Tuesday, November 26, 2002

 

Go away

I hate taking a hiatus, because I think all it does is lose me readers. By that rationale, it makes this site sound like some strange drug addiction, in which the only thing worse than my constant posting would be the feeling of stopping. That's such a dumb analogy I can't believe it. But what can I say, as a new-ish cartoonist/blogger with a readership that's comically miniscule to that of the big boys, I have ample support for paranoia. Plus, I'm just naturally paranoid. All the friends I'll be seeing over the holiday can vouch for that.

Nevertheless, I have been informed by the The Weather Channel that according to their radar, winter storm Wrath of God (their second name choice, oddly, was "Sigmund") will be descending on the Northeast come Wednesday. In other words, I've decided to get on a bus before the ice storm cometh.

Since I'll be spending most of the time stuffing my face and, you know, the whole family/love thing, I'll have very limited computer access for the holiday. I won't be near posting or e-mail functions until at least Sunday. Which is weird, because I think this is the first time since the blog went up in April that I'd be going over four days without an update. Hopefully, you and I shall both survive.

To tide you over, I've got a few loose stories and e-mails that have been kicking around for the last few days. Again, apologies to everyone I never got the chance to reply to, though you have my promise everything has been read. One of you REALLY wants me to know if I'm ready for up to three inches in growth. I mean, Jesus- you're asking me like twice a day now.

More than one of you have notified me about the latest mind-blowing story about Bob Barr now working as a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union. To be honest, it makes a slight amount of sense, since Barr during his congressional heyday was a strong advocate for privacy. gosh. I wonder what made him so concerned about that. (For those of you new to this site, there's a running "gag" about Bob Barr- I hate him. Look, I didn't say it was funny.)

Philip NoLastName sent the following rant about the approval of the Homeland Security Department:

This is something I wish someone, ANYONE would ask:

In the immediate aftermath of the election earlier this month, we were subjected to all sorts of gloating/whining/raving/outright fear about the Republicans having unprecented power which will now be used to turn this country into either a) a tyrannical wasteland with no freedoms or environment or b) a paradise free of that liberal menace (depending on your political leaning).

And just two weeks after the "shift" of power, this country now has the largest concentration of power in over half a century (something carried out by the party of less government, but that's another rant).

I have just one question for everyone out there that truly believed the backbone of the Democrats was the only thing saving us from complete and utter Republican rule (and especially those who blame liberal third parties for taking votes away from the Democrats):

Do you honestly believe that a Democratic Congress (or hell, a Democratic House or Senate alone) would have given the Bush Administration any real conflict over the creation of the Homeland Security Office?

For I do not know how long, the Democrats have been doing everything in their power to avoid being labeled "liberal", going to almost any length to appear moderate, if not conservative. Those attempts have been increased a thousand fold in the past two years, especially after Sept. 11, when it suddenly became un-American to use the freedom of speech inappropriately (ie. criticizing Bush, which is another rant).

So do you honestly believe that, had the Democrats won Congress or even just the Senate this month, they would have suddenly grown a collective backbone and actually said "No!" to Bush and the Republicans? That they would have fought against the creation of the Homeland Security Office?

Only 8 Democrats had the balls to do that now. Am I to believe that if the Democrats had more than 50 seats they all would have joined hands and told Bush to go f$%k himself?

Not while Bush is president. It doesn't matter how many seats ended up going to Democrats, as long as Bush is in the White House, milking Sept. 11 and the newfound patriotism of this land's people, the Democrats were going to roll over time and again, and we all know it, because that is all they've done for the past year.

This is not a time for foolish dreaming. No matter where the Senate went, Democrat or Republican, the new office would have been created because most of us on the left have been backing the wrong horse for the past two decades plus.

Anytime the Republicans get what they want within the next two years, ask yourself: would the Democrats have really fought against this if they had the slightest bit of power?

Also, ask yourself if, say, the Green party would have been as spineless in similar circumstances.

The answer, of course, that I have to give Philip is that the Democrats, for the record, proposed the department in the first place. Bush initially denied it, then spun it into his idea/version for the election. The Democrats never disapproved of the Office, being the progenitors of the concept. they just, as the opposition party is supposed to do, opposed Bush's bastardized plan. As we are seeing now, they caved, as, again, the Democrats are traditionally adept at.

As for what someone from the Green Party would have done if they were in the Senate for the vote, I would guess they would have tried as long as possible to avoid the security guards trying to remove them for trespassing during a floor vote. I'm sorry, I had to. But, as I said before, I never said it was going to be funny.

Diamond "I was born with the name of a porn star" LeGrande sent me this story: according to the latest survey of military preparedness, 53.9% of active U.S. Military personnel would be classified as "too fat to fight" under Federal obesity guidelines. Well I guess it's good that fat people are just jolly. if fat people were gay they might actually get kicked out of the army.

Carl Orr sent me this one a few weeks back, in regards to an article written by Ariana Huffington about the general badness that are SUVs. Another Washington post hack mentioned a couple of feedbacks about Huffington's article, and this one Car sent me took the cake:

Ritz-Carlton Hotel publicity director Colleen Evans wrote: "Puleeeeze -- I am not giving up my Cadillac Escalade SLV (Sport Luxury Vehicle). Since I'm only 5'3 I love the 'on top of the world' feel....Ms. Huffington is once again sounding very 'fuelish'."

So Ms. Evans, what you're saying is that your need to feel like Ms. Big Stuff in your enormous vehicle is more important than the environmental impact, our country's continuing dependance on fossil fuels (from which you can connect the dots to Sept. 11 and everything bad that's come of it), and the safety of people in other vehicles. Tell me, do you ever wonder why people in other countries hate Americans? It's because of selfish, short-sighted attitudes like yours. Do us all a favor and roll your "luxury vehicle" off a cliff.

My personal response is that an age-old question is now answered- publicists actually speak their PR language all the time. I mean, really, was she even attempting to pretend that this is how she would normally say anything if it wasn't expressed in a unfunny e-mail? I've seen episodes of CSI with more believable dialogue.

To many, the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the opening of the Christmas season and subsequent busiest shopping day of the year, is known as "Black Friday-" black, in the financial sense, being a good symbol for once in this culture. However, my friend Dennis reminds us all that this Friday is also known as the exact opposite: Buy Nothing Day. Choose your side. (More info here as well)

So with all that, I bid you all a happy holiday, and leave you this thanksgiving note with a XQUZYPHYR & Overboard touch to it: President Bush has now pardoned more turkeys than he has human beings. Squanto, you should have killed us all when you had the chance.

 

   
 

Get Reading

The great and mighty all seeing burro that encompasses the power that is Get Donkey! Provides this ridiculously link-laden though well-written post: (links not transcribed because I want you to go to the site and I'm very lazy)

I had a long post brewing about why things are the way they are, but it turned into an incoherent rant and I don't have time to finish it (which is a shame because it contained such winners as "If he thinks that it is okay for Limbaugh to level personal attacks at whomever he wants, then I assume that Novak would not be deeply offended when someone points out that he is insane and looks as if he reeks of stale Coffee Nips and cheap Scotch")

Anyway my point was that there needs to be more media education in this country. Too many people believe in things like "journalistic integrity" and believe that the mere presence of the First Amendment guarantees a free press. I bet it would be a surprise to many that the US does not even rank in the top-ten for press freedom . Too many Americans have no clue as to who people like Richard Mellon-Scaife, the Reverned Moon, Rupert Murdoch, or corporations like Clear Channel and Viacom are. Too few people know that much of the media market is owned by handful of corporations and/or how much these few influence what we see on TV, read in newspapers and magazines, or hear on the radio.
 

   

Monday, November 25, 2002

 

You have the right to remain silent... ClearYouOfAllFaultSaysWhat?

From the L.A. Times (registration using fake information required:)

The Supreme Court in its landmark Miranda opinion ruled that police must respect the rights of people who are held for questioning. Officers must warn them of their right to remain silent, and, equally important, honor their refusal to talk further.

But that widely known rule is about to be reconsidered in the high court in the case of a farm worker here who was shot five times after a brief encounter with police. Legal experts say the case has the potential to reshape the law governing everyday encounters between police and the public.

While the farm worker lay gravely wounded, a police supervisor pressed him to talk, to explain his version of the events. He survived, paralyzed and blinded, and sued the police for, among other things, coercive interrogation.

The story is explained in painfully-familiar detail. Basically, the police during a routine drug search (they found nothing) saw another man riding his bike and stopped him as well. When finding a knife on him (the fram worker used it to cut fruit) as they patted him down, the "suspect" freaked out and ran. You can all guess where this one's going, right?

