Monday, March 31, 2008

New link

Fighting Words is appearing on ZNet now...

Happy Opening Day of baseball season!

Best day of the year...

Fighting Words: 3/31/08 Cartoon...

"Democracy Gladiators"...

Friday, March 28, 2008

China & Tibet cont.

NPR is reporting that Buddhist monks in Tibet have effectively become prisoners in their own monasteries, and are being forced to denounce the Dalai Lama as a "terrorist." Meanwhile, one monk has died from starvation due to a Chinese blockade of food and water to major monasteries in Lhasa.

I think it's safe to say that most Buddhist monks are, almost by definition, people who have devoted their entire lives to peace and understanding.

Nancy Pelosi, supposedly an enlightened voice on the subject, says we should continue to reward this kind of behavior by the Chinese government:
She said in a statement that while the Chinese government has failed to live up to its commitments to improve human rights conditions in China and Tibet, "I believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would unfairly harm our athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the competition."

I'm as rabid a sports fan as you will find... baseball, football, golf, the NBA before David Stern destroyed the league... and, yes, even the Olympics. But can't we all acknowledge that there are some things that are more important than sports, and that this is one of them? I think quite a few Olympic atheletes would recognize this...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More on China & Tibet...

I felt comfortable criticizing Rice and Bush in this week's 'toon, even though Condi made statements this week that were supposedly in support of the Dalai Lama. Her urgings of "restraint" were lukewarm at best, and Dubya says only that he still plans to attend the Olympics. This is about as close as an international incident comes to an absolute wrong for me... the beating and killing of Tibetans (particularly Buddhist monks) cannot be tolerated by the international community. Anything short of a forceful condemnation from our government and a threat to boycott the Olympics is not enough for me.

  • Some links to check out:

    The Buddhist Channel, with lots of news and information.

    The Opposite End of China, a blog with a lot of leaked photos of the crackdown.

    TCHRD, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

    The Unseen Dharamsala, a blog with stories of Tibetan refugees.

    Stand With Tibet, a petition to "support the Dalai Lama."

  • Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Somini Sengupta:
    Mr. Bush has long said the United States and China have “a complex relationship,” and that complexity was on full display this week. While his administration has called for an end to the violence, and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, phoned her Chinese counterpart to urge restraint, Mr. Bush himself has remained silent.

  • NYT Editorial:
    In its annual human rights report on 190 countries, the State Department conceded that Beijing’s overall performance remained poor. But in what looked like a political payoff to a government whose help America desperately needs on difficult problems, the department dropped China from its list of 10 worst violators.

  • Jeffrey Wasserstrom:
    Marx's suggestion that tragedy and farce are closely linked is not completely without relevance in a situation that pits Tibetan desires for independence (or at least cultural autonomy) against Beijing's determination to maintain control (and prevent what it dubs an illegitimate separatist movement).
    Tragedy gave way to farce in August 2007, when without any apparent irony, the Chinese authorities issued an injunction against unauthorized reincarnation. Concerned by various statements the Dalai Llama had made about how his succession might work, the officially atheist Beijing government laid down the law. To become a "living Buddha without governmental approval," the edict read, "is illegal and invalid.

  • Edward Cody:
    Many Chinese, including those who had learned of the extent of the violence from foreign reports, seemed to take the censorship as a matter of course. Inured after years of such controls, most Chinese long ago lost any sense of indignation at being deprived of straight news by party censors.

    Sorta reminds you of the people who watch cable news over here, does it not?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fighting Words: 3/24/08 Cartoon...

"Human Rights COPS"...

Sorry for the lateness, dear reader... this one turned out to be a lot more artistically complicated than I thought it would be. To make it up to you, here's a bonus link (part of my research for the toon): make your day great and go check out Comedy Central's Reno 911 video clip page. I've watched this show sporadically before, but I'm hooked now. Funny-ass stuff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More on "Wordy" Editorial Cartoons, Bush's Legacy

Recently, it was suggested in the comments section of a popular cartooning blog that modern editorial cartoonists (as differentiated from retro, Jeff MacNelly-style editorial cartoonists) only use a lot of words because they're trying to be "hip." This is interesting to me... all this time, I've been spending all these hours holed up in libraries reading and writing for each cartoon, and it turns out I was just trying to look cool. If this is indeed true, I expect that this week's cartoon will make me the baddest mutherfucka on the planet. I'm talkin' like the Lenny Kravitz of editorial cartooning...

Article tidbits:
  • McClatchy shocker:
    An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
  • Paul Richter:
    President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.

    The plans also would allow Bush to live up to his pledge to the defining mission of his presidency, and perhaps to improve his chances for a decent legacy. He can say he left office pursuing a strategy that was having at least some success in suppressing violence, a claim that some historians may view sympathetically.
  • Mark Danner:
    At the center of our national life stands the master narrative of this bifurcated politics: the Iraq war, fought to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist, brought to a quick and glorious conclusion on a sunlit aircraft carrier deck whose victory celebration almost instantly became a national embarrassment. That was four and a half years ago; the war's ending and indeed its beginning, so clearly defined for that single trembling instant, have long since vanished into contested history.
  • Jack Balkin:
    [Bush's larger strategy is] to entrench the U.S. presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and do what he can to ensure that John McCain becomes President, or failing that, Hillary Clinton as a second best solution. He figures that McCain, and, to a lesser extent Clinton, are most likely to continue aspects of his policies and keep troops in Iraq for some time. The longer that the next president continues his policies-- including warrantless surveillance, his interrogation practices, and his war in Iraq, the longer these features will become normalized and/or the next President's problem.
  • Robert Costanza makes an interesting point about the prevailing indicator of our economic health:
    An oil spill, for example, increases GDP because someone has to clean it up, but it obviously detracts from well-being. More crime, more sickness, more war, more pollution, more fires, storms and pestilence are all potentially positives for the GDP because they can spur an increase in economic activity.

