November 20, 2004

MoCCA

I got an e-mail today from the organizers at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) about registering for next year's show. As some of you know, last June I went to the MoCCA festival and enjoyed meeting a small handful of you, selling some books and, as promised, signing baby heads.

I'm interested in attending the show again next year, but I'm really having doubts about it, the major reason simply being the cost. I didn't sell enough stuff at the last event to cover my table fee, let alone the cost of printing all the books and stickers I made up. Also, I live in Virginia now and would have to come up there. In other words, if I went, I'd be going at a somewhat hefty up-front expense.

So if any readers in the New York area (or plan to be in the New York area in June) feel that their very lives depend on getting to meet me in person or, I guess, any lesser degree of interest, please send me an e-mail and let me know how much said interest there might be.

(Keep in mind, of course, for only the slight additional expense of shipping fees, anything I'd be selling at the show is available right now through the website.)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:23 PM

November 19, 2004

To the Letter

Reader Kerry Mockler sent me a link earlier this week to Letters from a Purple State. It's a blog written by an Evangelical Christian... who voted for Kerry.

Using the terms offered by the typical Gallup poll, to say that I'm "not very religious" as well as to say I have several friends who are "definitely religious" are both understatements, yet we all manage to get along. I'm certainly not saying I agree with everything this site writes either, but it's without a doubt worth a read.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:11 AM

November 18, 2004

From the mailbag

Another handful of thoughful and thought-out e-mails from readers that I lazily neglected to respond to:

From George Tiser, regarding the DNC voting post:

Your DNC/electoral-college post is a smart comparison, but I'm curious as to whether an essentially appointed position should be elected in the same way that a President probably should be elected -- by popular vote among the constituency. Since there's really no concept of what a DNC Chair is *supposed* to do (unlike President/Senator/etc) I see the DNC Chair as a technical position, Mastermind of Strategy Development, Implementation and Pronunciation Proper, with some of the standard whipping/mobilizing and sending cronies to bicker off points a cantidate can't address. This sort of job requires someone who is popular with everyone and whom everyone knows is in with all of the elected officials and influential folks of the party.

In essence I think the DNC Chairman is not the President of the Democratic Party, merely a knot-knitter to hold our elected officials together coherently. As such, I'd rather have a small group of peoples appoximately proportionately representing each important subset of the Democratic Party decide the DNC Chair, because they know better than us who should perform these technical duties, unlike the electoral college who inherently cannot know who should figuratively and executively represent the will of the United States (Hell, as a 51/48 country we can barely figure that out as a population of 100,000+ voters.)

So I for one think we should be upset about the electoral college (to some degree) and essentially should not be upset about the DNC Chair position (though it's fine to discuss who would be really way cool as a medium for discussing our favorite political figures, or a medium for sharing our views of how the Democratic cantidates we helped elect should spend their newfound time in Washington.)

From a reader requesting anonymity on the Rall cartoon issue:

I just wanted to pass along a couple of comments on your post today, as I'm sure you're really interested.

Anywho,

1. The Rall strip: I was totally sickened by that particular strip, and I generally like Rall's work. What really bothered me was that it further solidified my belief that very few people on either end of the political spectrum really give a shit about the developmentally disabled. When I was living in Michigan, the Republican governor completely gutted funding for mental health services, and then Granholm came into office and gutted them a little more. It's a population that very few people actually care about. The fact that right-wingers are running around, pretending to be champions for the developmentally disabled annoys me even further. You might even say I'm. . .outraged?
Well, maybe not outraged, but really friggin annoyed.

2. The CWFA and mifepristone: Gar. Where to begin? First, it's
really interesting to me that there is so much uproar about a medication that has caused 3 deaths out of 360,000 uses. For some perspective, the maternal mortality rate in the US is about 670 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is well above the WHO's Healthy People objective of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. (For further perspective, the United States does not have the lowest maternal mortality rate: At least 20 countries are lower.) And yet, I have never heard pro-lifers advocating for better prenatal care or increased access to contraceptives for women who are likely to have high risk pregnancies. I don't hear CWFA talking about reducing the truly outrageous disparity in maternal and infant mortality rates for whites and African-Americans. Where is the outrage on that? Why are Concerned Women not particularly concerned about issues that actually affect women?