After shooting him five times in the neck, eyes, legs, and spine, the officers handcuffed (that's right) the now bleeding-to-death man, and sat with him on the ambulance to the hospital with a tape recorder in hand trying to get him to instantly recollect what had happened as to avoid implicating the police of the blatantly obvious:

On and off for the next 45 minutes in the ambulance and at the hospital, he repeatedly asked the gravely wounded man to admit he had grabbed the officer's gun and provoked the struggle. In agony, Martinez is heard screaming in pain and saying he is choking and dying.

"OK. You're dying. But tell me why you were fighting with the police?" Chavez asks. "Did you want to kill the police or what?" he continues. One officer had said Martinez tried to grab his gun.

In the emergency room, Chavez continued to press Martinez to tell him what happened.

"Why did you run from the police?" Chavez is heard to say over the sounds of nurses and doctors.

"Did you get his gun? ... Did you to try to shoot the police?"

Martinez in a low voice responds: "I don't know.... I don't know."

Lawyers for Martinez say he panicked when the officer tried to tackle him, but they say he did not grab the officer's gun.

In the emergency room, he is heard asking Chavez several times to leave him alone. "I don't want to say anything anymore."

"No? You don't want to say what happened?" the sergeant continues.

"It's hurting a lot. Please!" Martinez implores, his words trailing off into agonized screams. Undaunted, Chavez resumes. "Well, if you're going to die, tell me what happened."

Hello, Hell? Yeah, I need to know if a room's available... no, nothing fancy... hopefully soon. I'll get back to you once I talk to God about sending some lightning down and all that.

What's interesting is that the article implies the ways a reversal of Miranda could allow cops to use forceful questioning, while the example story shows a much worse case.

The sad fact is, the courts have very often given broader powers to law enforcement... but as this story shows, it's not the case... the case is with the damage control.

The issue here wasn't even that the cops were horrifically violating numerous rights of someone who, honestly, wasn't wanted or suspected, or even accused of anything, it was that minutes after shooting a man several times they sat with him as he nearly bled to death on the way to the hosptial trying to trick him into saying on tape that what they did was justified.

This isn't about giving the government more power to interrogate people; it's about giving shitty cops more power to cover their asses when they do shitty police work.

As you can guess, of course, the Bush administration is fully behind the police on this one. Claims Solicitor General Ted Olsen, "It 'will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies,' including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning..."

Ummm.... what? How would the police have benefited in what they did? Only two things could have happened after the shooting... the man could have died, in which case it would be his (dead) word versus the policemen, or he would have lived, where the cops easily could have waited to go to the hospital and ask him any questions.

The idea that they're relating this to the "War on Terrorism" is abhorrent. This was a guy who was randomly stopped. Granted, he made a ridiculous mistake of freaking out and running from a police officer, but that doesn't suddenly make him a potential threat to Homeland Security, okay?

It's obvious what happened here- the cop over-reacted to a near-fatal level and negligently shot a man several times. There was no reason to immediately start interrogating the man, and there was certainly no reason to hold a tape recorder to his face as he screamed in pain. The cop wanted to be free and clear of almost murdering someone before this guy got to the hospital or the press.

The only "emergency situation" was that a cop realized he just shot someone for no reason and had the horrible luck of the guy managing to survive it. I'm sorry, but for some reason "I need to get the answers right now to find out if this guy we randomly approached is somehow connected to the man we didn't find any drugs on" isn't as believeable as "oh fuck, I'm in deep shit now, aren't I?" as the likely thought going through the officer's head.

This wasn't about a life-saving situation, this was an attempt to make an ass-saving situation. No, this isn't about the standard idea of police brutality and Miranda law as this case will likely be shapred to be, but what this officer did was self-serving and negligent to a near-criminal level- now the courts are being asked to legalize this negligence.
 

   
 

You've been allowed to go nowhere, baby

A woman is suing a New York management firm for sexual discrimination in regards to their alleged outright refusal to hire her as a doorman... because she would be, of course, a doorwoman.

It's a compelling thought, since when you look back on it it really occurs to you that you've never actually seen a female doorman... ever. So there is definitely merit to a taboo "gentleman's agreement" about the policy. But what makes the article so angering isn't the nature of the case, but the logic imbedded in the primitive minds of the defense:

"I don't know if she can handle it. First of all, you have the heavy luggage," said Jovan Bizik, 52, a Sutton Place-area doorman for eight years. "Sometimes you have to replace a handyman in an emergency. You have to know something about plumbing and to be able to shut off the water.

"I don't think that's for a woman. Also, she has to be by herself at night. How is she going to handle that?"

And now, the weak little lady's response.

Just fine, said Hill, who makes $58,000 a year as an officer in the prison ward at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital.

"If I can handle a job as a corrections officer, which is very dangerous, dealing with criminals and rapists and risking my life, I can surely handle my job as a doorperson," she said.

And a a collective Boo-yah for Ms. Hill with that line. I dub thee "Officer Fuck You, Door Boy."
 

   
 

And the Godwin gets certified

A lot of conservative excuses for message boards have been passing around full text, passages, or mild variations of an essay traced to this blogger here, in which the predictable rationale is made for the war in Iraq- that being the sarcastic "what if" scenario in 1939 in which the U.S. decided that Hitler wasn't a threat and we should never have invaded Normandy.

Fissures are starting to appear in the formerly united front within the Roosevelt administration on the upcoming decision of whether, where and how to invade Europe. Some influential voices within both the Democrat and Republican parties are starting to question the wisdom of toppling Adolf Hitler's regime, and potentially destabilizing much of the region.

"It's one thing to liberate France and northwestern Europe, and teach the Germans a lesson, but invading a sovereign country and overthrowing its democratically-elected ruler would require a great deal more justification," said one well-connected former State Department official. "The President just hasn't made the case to the American people."

And later on:

Others, however, contend that as long as he remains in power, he will be a continual threat to the region, and perhaps even the world, as there are rumors that he's frantically developing weapons of mass destruction greater than any the world has previously seen, and is building rockets with which to deliver them.

"For God's sake, the man is gassing Jews by the millions!" said one exasperated presidential advisor. "Do you think that he's going to be content to simply murder his own people if we let him stay in power?"

So, I'll first get out of the way that this is obviously an intelligent writer who has a much more well-thought out sense of sarcasm than that of several psychotically pro-war pundits. However, it's can't be avoided that despite this rationale, the writer is missing a few major points here.

The entire argument lies in the idea that we need to treat this like World War II and not wait to be attacked before we attack the enemy. The problem is that that's exactly what we did in World War II- you might have remembered that Hitler invaded Poland about three years before the United States bothered to act against Germany- and only after Japan attacked us first. The author is using ridiculously circular logic to imply that since we know now what Hitler did then, we should have just bombed Germany in 1933 and avoided the entire war. That makes sense save for the slight case of it making no sense whatsoever.

The comparison of the gassing of the Kurds to the holocaust is both insulting and without merit. History argues two sides of the United States with the holocaust- that we were completely unaware until we reached Germany that the camps existed, or that we know of them in hearsay and, like the rest of Europe, turned a blind eye to it. The latter would be a great analogy to our modern-day ignoring of twenty years of Taliban oppression of women. but I bet once you say that THEN all the anger over comparing Hitler to the Middle East would come from conservatives, wouldn't it?

Likewise, there's the character issue. the difference between Hitler's rise to power and Saddam's maintenance of power is that there was no "risk of destablilzation" that this author clearly is mocking. Hitler was opposed by half of the Europe he tried to conquer. Saddam, on the other hand, does not even have complete direct control over the whole of his own country. His invasion of Kuwait was repelled with the help of U.S. forces, who granted took more initiative than we did with Poland in 1939. Of course, we didn't care about oil as much then.

(And, of course, noting how the author didn't seem to look into any analogies about U.S. companies still funding Hitler during the war vis-ŕ-vis our maintaining strong relations with half the terrorist-breeding nations on the planet won't be brought up. because that would be rude now, wouldn't it?)

As noted before, radical Islam might want to control the world, but can't feasibly do that- it simply does not have the means and motivation that Hitler had. Radical Islamic nations are working to control their own countries and find some unique paradigm that allows their government to remain in medieval times while the infrastructure eventually rises from the stone age.

Personally, if you're going to make Hitler analogies, you go to the man who treats them like a daily hobby, Ted Rall:

For a few months the Leader reveled in the glory of his victory. People felt that the Leader was not only protecting them, but making them feel strong again. But one day his chief military adviser came to him with a warning. "People are beginning to forget about your victory," he said. "They're worried about their bellies. Their sons are stuck in the occupation force, fighting the remnants of the militia. They're afraid that another attack is coming. Why not start an even bigger war to distract them from these concerns?"

