab...
  • ANWR! (there goes one sock)... which will buy us a whole extra year doing what we do until we get our

  • Super-cool futuristic hydrogen cells! (and sock #2 goes)

There's a classic scene in Who Killed the Electric Car of Dubya at a highly-scripted photo-op, chatting with a blue-collar Joe about the super-cool futuristic hydrogen cells around the corner that will change all of our lives. Meanwhile, Rove skulks in the background on his cell phone, plotting... something.

Think Progress has a good list of Bush's sock-shedding shockers on energy through the years.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More on energy alternatives, conservation...

My main inspiration for this week's 'toon was "Who Killed the Electric Car," which I had a chance to watch last week. It's a generally well-argued documentary that raises a lot of questions about GM's systematic campaign in the early 90's to sabotage their own product, the EV1. A few of these questions remained unanswered for me at the end of the film, but I'd still highly recommend it simply for the fact that it sheds light on events that are not often discussed. Why the hell don't we have these electric cars (which are relatively low-tech, clean, fast, and quiet) all over the highways today? Why did nobody pay attention when a California zero emissions law was killed by a taxpayer surcharge opposition group (which later turned out to be a front for big oil)? For his part, Ralph Nader, who's been fighting on these issues for years, offers an explanation: car companies and big oil make too much money from "technological stagnation" to have any incentive to change.

Here also are some articles to check out:
  • Bill McKibbon in the Sierra Club magazine on energy alternatives. His main point seems to be that most magic energy solutions like hydrogen cells and ethanol are economically unfeasible, and would save as much energy as just a little bit of organized conservation.

  • A great article in Mother Jones by Dennis Gaffney on "hypermilers," a group of nutty guys who are obsessed with squeezing the absolute most out of a tank of gas, and who enter competitions to test the limits. As fanatical as they are, there's a bunch of handy tips in there that I wish everybody would utilize... like all the freakin' idiots who sit idling in McDonald's drive-thrus.

    Of course, I also finally watched "Super-Size Me" last week, so that raises a whole other thing...

  • A blog post on Sen. Inhofe's parting shots at the environment and, y'know, people who like the environment.

  • John F. Borowski on the National Science Teachers Association's refusal to distribute "An Inconvenient Truth."

  • Robert Bryce on "The Ongoing Myth of Energy Independence."

Monday, January 01, 2007

Fighting Words: 1/1/07 Cartoon

"Fuzzy Fossil Fuels"... see the previous Fuzzy episode here.

Or, go check out all the Fuzzy fantastic-ness:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11...