(If it's of any concern to the reader, or anyone else, Rall has insisted he claims to research the mental health issue himself. On a personal level, my previous job was working with the Chair of the New Jersey State Assembly Health Committee, and I sympathize greatly with the lapses in concern for mental health of all ages)

From Erich Heckscher on this morning's Kerry-bash-fest:

Boy, you're going to get a lot of mail on this one, so I'll keep it short. "Individually obsessed with making sure they take no blame for the past?" I know "Yeah, but he's worse" is a pretty lame argument, but that doesn't sound like an accurate characterization of the democrats to me. Clinton obfuscated till the cows came home, and that was his biggest mistake, as he acknowledges, but who in the party is shirking blame? And for chrissake, what republican would have "acknowledged a lapse of ethics?" Bill Bennett? Tom Delay? Trent Lott? If you're a conservative, it's easy to say Kerry was dodging his vote on the war and his criticism of US policy in Vietnam, because that requires no thought. But I don't remember arguing that no one in 98 had done anything wrong. The conventional wisdom was indeed that if Clinton would close the book with a confession and apology, it would have gone away. He was guilty of that, but not the rest of the party. Susan McDougal went to jail for not lying for Ken Starr. That's not reactionary, that's loyalty, and it's the republicans' single biggest asset. We're not as cohesive as them. Our agenda is far more complex and far-reaching, they can stake their territory on god, gays, guns and war. We can't do that with underfunded renewable energy, expensive education, expensive Social Security and medicare. We can't get rabid loyalty on these issues because they require thought, sacrifice and money. Articulating these ideas is going to be tough, and it's going to take an outside voice like Howard Dean who failed miserably at the political game you just tore to shreds.
I haven't mentioned it previously, but my position on the aforementioned Howard Dean for DNC Chair thing is to have no position at all on it. Seriously, I don't even want to go there; read Kos if you want the meaningless flamewar.
Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:50 PM

The continuing adventures of Some Guy With a Website

Apparently, bloggers are patting themselves on the back because a character on last night's episode of The West Wing had a plot line heavily involving a blogger.

Really.

Here's a rhetorical question, but I really hope the Guys With Websites consider it for at least a moment or two: do you think people who work at McDonald's have a collective orgasm everytime a character in a movie or TV show is seen ordering a Big Mac?

I anxiously await the online controversy scheduled for next month in which Glenn Reynolds wonders how people can be so ignorant as to not fellate him on sight. As a weblogger, surely he deserves no less.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:41 AM

Pecking Party! WOOOOOO!

Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ, people. You wonder why the Democrats can never get elected, and then in about twelve hours Democrats go out of their way to prove why: because we're ready to eat our own like nobody's business.

With the story spreading that John Kerry has about $15 million left over from his campaign, suddenly every blogger and pundit left of the aisle is demanding accountability from Kerry. Is he hoarding it for a 2008 run? Is there foul play? How could Kerry not spend every single cent? I spent weekends volunteering for him; how could he betray us like this?

Betray us? Shut the fuck up, kids. Seriously. Kerry pushed harder for progressive causes on behalf of the Democratic Party than any nominee in most of our lifetimes. He had the chance to actually flip-flop on abortion, gay rights, and the war, and he didn't. And as far as not spending enough, the man gave $23 million dollars to Democratic candidates across the country. He mortgaged a house to stay afloat during the early weeks of the campaign. Meanwhile, Howard Dean blew $30 million in Iowa and didn't even win a primary, and now everyone wants him running the DNC.

I don't know why there's money left over. But neither does anyone else, and the immediate speculation that Kerry's "keeping it from us" is pathetic distrust for someone we were fighting tooth and nail for a month ago. Considering the limits of primary fund expenditures, the month-in-advance purchasing structure of media ad buys, the possibility of last-minute necessities, and of course, possible nest-egging to sponsor 2006 Senate candidates, for the first assumption on Kerry's behalf to be abject greed is a telling sign of why we lose elections. Three weeks since the election, and we've all become the Republican argument for another tax cut. "It was MY MONEY! What right does Kerry have to decide what to do with it! He OWES us!"