Rather than merely invade another country, however, the Leader hit upon a new strategy. He demanded that the world allow him to invade yet another nation, even though that land had caused no offense to its neighbors for many years. "I am a man of peace, but these evil ones are planning to kill my people," he roared. "I will invade them and stop them and I will consider anyone who doesn't agree to be our enemy." He ordered his armies to mass at the borders of his intended prize.

The world's rulers, terrified of the Leader's hubris and demonstrated willingness to throw his nation's armies into war, gathered to decide what to do. Everyone agreed that what the Leader intended to do was reckless, immoral and unjustified, but nobody wanted to stand alone and thus risk becoming his next target. Besides, they told themselves, he only wants one more country. It's worth voting for one small war now to prevent the whole world from being consumed by war, they agreed.

And you can see where that one's going too. Godwin payback is a German bitch.
 

   

Friday, November 22, 2002

 

Canyonerrrrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooo!

Reader James O'Brien sent me a link to what could very well be the most absurdly ridiculous press copy ever printed in the history of advertising.

Cars.com reviewer Royal Ford (gurgle) penned this little review about General Motors' publicly-available version of their military hummers:

What this Hummer offers that the H1 does not, however, is practicality. It is incredibly comfortable inside; it seats six with plenty of space (as opposed to four in the original); and with triple sealed doors and heavy insulation, it is very quiet on the highway. It is, in short, a car you can use every day in comfort-if you don't mind gas mileage around 10.1 miles per gallon and that, admittedly, can be a financial or ethical question for lots of folks.

Considering that the H2 weighs nearly 3˝tons, it takes a lot of torque to move the beast. The General Motors Vortec 6000 is just the powerplant to do the job. It is a 316-horsepower V-8 that produces 360 lb.-ft. of torque.

So what's the verdict on the $48,000, 10-MPG, 16-foot long, 3.5-ton Hummer?

All this in a car that can be an everyday family driver (again, you'll have to get past that 10.1 miles per gallon-environmentally, in some cases, and financially, in others). I judge any vehicle by who it is aimed at, what the vehicle is meant to do, and whether target buyers will be happy with their purchase.

So.. the "intended target buyer" is. what, the completely fucking insane?

I'd like to discuss the issue of product reviews. We've already seen in the past that companies deliberately generate false praise for their stuff- the most recent examples are movie studios, which have been caught doing everything from bribing people to talk loudly on elevators about how great the movie they just saw was, to actually fabricating movie critics to write generous reviews of The Animal to cover up the fact that it was a film that would make Wednesday's Victoria's Secret televised runway show look like a PBS pledge drive airing of the historical analysis of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

But this is, to the best of my reasoning, the most blatant case of a reviewer obviously being in the pocket of the company he's reviewing. I mean, how in the name of PBS-sponsored Christ can a legitimate "authority" on automobiles say that a 10-MPG stripped-down version of military equipment be a "practical" and "every-day family driver?" This car wouldn't be even practical for the family if you lived in an Israeli settlement!

So my question basically boils down to this: is this guy being bribed, is he completely insane, or have we just reached a point in American society when a 7,000-pound APC is considered the practical addition to the American family? Because frankly, with a guy promoting a detriment to all life like this false-sense-of-a-large-penis monstrosity, the only hummers we should know about are the ones coming with soldiers to arrest this guy, and the one hummer this reviewer is obviouly getting from the General Motors Corporation.
 

   

Thursday, November 21, 2002

 
Newest comic posted- "The Military Intelligence Overload." Read. Vote. Hit on me. Make me your idol.

I think it basically sums up my general reaction to when I read the actual story. Our opulent canine compadre Gunther was head-wrenching because of the sheer absurdity. The army's latest moral move just makes your brain vibrate until it dies.

There's absolutely no excuse for this, although lame ones are being formulated, the most common (and most stupid) of which is that "this wasn't an issue about homosexuality, but about following policy." Boy oh boy, the government sure does love policy, doesn't it. Like making sure proper funding is always getting to women's health organizations. And prosecuting corporate criminals to the fullest extent of the law. And allowing statewide vote recounts to continue.

With that in mind, here's the latest story about the military and its latest defense of policy. A short excerpt:

A divided, reluctant federal appeals court denied claims Tuesday by World War II and Korean War veterans who said the government reneged on a promise to provide free lifetime health care if they stayed in the service for 20 years.

Although the government conceded military recruiters made the promises, the Defense Department convinced the court there was no valid contract because the assurances were not backed up by law.

Even the judges in the majority acknowledged they were uncomfortable with the ruling, writing that they "can do no more than hope Congress will make good on the promises made in good faith" to soldiers entering the service between 1941 and 1956.

"No valid contract because the assurances were not back by law." Now, I'm not a great legal analyst or anything, nor, as I stated earlier, do I have a strong background in "following military policy," but it seems to me that's a fancy way of saying the Army lied its ass off. So, let's hear it for following policy, because that's always what's important.
 

   

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

 

Gah! Call off the dogs!

Okay, so I messed up. DARPA has been around forever, in fact it's related to ARPAnet, which is of course the precursor to that thing Al Gore never claimed to invent. The new office is the IAO, which, although different in name, is still evil. Thank you to the eight million people who caught the error.
 

   
 

Ah, the saving stalwarts of the left-leaning party

Congress spent just a few short hours last week voting to create the biggest new federal bureaucracy since World War II, not that the media or even most members of Congress paid much attention to the process. Yet our most basic freedoms as Americans - privacy in our homes, persons, and possessions; confidentiality in our financial and medical affairs; openness in our conversations, telephone, and internet use; unfettered travel; indeed the basic freedom not to be monitored as we go through our daily lives - have been dramatically changed.

The list of dangerous and unconstitutional powers granted to the new Homeland Security department is lengthy. Warrantless searches, forced vaccinations of whole communities, federal neighborhood snitch programs, federal information databases, and a sinister new "Information Awareness Office" at the Pentagon that uses military intelligence to spy on domestic citizens are just a few of the troubling aspects of the new legislation.

Finally, a somewhat-rational voice of opposition. What high-ranking Democrat took the risk to actually stand up publicly against the Homeland Security Bill?

Update: It's called IRONY, people! I can SEE the damn "R" right at the top of the page! NONE OF YOU UNDERSTAND ME. Soon you will all face my wrath and kneel before ZIM!
 

   
 

Eep.

For all interested, here's the home page for DARPA, the newly created security office that allows the government to essentially know anything they want about you and what you do online for any reason at all. And here's a brief bio of John Poindexter, the head of the department, who just also happens to be the co-conspirator of Iran-Contra who was convicted of subverting the Constitution. Apparently, Poindexter met the rigorous qualifications of being the worst possible person alive today to have this amount of power.

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
 

   

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

 

Missing the last flight out of Blatantly Obvious

The final results of the Homeland Security Bill gave the following to the Democrats: nothing. They didn't get the Republican pork amendments scrapped, they didn't get the union rights, they didn't get the independent September 11th review panel. In fact, one could arguably say that the Democrats were completely ignored and/or defeated on every aspect of a bill that causes the greatest direct effect on the centralization of government in over 50 years, and that it should go without saying that at the very least they should have blocked it for the year as a sign of their anger towards its approval with virtually no regards for their opinion.

So, naturally, the Democrats voted en masse, 90-9, to approve the bill. Well of course they did.
 

   
 

Eeeeeexcellent.

Reader Scott.... just Scott, apparently... informs me that the most devious and influential of all political pundits that is the political cartoonist has already taken the "San Francicso LiberalT sure seems to be used a lot suddenly" ball and run with it.

Sadly, other reader Fred "I include a last name in my e-mails" Frost also informs me:

The "San Francisco Liberal" has already caved; appointing a right leaning assistant, supporting George's homeland security bill, and has said she would support George in his war on Iraq.

A Democrat appointing right-wingers and supporting aggressive military foreign policy? Who does this liberal think she is, Bill Clinton?
 

   

Monday, November 18, 2002

 

Oh, what the hell, let's stay in Blatantly Obvious an extra night

A secret appeals court has just ruled that the government can perform secret actions under the USA Patriot Act. Well, of course it did.
 

   
 

And now, another visit to the small town of Blatantly Obvious

John Ashcroft and Bob Barr support legislation that allows Al-Qaeda to have easy access to American firearms. Well, of course they do.
 

   
 

Foaming scared

The Daily Howler ran a great piece about the recent new additions to the right-wing spin machine, the most prominent of which is the drive to destroy the mainstream credibility of Nancy Pelosi, the new Congressional Minority Leader who replaced Dick Gephardt last week.

That's right. As of this writing, Pelosi has held the job for five days, and already she has been given her own trendy epithet- San Francisco LiberalT. My personal plan is that any time someone writes or mentions that term, we add the little trademark sign to the end to remind everyone that it's a slogan already used so often it's under the de-facto ownership of the Republican Party.

