Thursday, October 31, 2002

 
Newest comic posted - "We've known the outcome since Day 1."

This is my last comic to be drawn/printed before the election, and therefore embodies the point I'm sure I'll make closer to the big day itself: no one, nowhere, has any idea what the outcome of the election is going to be because the most unbelievable and unimaginably ridiculous series of events has tainted anything a "professional" political analyst would call a "normal" politican season.

I started writing this the day before Paul Wellstone died and I debated whether or not to mention him in the strip; in the end I realized that the tragedy of his death was, to be morbidly honest, the latest example of the entire point of the strip. I truly meant no disrespect, and I apologize to any offended, though I doubt anyone is... at least any more offended by every other suden change of events in this year's electoral confusion.
 

   

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

 

My presence shall be known... sort of.

First of all, I'm now a member of the NoWarBlog, so stuff I post about Iraq, and maybe some extra stuff, and a lot of stuff from other people about Iraq, will be found over there. Woohoo.

Second, if you're watching Donahue tonight on MSNBC, you might notice in the back row on the aisle some schmoe in black pants and a brown shirt. That'll be me.

Donahue is apparently doing a thing for his Wednesday shows where he has them live in New York for a kind of "Town Hall" forum (in other words, he's trying to do episodes of his original live audience show with a MSNBC news angle.) Being the first crack at this new (old) format, I was in a taping that was done earlier in the week. (Just in case the audience went crazy or something, I guess.) And how logical of me, seeing as how all week I've had a terrible quasi-flu cold and look terrible and have been coughing and wheezing non-stop and missed a class but hey, I think I'll go to a friggin' taping of Donahue. Okay, it's partially for credit in a TV studies class, but still. I'm a moron.

The topic, as you will see / saw / completely missed seeing tonight, was about juveniles and the American justice system, primarily the application of the death penalty to minors. Guest on the show included family members of teenage murderers, as well as those of other teenage murderers' victims. The highlight, oddly enough, was not listening to the personal experiences of those guests, but of the two guests in the defense lawyers, one for and one against the death penalty, who simply amazed me with their (for the anti-penalty lawyer) profound logic and (for the rabidly pro-penalty) respective total lack thereof. I hope you watched / will watch the program, because the stuff this woman was spewing frightened me when I imagined she was a lawyer. This woman used "evil" as an excuse for killing people more time than George W. Bush.

Though is took personal restraint, I didn't even raise my hand to offer a question or a comment. Basically, I couldn't have fulfilled the manic-depressive Donahue's 30-second time requirement on the subject. Hell, I have trouble filling 30-minute requirements.

But my argument, summarized, has usually revolved around this: I am against the death penalty, 100%, all of the time. I am not a pacifist at heart; I don't think anyone is. I think many people on death row right now deserve to die. I think many people who have never even been considered "criminals" deserve to die. In other words, I accept that like many other things in life, the death penalty is something that can be understood and justified but simply should just not happen. I also accept that like many other aspects of America, life just isn't fair sometimes. Conservatives who rabidly demand the death penalty as just and fair strangely don't seem to have any other position like healthcare or equal rights or economic disparity in which they feel equality and common inherent advantage are important.

Killing another person, even in the name of justice, robs one of their humanity. To get back at someone who killed by killing them, and to take relief or pleasure in hearing about this eye-for-an-eye system, is to remove any higher ground you had against the accused. Even is revenge is your justification for the death penalty, which I do not personally accept, it makes no difference. Someone killed your friend because they wanted his money, now you are going to kill him for vengeance. Either way, it is a case of establishing selfish logic as a justification for taking a person's life.

Many of course have attacked me with the argument that "if I had a family member be murdered, I would want justice too." My answer to that is that I am far more concerned with hoping that no one in my family is ever murdered than hoping that if they are that the murder will be punished. Actually changing the violence and poverty in this society that leads to murders in the first place instead of just locking everyone up or injecting poison into their arms thus continuing the cycle and improving nothing would be a nice start.

These are, of course, merely the moral factors against it, all of which I maintain only against those who will refuse to acknowledge the far more important statistical factors: the death penalty is proven to discriminate against the poor, the unintelligent, and the dark-skinned. The mere fact that different areas of the country- hell, for that matter, that the episode of Donahue I watch being taped- maintain different rules and specifics for whether or not someone deserves to die is hypocritical and proof of an inherent bias. There is no math equation of (age X severity X importance of person killed X dramatic emphasis of media coverage) = (need to die).

Couple this with the also-proven fact that the death penalty is inaccurate. We have proven that over 100 people were unjustly found guilty and released from death row; we are blind fools to even suggest that we have never accidentally executed an innocent person. Some actually argue that the ends justify the means as those unjustly found guilty were in a situation where they committed other crimes anyway- a logic that only emphasizes just how monstrous we are.

So, like I said, seeing how there's no way I could have fit all that in without Phil pulling the mike away from my face, I shut up and let all the nice people that didn't have their own websites do the talking.
 

   
 

Wait a minute... you mean the president can read?

As far as the nation knows, President Bush does not keep a Richard Nixon-style "enemies list." If he did, though, Gabe Hudson might well be on it.

Hudson's new collection of short stories, "Dear Mr. President" (Knopf, $19), has made him a favorite of book critics, fellow writers and lots of readers. But the book, it seems, has had the opposite effect on the commander in chief.

If Hudson is telling the truth - and there's no reason to think he isn't - Bush recently sent the young author a two-paragraph note, complete with his own review of "Dear Mr. President."

"The letter began by thanking me for sending the book," Hudson said. "Also, I'm from Austin, Texas, and the president touched on the fact that I was a fellow Texan, congratulating me on my book. But he was setting me up for the one-two punch. Because he called the book unpatriotic and ridiculous and just plain bad writing. Beyond that, I've been instructed not to talk about the contents of the letter for the time being."

That's not all. Hudson says FBI agents have been hanging around at his recent book readings, and the book's website (Gabehudson.com) is apparently being monitored by the government.

The full story here. And yes, full openness mandates that we accept the high likelihood of this story being somewhat of a (if not a complete) hoax. But I was on a role with the obligatory snarky comments and the story was just too good to pass up, even if it's too good to be true.
 

   
 

Obligatory snarky comment

The son and former wife of alleged sniper John Allen Muhammed both support giving Muhammed the death penalty should he be found guilty of the murders.

Gosh, it boggles the mind how murderers come out of these compassionate and caring family units, doesn't it?
 

   

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

 

Maybe we can bomb them with the blatantly obvious

As said previously, me linking to Tom Tomorrow is like the three guys on my dorm floor who are thinking of forming a band talking about how they think these Beatle fellows "might have something there".

Regardless, I need to add emphasis to my opinion of his post this morning, which I think is one of the most thorough and rational explanations of how the invasion of Iraq is the most obvious bloodthirsty attempt at oil control and you're a complete moron if you stick your head in the sand and pretend that it isn't ever. That's my wording, of course, not his.

So I suggest that the eleven or twelve of you who visited this site without having linked to it from Tom's site in the first place go read it as well.
 

   
 

Umm... Democrats are still evil, right?

My love for my home state of New Jersey continues as we realized this morning that we'd gone an enitre week without anyone in the state legislature getting arrested for fraud. Well, not wanting to establish a precedent, we've gone ahead and corrected that. However, do keep reading, because the sweet residue of the irony you are all going to soak up up while doing so is a lovely smell... like sweet lilacs in the autumn morning dew. Yes, I'm still on the NyQuil.

Essex County Executive James Treffinger, a Republican, was arrested this morning by the FBI on charges of extortion, mail fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Now, this might have been a horrible turn of events for the GOP were the man still involved in the election.

And here it comes from those who know about the Jersey race through the TV media only. "August? Which election? Congress? State Senate? I've never heard of this guy!" Well, allow me to explain. Treffinger, earlier in the year, was in fact the Republican Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate for New Jersey. So why isn't he running now? He dropped out early in the race against Robert Torecelli due to the impending ethics investigation which he has now been arrested for. Of course, Doug Forrester is now the Republican Senate candidate in New Jersey, which was allowed by the courts despite the time limit to register in the primary having expired.

No, you're not the only one who thinks for some strange reason you've heard all this before... just with more graphics and a slightly altered slant.

In the midst of the GOP crucifying the Democrats over the replacement of ethically-tainted Robert Torecelli with Frank Lautenberg for the Senate race, they have failed to even recall that a mere few months ago, they did the exact same thing during the primary, using... wait for it... the exact same legal precedent and court rulings that were given to the Democrats last month. But, of course, in the tradition that has been masterfully crafted by Fox News, complete and even fairness is actually liberal bias which must be balanced by blatant Right-Wing rhetoric.

So, in other words, despite the spin and coverage vilifying Robert Torecelli for his violations (which, to be fair, I have said previously are most likely true,) the fact is that the Republicans not only did it as well, but did it first... and their guy is actually going to jail now. So explain to me how the New Jersey Republicans are claiming higher moral ground here.
 

