Friday, November 30, 2007

More on Global Warming, IPCC report...

Articles for this week's 'toon:
  • The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued their report last week, which spelled out the situation in stark and unambiguous terms. The team of scientific experts on the subject calls the evidence of global warming "unequivocal" and the need for action "urgent." The panel's head is quoted as saying that this is our "defining moment" and that "if there's no action before 2012, that's too late." Meanwhile, experts have reportedly been "stunned" at the loss of Arctic ice recently, to the extent that they predict the summertime Arctic could be completely ice-free by 2030.

    The IPCC spells out our options pretty clearly: either we take action NOW and take a small hit to the world's economic growth (which is offset by short-term benefits like improved health due to reduced pollution), or we roll the dice and risk what the world's top minds predict will be catastrophic consequences.

  • All of this can only leave one wondering how those who oppose any action on climate change are afforded any credibility whatsoever in this debate. What possible counter-argument is there? All that's left is a childish, responsibility-shirking retort along the lines of "but I don't wanna!" And yet, there they are, in the Washington Post's story on the IPCC report, which dutifully warns the reader that "some" people disagree with the findings.

    Which people, exactly? Well, the people who write op-eds like this one in Investor's Business Daily, which counter the science community's conclusions on global warming with a string of ad hominems and baseless accusations about the scientists' sinister hidden agendas (of course, there's no mention of the corporate community's possible agenda). Or the people who cherry-pick or misrepresent facts to argue that "carbon dioxide is actually good!" (except, y'know, where there's too much of it) or that global warming is actually due to "solar brightness."

  • While Bush has finally admitted that global warming is real, it appears that not much has changed in the administration's approach to the problem. While yet another story recently came out linking a top Bush contributor to excessive carbon emissions, Darth Cheney is again angling for more control over the administration's global warming policy.

  • Check out a fascinating review by Gary Kamiya of Alan Weisman's "The World Without Us."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on Pakistan and "Spreadin' Democracy"...

This week's 'toon is drawn from my initial reaction to the actions taken recently by Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan: really, they're not too damn different than some of the stuff Bush has been doing here for the past seven years. It's just a bit more conspicuous, and bit less of a manipulative, covert scheme to maximize his control. Of course, that doesn't make what Musharraf is doing right, it's just an interesting parallel.
  • If you've missed it, Musharraf has suspended Pakistan's constitution, arrested thousands of his political opponents (mostly lawyers, judges, and human rights activists), disbanded the Supreme Court (which was about to rule that he was ineligible to serve another 5 years as president), and shut down the country's independent news media. Of course, he's blamed the whole thing on the danger of terrorism, but privately admitted that his real aim was self-preservation. His main political rival, Benazir Bhutto, is not exactly universally loved.

    The funniest part about all of this is that, despite all that he's done, the Bush administration can't really decide if they think Musharraf is a friend or foe of democracy. Of course, "democracy" has nothing to do with it... the real question is whether Pakistan will continue to obediently kowtow to the administration's agenda in the "war on terror." Some reports have the U.S. "looking past" Musharraf in case he falls, and acknowledging him as "part of the problem." Publicly, though, Musharraf is still an "indispensible" friend (according to Negroponte), who has simply made a "bad decision" or two (Condi). Then there's Dubya, who yesterday said that Musharraf "truly is somebody who believes in democracy" and that he "hasn't crossed the line." Of course not... he's just doing what Bush does.

  • Check out Juan Cole's comparison of George W. Bush to Napoleon Bonaparte, both of whom "employed the same basic political vocabulary and rhetorical flimflammery, invoking the spirit of liberty, security, and democracy while largely ignoring the substance of these concepts." Bush's use of grandiose rhetoric, such as:
    "Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear." contrasted by examples like this:
    The American deployment of terror against the Iraqi population has, of course, dwarfed anything the French accomplished in Egypt by orders of magnitude. After four mercenaries, one a South African, were killed in Falluja in March of 2004 and their bodies desecrated, President Bush is alleged to have said "heads must roll" in retribution.
    ...When the assault, involving air power and artillery, came, it was devastating, damaging two-thirds of the city's buildings and turning much of its population into refugees. (As a result, thousands of Fallujans still live in the desert in tent villages with no access to clean water.)