Now, I know that like most other politicians, Pelosi is made to look by the opposition as the worst-case scenario. The difference between the Left and the Right doing this, it seems, is that the Right actually does a lot of these nightmare cases. For example, John Ashcroft really did completely subvert the Constitution to follow his own insane moral fundamentalist ideology. In the 2000 election, we are told that George Bush, if elected, will befoul the environment and further the disparity between rich and poor as a long series of personal favors to friends of his and Cheney's in the oil and energy business. Al Gore would, according to the RNC, outlaw all forms of login equipment before outlawing the right to bear arms while creating special all-homosexual army corps officers. Guess which scenario was proven to be more believable?

As I said before, I've never "underestimated" Bush, as the pundits are babbling ever since the last election. I don't call it "underestimating" someone when they've pretty much done everything I expected them to do.

So it seems very interesting that the drive to destroy Pelosi is very similar to the liberal opposition to John Ashcroft's nomination in 2001. Instead of the nightmare scenarios and record-touting that was given with Ashcroft's hearings, however, Pelosi has become the target of the constant epithet Republicans like to use as their political N-word, with an extra location-related reminder to go: she's a dirty, filthy, Godless San Francisco LiberalT.

In the attacks, the most constant attempts at humor are made by those who give the now-tired line about how (giggle) "thankful" they are that Pelosi became Minority Leader because "it means the Democratic move to the left will make it even better for Republicans." They don't seem to say in their little giggles that this will only work by using the San Francisco LiberalT card. The truth is, I think they're doing the same thing that the Left did with Ashcroft. I think, deep down, they're actually worried Pelosi might make their lives difficult, and that she might be a legitimately tough political leader. It gives me a slight bit of hope for the Democrats, but not much.
 

   

Friday, November 15, 2002

 

Example, Pt.2

Tom Daschle is criticizing the "compromise" Homeland Security plan I talked about before:

Democrats complained that Republicans stuffed provisions into the homeland security bill limiting liability for producers of the smallpox vaccine and makers of high technology airport screening equipment, as well as for many private airport security companies.

It also has vaguely worded language that would make Texas A&M University eligible for federal homeland security research - a provision inserted by Rep. Tom DeLay, whose district is nearby.

The bill would allow commercial airline pilots to carry guns in cockpits, and give airports a one-year delay in the Dec. 31 deadline to install explosive detection systems to screen all checked baggage. It would also let the new agency sign contracts with U.S. companies that have relocated abroad.

Pork-barrel contracts for Republican districts! Guns in planes! Foreign contracts for Federal labor! Wow! I can't believe they didn't just go for the whole shebang and just put the cloning ban and drilling contract for Alaska in there! Now, is Daschle actually going to try and block this? Of course he isn't. Because, you see, Tom Daschle simply does not have a penis.

-----------

I was involved in a conversation earlier about the accusations that this would all still be happening under a Democratic administration. Of course, I disagree, but not completely.

Granted it's ludicrous to suggest the Democrats aren't as self-serving and greedy in regards to self-preservation as the Republicans, but the idea that the GOP would allow a Democrat administration to make this department even remotely similar to its current inception is close to impossible.

This is, without a doubt, one of the broadest attempts in recent history at recentering Federal power to the hands of the Executive and its direct cabinet, and if a Democrat president tried to do this a Republican leadership team would attack almost as fast as the GOP did with their outrage over the attempt to partially-federalize health care ten years ago.

Now that Republicans control the government, they suddenly don't seem so upset about massive big-government control; you can't expect me to believe that their opinions would still be this way if they didn't have a popular pseudo-wartime president.

I agree that post-9/11 the DNC would suggest a homeland security department... oh, wait... they sort of did that first anyway. But a President Gore would not have had appointed an Attorney General as psychotically obsessed with crippling "immoral" liberties to recommend the vast abuses of personal privacy accounted for in this current version. Gore and Lieberman were obsessed with censoring the entertainment media; Bush wants to hear nothing bad from the press. There's a big difference there.

Nor would he have decided a week after the attacks that his close friend-slash-Republican governor of Pennsylvania-slash second choice for VP suddenly met all the qualifications to head the department without the need of an oversight committee. Imagine if you will Gore telling the Republican Party that Catherine Townsend suddenly had partial control over the Coast Guard and the INS. The collective head explosions would have set off sprinkler systems.

This is not to say Gore's a saint. (I'd say he's more like a monk.) As mentioned before, a DNC-created OHS would definitely have concessions to labor and I'm sure there would be a lot for the trial lawyers, plus an equal interest in Democratic pork projects. But I will stick the the belief that the inherent moral base of the party wouldn't have included such open power at the hands of the government simply on the understanding that the GOP could, and would, block it anyway.

To be fair, I didn't support Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts either. Painful as it is to agree with the Republicans, it's hard to forgive the near-fact that Clinton had an aspirin factory bombed because he got caught getting a blowjob.

But far from just that, we now have an administration so intent on complete control of everything that we've placed the power of monitoring the truth and justice of all Americans into the hands of a man who is most famous for lying to Congress.

Why do I not feel safer? The reason is simple: because despite all these new attempts to technologically and futuristically "protect freedom," we're not one shred safer while we're allowing half the world to suffer as a cost of our self-luxury and false senses of security.

I watched the Twin Towers fall from twelve or so blocks away, and it didn't raise my desire to give up my basic daily life to pretend that this couldn't happen again. If anything, it made me realize that our bloated, high-tech defense system was useless in the face of someone who had the will to kidnap a few hundred people and use them and their plane as a weapon.

The truth is, most Americans, like most humans, just want to live normal lives. I want my future kids to be healthy and have a good education. Scrapping the health care and education budgets to make way for more nuclear submarines isn't making me feel better.

Terrorists like Al-Quaeda don't want to "destroy America" except in the way that I want to "win the lottery-" it's a want that they acknowledge is near-unobtainable. They want to get the U.S. the hell out of their business so they can... get this... live what they call "normal lives" as well. The fact that they're killing themselves to perform these acts implies that they're not really in it for themselves... like us, they want what they consider to be a better hope for their children, however obscene that consideration may be.

On both sides, all we're giving is less. We need to alter the potential for "normal" lives in the impoverished areas of the world, and we can't do that by destroying and sanctioning them- all it does is give credence to the despotic leaders who have an instant excuse for their despotic leadership. Likewise, we can't create a society that perpetuates fear as a means of regulation... something that is rapidly happening right now in the United States.

This advance in technology is NOT going to help us. A few dozen guys from the poorest region of the planet caused thousands of lives and billions in damage. A lone nutcase with a gun causes massive fear and death. A single lunatic in a shack with no electricity kills people with mail bombs and we only catch him because a family member turns him in. I'm sorry to have such pragmatism, but it feels like the only effect new technology is going to have is an even worse feeling when the next person gets past it. The only infallible system is one that prevents the bugs from being created in the first place.
 

   
 

I'm very frightened with myself

There is a scary feeling when you realize that you have less in common views with the president of the United States as you do with a right-wing psychotic demagogue like pat Buchanan, but I'm got to confess this is hardly the first time I've suddenly found myself realizing that I agree completely with his ideals, albeit not his methods. It's kind of funny, really. I did those political analytical tests in 2000 that looked at your moral beliefs and compared them to the presidential candidates, and Buchanan was actually high up on the list. The only politician who I have less in common with ideologically than George W. Bush, by the way, is Alan Keyes. Considering the fact that Keyes is without question completely insane, this can explain why I and so many others are frightened out of our minds about the current White House Resident.

It's an interesting paradox. For example, I have a mutual agreement with Buchanan that NAFTA is one of the stupidest government policies in human history. It's just our reasons that are completely different: I am against the blatant exploitation of foreign labor and destruction of American jobs, and Pat Buchanan just hates brown people.

So it's only party scary when I openly say that Buchanan's recent opinion column in USA Today speaking out against the war in Iraq is, all differences aside, very well-written. Of course, the article eliminates the difference in our reasons again: I am against the war because I simply don't want to kill countless foreign and domestic soldiers for the purpose of fueling (pun intended) corporate interests, and Pat Buchanan... just hates brown people. You see, my only doubt lies in the belief that amidst this hatred of fundamental Islam and the desire to leave it alone, Buchanan secretly desires a country eqaul in religious control as the former Afghanistan.

In the long run, I think it strengthens myself as a liberal to admit sharing viewpoints with conservatives. Though I'll make it perfectly clear- I only seem to think Pat Buchanan is a reasonable and intelligent guy when he's not being a psychotic, right-wing, racist, bible-thumping hyper-isolationist-Nationalist neo-Nazi. which, of course, is what he is most of the time. Rest assured you're never going to see me linking to his opinions on the Pledge of Allegiance.
 