   

Monday, October 28, 2002

 

Green is the color of confused

Rightly so, tributes of all kinds have poured in over the weekend for Paul Wellstone, many of which, as you can see, have taken the unavoidable political tone. I don't really disagree with that. Wellstone was a politician, and he died in the process of trying to further his politics. I do not disagree with the notion that what Wellstone would have liked more than anything was to have his dreams and visions continued through said politics. It is because of that I am very confused about the political attitudes taken by many who lean to the left on this tragedy.

To start, Walter Mondale. It appears as though he will be Wellstone's replacement, and judging by the historical precedent of sympathy votes, he will likely be Minnesota's next senator. again. In fact, many pundits are saying that there will be "runoff sympathy" for Jeanne Carnahan in Missouri, as the Wellstone tragedy is nearly identical to the accident that killed her husband on the campaign trail two years ago. As for Mondale's politics, I am only to assume that this is the right thing. The honest truth is that Mondale last held office two years before I was born, which makes me very incapable of judging his actions on personal experience. According to the news, Wellstone's sons have specifically asked Mondale to run; that alone is good enough for me.

The demands on the left, of course, is that the "visions of Wellstone" must be maintained. I can't agree more. I for one would love to hear in the near future that the term "Wellstone Democrat" is being adopted to identify those Democrats who wish to carry the liberal, progressive agenda. Hell, you can start with me- I'm a Wellstone Democrat.

So why, then, are all the other Democrats exploiting this?

The easiest way to reflect on Democratic doublethink is to visit, as always, the valuable but volatile Media Whores Online. I read MWO daily, because (and I say it with no regret) it is a valuable, often hysterical, and almost always insightful resource on hearing about the incredibly stupid things the Right is doing. The problem is when it comes to identifying the Left's stupid actions, where everything starts to get a wee bit hazy.

In today's feed, MWO has continued it's touching and well-deserved praise for the late Wellstone, and shifts next to stories about the latest protests in Iraq. This is proper and delightful, because if anything, Wellstone would have wanted the invasion of Iraq to be non-existent. Why then, does MWO, as well as so many other left-wing sites, insist that what Wellstone would have wanted is for everyone to vote for all the traitorous Democrats who voted to give Bush everything he wanted? (Then, of course, comes the weekly beating of the left's favorite on-again-off-again whipping boy Michael Moore who is again berated by the mainstream Left with it's essential "what have you done for us lately?")

While praising the life of Wellstone- one of the few Democrats in Congress to show that he had balls- left-wingers across the board are failing to see the hypocrisy of how all the other Democrats now praising him have absolutely none. We gave Bush the Patriot Act, we gave him the tax cut, we gave him the invasion of Iraq. Exactly when is the Democratic Party going to stop talking about how great Paul Wellstone was and actually give the man a decent memorial by acting like him for a change?

No, instead of reflecting on ourselves, Democrats are going to try and vilify Republicans in a method that even I find disturbing- prior opinions of the now-dead. This is just ridiculous. To imply that horrible comments against Paul Wellstone when he was alive means Bush is actually glad he's dead is abhorrent- and it doesn't cast any Democrats making that accusations in a good light. The fact that I love the song "Why Won't Jesse Helms Hurry Up and Die" doesn't mean I'm actually going to celebrate if he suddenly perishes in a tragic and fatal accident. And it's certainly not fair to the other seven people who died with Wellstone to imply that they were some kind of collateral damage.

It's annoying, and it's saddening. I don't just want to hear BuzzFlash and MWO talking about how the Democratic agenda needs to be continued... the Democratic agenda needs to be altered. MWO, I'm begging you here, just jump out and start screaming at the Democrats- "You fucking pussies! We've handed this country to Bush and his cronies on a goddamn platter for the last two years, and now you're going to say that's what Paul Wellstone wanted? Bullshit! He wanted us to stand up against Iraq! He wanted us to give every person in this country a fair chance! He wanted all of you to get off your asses and stop worrying about the fucking midterm elections! Now get off your ass and take your faces out of George Bush's ass while you're at it!"

Ultimately, the tragedy of Wellstone's death isn't just that a man of his brilliant and strong views has died, but that in the midst of praising those views, no one's actually going to follow them. I don't think any other Democratic senator now is going to think about how they should be more progressive or more liberal. And I think that's the last thing Wellstone would have wanted.

Update: I disagree with this site on numerous occasions, but I think the blog over at Lileks makes a valid case about the opinions over Wellstone's death, both Left and Right.
 

   

Sunday, October 27, 2002

 

This post sponsored by no one because all corporations are godless evil entities of death. Mmm boy I love that new lemon-flavored Diet Coke!

I've been quoted in a Wired News article about a new "service" that spammers are starting that plants addresses to websites in your referral logs. The article, and my quote, basically covers it: it's the proud recipient of this month's World's Stupidest IdeaT.

As I said a while back about another stupid service that web marketers have created, it's a complete paradox that the internet- a technological advance of which its primary functions are used to represent at least a modicum of refined intelligence in its users- is now the device in which marketers prey on the belief that everyone who uses it is, in fact, a complete idiot.

The fact is, these forced-installed toolbars and subversive spam attacks are noticed and maintained only by those who are ridiculously uninformed, or merely lazy. The fact that I can, for example, read above a second-grade level, is what makes me notice how suddenly after restarting my computer I've got a huge list of new bookmarks for sites I've never visited and that a strange icon in the lower-right corner of my desktop has suddenly started to report to some unknown entity that all of my personal habits are being recorded. The marketers do not care one bit that my ability to walk upright prohibits my ability to want this- they merely wish to profit off of those who are too lazy to bother thinking it makes a difference.

As for my referral log, it's just a shitty thing to do. Tricking me into going to some obscure Belgian porn site isn't going to make me want to subscribe to your content- for one thing, I'm too pissed off to even bother perusing your site, and second, the referrals I get form hot LiveJournal chicks is all the action I'll ever need. That's right, ladies, Augie sees you. and he's looking at you. Mrrrrrrrrrow.

Update: en espanol. That's right, I'm going global. Lovely Latinas of LiveJournal, I am spicy hot for you all as well.

Second Update: Okay, so it's actually Portugese. Thanks to Barnaby Yeh for pointing that out.
 

   

Friday, October 25, 2002

 
Words truly fail me


Liberal Champion

1944-2002

 
   
 

Words fail me

In response to an earlier DNC Flash ad accusing Bush's Social Security plan of being risky and dangerous, the GOP has responded with a Flash ad of their own, stating their proper anaology:

George Bush is Superman.

Yes, it's a cartoon, but it's a cartoon sponsored and hosted on the website of the Republican National Committee. Words simply fail me. Just go watch it. And don't foget that President Superman is the guy who denied stem cell research funding to Christpher Reeve. I love making low blows.

Update: many readers, including the collective Democratic Party at Fordhamn University, have alerted me to the smoking tights of this story which officially teeters it between absurd and sad: it appears as though Super-Bush's costume was in fact...

...wait for it...

...stolen from a picture of AL Gore drawn the exact same way. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick.
 

   

Thursday, October 24, 2002

 
Newest comic posted- "The ad is so simple, isn't it?"

Usual drill. Read if you want; vote if you laugh. And no, I'm not saying that telling people drugs are bad is silly, or that there's no obvious connection between drugs and criminals who are involved in their trade. I'm merely sick of using scare tactics to avoid simple advances in quality of life and education (public education, not just being educated about drugs, that is) that would actually reduce the drug problem. And please, you don't need to tell me what's left out on the chart. It's comedy, folks, and I can't draw Ollie North that well anyway.

Oh, by the way, yet again much apologies for not responding to many of your e-mails; it's been a rather busy week out of several busy weeks so far with several more busy weeks to come. I'm doing my best, but odds are a few of your e-mails are going to get buried under everything that keeps piling up on top of them. Sorry.
 

   

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

 

Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of rich white Republicans

I've heard about this before, but I never made the effort to do the search myself... maybe I just didn't want to. Fortunately, on the heels of my stories about videos of John Ashcroft singing, reader John Gorenfield (who linked from this disturbingly silly but in a good way site here) has reminded me about this tidbit of beltway bellowing.

I present you Mssr. Ashcroft's opening act: Senator Orrin Hatch.

I double-checked this, folks. It's all true. Senator Hatch, while accusing Bill Clinton of countless filthy things and ending all kindness on the planet as we know it, writes songs. And not just any songs. Deep, caring love songs. Though, to be honest, most of them are about how much he loves God.

Now, you might think that skimming through the site and listening to the audio clips would be the scariest thing in the world, requiring much therapy and alcohol afterwards. But it's not. In fact, it sounds pretty much like any normal Christian music, which I guess is fine if you like that sort of thing, though if you like that sort of thing I have absolutely no idea how you found your way onto this website.

No, the scariest thing on the site is the image that can be found here, in the "history" page of the online catalogue. Yes, that's Orrin Hatch. And yes, that's Barry Manilow. And yes, it burns. Why do my eyes burn, Mommy?
 

