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January 21, 2005
January 19, 2005
Bush said it's important to celebrate a "peaceful transfer of power" and that he suspects inauguration guests have been generous in donating to tsunami victims. "You can be equally concerned about our troops in Iraq and those who suffered at the tsunamis with celebrating democracy," he said.
Peaceful transfer of power?
He, uh, does know that he's been president for the past four years, right?
Parade performers will have security escorts to the bathroom, and they've been ordered not to look directly at President Bush or make any sudden movements while passing the reviewing stand.
Celebrate democracy--but no eye contact please! It might disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
The Christmas ornaments were pretty last-minute this year. We're hoping to give ourselves much more lead time for the next holiday season. Right now, the ornaments under consideration are Sparky and Blinky with full bodies (not just heads)--Blinky with a scarf, and Sparky with or without a Santa suit. And a third, more limited ornament, for those of you who remember Wilbur the Talking Stomach and his untimely demise--a glittery Wilbur angel, complete with wings. (If we actually produce that one, I might as well retire, because it's hard to imagine that I will ever achieve anything stranger.)
Anyway, we're still in the planning stages, so I'm open to requests. What TMW chotchkes and/or ornaments would you be likely to purchase in large quantities and proudly display? (One thing I'm pushing for is a child-safe plush doll, largely because a 19-month old of my acquaintance is quite taken with Sparky.)
...And before some tedious stick-in-the-mud starts whining about "selling out"--the Christmas ornaments this year represented about .00000002% of my 2004 income. I'm working on this stuff because it genuinely amuses me, not because it's making me rich, ha ha, rich beyond dreams of avarice. Though as I've stated before, that's certainly one of my main goals in life. And I think I've clearly chosen the most obvious career path toward that objective. (Astonishingly, I do occasionally get email from readers who berate me for not presenting a conservative or moderate/right point of view--my motivation for this omission, apparently, being the extreme marketability of left-wing cartoons. One thing you learn, doing work in public, is that--well, that this cartoon was not far off the mark.)
Sometimes I even scare myself
In last week's cartoon, I suggest, in my usual over-the-top satirical way, that conservatives will soon be using the tsunami to push their Social Security agenda ("Speaking of tsunami relief--this tragedy clearly highlights the need to reform the Social Security system--before IT is wiped out--by a FINANCIAL TSUNAMI!")
The typical reader, upon encountering this panel, undoubtedly set the newspaper down, took a sip of coffee, and mused, "Amusing, yes, but in an overstated kind of way. No actual conservative would really be so blatant and thoughtless!"
And I would have agreed, until I received the following email:
On the ABC News program "This Week," Dr. Frist said that a "huge demographic tidal wave" would hit the program in 2008, when the first baby boomers reach the age of 62 and can obtain benefits, reduced for early retirement.
I've said this many times, but it's really hard to stay ahead as a satirist these days. I did a cartoon awhile back for the American Prospect in which a psychotic right winger is shouting at a timid liberal (I know, hard concept to visualize, but just go with it). I was looking back through my TAP files to see if there were any evergreens I could resize and keep in my backup folder, to use for my weekly strip in case I'm ever laid up some week--and I noticed that in this wacky satire, written a couple of years back, I have my outrageous conservative saying, "I suppose YOU want to CODDLE the terrorists, DON'T YOU? Well, I think we should STRAP THEM DOWN and TORTURE THEM!" (Or something close to that--I'm paraphrasing from memory.) This was written before the Abu Ghraib revelations. It was meant as over-the-top satire, a ludicrous exaggeration. Once again, reality outpaced satire. What once seemed unthinkable is now commonplace.
January 18, 2005
Why isn't there a computer on the desk in the Oval Office?
Do presidents still do everything with quill pen and an ink bottle?
(I know Bush thinks the internet is plural--but this was true of Clinton, as well...)(he didn't have a computer on his desk either, I mean...)
Pissing in the wind...
...and other wastes of time: trying to set the record straight on the Trent Lott thing. The conventional wisdom, from a Philly Inquirer review of Hugh Hewitt's book:
Hewitt notes that while it was left-of-center bloggers Atrios (Philadelphian Duncan Black) and Joshua Micah Marshall who got the anti-Lott swarm buzzing, it was conservative bloggers - notably the chameleonic Andrew Sullivan, whose coloration at the time was deemed conservative, and Republican law professor Daniel Drezner - who brought it to critical mass.
This is all true, as far as it goes, but it leaves out one significant detail: this site's small but crucial role in the whole matter. As some of you may recall, the balance was apparently tipped when footage surfaced of Trent Lott making the same comments about Strom Thurmond a third time. And the reason that footage became public was that a reader of this site had caught it on C-Span several years prior, grasped the significance, and saved the tape. He emailed me and I put the information up on my site, where it was ignored by pretty much everyone. I then called up a producer I knew at MSNBC, which ran with the scoop, albeit without acknowledging the source. Soon it was all over the networks and Fox pundits were speculating that the DNC must have had an army of interns poring over old footage.
Short story: the Lott thing is not quite the Triumph of the Blogs tale that myth has made it. The story gained momentum because of the blogs. And if I hadn't been blogging, the reader who had the tape might never have contacted me. But what finally brought down Trent Lott was primarily a guy, I believe in the Midwest, with an old videotape and a long memory, and secondarily, the fact that I had a friend working at MSNBC. (Since I called him on the phone, you could just as easily credit the telecommunications network as the blogs...)
...just so we're clear, I'm not that worried about getting "credit" here--I was really little more than a conduit. I'm just tired of seeing this triumphalist myth repeated over and over, when I know for a fact that the blogs were only part of the story...