   
 

Early assault on the feedback

I've got a bunch of other things to write about before the week is out, but I'm out of time for now so I'll just satiate the demand for new content by addressing a few recurring themes in the e-mail this week.

First of all, thank you to all who wrote to congratulate me on hitting the Top 20 in the PlanetCartoonist list. The presence of a banner ad on the list page will hopefully get me some more traffic, and anything that can progress my dream of Somehow Getting Paid For ThisT is perfectly fine by me.

Second, I was going to ignore the big stupid historical inaccuracy in this week's comic, but I guess since a reader caught me on it I'll point it out: keen eye award to Scott for reminding us all that the Republican Party could not have possibly been working to solve America's non-existent problems for over 200 years because the Party, of course, was first founded on a national level in 1856. As I explained to Scott, my figuring was that if I actually put down "for nearly 150 years" in the comic instead of "over 200 years" (implying the relative age of the country itself) then I'd get even more letters of "huh?" So, perhaps checking the archive later in life you might see the text altered. rest assured you are not going insane.

But speaking of going insane, the dog. Well, I certainly did not expect that much enthusiasm towards the story of Gunther IV, but apparently a lot of readers took the What-the-Blankety-Hell ball and ran with it on this one. I'm still sifting through the decent load of e-mails about Gunther, most of which either question or claim to provide evidence that this story is a complete fabrication.

Fabrication, possibly; hoax, maybe; falsehood, no. Since a lot of you are interested, here's some stuff I've got on Gunther that hopefully will address a few of your claims.

To start, the biggest problem in confirmation of the Gunther paradigm is the sheer lack of solid factual evidence to the claims. Gunther, as well as the Burgundians, as well as the money, undoubtedly exists. However, a few readers have sent me various stories claiming that the countess who left her fortune to Gunther did not exist. Even more will point out what I already noticed on my own: that the alleged "musical group" that is the Burgundians has no released album, nor have they ever made public performances. The Burgundians and Gunther are, therefore, equal in cultural factuality as Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang.

Then there is BowLab, an Italian site that a reader semi-translated to address even more stories of the alleged magic and wonder that is Gunther. Again, references to Countess Carlotta, who has yet to be proven ever existed. The likely belief is that someone is setting us all up for a fantastic premise for a TV series or movie about this dog and his photogenic compatriots.

The fly in the alleged-hoax ointment is that the one thing that apparently does exist without debate is the money. According to some sources, no significant records indicate the actual legal existence of Gunther's benefactor, however the problem arises that no evidence has surfaced to prove she never existed either. The fact remains that somewhere, somehow, a group of five people and a dog are living under the most lavish of financial circumstances, and without any evidence relegating to anything, the mere fact that this damn animal has made numerous public appearances with said Burgundians and said bankroll in tow forces one to have no choice but to take the dog's (or more accurately the dog's corporation's) word for it.

Madonna herself (okay, well technically her lawyers, I'm sure) acknowledges the sale of her Villa to the Gunther Corporation. The question is the exact veracity of the dog as the figurehead and the true story of the Countess who left her fortune to him. which again, is still in question. Someone out there is willing to put up over $150 million to make us believe this, which just make the entire thing that much more strange.

In other words, we have a somewhat modern-day Count of Monte Cristo situation- all of these stories seem to be after-the-fact that the wealth that fuels the Gunther rocket is there. If this story is a complete fabrication, it's well on its way to being one of the best (and most expensive) publicity stunts of all time, spanning three or four countries, acquiring four or five corporate names and website affiliations, and spanning over four years and counting.

In conclusion, we are left with a story that is even more confusing and annoying than before. Frankly, I'd live a perfectly healthy and happy life never hearing about this damn dog again. I would also, however, live a perfectly healthy and happy life with three half-naked blonde women and $150 million, so if any of you who still care about this story come up with a simply scheme to get a piece of the Gunther pie, that you can let me know about.

Finally, Étienne Chenier sends me this story about how the U.S. government is cracking down on the violent, threatening terrorism. of Canadian with a gun. Apparently anyone who's not an American is considered a threat to national security when he's got a firearm. So the American government has decided that the best way to handle the obvious simple confusion in cross-border policy that entails this guy's arrest is, of course, to procedurally destroy his life. Enjoy.
 

   

Thursday, November 14, 2002

 
Newest comic posted - "The Democrats lost to this?"

You will hopefully read. You will hopefully enjoy. You will hopefully notice that I am within 100 votes from hitting the Top 20 in the Editorial Cartoon rankings and take the hint.

Update: I AM THE GOD OF ALL CREATION! Thanks to all who vote. Now keep doing it.
 

   

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

 

Red plus blue makes clear, I guess

Liberal concern meets conservative magazine and gets something amazingly informative, asthetic, and unbiased in this analysis of basic global citizen's rights. The striking report of the potential abuses of power is brought to you by the bastion of anti-conservative sentiment, The Economist. Who knew, huh?

(Found from this site hyeah.)
 

   
 

Example.

Here's an article for you that is a very good read because in one simple paragraph it unknowingly explains exactly why the Democratic Party lost the election last week. Let's run throuh a paraphrasing of the article and see if you can spot it:

The aides said three moderate senators -- Democrats John Breaux of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska along with Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island -- decided to support a Bush-backed proposal to remedy a dispute over labor rights in the anti-terror department.

The proposed department, designed to better protect the United States against another Sept. 11-type attack, was a key issue in last week's congressional election as Republicans won back the Senate and expanded its majority in the House.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers worked on the White House-backed proposal that give Bush the power he has demanded to exempt unionized workers from collective bargaining agreements in the name of national security. His successor in the White House could extend the exemption or end it.

In addition, the new department would effectively be able to bypass civil service rules in promoting, firing and transferring workers, the aides said.

Yet under the new proposal, unions must be given an advance notice, would have an opportunity to object and could take their case to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. But if no agreement is reached, the department could carry out its initial intentions, aides said.

The 600,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, which would represent about a fourth of the 170,000 workers in the new department, rejected the proposal.

Okay, so did anyone else see it?

Yet under the new proposal, unions must be given an advance notice, would have an opportunity to object and could take their case to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. But if no agreement is reached, the department could carry out its initial intentions, aides said.

There you go. That's the great compromise. Instead of fighting for their original goal of not allowing the legislation to pass without rights for union workers, three Democrats have turned their support after reaching a deal to give Bush the ability to ignore all rights for unions workers, though, according to this deal, the union workers now have the right to complain about it... and then be completely ignored.

Now, I'm admittedly a cynical person, but I could have sworn that a handful of Democrats just reached a compromise on the Homeland Security Bill to give Bush exactly what he wanted. Hey, here's a fun bet. Let's see if these senators actually campaign in front of the AFGE union and tout how they fought for the rights of the union to... umm... completely lose all their rights. Let's score another decisive moral victory for the Democratic Party. 600,000 voters alienated in one day!

Update: Kim Kohrt pointed out this article to me that points out one fo the issues a few people are missing: this isn't just some argument over new jobs without rights. This is moving current employees to a new department and thus placing them under the harsher emplyment rules. The article I originally listed doesn't emphasize the way this one does that union-free jobs are not just being created, they're being taken away from unionized jobs, perhaps with reduction in pay and benefits at the same time. Bush has, at this time, failed to mention how reducing worker protection is somehow a Defense of the Homeland.
 

   

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

 

This is the goddamned weirdest thing ever

This is one of those stories where the story itself is weird enough, and then suddenly there's a seperate story inside it that's even weirder. Except this is beyond weird. This is something that I legally am required to provide an advance warning: if you try to read this post more than two or three consecutive times, your head will simply explode.

An L.A. restaurateur just won a rare 2-pound mushroom in an annual "charity truffle auction" in Santa Monica. The winner paid $35,000 for the truffle after a fierce bidding war between a New York-based restaurant owner and Gunther IV, who placed his bids through a subsidiary due to the fact that he is, in fact, a dog. The canine heir to a vast German fortune lost the auction, and the honor of placing the highest recorded bid ever for a mushroom.

Well go ahead, goddamit. Read it again.

Lewis Black once did a great comedy routine about how he was sitting in an IHOP one morning and overheard a woman say in a conversation "If it weren't for my horse, I never would have spent that last year in college." His rationale was that this was the quintessential line of human dialogue that, if ever attempted to analyze, would immediately cause blood to erupt from one's brain out through their nose. I think we've just beat it with this backstory.

I have been told that truffles, for a fact, are rather expensive. And I understand that a rare culinary delicacy could merit the need for the rarest of said rarities to be auctioned- hell, after watching all that Iron Chef I understand that food can cost a lot of money. But there is no way I could rationalize the unrepeated, unexamined, absurdly nonchalant way that the article about this auction just casually mentioned that a dog who just happened to be the heir to a German fortune was involved in it. Screw the damn mushrooms.