   
 

Run (screaming) in a zigzag pattern

An informed (and uni... umm... formed) reader who wishes to remain anonymous has pointed out some inaccuracies in the news media's "tips" on avoiding snipers. Whereas CNN would tell you to move in a zigzag pattern and have a friend help you pump gas, the e-mails author points out what the newscasters haven't been. If you live in the Maryland area, I'd like to apologize for completely removing any shred of false security you have been given by transcribing the e-mail right now.

You are right on about the whole "Washington Sniper" thing. I'd just like to add my $.02, some facts people aren't aware of (thanks to the fear-mongering media), and debunk some fallacies (spread by the fear-mongering media.)

Quick, relevant background about myself: From Jersey. Former U.S. Marine (active duty, decorated, honorably discharged.) Currently living about 10 miles from the shooting at the Sunoco station in Manasshole, VA

1) A .223 round is NOT a "high caliber" round. Easy to check; go to a gun shop and ask to see the selection of LOWER caliber rounds, then the HIGHER caliber rounds. Look at a .308 or a .50 caliber next to a .223!

2) Having someone else pump your gas, or hiding behind a gas pump will save you. BULLSHIT. Even a .223 can go through a WALL in your house and kill you while you're "safe" watching the TeeVee. A .50 caliber round can be accurate from 2 MILES away, so, in effect, NO ONE is safe, unless they're locked in a bank vault!

3) The shooter is a "skilled marksman." In the Marines, each year we were required to re-qualify with an M-16 (.223 cal.). We fired in different positions (prone, sitting, kneeling, standing) from the 200, 300, and 500 yard lines. NO SCOPES. From 500 yards, I could place a round anywhere on the target I desired. The targets used at that distance were human silhouettes six feet tall. Look at a person from 1,500 feet away, and you'll get an idea of how frighteningly accurate those old, sloppy-loose Vietnam surplus M-16A1's were, in the hands of a trained shooter. A blind chimp could hit a target from 90 FEET away, and with a scope, well, you get my drift.

So, in summary, DOOM!

I'd like to point out, of course, that technically I just recieved an anonymous e-mail from someone admitting to live within ten miles of one of the killings and having the training and expertise to carry it out. If it weren't for the fact that I'll take any readers I can get, I'd be somewhat scared right now.
 

   

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

 

Oh, I do so admire the mainstream media.

Whoa, I'm less than 400 votes away from the Top 20 in the comics section. Hint, hint. Eh, I'm a whore, what can I do.

Oh, right. My actual post. Yeah, um, well. Trio of little bits about the mainstream newspapers today. Okay, actually two, technically, because Tom beat me to it, but yeah, I've seen that it has officially begun- Trudeau is focusing his attention of blogging. It's kind of a mixed reaction, because while he is, undoubtedly, one of the great eternal geniuses of political cartooning, he does occasionally have this weird way of getting overly "gee whiz" whimsical about modern technology. Every time he does something about blogging, or Napster, or Windows 95, or iMacs, or webcams, he seems to cop something of a "boy, people sure do love that trendy technology, don't they?" attitude.

Wonderful. I'm being condescending to Garry Trudeau. I'll have work one day. Really.

Well, that (sort of) covers editiorial print media. Now for the televised media: according to this link hyeah, over 40 out of 60 links to CNN show transcripts will detail the sniper attacks. And here is where I will make my gross and tastelessly rude opinion, but I simply have to ask why we are devestatingly interested in the reports of the deaths of ten people, when a hundred times that are murdered every day. In fact, 16 people were killed this morning in Israel, and it doesn't get its own graphic and theme music. Why are we generating this fear? In a nation of over 250 million, 14 have been shot by this sniper. Granted I don't live in the Washington area, but even if I did, isn't there anyone else out there who would agree with me that I should be just as "afraid" of winning the lottery?

I'm sorry that I'm demeaning the lives of the dead and wounded. I don't mean to, and I apologize for offending anyone. But I already covered what could have been done and wasn't with last week's comic... and as of now I really don't have any idea how to solve this crisis, except realize that like any other case of terrorism and horrific violence affecting this country, people just need to move on with their lives as best they can.

And here's a good one courtesy of the good folks at FAIR, sort of a TV/print media combo. Ten major media outlets have all, without major explanation, changed their outlook on the events leading to the Iraq inspections. That is to say, all ten of these outlets are quoted a few year ago as reporting the truthful nature of the start of the bombings- that U.N. Inspectors voluntarily left- and are now declaring that Saddam kicked them out. Possibly himself, and possibly kicking a small puppy as he did it. Oh, and his eyes were burning like the embers of Hades itself. Did I mention he hates puppies? BOMB HIM! BOMB HIM NOW!

And since I started with a side note, I'll end with one too- I'm already getting a few e-mail from people asking for me to link to the video files I made for Tom. I'm glad you all have an interest in them, but I simply can't do it. The files I sent Tom were re-edited and not done by an expert in compression technology, and therefore were about 1MB and 8MB each. I get a few hundred to over a thousand daily visits, and if a quarter of you downloaded that much in one day I'd be out of bandwidth by the end of the week. To be honest, there was no change in content to the files, just cleaned-up sound. Ashcroft singing was, and still can, be found at CNN's site, and the video of Bush flubbing his "old saying" is available via a quick Google search, or Kazaa, or on the Daily Show's archives somewhere. As for the downloading of these streams to my own site, that was done using several utilities which were, to be honest, of questionable legality. CNN streams their video because they do not want, for example, my site posting it for local download. I'm sorry that I can't help you, but even the minute chance of getting sued eliminates putting copied and re-edited content onto my site... it goes well beyond the "fair use" I did for Tom.

I should also note that in the process of editing the files for Tom I was required to actually listen to John Ashcroft's hit music video. Folks, you've only seen clips so you don't realize that he sings this thing for over three minutes. I can deal with three minutes of crappy music very rarely, and usually only because it's accompanied by video footage of some blonde female pop star who's trying to express her chastity and desire to be seen as real and deep by wearing tight red panties and gyrating with twenty-seven naked men in a kiddie pool full of sweat. But no, this crappy music is the droning of an ugly, scary white man, and the song... well, it sucks. Trust me, you really don't want to sit and listen to it, let alone the several dozen times I did while rendering it to RealVideo format. If it's that big an issue for you, like I said, Kazaa. Of course, using Kazaa is wrong. Yep, sure is.
 

   

Monday, October 21, 2002

 

Well isn't that special, part 2

Insurance companies in Oregon are outspending proponents of a new bill by over 10 to 1 on opposition campaigning. The bill that sparks their ire? State-wide Universal Health Care.

The initiative claims over 3,000 volunteers across Oregon and thousands more donors, while opponents have gotten only about 50 donations -- primarily from the health insurance industry. But with over $400,000 in hand, those groups are outspending proponents by more than 10 to 1. Kaiser Permanente, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Pacificare, PacificSource, and ODS Health Plans have each donated more than twice the total received by the Yes On 23 campaign.

Yes, not that this is money that the hospitals could be, you know, using to heal sick people or anything like that. But I'm sure it's simply a public trust thing... the hospitals know what's good for you and so obviously the several thousand people that want the alternative which just happens to be cost-ineffective for the insurance industry is wrong on all counts. But here is my personal favorite passage of the entire article:

...[C]ritics charge that the tax burden, and the spending, will skyrocket in the future, particularly as residents realize they can obtain medical services they don't currently use - - or cannot now afford.

In other words, the insurance providers and the hospitals have spent the last few decades actually factoring into their equations that most Americans would, by inference of lack of funding, have no ability to actually use their services. Suddenly, the idea that health care becomes a natural right and not a consumer commodity rips all financial value from health care itself.

The insurers are, to this article's understanding, trying to rationalize a nation of hypochondriacs- that the sudden emergence of free universal coverage will bring throngs of Americans to the doors of doctors' offices with the preposterous demand that they are taken care of. Of course, this is logic from the same industry that for the last ten years or so has convinced us that every single one of us needs some kind of neon-painted designer pill to treat our depression, impotence, insomnia, and A.D.D.- depsite the fact that more than half the nation would have these afflictions if everyone taking the medication for it actually needed it and wasn't just fed it like some perverted sales pitch.
 

   
 

Well isn't that special

GOP political activist Dave Wilson [...] is sending Republican voters an automated telephone message telling them not to vote a straight Republican ticket because it includes a gay candidate.

The target of Wilson's attack is Alex Wathen, a Republican candidate for justice of the peace, who is president of the Houston chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans -- the party's leading gay and lesbian advocacy group.

"I'm asking you to vote principles over party politics," Wilson said in his message to Republican voters in JP Precinct 1.

The full story here, and, most likely, available for much-condensed ranting from all sides starting tonight around 7-ish on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.
 

   
 

I, yet again, am AWESOME

Sorry I didn't make a big ol' Monday post for you guys just yet... I spent a few hours last night and today doing a favor for Tom, who needed a video clip of the now-infamous Bush "fool me once" quote. But wait, here's where it gets fun. The only apparently existing copy of this video online is from the Daily Show, which means that it has a much-reviled laugh track over the clip.