    See also Alain Gresh on the administration's democracy spreadin' policy of "constructive instability," all part of their greater plan to turn the Middle East into America's "backyard."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Even more on Religion and the '08 Election...

I realized halfway through this week's 'toon that I probably swiped the idea of a mock magazine cover from some of Matt Groening's mid-80's Life in Hell cartoons. Lets just call it an "homage." On the bright side, it forced me to dig out some of those great old books, which were sitting in boxes collecting dust. Groundbreaking work.

  • As I started to talk about a couple weeks ago, James Dobson has refused to endorse Rudy and is threatening to back a third party candidate. This week's 'toon was still not the one I wanted to do on the candidates' toadying to powerful evangelicals, but it'll work for the time being.

  • So anyway, the major development since then is that Pat Robertson has now thrown his support behind his "very good friend" Rudy Giuliani (who Robertson once sued over New York's recognition of same sex domestic partnerships). It was an important decision for Pat, an immensely powerful person who regularly claims to speak for God. He was torn between his shared personal background with Rudy (both are cancer survivors), and the fact that he and Mitt Romney's wife have a common affinity for horses. Pat's a man of principle, though, and in the end, Rudy's self-proclaimed status as the hero of 9-11 was sufficient to satisfy Pat's hatred of Muslims.

    Regardless, there is clearly a bit of a tussle growing within the evangelical world. Pat on his endorsement of Rudy:
    He insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better."
    Oh, snap. No he di'int...

    The Dobson camp's response:
    A spokesman at Focus On The Family similarly told us, "Anything about Pat Robertson we're not talking about."
    Oh it's ON now, beotch...

  • Meanwhile, just as Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III had given their endorsements to Romney, televangelist Bill Keller says "a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan." Don't blame him though...
    "If people don't like what I say, go argue with God, don't argue with me," he told me. "I didn't write the book."


    He calls those Christian leaders who support Romney "Judases" and clowns. "They all come back and say, we're looking for the best president. He's the commander in chief, not the pastor in chief, blah blah blah," Keller said. "What they have done is, they have totally dismissed the fact that this guy's influence is going to lead people to hell."

    Thankfully, the Romney camp portrays the division in terms that the common evangelical will understand, reflecting the great importance that these people supposedly place on a person's faith:
    "It's Pepsi vs. Coke," said one Romney campaign aide, describing the differences between evangelical Protestants and Mormons. "But sometimes Pepsi and Coke have to team up to stop Starbucks from taking over the market." Starbucks, of course, represents secular America, which favors gay marriage, legal abortion and the minimization of religion in public life.

  • Check out Ted Rall's column on the pandering to Christian groups being done by the candidates from both parties, and Craig Unger's telling of the real story behind Bush's religious "awakening."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

More on journalism, media choices...

Lightning-quick list of articles for this week's 'toon. Everything except for newspapers... I've been working on a bigger post/rant about them...
  • Eric Boehlert writes that "the joke is on the press" when it comes to Stephen Colbert's "candidacy" for president. Boehlert makes this excellent point:
    That's because the press has decided to cover presidential candidates as celebrities, as personalities. This media phenomenon became enshrined during the 2000 contest, when the press announced that presidential campaigns were no longer about how candidates might function as presidents; what they might actually do as commander in chief. Instead, campaigns were about personalities -- which candidate was fun to be around and which one was authentic.

    However, Boehlert himself seems to miss the point a little, when he suggests that since Colbert is a comedian, he does not think elections are serious business. To be more specific, Colbert is not simply a "comedian," he is a satirist... he would not be making jokes about this stuff if he didn't think it was important. "Serious journalists" (and people who like to portray themselves as such) often lament the fact that so many people get their news from "fake news" shows like the Daily Show, but this minimizes the true power of political satire. It is commentary, that happens to use sarcastic humor as a delivery method.