It was with this heavy heart and burdened mentality in which I made the unbelievably ludicrous mistake of actually obtaining information about this dog. I would like to apologize to all my readers for the severe headaches you are all about to get upon reading the remainder of this post.

The dog's name is Gunther IV. Yes, this is the starting point of the fact sheet. Let's carry on.

The dog's name is Gunther IV. He is, for the record, the richest dog in the world, being the sole heir to the estate of Gunther III, the previous richest dog in the world, who was bequeathed the estate of the late German countess Karlotta Liebenstein in 1992. Though managed through his owner, Gunther IV is technically the holder of the estate, worth an estimated one hundred million dollars. Failing to purchase Sylvester Stallone's house in 1999, the dog and his staff settled for the $7.5 million-purchase of a villa in Florida previously owned by Madaonna in 2000.

Oh, we're not done. Sweet, merciful Christ, this isn't over. Some of you, whiskey in hand, may have been wondering about the "staff." Here they are. Go, look. I'll wait.

That's right. The dog lives with a staff of five half-naked ridiculously toned-and-tanned men and women identified as "The Burgundians," who are furnished and paid, apparently, to take care of the dog and maintain their own fabulous looks. One would, of course, expect an expanation from these people, who are of course sentient rational people and in no way whatsoever members of any cult, nope of course not no sir not at all. The following passage is directly from Gunther's official website (you heard me,) the same site in which the staff photos are found:

[T]he dog Gunther the dog currently spends a lot of time with 5 "gifted youngsters" known as the Burgundians. These five youngsters were the most talented among a selected group of boys and girls of international origin endowed with special features; beauty, intelligence and independence. These five youngsters were also considered especially suited to maintain a "joyful" life with Gunther the millionaire dog.

Thus, Gunther and the other dogs of the group's whole life and training are oriented towards the achievement of joy, pleasure, amusement and improvement of their sexual activity. Recall that Gunther and the other dogs were originally chosen because of their spontaneous inclination towards these types of behavior.

Another element which the experts believe is necessary in order to raise the quality of a dog's life is for the dog to live without a specific "owner." Rather, the animal should live together with young euphoric people. These youngsters should be as dynamic, joyful and clever as possible. The experts contend that the company of young, joyful and sexually very active people operates to increase the drive, mood, alertness and other cerebral processes of the dog which in turn generates its happiness and, ultimately, better psychological health. Additionally, the company of these youngsters "pleases" the dog and brings him to fulfillment.

This is, of course, where my brain simply died.
 

   

Monday, November 11, 2002

 

Oh yeah, that important thing

Far out of most notice of the major media outlets is the fact that Nancy Pelosi is very well on her way to making history by becoming the first female political party leader in Congress, and apparently a hardline liberal one at that.

I guess I'm required to be out on this just as the media was, because we share the same habit of knowing absolutely nothing about this woman outside of what we've been told by said ambivalent media. My only response is the same response you always address with the liberal argument: almost all the people who actually give a remote rat's ass about a politician being liberal either care out of total admiration or total condemnation. The voters of Massachusetts worship the fact that Ted Kennedy is an avowed liberal as much as all the voters in, say, South Carolina hate him for that and use it as an epithet.

The fact is, Pelosi is likely to become leader of a party that is well within the average margin of gain for congressional elections in 2004; considering the great and grandiose clusterfuck that was this year I don't see how someone with slightly different convictions might be a bad thing. I mean, the Democrats really don't have anything to lose anymore, do they?

On a side note, a quick follow-up to my last comic about the surgical removal of the 250 pounds of useless body mass that was the governor of Minnesota: this article from Slate is one of the best "what do you mean, John?" summations of my opinion I've seen in the last year or so, perhaps even only for its final sentence: "Let the record show that during his term in office, Ventura published three books, appeared twice on The Young and the Restless, and helped elect a single Independence Party legislator." Too bad all that running the state stuff got in the way of the publicity tour.
 

   

Sunday, November 10, 2002

 

The control of the Senate no longer in his hands, South Dakota Democrat Tom Daschle resorts to his only available method of interrupting House protocol by staring intently at Senate Majorty Leader Trent Lott as he urinates.

Sorry.


 
   

Saturday, November 09, 2002

 

As the War on Privacy continues

Yes, loving the new little Man in Black graphic; annoyed I'm suddenly using it so much. Anyways, a pair of stories for you about the government's faithful pursuit to know everything about you, at all times, forever. First off, something that relates closely to my school, as NYU has been engaged in a min-tiff with the U.S. Military. You see, the NYU community has this thing called "a soul" and has a policy that refuses to allow any company to come to campus and recruit without expressing their denial of any discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Guess who wants to recruit on campus, and guess which one they won't agree to? Well, unfortunately for NYU, legislation was slipped through a few years back that allows the government to strip any college they want of federal funding if they don't do essentially whatever the military wants.

So it comes as no suprise to me that Bush's "Leave No Child Behind Act," which I will point out was voted by the Senate 92-8 in a kneeling position, actually contains language that allows the military to obtain the personal contact data of every single elementary and high school student in America under the same threats of funding loss, and oh gosh isn't that cute it's called the Leave No Child Behind Act and they're literally leaving not a single child behind, albeit on a gigantic database for future attempts at government assimiliation, whee ha ha fun. And now, your government at work:

"The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."

Wow, is anyone else here actually stupider after reading that one?

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the Pentagon (crack ka-boom flash crack) has decided that the framers of the Constitution really, really, deep-down where it's all soft and squishy, believed that over 200 years from now the government should be allowed to construct a gigantic tracking database of all Americans' credit transactions, e-mail information, and other electronic activities, which is just wonderful for me, because due to the post I made two days ago this means that somewhere in the Pentagon there's a monstrous computer database that has on a permanent record some connection between me and a Google search for "giant Israeli cock."

Yet as I've already assured many conservatives, there's no need to worry about this at all. You see, the government, as these articles show, is constructing gigantic computer databases that monitor every aspect of your life and daily activities, and can be accessed at a moment's notice to gather any information they need to single you out among the rest of the humans on this planet. But hey, it's not like they're recording any information about your guns or anything. I mean, that might be dangerous to freedom.
 

   

Friday, November 08, 2002

 

Chokehold on Knowledge

Since it's the threat of obscurantism we're hoping to thwart, let's be blunt: The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels wants to transfer control of information management from the printing office to individual Cabinet agencies. That would spell the end of the current system, in place since the Jeffersonian era, which requires executive branch agencies to send their documents and reports to neutral librarians, who then make them available to the public both online and in 1,300 public reading rooms nationwide.

Daniels would replace that system with a more secretive one in which individual agencies would manage -- and possibly sanitize -- their own electronic databases.

Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black marker.

If Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage for eternity.

(Full article here.)
 

   

Thursday, November 07, 2002

 

COCK!

PALMACHIM AIR BASE, Israel (Reuters, with word substitutions via XQUZYPHYR & Overboard Online) - Israel put its $2.2 billion cock on rare display on Thursday in an apparent warning to Iraq should it target the Jewish state again in retaliation for any U.S. attack.

"It is like a bullet able to hit a bullet," Arrow chief engineer Boaz Zevi told reporters given a tour of Palmachim Air Base where four mobile launchers containing six cocks each point at the sky from desert near the Mediterranean coast.

Aside from a steering defect since corrected, the 23-foot-long cock has passed seven tests showing it can detect, track and destroy a cock in under three minutes at altitudes of more than 30 miles, a senior military briefer said.

He said the cock's Green Pine radar -- a 50-by-17-foot dish at Palmachim -- had enabled Israel to slash the time between the launch and detection of a hostile cock by 70 percent since 1991.

An Iraqi cock would take about eight minutes to slam into Israel from launch pads Israeli and U.S. officials believe are in western Iraq, around 400 miles from the Jewish state.

Briefers said the cock marks a quantum advance from the Patriot, a cock imperfectly adapted to down cocks traveling at far higher speeds than planes and unable to reach space, the flight path of ballistic cocks like Scuds.

"We have reached huge capability in the past year, building up the very unique cock and a lower layer of cock defense provided by upgraded cocks," said Brigadier General Yair Dori, commander of Israel's cock.

"In 1991, we had almost nothing. We'd only begun building cocks. After just 10 years, we have a very robust, active cock. We can give Israeli civilians a safe feeling about the next conflict," he told reporters.

Military sources said the cock had not yet been tested against a "salvo" of cocks fired at once -- the stiffest challenge for any cock and a possible scenario if Iraq targets Israel again -- but would be soon.

The entire story on Israel's bright, shiny new cock. Smurf!
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "Post-election Spooktacular!"