What I had to do, you see, was get the video, somehow fix the sound to remove the laughter, and then compress it to a format I could send to Tom. Oh, and it needed to be in Real Video, as well. (Video hax0rs across the nation who just read that are now making the face similar to that guy in Star Wars explaining to Luke the deep complexities of launching missiles into 6-foot holes in the sides of battle stations.)

So, just now, and with much credence to the level of just how AWESOME I am, I sent a viable clip over to Tom that met all the specifications. I found a Windows Media Format video copy, had to get a converter to make it into an AVI, put that in Adobe Premiere, and export that as a RealVideo file. Then there was the sound clip. Luckily, this guy had a copy of the audio clip without a laugh track.... however, it was a streaming RealAudio clip, which meant I had to get another utility of equally questionable legality to hack the stream and re-save it to my computer as a .WAV file, which I could then drop back into Premiere and re-synch with the muted Daily Show clip. SO, there you have it- a nice, fifteen-second video clip that required a mere FIVE DIFFERENT PROGRAMS to make properly.

I'm very sad to report that these are the moments when I wish Microsoft just took over the world so there weren't any such things as competing file formats. But then I'd be no worse than the Nazis. Yup.
 

   

Saturday, October 19, 2002

 

Oh yeah

One more semi-mailbag-related post: I wasn't going to discuss this because it makes me feel like I'm sounding pretentious as hell, but more than a few friends and readers noted this to me:

This was published on September 25, and this was published on October 13.

Yes, it's a coincidence. Actually, the huge lead time syndicated artists need for Sunday strips makes it 99% likely that Aaron McGruder drew his strip before I drew mine. The difference is that I only got attacked by some wimpy College Republicans. McGruder got entire articles written about him... life is not fair, even though great minds think alike. Right...

Okay, to be truly honest, it's kind of a weird annoying feeling. One of the things I prided myself on was not doing anything that you would see in some cliche "Yahtzee!" of 20 other political cartoonists doing the same way for a certain topic. This is, honestly, the first time in the four years I've been drawing political cartoons that I have in fact done a joke that was identical to that of another cartoonist. It doesn't spark enthusiasm as much as a belief that I may just not have been trying hard enough that day, you know?

Of course, I also have no self-esteem whatsoever, so we can take that entire last paragraph as you will.
 

   
 

Weekend Mail

Scott sends me his response to the GunGuys post about NRA members already having their guns registered by inference of being members of the NRA:

...[A]s a never-gun-owning one time member of the NRA (and ACLU & Amnesty International & The Pro-Gastrapod League). There is one important difference between most, if not all, gun control legislation and the NRA, the NRA is voluntary. Similarly you don't have to subscribe to High Times in order to use dope, or belong to AAA to drive a car.

Scott is of course completely right, but he is also a rare exception. The point is that most NRA members join because, in fact, they have guns- just as most people joining AAA join because they have cars and subscribe to High Times because they're rampaging potheads. (It would be a slow, listless rampage) He also, for some weird reason, provides a link in his e-mail to a page about the predictions of Nostrademus and the Bible Code in relation to the Bush Administration, which to be perfectly honest Scott, makes me wonder just how long you've been a High TImes subscriber.

Crager Couger exchanged a few mails with me over the Jerry Falwell issue, initially questioning my logic in saying that Falwell's school violates Constitutional policy. My argument, as I explained to him, was that Falwell openly indicated that he will aim for judges to be trained with their moral (translated: Falwell's morals) viewpoint as the basis for their judgments. That moral value, being the principle of Falwell's school, is religion. For a Federal judge to base a decision, thus affecting U.S. law, on his religious beliefs, is tantamount to making law that establishes them- QED, a direct violation of Article 1 of the First Amendment.

As you can see, that paragraph I just wrote was disturbingly complicated to read, so I felt god when his last reply added a new opinion of interest about the judge process in the country:

Unrelated Side bar rant on judicial appointments - the republicans are bitching about the Dems stalling on confirmations of Shrub's judicial appointees. And everybody knows that this is just exactly what the republicans did to Clinton's appointees. So the counter-argument goes. "well, that doesn't make it right - and now we've got a judge-shortage-crisis on our hands." But what is only rarely mentioned is that this was a calculated strategy. The GOP didn't block Clinton's nominees because of ideological differences, they did it specifically so that there would be a judge-shortage-crisis when a republican got to the White House and they would have the opportunity to pack the Federal judiciary w/right-wing ideologues.

Makes sense to me. Finally, Jake adds his constructive criticism to the Rudy Giuliani post with the following:

I disagree with your statement about Rudy Giuliani gaining more than anyone else due to 9/11. I think that he is beat slightly by Gary Condit.

To which I can only say, why do we still remember this guy's name? Have a good weekend, folks.
 

   

Friday, October 18, 2002

 

I guess owe a few people a beer for multiple reasons

And yes, I'm aware that, unless something happens in the next ten hours, I have officially been proven wrong on the lighthearted prediction I made in a previous strip. We have, near-officially, not invaded Iraq today.

With that, I can give Happy Birthday shoutouts to my friends Alex and Christine, and wish them many more years of health, happiness, and of course, the United States not bombing Iraq. They share their birthdays with Mike Ditka, Senator Jesse Helms, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, which for some strange reason seems to have a cosmic significance in that they have absolutely nothing to do with one another in any way whatsoever.
 

   
 
Giuliani sais quois

Going through ideas for next week's strip, one of them that kept popping up in my head was Rudolph Giuliani. Rudy has recently been offered several million dollars to "advise" the police force of Mexico City in the ways of- get this- "crack down on violence." Really.

And, as some might know, his autobiography just came out, and he's been apparently filling all the books stores and earning unabashed praise (as usual) from David Letterman over his great and triumphant career as the "leader" of New York City.

To which the bowl of petunias replied: "Oh no, not again."

After September 11, I think it's safe to say that even beyond President Bush, even beyond Jon Ashcroft, and even beyond the collective Republican Party, there is no single entity that has benefited more from its aftermath that the former mayor of New York. Whereas Bush will, to the day he leaves office and beyond, be dogged much like Bill Clinton for his actions and personal life, Rudy Giuliani has suddenly appeared to have everything but the last year of his life and career cleaned away like a sponge to a blackboard.

Prior to September 11, there was virtually no way to avoid being at least slightly critical. From day one, when he mandated the compassion of his reign by allowing his bratty son to mug the cameras and play all over the podium as he took his allegedly-important-and-serious oath of office, Rudy has gone out of his way to both appeal to the "average Joe" New Yorker while looking like a complete ass to just about everyone else on the planet.

And don't get me wrong on this- I am not being, and cannot be, critical of his handling of September 11. The managing of the resources and organizing the relief efforts was, without a doubt, the pinnacle important action of his two terms as Mayor. For that, he was noted and praised, from all ranges including myself- hell, including the Queen of England. But this honor, albeit deserved, is the shiniest linings to one of the darkest clouds in American politics.

The fact that Giuliani handled the events of September 11 does not seem to be the major issue in the eyes of the media that almost instantly and without any argument glorified him beyond belief- to be frank, Rudy's moment of glory was a result of timing. had September 11, 2001 been January 2, 2002, the burden would have fallen to the hands of Mayor Bloomberg (or to be honest, had 9/11 not occurred, Mayor Mark Green.) What reflected the nation's consciousness and respective admiration for Rudy was his open and outright sympathy for New York itself. as if the city was a living breathing organism tat was literally bleeding in pain. Rudolph Giuliani, no doubt, cares for New York City. but he cares about a version of New York that he lives in and fails to care about the countelss other New Yorks that others live in.

He didn't care about the New York where the police department routinely, and viciously, held outright and deadly bias against blacks and Latinos. He didn't care about the New York where people favor their free speech and artistic ability over the screeds of the Catholic Church. He didn't care about the New York that wasn't plastered by billboards for the Disney store and was merely plastered with crumbling buildings, increased drug use, and further failing schools (a problem which is now, of course, blamed solely on the Democrat running for governor.)

And if you want to study to policies and financial maneuverings of the Giuliani administration, you can't, because he doesn't seem to care about a New York in which other New Yorkers might want access to his files, which he has illegally and immorally blocked all access to so his personal legacy can be preserved forever. We can't be reminded by his past records that he's a hypocrite who railed on Bill Clinton's sex life while caring little for the morality of his own. We can't be reminded of his whimsical taunting of Hillary Clinton for choosing to "become a New Yorker," while thinking exactly the opposite about another so-called-carpetbagger. And we certainly can't be reminded about paintings covered in elephant dung, 41 bullets, and innocent men being sodomized with plungers.

People get defensive of the actions of the NYPD under Giuliani's rule, claiming you can't blame the Mayor for the action of the police. Then they open up Newsweek and are told that he should be unequivocally praised for the action of the police after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Or better yet, you can open up Time, where he is, for no reason other than to sell more issues, declared Man of the Year- an "honor" which is supposed to reflect the actions of the person who affected history the most for that year. Giuliani did not affect history the most for 2001- he cleaned up after the actions of the man who really did. Man of the Year isn't an award or a prize; it's supposed to be a statement of fact. The fact is that saying Giuliani did more to affect the world, good or bad, than bin Laden in 2001 is like saying Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast had more significance than Hitler did in 1938.

