Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on Alberto, U.S. Attorney's Scandal...

Short (and late) list of articles for this week's 'toon, since it's a topic that has been rapidly evolving:
  • Glenn Greenwald on one of the more objectionable things that Alberto has overseen in his tenure, the FBI's abuse of "national security letters."

  • E&P on the rash of editorial pages calling for Alberto's head.

  • Speaking of heads: Think Progress on Alberto's head-scratching claim that "there is no express grant of habeas corpus in the Constitution" (it just says you can't take it away). Ummm... what?

  • John Dean on Bush's use of executive privilege, which he says illustrates how "a conservative ideology that had always been devoted to limiting government power has been transformed into the largest expansion of executive power since FDR."

  • Stephen Crockett's interesting suggestion that "underlying Bush's resistance to a full investigation is evidence of longstanding criminality that borders on racketeering." Ah, such are the days of the Capone administration...

  • Check out my previous blog posts on the related subjects of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, domestic surveillance, and executive privilege and the MCA.

And yeah, I know... the caricature of Alberto in this week's 'toon is just about the worst one I've ever done. I'll work on it... but check out a better one that I did of him as Alberto the Torture Turtle.

On a good note, in researching Alberto's "cop persona" for the 'toon, I ran across a great '80's TV show that I had totally forgotten about: Sledge Hammer. It was a Police Squad!-like satire of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, with David Rasche as an over-the-top, hard-as-nails cop who liked to shoot first and ask questions later. I remember specifically the opening sequence with a "near-sensual" panning over Sledge's .44 Magnum as it rested on top of a satin pillow. What a great show that was...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Inhofe Smashed...

Lots to blog about this week...

By far the biggest douchebag in Congress is James Inhofe. Okay, that's too bold-- Ted Stevens is a pretty big d-bag, too... so is Tom Coburn... and Duncan Hunter, John Cornyn, Trent Lott... but I digress. Suffice it to say, James Inhofe is a douchebag.

By far the best moment of Al Gore's testimony before the Senate the other day was Inhofe getting smacked down like a bratty child when he kept trying to cut off Gore's answers on global warming. Do yourself a favor and watch it...

Good cartoons...

...that you've probably already seen:

Keith Knight's suggestion to advance the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Ruben Bolling's shocking death of a main character.

More on New Orleans, faulty pumps...

Some must-see sites on this week's 'toon:
  • Toni McElroy and Kevin Whelan of ACORN point out that the best way to help New Orleans is to finally have a conversation about poverty in America. They and Gulf Coast Reconstruction watch have proposed some shocking common sense ideas to move the rebuilding process forward, like actually sending some money down to the shattered school system and halting the demolition of livable public housing. Perhaps we might even think about hooking a few people up with some health insurance. The New Agenda for the Gulf Coast report also points out that the amount of spending waste in the rebuilding effort could exceed $1 billion this year due to the awarding of low- or no-bid contracts.

  • Of course, I suppose these ideas are only common sense if you're not a dead-hearted Republican "bootstrap" jerkweed like Newt Gingrich, who is so utterly consumed with his own white-bread existence and so completely unaware of the effect that poverty and racism have on society that he makes idiot comments like this.

  • So, what really got me pissed off to do this cartoon was the AP story last week that 34 brand-new, heavy-duty pumps built by former Jeb Bush business partner J. David Eller's Moving Waters Industries are... you guessed it... faulty! Not only that, but the Army Corps of Engineers installed the pumps even though they knew the equipment would fail during a storm. And, of course, a story like this would not be complete unless MWI was also under investigation on allegations of fraud and misappropriation of taxpayer money... which they are.

    See some of the prior links for more information, and Fix the Pumps has some good info on this insane story.

  • has a series on Louisiana's disappearing coastline... I'll come back to that in a later 'toon.

  • I've been reading Max Weber's Politics as a Vocation... hadn't read this one before (I do vaguely remember reading The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in college). I'll probably come back to this one in a later 'toon, too.

    Anyway, he has the strangest idea that "responsibility" is an important qualification for political leadership, and that the only person who should be allowed to "put his hand on the wheel of history" is one who will "do justice to the responsibility that power imposes upon him."