Pretty much wraps it up for the election, but it's an honest truth: the really only good thing is that a lot of dead wood has left the government, albiet to allow new, fresh rotting wood to take its place. But hey, if you want to make up for the lousy voter turnout, make a huge voter turnout on the Top100 list. That's without a doubt among the most horrible segues I've ever made.

That said, I'm done analyzing Tuesday night for now, so though I'm glad to hear via e-mail that everyone appreciates my insight and commentary on it (and I do thank you all, just that there's more than I can point out specifically,) it's time to find a whole new thing to be really really pissed off about. I'm sure Trent Lott will come up with a few things for me in due time.

I will point out, just for the record, that Media Whores Online has officially blamed Ralph Nader for all of this. Because, they try to explain, that makes sense somehow. Right.
 

   

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

 

Oh, puh-leaze.

Already I'm getting the flak and bragging from conservative pundits and posters that this is all because "the liberals have underestimated Bush."

Please. the only people who I underestimated were the Democrats- their long history of being complete disorganized pussies paid off in full last night.

The issue that came into play was job performance- in some weird stupid stupor that I might just have to blame on the drinking water, the American people decided that the Republicans actually do their job of trying to fuck up the country while the Democrats continuously fail at their job of trying to fix it. No one actually bothered to care about what jobs everyone was doing, only who was actually getting it done.

I've never underestimated Bush. He's done exactly what I've expected him to do the two years he's been in office. When the American people elect a right-wing semi-intelligent religious freak, they're going to get right-wing semi-intelligent religiously freakish government.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have done nearly nothing I've asked them to do. It isn't that I suddenly support the Republican agenda- it's that I'm completely disgusted that Democrats can't support the Democratic agenda. They decided to run on the typical "what are they going to do, vote Republican?" platform, and it actually happened this time.

This wasn't Republicas winning, it was Democrats losing. Bush isn't some Machiavellian genius who orchestrated this takeover- the fact is Republicans are just as suprised about this outcome as Democrats, just a hell of a lot more happily.

No matter what pundits say, this is without question about 9/11. The economy is still going to be in the crapper and the corporate scandals still happened, and the president, I'm sorry to break to all you Republicans, wasn't suddenly a smarter man because 3,000 people were murdered, so he certainly isn't magically gaining intelligence just because more people voted for you instead of Democrats. But to say that people wouldn't be thinking any more about all of those things without the War on Terrorism going on is foolishly naive. It was the Democrats' complete ambivalence and lack of any organization and inability to even orchestrate a remotely contrasting platform to the Republicans' war cry that cost them the Senate.

The new control of government is going to give us, most likely, a war in Iraq, a passing of an even greater obscene tax cut, the repeal of the estate tax and other perks for rich people, more regulations and rules to restrict abortion (though always in a slow and subtle way until he just flat-out appoints new Supreme Court justices) and more power at the hands of an Attorney General who has an already proven blatant disregard for nearly every single amendment to the Constitution.

For me to "underestimate" Bush would imply that I didn't expect any of these things to have happened or to be happening again.
 

   
 

And with 99% of the precincts reporting, it's a clear victory for the. war with Iraq.

Let's get it right out of the way, so that no one can try to accuse me of spinning or sugar-coating it: the Democrats just had their asses kicked. Tremendously, fiercely, historically, unbelievably slaughtered. No cheating, no dirty tricks, no massive irregularities. Completely clear and in the open: more people voted for Republicans. They won. Big.

And with that, let's hope that the winning party can meet that back with the equal, honest, and scary truth: blood is going to run through the floors of Congress. The Republicans control the entire government, and are going to install every judge, enact every law, and regulate every rule they can to instill a lasting presence of that for years to come.

And that, honestly, is what really upsets me the most. Not even as much the fact that the Right-Wing controlled government is in complete control, but that they're not going to be open and straight about it. Just like every other anti-choice and anti-union idea Bush has pushed, the Right's agenda is going to be subtle and with a huge smarmy grin that makes people like me seethe with rage. And the answer to the next statement is, of course I'm a sore loser. This isn't a damn high school soccer game. I acknowledge that my preferred team lost; that doesn't mean I have to like it, or in Washington terms suddenly pretend that "it's time to work together." The GOP doesn't want to work together with anyone. They didn't want to before, and now they don't need to.

There's no "oh, but the Democrats can block agendas and filibuster because there's no 60-vote majority." This is technically true. But, come on, Democrats. You know better than the Republicans themselves that they're just not going to do that. Half of the Democrats already support most of what Bush pushes through, and it's not like having no power in Congress is going to make them more defiant. That's simply not how Democrats work. They're pussies. The only Democrat who managed to hold onto the majority of his convictions was killed in a plane crash two weeks ago.

And that's what's equally upsetting: the flat-out paradoxical hypocrisy of this Republican victory. Pundits on all sides are going to tout this as a victory for the Republican agenda, when the fact is that it's simply not true. You sit down and ask yourself, with all the financial scandals, all the lies and deceit, all the connections and lousy policy initiatives that most of the country doesn't agree with, how was everyone so fucking stupid as to let this happen?

The last-minute logic is ridiculous. Do people really change their minds and votes because of the way a funeral was held? Or because they said they'd rather be more clear on the powers of a new department? Are people really that ignorant as to hear "oh, we couldn't find bin Laden, the economy's in the toilet, and we want to purge all the natural resources from the land as we possibly can" and then decide that they should let it all pass?

The answer, of course, is that they're not stupid. They're scared. The Republicans didn't win last night because the nation suddenly became against abortion, or against gun control, or against campaign finance reform, or against better health care. The Republicans won last night because there's going to be a war with Iraq, and it's the job of the average American to support their President and his party during a war.

I already wrote earlier about Rudolph Giuliani's capitalizing of the September 11th attacks; this is simply a larger reflection of the paradigm. There's no magic bullet or superior campaign. Bush and the Republicans said "we want to go to war and kill the evil Muslims and fight evil." The Democrats, instead of actually trying to mention that this is the most blindly stupid statement ever made, decided to pussy out and fail to form any system of unity for the seven or eight thousandth time.

Bush is a Republican. Bush is president. Therefore, the Republicans support Bush's war. Democrats trying to support him don't look like strong political figures. They look like pussies who are trying to avoid being controversial. And it didn't help them at the polls one goddamn bit.

We're going to go to war with Iraq. And in support of that, the American people are going to let all the stuff they temporarily thought wasn't important to go through. Conservative judges, restrictions on rights for women and gays, dissolving of unions, the bleeding of social security- who cares, there's a war on right now.

So, yes, things are going to happen that are probably going to set the country back 20 years. And I have no choice but to accept that, because it's far more likely that the Right Wing will run wild than the Democrats will decide to actually have a Left Wing. It's what makes the Freepers so amusing to listen to, to brag this morning about how "the liberals" were defeated. The liberals were defeated eons ago. That doesn't mean the liberal agenda is.

Most people support ideals that Right-Wing ranting lunatics call "liberal" in the alleged-insult form. They just don't' call themselves liberals. And the fact is, even with this majority and the damage it will cause, it's going to make a lot of people realize that.

Maybe they'll vote Democrat, maybe they'll vote Republican. And I know that the Right is going to brag about this for quite some time. And I'll take it, and again, accept that the Democrats got their asses kicked.

But don't tell me for one minute that you've somehow scored a victory for Conservative agenda. You didn't run on it, you didn't promote it, and you certainly aren't going to openly tell the American people that that's what you're really going to spend all your time subtly promoting under the guise of "fighting terrorism."

The American people last night voted to support a stupid, pointless war in Iraq. No more, no less. And once your pretty little war is over, you're not going to have a leg to stand on. Despite this "unending war" concept, your war will end, and people will go back to caring about all the wonderful ways you fucked up this country... deciding to add to it with your new power is just going increase their ability to remember tenfold. So, good luck. I'm already one person that doesn't support you, and right now you've got nowhere to go but down.
 

   

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

 

Well, Jon, The great jousting tournament that is Election Day draws nigh, the prize the building you see behind me, Castle Congress. But what side shall prevail in this epic electoral tilt? Who shall control the future of Fortress America? Will we be, as the Republicans desire, a nation of wealthy heavily armed white men, befouling the air and water in a ceaseless quest for profits, beholden to no laws but those of our lord and savior Jesus Christ? Or shall we instead embrace the Democrats' vision of a namby-pamby quasi-Socialist Republic with an all-homosexual army flamboyantly defending a citizenry suckling at the foul teat of government welfare? The choice is yours, fair maiden America, for the name of this feudal system. is Democracy.
-Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Nothing else I can say, really. Maybe an update or two early in the day, but I don't plan on running any constantly-updating coverage when the polls close... there's going to be enough news outlets plus a live Daily Show special doing that for all of us.