And now, of course, Rudy has declared in a way that for some reason people on the whole are not declaring completely tactless and insane, that he has, again by happening to be mayor at the time of the 9/11 attacks, earned the right to personally execute bin Laden. "Bin Laden had attacked my city, and as its mayor I had the strong feeling that I was the most appropriate person to do it," he was quoted as saying, in a tone which can only bring me memories of the interrogation room scene from L.A. Confidential when the teenager is explaining why he was justified in repeatedly raping the Latino girl. I mean, seriously, what the hell kind of dignified statement is that for someone to make? And what would he want to do to bin Laden? Shoot him? Inject poison into him? Or maybe just choke him to death with his bare hands as he grows an even larger erection fueled by the unabashed love the "common people" have for his ability to actually get away with saying disgusting things like this.

If Giuliani actually came face-to-face with Osama bin Laden, he wouldn't feel that way. He wouldn't be looking at this gigantic demonic specter of evil. he'd be face-to-face with a frail, pathetic old man with too much hate and too little insight about the world around them. If we ever do put them in a room together, maybe we should make sure it has a mirror for the two of them to share.
 

   
 

Most likely not in the newest extension pack

I don't play The Sims, mostly because I simply just don't have the time to, say, give up the remainder of my life required to focus your attention towards playing it. Nevertheless, I am aware that many of you do, and I'll be damned if I can let something as downright adorable as this go without my mention.

Get 'em right here, right now: The Sims anti-war posters.
 

   

Thursday, October 17, 2002

 

Wait a minute

I have to hand it, once again, to the brilliant minds over at GunGuys for pointing out the near-piss-your-pants obvious rationale for how ridiculous it is for the NRA to oppose gun registry.

There already exists a government-affiliated, active and effective national registry of American gun owners. It's called the National Rifle Association- an organization which collects the names, addresses, contact and financial information, and in some cases specific gun information- about all of its members, with direct and indirect links to most of Congress, the White House, and the Justice Department.

I have been an active supporter of gun control for nearly half my life now, and I am dumbfounded at how this logic never once went through my mind. Better start burning those membership cards now, folks.
 

   
 
Newest comic posted- "I think you shot Mr. Bunny."

Part of me wants to say "not much to say on the topic," but the reality is that I've got way too much on it to convey properly. Anyone local to the NYU Campus that's been reading the WSN has been aware of the rising influx of Letters to the Editor courtesy of the NYU College Republicans; your truly beign the subject of one or two. (I'm still thrilled about all of it, really.) No doubt that this week's strip is gonna get flak as well. (Get it? Guns? Flak? Oh, forget it.)

I guess, in a weird way, guns, or at least debate about them, are the hot topic right now. Between the Beltway Sniper (Oh lord, that's way too much of a media nickname, isn't it) and the wholehearted popularity of Bowling for Columbine (for the love of God and all that is holy, why have you not seen this movie yet, people? It's that freakin' good) it seems to be this little issue that a mere few weeks before the election everyone should talk about, but strangely isn't. (And there we go- as I write this, The DNC uses a Letterman break to remind me how much Doug Forrester loves guns. Note to fellow Jerseyans- is it just me or does Doug Forrester look a little like Orson Welles, only without the baritone, and of course much more that a "touch" of evil? That was the wittiest thing I have ever written in my life, and you will damn well respect that.)

So, yeah, gun registry- is it 100% effective? No. Will is deter all criminals? Of course not. But basically, it's a moot argument to me: the government- hell, for that matter, the VISA corporation- most likely has your name, Social Security number, and countless pieces of medical and financial information already, through years of buying and analyzing forms, databanks, and your taxes and otehr government forms. It's ridiculous to think that a gun registry suddenly makes you less safe from the government's essential pinpoint on your current state of existence. Fingerprinting criminals doesn't always help us later on, but it's a simple procedure that might help if we need it to.

I'm not against guns, and I'm definitely not against their use and portrayal in the bit-o-the-old-ultraviolence movies and video games I absorb into, just their inherent concept. I do believe it's your right to own a gun, I just think it's inherently stupid and reflects one's cowardice, not their bravery. Something 40 times more likely to be used against me or a member of my family (either directly or accidentally) than an intruding criminal doesn't make me feel safer. The only way people are going to feel safer is when they stop joining their Club for White Men Frightened of the Big Scary Black People So We Want to Have Lots of Guns, stop acting as if the military is suddenly going to develop the abilty to activate their ninja powers and magically take away all the guns in this country and that everyone is really just out to kill everyone else, and start looking for productive ways to make everyone in the country happier and nicer to each other. Maybe we can start by getting rid of a few guns. Sell them and build some more damn schools.
 

   

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

 

Stop him before he kills hope again

So, yeah. We don't really need to explain in greater detail how much of a horrible, horrible person Jerry Falwell is. I mean, he's sort of at the bottom of the muck heap already. So it suprised me to find out that in the midst of reading Falwell's latest hilarious rant against all that isn't Christian- yes, still active and ready for the world to see is his comprehensive page on why Mohammed was a bad, bad man- that he has, in fact, officially dropped any pretext of concern for the Constitution at all.

According to a BuzzFlash reader on his mailing list, Falwell fired off this little dandy about the newest openings in his cult college, Liberty University:

Since I founded Liberty University in 1971, I have envisioned that our first professional school would be a school of law. On October 8, my dream was realized. On that day, the Liberty University Board of Trustees officially approved the formation of the Liberty University School of Law and commissioned our president, John M. Borek Jr., to take the necessary steps to begin classes in the 2003 fall semester. Needless to say, I am excited beyond words about this bold move that I believe will ultimately have a nationwide impact.

Liberty University's School of Law will employ professors who are: committed to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible; committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; committed to a strict constructionist view of the U.S. Constitution; committed to training godly attorneys for the law profession, for service in American government or as judges and justices. Our law school, like Liberty University, will recruit students who have a desire to impact our nation and the world for our Savior.

In a nation that, in one generation, has legalized abortion on demand, removed prayer and Bible reading from our schools and more recently attempted to outlaw the Pledge of Allegiance because of the words "under God," it is high time that we create a law school that will produce men and women who are committed to the Judeo-Christian ethic, the preciousness of human life and the defense of the Judeo-Christian values that formed this great nation.

Forgive the pun, but Jesus Christ.

God, anyone still long for the good old days.. you know, maybe three, four years ago... when you could actually believe that people were at least trying to act as though they had regards for the true laws of this country? It doesn't take an idiot to figure out exactly what Falwell is talking about. He's coming right out in the open and saying "I'm going to have my fanatical right-wing law school teach not the law, but a direct interpretation of the law that invokes the personal moral views of the school's founder... hey, that's me! What a coinky-dink!"

I could have sworn that part of the First Amendment states that Congress shall pass no law establishing religion... how the hell is "creating a law school that produces judges committed to Judeo-Christian values" not a direct violation? And even if it's not, how is this moral, or ethical?

Falwell has, esesntially, created a law school that means to indoctrinate students even before they open their textbooks that the law is not an interpretation of precedent and public benefit. From day one, this is a plan to shape Right-Wing legal theory into the idea that one's power as a judge or litigator is their inherent right to determine the law as however they see fit... and Jerry wants them to see fit the way he thinks. That may not be unconstitutional, but it's certainly immoral.
 

   

Monday, October 14, 2002

 

Oh, so that explains it

In light of my previous report about NYU students announcing the uselessness (and spinelessness) of Hillary Clinton, Mauren Dowd is courteous enough to explain to us the logic of Clinton's vote for use of force against Iraq: she didn't really mean it. Of course.

This has always been a place where people say the opposite of what they mean. But last week the capital soared to ominous new Orwellian heights. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton voted to let the president use force in Iraq because she didn't want the president to use force in Iraq. Giving Bush bipartisan support, she said, would make his success at the United Nations "more likely, and, therefore, war less likely."

The Democrats were desperate to put the war behind them, so they put the war in front of them. They didn't want to seem weak, so they made the president stronger, which makes them weaker.

Bush said he needed congressional support to win at the UN, but he wants to fail at the UN so he can install his own MacArthur as viceroy of Iraq.

Bush says he's in a rush to go to war with Iraq because it's so strong, but he's in a rush to go to war with Iraq because it's so weak.

Tenet says Saddam is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against us unless we attack him, and Bush says Saddam is likely to initiate a chemical or biological attack so we must attack him. The CIA says Saddam will use his nasty weapons against us only if he thinks he has nothing to lose. So the White House leaks its plans about the occupation of Iraq, leaving Saddam nothing to lose.

This, sadly enough, goes on for a while. Go read and reflect for a moment.
 

   
 

Oh yes, NYU students did stuff again.

This was one I forgot to mention, and I regret it because I probably heard about it first, what with the breaking story being in my own student newspaper: NYU students had an impromptu anti-war-on-Iraq protest in the middle of... wait for it... ready?... Total Request Live.