    How odd...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ditto x2...

I should also express my agreement with the prevailing sentiments on the death of King Features' editor Jay Kennedy. As he apparently did often, he was kind enough to take the time to write a very nice note of encouragement on a submission package that I had sent to them once.

Such people are rare in this business...

South Park

I'll register my agreement with Jen on the idiot creators of South Park. I stopped watching that show a while ago, not because it stopped being occasionally funny, but simply because of the narcissistic, comedy-snob attitudes of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I'd differ with Jen on one thing though... I'm not sure their problem is as much a "macho gender" thing as it is just being ipso facto assholes. I guess I'd add to her argument that being FOR the prevailing power establishment (i.e. George Bush) does not make you "funny" and it sure as hell doesn't make you "counter-culture"... it just makes you a freakin' moron who doesn't have the balls to read and inform himself.

Case in point: their episode on Katrina (which I came across after I had written this week's 'toon) called "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow." The targets in this episode are people who suggest that the severity of the storm might have had something to do with global warming, and that George W. Bush might have had something to do with the disastrous failure of leadership in the federal government's response to the tragedy. At the same time, they compare the city's poor blacks to beavers, with the parody exclamation "George Bush doesn't care about beavers."

... cuz there's nothin' funnier than ridiculing global warming and making fun of the victims of centuries of poverty and institutional racism.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fighting Words: 3/19/07 Cartoon

"The Day After Yesterday"...

See some more movie themes:

Friday, March 16, 2007

In honor of St. Patrick's Day...

So the news broke this week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed to being the mastermind behind "everything ever," a story that most media outlets seem to have accepted as absolute fact. I suppose it's possibly true, but considering the fact that the confession came from a Pentagon transcript taken during a secret hearing at Guantanamo (which means, of course, there is "no way to confirm the testimony as the Bush administration has banned reporters and lawyers from proceedings"), in a manner that conveniently takes some of the attention off of Alberto's U.S. attorney scandal and implicitly justifies his stances on torture and secret military tribunals, my immediate reaction is (to quote one of my favorite movies):

(in Irish accent) "I'll believe that one when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet!"

It's not like the Defense Department has used up it's credibility on stuff like this, right?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More on U.S. v. Libby...

For this week's 'toon, I was seriously considering having Libby and some of his criminal cohorts reenact the scene from Goodfellas when they're in prison making pasta sauce. I would've had Abramoff and maybe DeLay there, perhaps Duke Cunningham also... and Cheney as Paulie Vario (who was doing a year for contempt) using a razor blade to "slice the garlic so thin that it liquifies in the pan." Classic scene. (By the way, some people think I'm crazy because I was disappointed by The Departed... I thought it was good, but not a fraction as good as Goodfellas was.)

Two things occurred to me: first, I do a lot of cartoons with gangster themes. Mostly, though, I don't think Libby's ever going to see the inside of a jail cell, minimum security or otherwise...

Anyway, here are some articles:
  • Looks like the whole story is old news already with the U.S. attorneys scandal hitting a boil... Arianna Huffington ties the two scandals together.

  • The central theme of this scandal (and the cartoon) is lies and liars... so many, in fact, that it often seems like you need a scorecard to keep them straight. Edward Lazarus has a couple of articles on the culture of lies in the current White House.

  • On ol' crazy-ass "Rusty Spikes" Cheney's obsession to get even with Joe Wilson, check out columns by Ray McGovern and Sidney Blumenthal. Michael Duffy says that ol' Dick ain't quite done in the White House yet, though...

  • Contrary to what anyone says, Libby was not "innocent." The Nation reports on Cathie Martin's testimony that Libby was "intensely engaged" in Cheney's campaign to get vengeance on Wilson. And, it was not "bad memory" on Libby's part... Patrick Fitzgerald maintains that Libby "made time to deal with the Wilson matter day after day after day."