Sheeeeeeeat. With friends like these.

Update: I've hated the "why do Democrats lose?" rhetoric ever since it started roughly 18 seconds or so after Kerry lost the election, but maybe it was just because I thought all the theories were reactionary. I'm a little more enlightened, I think, watching this story unfold and having that feeling be proven.

Democrats are reactionary, and while that in itself is a good attribute, it leaks into an attribute that actually does cost them elections. In fact, it's probably one of the key elements of Bill Clinton's character that got him impeached- egocentric protection.

Bill Clinton's refusal to do what any Republican would have done- acknowledge a lapse of ethics while acknowledging that, as President of the United States with high approval ratings, the opposition can pound sand- is what motivated the GOP to make every effort to damage him. We spent the latter half of 1998 arguing that absolutely no one in the Clinton administration had done anything wrong, when we should have spent the time arguing "who cares?"

In 1998, arguably the last national election in which Democrats unambiguously came out ahead, there wasn't weeks of "what went wrong?" inside GOP circles. They sat down for about five minutes, agreed "this was all Gingrich's fault" and got rid of him with extreme prejudice. And that was that. Now, look at the recent events with Tom DeLay. There was no cover of shame, no defense of moral integrity. Simply, "we need to protect ourselves from the inevitable problem that could be coming up" and voted to allow indicted criminals to run their party.

Democrats simply won't do things like this. I'm not saying we should, but at the very least the rationale of Democrats- both elected officials and mere voters- should be looked at on a microcosmic level. The reason, I feel, that Democrats are individually incapable of focusing on future victories is beacuse they are individually obsessed with making sure they take no blame for the past.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:07 AM

November 17, 2004

Co-opting outrage

Ted Rall did a strip about a week ago where he used mentally handicapped children in an analogy about the election. If you know Ted Rall, this is far from the most outrageous thing he's done, but apparently it's recieved more outrage than some of his previous things.

Now, like most people I actually understood that the point of the strip was about the election, not attacking mentally handicapped kids, but because it's Ted Rall, I'm sure you'll be less than suprised that all the right-wing blogs suddenly pretended they didn't have the Season Five DVDs of South Park where Timmy was introduced on their Amazon wishlists and became very, very upset with how Rall was attacking the handicapped.

It goes to show two things: first, the obsessive stalking by conservatives of Rall has reached a depressing low in which they'll actually exploit the families of disabled children to get a left-wing cartoonist out of a newspaper; and second, that the media simply doesn't care about background-checking the reasons certain groups are pretending to be "outraged" at something.

Another example caught my eye this week, with the story about another death connected to the abortion pill. The FDA has indicated the drug remains safe, but note the very first quote attributed to the controversy:

Critics said scrutiny of the drug would only increase. "I think you'll see the opposition, but not just from people who are pro-life," said Wendy Wright, senior policy director at Concerned Women for America. "This is a dangerous drug."
Concerned Women for America is a fanatic right-wing conservative group that opposes all forms of abortion, not to mention atheism and homosexuality. They don't have any medical backing to their opinion on the abortion pill. If its side effects included the cure for cancer they would be against it. In other words, they have no business discussing the topic of abortion as if they're offering a measured analysis of the situation. They could care less about some unfortunate dead girl- they care about banning abortion, nothing more, nothing less.

CWFA aren't distressed about abortion because this death suddenly occured, just as right-wing bloggers aren't suddenly champions of the disabled because a cartoonist they have fanatical obsessions with mentioned them. Acting like this is the case diminishes those who are legitimately interested in debate about the subject.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:50 AM

November 16, 2004

Green tea, and some whine for the lady

Media Matters addresses a point I've been irritated about for quite some time- it's interesting how conservatives constantly try to point out how liberals are out of touch with Middle America by giving examples of how they, as conservatives, are out of touch with Middle America. Case in point, Candy Crowley's "astonishment" that Kerry would deign to order green tea in Dubuque, Iowa.