"At first it was weird because they seemed as if they were going to let us speak," Koprowski said afterward. "The DJ sort of looked at us, and the camera sort of looked at us. They were like, 'Yeah, what's up?' and then they realized what we were talking about."

Security guards immediately escorted the students off the stage and out into the hall, where Rowe said he saw Durst giving them dirty looks.

"We caught some scoff from Fred Durst," Rowe said. "He gave us a little attitude. He was pissed off."

MTV considered calling the police, the students said, but could not charge them with anything since they were invited guests on the program and did not cause any damage.

Wow. protesting the war on Iraq, disrupting TRL, and pissing off Fred Durst all at the same time? My god, what a glorious moment. Now, throw that story in with NYU students taking a firm stance that Hillary Clinton is officially a spineless whelp, and I think there might be brighter days ahead for the hotbeds of student subversive liberalism... oooh, we're coming for you! We're going to take over the world! Beware! Mwah ha ha ha ha!
 

   
 

Well, what were they smoking when they made this one?

A kinda cute little animation by an anti-smoking site addressing Philip Morris' attempt to whitewash itself by renaming the company Altria. It's fun to watch because even though the message is clear, the Flash animation plays like a combination of a public service announcement and various scenes from Vanilla Sky. Personally, I'm scared of these people.
 

   

Friday, October 11, 2002

 

Movie Night!

After a year's long wait since I saw some advance clips at a guest lecture, Michael Moore's new film Bowling for Columbine will be released in New York and L.A. today. I'm going to see it sometime this weekend. If you're near a theater that's showing the movie, don't wait, go see it sometime this weekend too. I'll quote Moore himself to explain why:

Last February 5th, I wrote to tell you about a book I had written and how the publisher had decided to dump it because they were afraid to publish anything critical of Bush after 9/11. I appealed to you to save "Stupid White Men" from the shredder and to go out and buy it. I promised you would not regret it, and that the book would not only be a great read but an important organizing tool in gumming up the plans of George W. Bush.

Within 24 hours, the book went to #1 on the Amazon best seller list. By the fifth day, the book was already into its 9th printing. The publisher was torn between its desire to kill the book or make a wad of money. Greed won out, and this Sunday the book enters its 31st week on the New York Times best seller list -- and its 32nd printing. This is all because of you, my crazy and loyal friends. You made this happen, against all the odds.

Now I would like to ask you again to help me with my latest work, "Bowling for Columbine." It's a movie that many critics have already called my best film to date. They may be right. It is certainly the most provocative thing I have ever done. I have spent three years on it and, I have to say, it cuts deeper, harder and funnier that anything I have given you so far.

The movie opens this Friday in New York and Los Angeles, and then in 8 more cities next week. How it does in these first ten cities will determine whether or not the rest of the country gets to see it. That is the nutty way our films are released. If it doesn't have a big opening weekend, you can kiss the film good-bye. Therefore, this weekend, this film must be seen by millions of Americans. Can you help me make that happen?

"Bowling for Columbine" is not a film simply about guns or school shootings. That is only the starting point for my 2-hour journey into the dark soul of a country that is both victim and master of an enormous amount of violence, both at home and around the world. With this movie I have broadened my canvas to paint a portrait of our nation at the beginning of the 21st century, a nation that seems hell-bent on killing first and asking questions later. It is a movie about the state sponsored acts of violence and terrorism against our own poor, and how we have created a culture of fear that is based on the racial dilemma we continue to ignore. And it's a devastating comedy.

This film is going to upset some pretty big apple carts. No film has EVER said the things I am saying in "Bowling for Columbine." I expect to be attacked. I expect certain theatres will not show it for fear of retribution. I expect that this movie will be a bitter pill for many to swallow.

This is why I need your help. Movies live or die based on what happens at the box office the first weekend of its release. I need you, if you live in the New York or L.A. area, to go see "Bowling for Columbine" this Friday and Saturday -- and take as many family members and friends with you as possible. I guarantee you will not be disappointed -- and you may just see one of the best films of the year.

Need I say... fine, I won't do it. Just go see the movie.
 

   
 

Gratuitous but well-deserved utility plug

I just finished wasting a good hour of my life having to take care of the most malicious and nasty spyware that ever entered my computer. It was one of those little bastard pieces of code that makes even me wish for the death penalty, if only for a few seconds. The spawn of Satan that designed this thing madeit so that it literally loaded behind my back in three seconds so I couldn't block or cancel it. Then it forced onto my Internet Browser- get this- a new toolbar, eight links to ad sites, and four popups. Oh, it gets better. When I tried to remove it by deleting the folder installed on my computer (again, without my consent in any way) it blocked the removal, and when I deleted it's execution file it proceeded to deliver a popup message every time I clicked my mouse saying... you're going to love this, folks... that the program I never asked for and was trying to get rid of was now not working properly and I need to re-install it.

Well, I need to thank my good friends at LavaSoft for the solution, and I am stating this to everyone who reads this site, and all your friends, and frankly anyone who you care about not having their computers assimilated by some asshole European marketing company: download Ad-Aware right now. Update it weekly, use it frequently. It is, without a doubt, one of the most useful and beneficial pieces of software you can ever have in your life.

And I will pont out something I have said before, especially in marketing surveys: I am a very unforgiving person when it comes to spamming me like this. I go walking through K-Mart and see a display of something, and my brain says "Hey, that's the thing that I know about because it was in a pop-up ad force-installed onto my computer while forcibly altering all my personal settings the other week." Do you know what I do with your product then? What's that? You think I buy it? No, Mister manufacturing bastard. If anything, think you are lucky that major Urban stores are required by law to have sprinkler systems... for if they did not nothing would stop me from setting your products on fire. I don't care if you're promoting the cure for cancer, okay? If it's an unwanted SpyWare popup, you're never gettig my business, ever.
 

   

Thursday, October 10, 2002

 
Newest comic posted- "Stuck in the mudslinging somewhere in the swamps of Jersey."

Okay, here's the deal, folks. I'm from New Jersey, and Bergen County at that, which means I've lived in the shadow of Robert Torecelli pretty much my whole life, be it my Senator or my local district Congressional representative. He's had a somewhat unscrupulous record, considering his mainstream moderate leanings, his absolute caving to the pro-Impeachment (and later, ugh, pro-Elian) movements, and his general shiftiness in regards to a lot of issues. He was, however, throughout his career, presentable as a somewhat above-decent human being.

That said, I'll be quite honest about this: Bob Torecelli is, most likely, guilty as sin for everything he's been accused of.

That said, I can only sort of sit down and watch the carnage from across the river. There's simply too much to deal with: the fact that he's accused, essentially, of accepting expensive suits- a crime which is being compared in severity to, well, adultery (which is, of course, compared to eating babies by the Right Wing.) The logistics of Doug Forrester's accusations of replacing Lautenberg as a "more winnable candidate."

Hence the strip. Basically, everyone's whining. Democrats, simply admit that Torecelli is screwed because he's guilty. Stop putting on this "served us well" garbage. He didn't serve you well; that's why you're giving him the axe. Republicans, stop your bitching. You're angry because of two reasons: first, you didn't think of this move yourself (and frankly, it's goddamn brilliant), and second, accept that you dug your own grave.

Forrester spent six months running not even as Doug Forrester but as Doug NotTorecelli. He constantly demanded for Torch to resign, and now he's complaining that it's not fair the Democrats are replacing him with a candidate that he claims they think can win. You know, I'm not an election strategist like all those high-salary Washington folk, but dag nabbit if it don't sound like a plum tootin' stupid idea to me to start complaining that your new opponent is harder to beat. That's not exactly the best campaign slogan, is it? "Doug Forrester- I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you lousy Democrats and your Frank Lautenberg!"

But I digress. The rest of this meandering bickering can be analyzed via Joe Conason's blog over at Salon, where he gives a bunch of good snappy answers to stupid questions about the Jersey election that I agree with but didn't have time to fit in my brilliant analogy seen in this week's strip.

In other news, I went to a book signing last night for a huge amount of cartoonists in one place, many of whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago at a lecture-discussion-thingie. Highlights of this experience included a record-breaking fourth book signed by Ted Rall, a rather informative conversation with Ruben Bolling, finally meeting Ward Sutton, and actually being recognized by Jen Sorensen, who not only remembered my name from the aforementioned lecture, but actually mentioned she's a fan of this site. So, as you can guess, I now own several more of her books.

I'll scan and post as soon as I can, but I have a lot more autographs and, as a great cool thematic trend, many caricatures of George W. Bush that several artists at the table- including Sorensen, Rall, and Sutton, as well as Tim Eagan, Don Asmussen, Jim Siergy, and some random other doodles from Bolling and Peter Kuper who, yet again, enlightened the entire crowd through the presence of his 4-5-year-old daughter, who I am almost convinced was genetically engineered to be as adorable as possible. This is doubled by the fact that Kuper has this great film-Noir look that makes you think he could literally absorb all the light from his personal area and redistribute it with correct shadow as to imply he is about to kill you painfully. I meant that as a compliment.