So good luck, and don't forget to vote today before it's too late. I'd day "see you when it's over", but between Minnesota, Missouri, and the Massachusetts runoff rule, I'm not really sure when that will be. Good luck, America.

Update: Well, that only took a whopping three hours. Reports have begun to surface about the problems with the electronic voting systems in Florida, registering votes incorrectly, and in some cases, for the wrong candidate. Stories about Florida's problems are already being covered from all scopes, from the Left, the local, and of course, the lunatics.

Second Update: I'm simply fascinated by CNN's election website. I sort of had the same feeling when NYU opened the new gym last month, and we went from old machines to high-tech treadmills with headphone jacks and selectable television screens on the walls and computers that kept track of your previous progress. I remember having the same thought as I did just now: this is some serious Blade Runner shiznit right here.

I know it's a geeky thing to say, but Election Night coverage is just a free high for me. I installed Grand Theft Auto on my computer this morning, and I'd rather watch the election returns all night than play it. I'm that addicted. This CNN site looks like some heavy fun-fun shit, though I admit I'm saying that at 1:30 in the afternoon, well before everyone else in the world logs on and, in all liklihood, melts the entire server causing Aaron Brown to turn to the cameras live on-air and strain himself retaining a slow but steady flow of tears as his producers mumble softly in his earpiece "our pretties... all our pretties have gone away." Christ I need a woman.
 

   

Monday, November 04, 2002

 

From the No War Blog

According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization will carry out secret missions designed to 'stimulate reactions' among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to 'counterattack' by U.S. forces. In other words - and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan - the United States government is planning to use 'cover and deception' and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people.

The article explains that this is somewhat like a policy embraced in the Kennedy days as justifcation for invading Cuba. Apparently, the needs of the many are yet again outweighing the needs of the few in the eyes of the U.S. military. I'll go on record as sayign that this could very well be one of the most frightening things I've ever heard.

Many I have discussed this with have already posed skepticism, but seriously: we know exaclty what they're talking about. Terrorists, by definition, only really "respond" in one way, and that's causing massive property and mortal damage to things. There's no other action they really perform, and no other action we could expect them to perform that would prompt the necessary "let's smoke 'em out" reaction. I'm throwing this right in the file of Things I Really Hope Are Actually Just Inflated Left-Wing Paranoia. I'd prefer there to not be another smoking hole in the ground ten blocks south of me so we can promote a bigger military campaign.
 

   
 

So in conclusion, we have none

It's the last day of campaigning, and as I personally predicted time and time again. predictions are completely useless.

There's a difference between hope and theory. I hope that somehow the entire Republican Party somehow dissolves and vanishes into the ether tomorrow, but I doubt that will happen. I can make a few assumptions, but that's about it, and even those aren't anything you should base your opinion on.

Sure, I've looked at the stories and site as well: you've got the Political Oddsmaker, which claims that its "98% accuracy in predicting elections" is something that's actually, well, unique. The site doesn't seem to mention the honest truth that considering the majority of elections tomorrow will be uncontested or near-clinched Congressional seats, well over 90% of the outcomes aren't even contestable. Likewise, you've got every political analysis site and every news source giving their two cents, none of which give definitive confident results, but all of which mention casually how it's "a toss-up."

So tell us something we haven't known for about two year now. Even two years after the close recount debacle of 2000, it amazes me how all the media sources spent millions of dollars and months of coverage on tracking polls and statistics that kept Bush and Gore in a dead heat for the entire election. and then feigned this aura of astonishment when the actual election was. gasp! A near dead heat.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't watch the polls, or that they're not at least partially relevant. But everyone forgets that something as controlled by such a large participatory group as the American voting populace is an equation affected by so many factors: even the basic weather outlook for Election Day affects turnout and therefore the local winners.

And no matter what happens, I don't think there's going to be a "massive victory," much as how I'd like to see one that constitutes a referendum against Bush. Even if the Democrats succeed in keeping the Senate, hell, let's say they even take the House (which is very unlikely,) the Right is still going to find ways to brag just as the Left would if they actually lose the Senate tomorrow. Odds are that Jeb Bush, Elizabeth Dole, and Katherine Harris are all going to be come Wednesday morning elected office holders.

So predictions, no, but hopes, yes: I'd like to see the Democrats keep the Senate with a 1- or 2-seat gain. I'd like to see Bill McBride become Governor of Florida. I'd certainly like to see Mondale win in Minnesota, only on the hope that Mondale would keep his promise and actually follow a Wellstone agenda. I'd like the really hot girl I saw at my internship meeting the other week suddenly want to go out with me, and possibly remember my name, whichever comes first. I'd like to not go to war with Iraq. I'd like lasagna to be served in the dining hall for lunch today. It's a weird strange world, and not all of it can be affected by the democratic process, but some of it will be, and some it just won't ever happen.

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard endorses lasagna and hot girls in 2002.
 

   

Friday, November 01, 2002

 

Time on my hands will be time spent away from you

Still recovering from the cold, I'm bogged down with behind-schedule schoolwork this weekend, so this will probably be the last post until Monday or Election Day. I'll try to answer a few of your e-mails over the weekend, but for now, here's a few tidbits before I go:

First of all, any of you who get Cartoon Network should have your TV turned to it Sunday night at 10:30 PM EST. For the first time on American television, Cartoon Network is going to air Don Hertzfeldt's 10-minute animated masterpiece Rejected. It is, without a doubt, one of the funniest cartoons ever created. Get your VCRs ready, or even better, check out Don's site and help support independent animation.

Update: Some sources have informed me that last-minute conflicts with Cartoon Network censors have put the chance of the film's airing in jeopardy. So, it turns out the cartoon might not air at all. That really sucks. Sorry to everyone whose hopes I just shattered.

Second: here's a random one, but I figured I could ask you all for some minor help: I found this patch on the street the other night, and though I think it's kind of cool, I have no idea what it says or means, or even for that matter whether or not I am looking at it upside-down. I'd prefer to make sure I don't inadvertently sew an Asian drug mafia logo onto my backpack, so before I do anything with this could anyone out there who can read whatever this patch says please tell me? Thanks.

Update: Apparently it's some kind of patch for a martial arts school, which means the logo is safe but pointless for me to wear or use since I don't really want to act like I'm actually in said martial arts academy when I'm not.

Third, I have passes 1,400 votes on the PlanetCartoonist Top 100 Editorial Cartoonists list, and am less than 200 votes away from the added-perk-of-a-banner Top 20. I want to make love to each and every one of you, just like that insane Italian movie guy.

Fourth, a fun unexpected story from Halloween night. After watching the Halloween parade (for reference: best attraction was a tie between Transelvis- the man dressed as a female Elvis impersonator, and the woman dressed in the fairy costume carrying the sign "Dykes for Peace") I was bored and felt that there was more to take in, so I decided to do what all sensible people do: wander the streets of New York on my own at 1 in the morning. I like to imagine myself as Dave Attell, only with more hair, no camera, and less jokes about drunken male-on-male sex.

And, as is the case in the Village, strange things came afoot at Finnerty's Irish Pub, where I was surprised to run into fellow Washington Square News columnist Marissa Moss. She was dressed- I shit you all not- as Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and along with her friend Lea as Jennifer Lopez they were going as, according to their own words, "bad movie stars with even worse singing careers."

This should be dwelled upon only for support in reflecting on just how unbelievably awesome Marissa is. For the record, I did at one point e-mail her and ask her to marry me. Marissa is a native New Yorker and as such has this funny and kick-ass attitude that she once referred to herself in one of her own columns as "I-don't-give-a-shitism." She's like your best friend's hot sister that you know you can't ask out but love hanging out with anyway. Running into her at the bar gave me the opportunity to have a conversation with her even more enjoyable than getting to read one of her columns. Which led to my dismay when she informed me that, as of last week, her column had been axed.

Apparently there was mutual yelling-at-each-other between Marissa and the editors, and to be honest I don't know how I can take a side: I have the utmost respect for the WSN an the staff that has given me a space for my comic for four years. On the other hand, anyone who decided that they shouldn't print Marissa's stuff without editing it to a level that robs it of its original merit is a goddamn moron. (I myself have tried to write columns for the WSN with similar results; the reason I love being the cartoonist so much is that by default they can't edit my work.)

So, it bugs me that, outside of the rare chance that we'll actually run into each other again, that this was the last time I'm ever going to get to experience the awesomeness that is/was Marissa Moss. I don't know how long the WSN plans to keep her archive up, but I would suggest you read at least a few of her bright ideas before they scatter in the ashes of internet backlog. Here's a link to one of her earlier stories, all the links on the right-hand side go to her columns as well.