But green tea may not be quite the highbrow delicacy Crowley seems to think. In fact, Lipton itself makes more than a half-dozen different varieties of green tea. Lipton's website even reveals that green tea accounts for 20 percent of all tea produced. And, according to Lipton's product locator, you can buy green tea in Dubuque, Iowa, at that gourmet market known as ... Kmart.

So, who is the real out-of-touch elitist -- John Kerry, for drinking green tea, or Candy Crowley, for assuming that simple Iowa folk couldn't possibly be familiar with the beverage?

I had a conversation once with Tom Tomorrow where he made a very significant point- Ann Coulter recently attacked him and/or liberals as a whole for being "out of touch" with the "average American." I'm sure even a quick Google search will find her and her FemBot clones making similar accusations. What made this so interesting, Tom explained to me, was that he was born in the Midwest and lived in over a dozen states throughout his life. Coulter was born in one of the most affluent areas of Connecticut, attended school in New England, and had spent most of her freelance career in New York City.

As a northeast liberal "elitist," I know more people who have shopped at WalMart, eaten at McDonalds, and watched NASCAR than Candy Crowley does, and probably ever will.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:58 PM

November 15, 2004

"I believe the memo said 'Bin Laden Determined to...' oh, who gives a damn, really."

Okay, so let me get this straight: Condoleeza Rice is the head of National Security. During her tenure, the United States was the target of the greatest breach of national security in the country's history. She is now being promoted.

O-kaaaaaaay...

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:42 PM

And the high horse you rode in on

Okay, honestly: screw Colin Powell. I refute any suggestion from moderates and sympathetic liberals that he's a "good person" by nature of being the least-horrible member of Bush's cabinet.

For someone with so many alleged good intentions, he certainly didn't have a spine or a set of ethics when it came to doing every single thing the lunatics running the asylum told him to do. Under the "steady hand" of Colin Powell, we still went to war with two seperate countries, we still lost over a thousand Americans in needless military conflict, and we still lied our ass off about the reasons why we did so.

When someone explains to me what Powell actually did to "moderate" the collosal fuckup that is the Bush foreign policy, he'll garner my appreciation. Right now all I see is yet another Bush flackey who's grown tired of being wrong all the time, and to that I say good fucking riddance.

Update: For the readers that wrote in defending the "lesser evil" of Colin Powell, fellow reader Larisa sends this reminder of the "moderate" tone Powell took as a military leader. The part about covering up the My Lai massacre and keeping the option of drowning four million Iraqi civilians open is a particularly nice touch.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:36 PM

November 14, 2004

On entertaining all of you

To answer some of the inquiries about the comic, the site, etc:

As you may have noticed, there was a sudden lack of comics starting a month ago when, coincidentally, I was suddenly offered a job and had to move to a place I've never been to before and adjust to a completely new career in a field I've never worked in located in a city with a transportation system I've never used. So most of that should in itself explain the lessened activity on this site, content-wise.

The question on readers' minds, of course, is exactly when I'm going to stop hiding behind that excuse and get off my ass and start giving you comics again, and the answer to that is, pretty soon. Right now I'm trying to do a redesign of the site, which would incorporate a mild cosmetic change with some additional features, like a long-requested RSS feed.

My hope is to have the redesigned site up by Thanksgiving week, at which point I can give you a strip or two before bunkering down again for a few weeks. As long-time readers are well aware, once December hits all cartoon-related resources are devoted to the annual Christmas comic, which traditionally I have to make better every year. Since last time I did a two-page full-color Kill Bill homage, you can imagine that topping that is going to take some work.

So at the very minimum, I intend to have everything up and running on the full-time, weekly-strip basis the first week of 2005. That may sound bad, but that includes a redesign and a few strips between now and then, and considering my last self-imposed hiatus was well over a few months, I don't think it'll be that bad. I have faith that you all won't abandon me over this.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:03 PM