It was a very fun evening, offset only by the fact that I made the mistake of coming back from it and tuning in to the premiere of the WB's Birds of Prey. It's a series based on the Batman storyline, only without Batman. Or any major Batman villains. Oh, and the origins and natures of all the characters still in the show are completely changed. This show is the most horrible thing I've ever seen. As a somewhat large Batman fan, I am hideously disgusted. Somebody please make me famous so I can make comics that will eventually become bastardized by the AOL-TimeWarner corporation for pure financial gain. It's my American dream.
 

   

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

 

People are very insane and very stupid.

Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times reports on a recent e-mail from his local gun (nut) club:

In Roundup offerings that were nuttier than usual, the rifle association suggested that the recent sniper killings in Maryland may have been committed as part of an anti-gun conspiracy, while it also attacked a gun control rally held in Chicago on Monday by belittling shooting victims and their families as well as children who enter an anti-violence writing contest.

I wouldn't want the gun nuts to feel that I had unfairly portrayed their views, so I will quote the items in their entirety. Here's the first:

"Of course, most of you have heard about the sniper killings in Maryland this week. And, as expected, the gun grabbers are blaming law-abiding firearm owners for the carnage. Squawks include demands that centerfire rifles be placed under Class III jurisdiction," states the Roundup.

"Far be it from us to advance conspiracy theories, but the timing of this sniper activity is unsettling,'' the newsletter continues. "Maryland has one of the hottest governor's races in the country, certainly hotter than that in Illinois. The central theme of the Maryland race is gun control. Things heat up. There is this off the wall series of sniper killings. Murder made to order for the antigunners. Hmmm, weren't there some other high-profile mass gun killings at strangely convenient times?"

Richard Pearson, president of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told me he didn't write the newsletter, but he defended its implication that "antigunners" and "gun-grabbers" may have fomented the murders to advance their political cause.

Well. Isn't that special.

I cant even debate that this is one of the greatest spin jobs I've ever heard. Here I was, thinking that maybe, just maybe, ideas that have recently been implemented courtesy of John Ashcroft and the Bush administration that allowed gun records to be purged and abiliteis to trace and identify deadly weaponry used in crimes being blocked was the problem. It turns out that allowing easy untraceable access to high-powered riflery is actually a liberal plot to ease the election of politicians who... umm... err... would vote against all of it. Right.
 

   
 

What a strange web we code

Apparently I have been voted for by a fan on some guy's website, who has, in some strange form of political commentary, I guess, declared himself the "World's Funniest Website," daring all those to challenge him. All those being, apparently, the twenty out of the three-point-eight billion or so people who use the internet who actually voted in his poll.

Just a brief insight into those who can use political humor and self-serving commentary to promote their own images. Sad really. Oh, and I hit 1,100 votes today on teh Top100 list. I AM THE GOD OF ALL CREATION.
 

   

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

 

Dancing. Blood will be shed. People may die. Somebody set us up the bomb.

Detracting from Ashcroft for a moment, a story via my friend Dennis about the infamous legalities of Singapore, apparently translated to English from the original Martian:

[M]any young professionals who opt to emigrate were labelled as quitters by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his National Day address last August. The comments sparked a heated debate.

Mr Balakrishnan framed his reply around the seemingly innocuous pastime of late-night party-goers dancing on bar table-tops. The practice is illegal in Singapore on safety grounds.

Discussing the liberalisation of table-top dancing has become a proxy for a wider debate about how much freer Singapore should, or should not, become.

Mr Balakrishnan pushed his remarks to the limit, saying that even though bar-dancing rules should be eased, this could lead to injury or even death.

...The Hell?
 

   

Monday, October 07, 2002

 

I am AWESOME, Pt. 2

The WSN server is finally back online, so I not only have the original, but a follow-up e-mail for you on my very first (and second) published hate letters.

Last week, a student wrote in regards to my latest strip in which I made the irrevocable mistake of including Hitler in it. Needless to say, I was of course surprised by this letter, but by the mere fact that after four years I finally had written confirmation that someone actually reads my comic in the Washington Square News.

Some excerpts from Justin Pioli's letter:

Pollak used this poorly written and drawn comic strip to insinuate that the German justice minister had been incorrect in her comparison and that the president was in fact a worse person than the most evil man in modern history. Personally, I do not see the correlation between a man who wants to protect lives nationally as well as internationally from a maniacal, despotic madman like Saddam Hussein, and a genocidal sociopath who systematically murdered millions of innocent people.

As if that wasn't enough, Pollak cannot even get his facts straight. In the strip, Hitler's corpse claims that one difference between him and President Bush was that he was "actually elected by his people." Maybe if Pollak had read a newspaper in the past two years and picked up a European history textbook before making outlandish statements he would know that: 1) President Bush was still declared the winner of the Florida election even after an independent recount of ballots was performed by various Florida newspapers; and 2) while Adolph Hitler was elected chancellor, he proclaimed himself Führer. I would suggest to Pollak that the next time he wants to make a political statement through his little cartoon, he please have some knowledge of the subject matter about which he is writing and try not to spread blatant falsehoods and distorted history.

Ouch. Poorly written and drawn. I didn't ever expect that. And I wouldn't consider it a "little cartoon." Hell, that thing takes up half a page when it's published. Let's see The Family Circus claim that!

Now, like I said before, I was actually thrilled about all of this, because of two things: first of all, I was thrilled to receive my first published hate letter, and second, Justin Pioli is a complete and utter moron.

I was going to try and address this to the editor, but I realized something: obviously this person didn't understand satire. Nor did he realize that the character I have in my strip of Hitler is there to mock the people who use Hitler as a comparison, as clearly identified in previous strips. And we will not, of course, even address the fact that I put the contact info for my editor in the actual strip as a blatant sign that I was joking about the obvious baiting that the strip instigated. something which I guess I congratulate Pioli for falling for.

What Pioli didn't realize is that I didn't do a strip comparing Bush to Hitler, I did a strip that used that analogy to make a tongue-in-cheek example of how Bush isn't like Hitler. In other words, it was completely impossible for Pioli to disagree with me without agreeing with me in the first place. Hell, even the title of his letter was "President Bush not Hitler." Want to take a quick check on what the title of my comic was? Speaking of poorly written, Justin.

Oh, but it gets better, folks. I am loving the hell out of this. Turns out that. that's right. the NYU College Republicans have decided to take their stab at me. and this morning I was treated to a letter published in the WSN with a happy little Conservative response that actually made a decent stab at sarcasm. Or At least that's what I thought:

In reading Pioli's response, I could come to only one conclusion: He just does not get it. Pollack's cartoon certainly seems outlandish, but it does represent mainstream liberal ideology. Since Pioli does not understand, I will try to explain it to him.

Hitler murdered millions of innocent civilians in death camps. Bush wants to (gasp) take away a "woman's right to choose." In the world of liberalism, these two crimes are equal. To liberals, the gas chamber and pregnancy are equally oppressive.

Another example: Bush wants to cut taxes and slow the growth of our $2.5 trillion budget. In the words of Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, "Even Hitler didn't talk about doing that." And, the most prominent example is that Hitler murdered Jews, among other ethnic groups he felt were inferior. Well, that is just like the Republicans: They are against affirmative action. People who are against affirmative action must be closet Hitler sympathizers, right, Pioli?

Michael Tracey
CAS '04
College Republicans

Well, this is beautiful. We've gone from complete and utter moron to completely and utterly insane. This guy is giving Coulter a run for her money. In an obvious repeat of complete failure to miss the point of the comic, Tracey has launched himself on a tangent that apparently accuses all those who lean to the left of comparing any Republican viewpoint with Nazism. Plus he mis-spelled my last name. The bastard.

Now, I'll admit that the Hitler strips might hit a few people harder than necessary. And I can understand how people would be offended, as these guys were, because they took the message intended in the strip the wrong way.

But could someone explain to me how my strip, or for that mater anything, anywhere, implied that liberals compared pregnancy to gassing deaths? I mean, seriously- what the high holy hell is this lunatic babbling about?

You know what, I've got an even better idea than explaining it to me. You're all more than welcome to discuss these questions with the Editor.
 

   
 

Very Empowered Uteruses

A brilliant and informative piece (as his his style) by Mark Morford of the San Francisco Gate:

They came right smack under the oil-dipped nose of Bush's ongoing and smirky attempts to further erode women's rights and attack Roe v. Wade and right smack under Ashcroft's famed misogynistic anti-everything scowl, the droopy spiritless one that scares small children and makes pot clubs and beneficent assisted-suicide laws recoil.

They came right under the angry and God-fearing, famously non-orgasmic radar of fidgeting antichoice ultraconservatives everywhere, including much of Colorado and South Carolina and nearly all of Utah, though of course that's just unfair stereotyping but hey, this kind of thing calls for hyperbolic celebratory winks.

They are a spate of unprecedented and groundbreaking new laws in California, some symbolic but most not, collectively the most sweeping and woman-empowering set of pro-choice legislation since Roe v. Wade, and possibly in U.S. history. Daughters of California, salud.

The full article here. Read it several times; it'll make ya feel good.
 

   
 

Heh heh heh... poll.