  • Tim Russert is rightly being criticized for his handling of the recent Democratic debates, particularly when he asks questions like, "there's been a lot of discussion about the Democrats and the issue of faith and values... I want to ask you a simple question. Senator Obama, what is your favorite Bible verse?" Paul Waldman says this encapsulates everything that is wrong with Russert, a guy who never misses a chance to remind people that he's just a regular Joe from Buffalo, but in reality is a guy who "stands atop the insider media establishment."

  • Check out an older article by Jack Shafer on the Fox News/talk-radio formula, which of course is not actually based on journalism but rather entertainment. Certainly, teasers for stories about Barack Obama making little children cry (which are later admitted to be untrue) would fall under this formula. Which is supposed to be the "fake news" again?

    Meanwhile, "serious journalist" Wolf Blitzer continues to hammer away on the Democrats for the "notion" that they are "weak on national security."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fighting Words: 11/5/07 Cartoon...

"Media Menu"...

I'm kind of on an alliterative roll lately with my media themes:

Friday, November 02, 2007

About Damn Time...

Veto override #1 is on the way.

Bush just doesn't give a damn who he's screwing these days, as long as he can try to stick it to Congress...

More on Iran attack innuendo...

Obviously, this week's 'toon is part a series that takes place in a parallel universe where the hippocratic oath doesn't exist.

Here are some articles:
  • Glenn Greenwald has an excellent, on-point blog post on the "intellectual cowardice" of neo-cons who make implied threats up to a point, but avoid being specific enough (even when pushed) to leave any evidence in case someone calls them psychopaths. In this way, they're not unlike political satirists... except I don't help formulate public policy. And I don't make psychopathic arguments...

    On the other hand, not all Bushies deal solely in innuendo. Every now and then, one of them slips up and makes a comment that gives us real insight into their thinking... something like "I hate all Iranians." Of course, I've already covered Norman Podhoretz, who "hopes and prays" that we "bomb the Iranians into smithereens." It is thanks to his influence that the administration's discussion on Iran "has lost all connection to reality," according to Fareed Zakaria.

    It has been abundantly clear for a while that the most visible force pushing for war with Iran is our sleepy Vice President. Apparently, Cheney and his staff are such big fans of war, they'll even root for a strike against American troops so they can go ahead with an "accidental" war:
    One member of Cheney's national security staff, David Wurmser, worried out loud that Cheney felt that his wing was "losing the policy argument on Iran" inside the administration -- and that they might need to "end run" the president with scenarios that may narrow his choices. The option that Wurmser allegedly discussed was nudging Israel to launch a low-yield cruise missile strike against the Natanz nuclear reactor in Iran, thus "hopefully" prompting a military reaction by Tehran against U.S. forces in Iraq and the Gulf. When queried about Wurmser's alleged comments, a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times, "The vice president is not necessarily responsible for every single thing that comes out of the mouth of every single member of his staff."

    I had to read that paragraph a couple of times, it's so freaking unbelievable.

  • If you're wondering how I can justify calling them psychopaths, do me a favor -- take a look at this picture. This may seem like a rather obvious question, but given what they've already done up to this point, at what point can we officially start considering our decision-makers to be bloodthirsty crazy-people? When exactly are they obligated as human beings to start wondering: what actually happens when we drop bunker-busters on neighborhoods? What happens when we destroy another culture that we know so little about?

    Not interested in the human toll of war? Not to worry... the Washington Post has you covered.

  • Retired four-star General Tony McPeak says:
    This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment [laughs]. If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brave New Designs

I contributed some designs to a T-Shirt contest being held by Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films, who make some great documentaries on important issues. Check out the designs here, and if you're so inclined, throw me a vote...