    Don't kid yourself, though... his pardon is a done-deal. Most likely, he will appeal until after the 2008 presidential election, and then Dubya will bail him out. William Rivers Pitt agrees, and points out that Libby is a "damned lucky man" considering that "the lies promulgated by Mr. Libby led directly to the deaths of 3,185 American soldiers and the wounding of between 47,000 and 53,000... [which] amounts to between a third and a fourth of the entire active combat force of the United States military." The only question is whether Fitzgerald will push for Libby to begin serving his sentence now, which might force Dubya's hand earlier than expected.

  • The mainstream media has been typically fabulous on this story, in particular the Washington Post editorial page. Robert Parry has an excellent column on this. Media Matters also has a roundup of some of the myths and falsehoods that have been coming out of the mainstream press on the Libby verdict.

  • Will Karl Rove ever be indicted in this case? Not bloody likely... Fitzgerald says that he's "going back to his day job."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More on Terrorism, Hegemony...

Sources and inspirations for this week's 'toon:
  • My main inspiration was a quote from Alastair Crooke, who says that "what Muslims hate is the West's monopoly on the socio-economic implementation of values such as justice, freedom, good governance, which all Muslims share. Muslims don't believe simply that the West is the only model of the implementation of these values..."

    See also an older Chomsky piece, "Terrorist in the Mirror," where he makes one of his calling-card arguments:
    The most elementary [moral principle] is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones...

    I have been writing about terror for 25 years, ever since the Reagan administration declared its War on Terror. I've been using definitions that seem to be doubly appropriate: first, they make sense; and second, they are the official definitions of those waging the war. To take one of these official definitions, terrorism is "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear," typically targeting civilians... These definitions yield an entirely unacceptable consequence: it follows that the US is a leading terrorist state, dramatically so during the Reaganite war on terror.

    ...Either the US is part of the civilized world, and must send the US air force to bomb Washington; or it declares itself to be outside the civilized world. The logic is impeccable, but fortunately, logic has been dispatched as deep into the memory hole as moral truisms.

    Later, he reminds us that there were a lot of us out there advocating a measured, intelligent response after 9/11... but, of course, that never happened:
    With regard to Islamic terror, there is a broad consensus among intelligence agencies and researchers. They identify two categories: the jihadis, who regard themselves as a vanguard, and their audience, which may reject terror but nevertheless regard their cause as just. A serious counter-terror campaign would therefore begin by considering the grievances , and where appropriate, addressing them, as should be done with or without the threat of terror. There is broad agreement among specialists that al-Qaeda-style terror "is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries"

    In this article, Chomsky cites research by Robert Pape, who argues that "suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism."

    Check out a blog post by Paul Street, who differentiates the "Iraq war definitions" of terms like "democracy" and "terrorism" from the actual, literal definitions. Lastly, Robert Parry argues that Bush's identified enemy in this war has mutated from "terrorists" into an even more amorphous foe: "radicals and extremists." It would take quite a stretch of the imagination not to label Bush himself a "radical" or "extremist," let alone a terrorist.

  • Check out two reports by Syed Saleem Shahzad on the status of al-Qaeda, which note that American operations in the war on terror have only pushed young Muslims to gravitate towards groups like al Qaeda, and to consider Osama bin Laden a "hero."

    See also Juan Cole on the estimated 650,000 Iraqi civilians killed during the Iraq War.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Please excuse...

...the general lack of noise coming from this blog. In addition to the weekly comic, I'm in the middle of a few ongoing processes (i.e. learning computer stuff) that will hopefully make the Fighting Words world even more kick-ass.

Anyhoo, here's my reaction to the latest Ann Coulter fiasco, which I haven't seen echoed anywhere else: I think what's most objectionable about her comments is, since she is supposed to be nothing more than a professional "humorist," the fact that she can't do any better than resorting to humor at the level of an eighth-grade boy.

Then again, in all fairness, I was reading Jon Stewart's America: The Book the other day, and there's a joke in there that today's Supreme Court has reached a "moderate level of diversity, with two women, one African-American, and one homosexual" (with a footnote saying, "Hint: it rhymes with 'Palia'"). I thought that was pretty funny... so I suppose that makes me a big fat hypocrite or something.