Still more ribbons
Here. I especially like the "Where is your ribbon?" ribbon.
January 17, 2005
More homeland stupidity
ST. HELENS, Ore. Oct 28, 2004 — So far as she knows, Pufferbelly Toys owner Stephanie Cox hasn't been passing any state secrets to sinister foreign governments, or violating obscure clauses in the Patriot Act.
There is very sad news to report today: Jesse Lanier Cooper, the 17-year-old son of Oscar winner Chris Cooper and his wife, "Sopranos" co-star Marianne Leone, died at the family's Kingston home Monday night.
I met Chris and Marianne last summer. We've stayed in touch off and on by email, but I just heard about this over the weekend. My deepest sympathies go out to them both.
...They've set up a foundation to support charities that meant a lot to their son. To donate, send a check payable to:
Jesse Cooper Foundation
"Ah, the freedom. Look, we have the gas-line freedom, the looting freedom, the killing freedom, the rape freedom, the hash-smoking freedom. I don't know what to do with all this freedom. " —Akeel, a twenty-six-year-old Baghdad resident on life in the new Iraq
That's the quote from which Christian Parenti takes the title of his new book of on-the-ground reporting from Iraq. I'm about a third of the way through it, and so far, I would recommend it unambiguously to anyone who wants to get a sense of what's actually happening there, without the various CNN/Fox/DoD filters.
Yesterday, Sullivan was clutching at this exchange like a drowning man grasping for a piece of driftwood:
The Post: Do you plan to expend any political capital to aggressively lobby senators for a gay marriage amendment?
From this, Sullivan concludes:
The FMA has gone unmentioned by Bush since the election - and it appears more and more like a pre-election ploy rather than a principled stand. (Of course, that's a relief but it's also an indication of how bald-faced a political maneuver this was in the first place). But this piece of sanity from the President deserves praise and reciprocation from those of us who support equality in marriage.
Thus reassured, he closes with buoyant optimism:
Very soon, it will be clear that Massachusetts' judicial decision will be endorsed by its own legislature, making this case a matter not simply of judicial activity but democratic legitimacy. And then we should bide our time and let the example of Massachusetts set in. I'm convinced that once the reality of this reform sinks in, fears will recede. The president has given us this opportunity. It would be crazy not to reciprocate. But for the record: thanks, Mr president.
Sullivan may well be right on one count--that the FMA was never anything more than red meat for the knuckle-draggers. But even so, the thing about pandering to a noisy constituency is that they'll hold you to it, as we learn this morning:
The White House sought on Sunday to reassure conservatives that President Bush would work hard on behalf of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, backtracking from remarks Mr. Bush made in an interview suggesting that he would not press the Senate to vote on the amendment this year.
Remember Charlie the tuna? The bespectacled tunafish who, for reasons which are never made entirely clear, wishes nothing more than to be caught by the Starkist trawler (represented by a cartoon fishing hook) and, presumably, chopped up and served as some child's lunchmeat? That's Andrew Sullivan. Like Charlie, he longs for acceptance into a system that is designed to destroy him, and like Charlie, he is destined for perpetual rejection.
Cheery thought for the morning
A recent study in stress at Nottingham Trent University found that watching the news triggered depression, confusion, irritation, anger and anxiety. News comes at the price of your peace of mind.
January 16, 2005
I meant to blog this a couple of weeks ago, but you know how it is. I meant to become rich, rich I tell you, rich, ha ha, rich beyond dreams of avarice, but I didn't get around to that either.
A New Jersey miracle man has been charged under the Patriot Act for allegedly shining a laser into two pilots' eyes.
So. Does anyone really believe that Mr. Banach is a terrorist mastermind? Does anyone believe that he's anything more than a suburban goofball playing around with his laser pointer? And yet, his life is going to be severely disrupted, at best--if not destroyed--so the powers that be can make an example of him. That's the world we live in these days. That's the sort of thing the Patriot Act allows. And anyone who can still argue that "the innocent have nothing to hide" is officially Too Stupid to Breathe.
...for that matter, does anyone really believe you could aim a penlight laser at a moving airplane thousands of feet in the sky with such specificity as to target the cockpit--which is traditionally not placed on the underside of the plane, in my experience--and "blind the pilot"? I'd bet dollars to donuts that this whole thing is an after-the-fact justification by overzealous homeland security types. Or something else is going on here, but in any case, the "blind the pilot" thing just doesn't pass the smell test.
I'm giving my friend Jen Sorensen some ad space to push her new book, partially to make up for the fact that I forgot to write a blurb she asked for (d'oh!), but mostly because I am genuinely a huge fan of her work. So check it out.
The wankery du jour
The accusations about Kos being a Armstrong Williams-esque shill for Howard Dean are bullshit. Everyone knows it. Why are we even bothering trying to legitimately counter it? It's bullshit, we all know it's bullshit, the right-wingers all know it's bullshit. But they know the "Al Gore invented the internet" line is bullshit too, and you still see it in weblog comments.
Heh, indeed, etc. The Kos pile-on is the perfect example of what I was talking about here. Right wingers are really, really good at this crap, at maneuvering liberals and lefties into a corner from which they must sputter, "We're not robots and/or aliens! Really, we're not!"
I mean, this nonsense spills out of the blogs and onto Fox and suddenly O'Reilly is equating Kos's relationship with Dean--which he fully disclosed, which I remember being completely aware of at the time--to Armstrong Williams secretly receiving nearly a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money. Bullshit, pure and simple.
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