A pair of polls for you all: first off, turns out well over half the country isn't too happy with invading Iraq. That's good.

Second, Doug Forrester could very well lose to someone that's not even on the ballot yet. That might not necessarily be good, but it's sure as hell funny.
 

   

Saturday, October 05, 2002

 

Oh yeah, and one more thing

I should remind everyone that today is, officially, exactly one month before the 2002 Midterm Elections. That means, in many states, that if you have not yet registered to vote and are eleigible to do so, your registration forms must be postmarked by today. I've been told by a friend in Florida that the time has already passed. In other words: this may very well be your last chance to register this year. So adhere to the XQUZYPHYR & Overboard motto and make sure you tell all your friends: Vote, you lazy apathetic bastards!

Update: Looking for a link to help you, I came across this site, which although being blatantly anti-Bush and pro-Democrat in terms of the 2002 elections, I want to emphasize that the only thing I have no partisan concern about is getting more people to vote. I'm linking the site because it has all the info you need about registering: state-by-state guidelines and deadline, and a bunch of other stuff too. By encouraging all of you to register to vote, I am not specifically endorsing any candidate or party. Not even a sarcastic joke here. I'm dead serious. High turnout comes first. Now get off your ass and register.
 

   

Friday, October 04, 2002

 

Friday Fun From the... mailbag. Okay.

Charles Knoles sends me this interesting story: apparently the U.S. military has started to- get this- drop leaflets over the no-fly zones in Iraq telling Iraqi troops not to fire at the planes flying the patrol zones. The Iraqi response? You guessed it- they're firing at the planes dropping the leaflets. God, I just hate it when we have dysfunctional wars.

Chris Grealy points out that former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler has oficially gotten really pissed off.

A reader who wishes to remain completely anonymous wrote me this a few days ago, and I think it's a pretty good read, full of insightful opinion about the Campus Watch post from a bit back. The reader for some reason thought I would want to nit-pick her opinion. Strange logic to me, since as a hands-on observer she's got more insight than me about he whole deal in the first place. Here's the bulk of her letter:

I'm an international student studying in this country, and I'm shitting in my pants everytime I send an email or talk to someone on the phone, because I might say something that just shouldn't be said. Currently, my rights are pretty close to nothing. And I'm not from somewhere like Canada where I can get away with it. I'm from Cyprus. Not quite the middle east, but far too close for comfort.

Nonetheless, this time round I can't keep my mouth shut and I need to rant to someone for a bit. So I thought it should be you (aren't you the lucky one - getting the weird Cypriot rantings). Why doesn't everyone who has fanatically strong ideas create organizations and then decide to go around campuses and force their ideologies onto them. That sounds like a fantastic idea. Especially when your idea is actually supported by the majority of people (and if not the majority than the majority of the most powerful - same thing right?) but you still feel the need to enforce it a little more. Did you read the section of campus-watch on what it's about?

"The Problem: American scholars of the Middle East, to varying degrees, reject the views of most Americans and the enduring policies of the U.S. government about the Middle East."

I'm sorry. Is this a Problem? First of all you're talking about a tiny little minority of people called 'academics' who, quite frankly, are barely heard by the US government. And secondly, one would THINK that a scholar of the middle east (i.e. someone who has been studying it for just about their whole life) might actually have a good basis for this opinion. It's not like they're basing their assumptions on years of indoctrination, repetitive, overused arguments, and tragic events in history that actually have nothing to do with the problem in the middle east. I mean, who would be silly enough to do that?

The questions that people should be asking themselves at this point in time is, if I have a different opinion than the majority (or even better - the corporate media), am I afraid to voice it? Am I afraid to write about it in private emails to private individuals? If I'm walking in a peaceful demonstration and I see a police officer do I feel threatened? Does everything I say have to be worded in the most diplomatic, politically correct way possible, in case I'm labelled a traitor? Oh wait. I'm worse than a traitor. I'm a foreigner. A foreigner. Just like all those immigrants from '45 were. Just like many americans' grandparents were.

So I guess the answer to those previous questions for me is: Hell yeah am I scared. I'm shit scared. Just the way some governments would like us to be.

Finally, I kept avoiding this, because the Washington Square News' web site has been down for the last few days, and I can't link to my great news for all of you: after four years being printed in the paper, I finally got my first hate letter. Now, I don't mean negative feedback- I get that on a routine basis. What I mean is that for the first time since I started printing four years ago, a letter was printed in the same paper that condemned my actions. And I was very proud of that, not just because the author of the letter (as many WSN readers e-mailed me to tell me) is a complete idiot, but because for the first time in four years I've had written confirmation that someone actually reads the school newspaper. You can't get any better than that.

He was, of course, upset with last week's strip about my "non-comparison," let's call it, of Bush and Hitler. Which is gret, because it completes the circle that is the complete and utter absurity in the range of opinion towards that character. I have just as many people offended by the mere existence of a character being the Ghost of Adolf Hitler as I do people who have e-mailed me to tell me- I shit you not- that they wish there were plush toys of him. How you make a plush toy out of an etheral top half of a decomposed Nazi skeleton, I don't now. But hey, that's why NYU has a school of Individualized Study.

I've also been told by sources not to be named to prevent their firing that the Hitler strip is actual circulating the halls of the New York Times. I think I'm going to write them an tell them they can look at it for two weeks, and after that they all have to start paying my $2.95. Boy, I sure am the funniest man alive.

A lot more of you wrote me this week; I've only answered some. Again, apologizes to everyone I never had the chance to reply to... my time machine that allows there to be more than 24 hours in a day is still, I'm afraid, not working properly. In addition, I made the very stupid mistake of getting my hands on a copy of Warcraft III, which means if I continue playing this goddamn game instead of, oh, going to classes and such, I might have a LOT more free time for you in the future. Arg.
 

   

Thursday, October 03, 2002

 
Folks, I think the title will explain it all, because I just know that I'm gonna get yelled at for this one. It's just too weird, and not in a good way. I have a slight feeling this is gonna be one of those strips that falls into the "either you love it or you want me impaled" category.

That said, I shall timidly announce that the newest comic is posted: "We'd like to apologize for this entire strip." Enjoy.

RIDICULOUSLY HUGE Update: Many people have alerted me to this already, so I need to clarify. The whole "blondes going extinct" deal was an actual news article reported by the BBC News, a very reputable source as prior history will prove. Several readers have, however, pointed out the the story itself, however, is not true. As of Tuesday, the WHO has refuted any study about possible blonde extinction.

I've taken full responsibility for the flub, (hence, to add another degree to it, the strip's title) but I'll also remind all that I write these strips a week in advance. At the time of inking and submitting for publishing, this announcement by the WHO did not exist.

All we can do now is breathe a sign of relief that this particular misunderstanding has absolutely no relevance to anything, at all, whatsoever.
 

   

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

 

The President of the United States has gone completely insane, Pt. 6

"The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less" than going to war, President Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said when asked at a televised briefing about the cost of military action against Iraq. Asked whether the administration was advocating the assassination of Hussein, Fleischer repeatedly replied: "Regime change is welcome in whatever form that it takes."

The Washington Post reported last year that the CIA was contemplating clandestine missions expressly aimed at killing specified individuals for the first time since the 1970s. Drawing on two classified legal memoranda, one written for President Bill Clinton in 1998 and one written after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration concluded that executive orders banning assassination did not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death by covert action.

Oh, and wait, here's another quick one. Actual headline: Bush claims war with Iraq "may be unavoidable." Igor! My ten-foot pole!
 

   

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

 

I am AWESOME

Yep, obligatory but hopefully not-too-frequent self-congratulatory post. 1,000 votes, beeyotch. God, now I probably have to start making my comics funny. Or legible. Yesh!

(And seriously, no need to thank me. I'm behind on answering the e-mails as it is. Just keep reading, it's the gift of love from you that I cherish more than anything. That and the naughty photos some of you ladies are sending me. Just kidding.)
 

   
 

Mess with the Burqua and you get the horns

Well, I got told about this one by enough people to put it up, but I gotta tell you- I'm betting that within a week we're gonna get a hoax call on this one.

Nevertheless, our fun-filled story takes place in Jordan, where the fun was put back in fundamentalism after a woman being harassed spontaneously kicked the crap out of three men.

Witnesses say a Jordanian woman ripped off her enveloping black cloak and veil - to reveal a traditional long dress that was nearly as enveloping - and punched and kicked into submission three young men who had been verbally harassing her.

The official Petra News Agency reported Sunday that shopkeepers and passers-by believe the unidentified woman must have had martial arts training. In Friday's incident on the main street in Zarqa 13 miles north Amman, the three men were too shocked to react at first and ended up knocked to the ground, screaming in pain. They then scrambled up and fled.

Now don't get me wrong- I really want this to be a true story. But sadly, in an area of the world where a woman can be instantly stoned to death for speaking out of turn, I just find it too good to be true that one could get away with removing her Chador and laying the smackdown on three men. Whatever, the story's putting me to sleep happy tonight.

Oh, and my first title idea was "Why can't I ever meet girls who like removing their clothing and playing rough?" But that would have been wrong.