    GDP also ignores activity that may enhance well-being but is outside the market. The unpaid work of parents caring for their children at home doesn't show up in GDP, but if they decide to work outside the home and pay for child care, GDP suddenly increases. And even though $1 in income means a lot more to the poor than to the rich, GDP takes no account of income distribution.

    In short, GDP was never intended to be a measure of citizens' welfare -- and it functions poorly as such. Yet it is used as a surrogate appraisal of national well-being in far too many circumstances.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Future of Music?

Or maybe the future of creative content of all kinds on the internet?

In case you missed it, Trent Reznor is distributing the latest Nine Inch Nails CD exclusively (at least initially) on the internet... and apparently, it's been a huge success. The first nine tracks are free, and the rest of the 36-track album is $5. Doesn't get much more reasonable than that...

I just listened to the first 9 tracks, and they're decent (although I hope and expect he'll venture beyond instrumentals in the rest of the tracks). I will be spending the $5, and I almost NEVER buy content like this on the internet...

(Yeah, I know-- it's ironic since I offer online creative content myself)

UPDATE: No vocals?! Apparently, the whole damn thing is instrumentals, so maybe I won't buy it. I'll take that money and go buy the online Radiohead album...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sunshine Week...

"Sunshine Week" is March 16-22:
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

I have a few cartoons up in the editorial cartoon section. Check em out.

More on Hillary's "3 a.m." Ad...

In case you're wondering... yeah, in this week's cartoon, one of the dancing terrorists is doing the M.C. Hammer dance.

  • Perhaps the most objectionable thing about Hillary's fear-mongering here is her ad's lack of originality. Check out some oldies-but-scaries:

    LBJ's original red phone ad (and the creepy "Daisy" ad).

    Mondale's red phone ad.

    Reagan's scary communist bear.

    Bush Sr.'s infamous Willie Horton ad.

    Bush Jr.'s scary terrorist wolves from 2004.

  • Todd Beeton:
    "I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it's imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold," the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant's bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

    "I believe that I've done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you'll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy," she said.

    "Certainly Senator McCain has done that?" Really? How? By promising to continue the neo-con bully Bush doctrine for 4 more years? By escalating and perpetuating a tragic war?
    Rachel Maddow said on Keith Olbermann's show that she thinks Hillary is angling to be McCain's running mate.

  • Glenn Greenwald:
    Slimy accusations that one is "soft on the Terrorists" or "unpatriotic" will be effective if people see the accused, in response, nervously trying to deny the accusations, trying to run away from one's own beliefs, defensively trying to comply with the demands of the accusers in order to make the accusations go away. By contrast, the accusations will be rendered worthless if the accused stands by one's own principles and convictions and aggressively seeks out the debate, turning the accusations around on the accusers.
  • Juan Cole:
    ...let us take the name "Hussein." It is from the Semitic word hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form.
    Barack Obama's middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi, Kenya. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph.

  • Frank Rich:
    In desperation to land some knockout punch, some McCain supporters, following the precedent of Clinton surrogates, are already invoking Mr. Obama’s race, middle name and tourist snapshot in Somali dress to smear his patriotism. The idea is to make him a Manchurian candidate, a closet anti-Semitic jihadist trained in a madrassa run by, say, Louis Farrakhan.
    What repeatedly goes unrecognized by all of Mr. Obama’s opponents is that his political Kryptonite is the patriotism he offers in lieu of theirs. His upbeat notion of a yes-we-can national mobilization for the common good, however saccharine, speaks to the pride and idealism of Americans who are bone-weary of a patriotism defined exclusively by flag lapel pins, the fear of terrorism and the prospect of perpetual war.
  • You've probably seen this on the news, but the little girl in the ad is actually now a high school senior in Bonney Lake, WA, who supports Obama.

    And, yes, Rep. Steve King says the terrorists will be "dancing in the streets" if Obama wins.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More on Buckley, conservatism, and New Orleans...

Quick post this week, as I'm fighting off what is probably bronchitis:
  • Ian Williams on the death of William F. Buckley:
    During his overlong life Buckley gilded the fungus by casting a gossamer-thin veil of erudition on the brawling mélange of crude bigotry, racism, self-satisfied ignorance and isolationism that characterised American conservatism until the neocons turned up. It takes more than yachting and harpsichord-playing, more even than sense of humour and a belated admission that Iraq was a big mistake, to weigh the balance in his favour.
  • Sue Sturgis:
    Are the following truly the words of a "Great American" -- of an "extraordinarily good man" with a "warming aura"? They appeared in an unsigned National Review editorial, probably penned and undoubtedly published by Buckley, that ran on Aug. 24, 1957, titled "Why the South Must Prevail":

    "The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.
  • Naomi Klein:
    Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city's public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels.


    This is just one particular piece of this whole program. Public hospitals are also being shut down and set to be demolished and destroyed in New Orleans. And they've systematically dismantled the public education system and beginning demolition on many of the schools in New Orleans--that's on the agenda right now--and trying to totally turn that system over to a charter and a voucher system, to privatize and just really go forward with a major experiment, which was initially laid out by the Heritage Foundation and other neoconservative think tanks shortly after the storm. So this is just really the fulfillment of this program.


    Post-Katrina New Orleans may be providing the first Western-world image of a new kind of wasted urban landscape: the mould belt, destroyed by the deadly combination of weathered public infrastructure and extreme weather.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fighting Words: 3/3/08 Cartoon...

"Fuzzy F. Buckley"...

A few previous episodes of "FB & HB":