Tom Tomorrow on Obama Liberals

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I held out longer than most of my friends, trying to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. I was trying to be "sensible".

Excuse #1: Realpolitik means that progressives would have to swallow some things we don't like, in order to inch a little closer to a better world. I told my angry friends they underestimate the death grip of the intransigent right.

Excuse for Barack #2: Inheriting a dog's dinner of deficit, depression, and two trillion-dollar wars, I defy anyone to make Bush's mess into a chef d'œuvre.

Excuse #3: Obama is intentionally bending to the right so that when he finally implements the needed change, no one can accuse him of not trying to work with his opponents.

The Sharrod fiasco, followed fast by the administration's reaction to the Wikileaks affair finally tipped me over. No more excuses; "sensible" no longer.

Tom Tomorrow has introduced a new character, Chuckles the "Sensible" Woodchuck, who nails it better than anyone in the drawing above. Such is the power of the cartoon-- although Josh Shrei and Matt Hamlin come close: "If you’re changing your views or apologizing for a politician who has not met your expectations, something is wrong."

Pondering Mysteries

Koalas smell strongly of eucalyptus. So did my grandmother. Adult koalas look like old Jewish men (reference David Ben-Gurion and Lee Strasberg as seen below). My grandmother, however, was not Jewish, but a Spiritualist, in touch with an American Indian spirit guide.

Leviticus expressly forbids Spiritualism. It also forbids haircuts (19:27) and wearing clothes made out of more than one fabric,i.e. the polyester/cotton blend t-shirt (19:19). Koalas do not wear t-shirts. My grandmother did not cut her hair, but braided and wore it up in the fashion of her childhood. Neither did she wear t-shirts. Photographs show that Ben Gurion did on occasion cut his hair. Is this a signal to the gnostic community of his rejection of Leviticus' injunction against the Spiritualist church?

Seekers after knowledge lent my grandmother their house key, which she used to locate Bible verses relevant to their case. The Tree of Life, a diagram used in Kabbalah, can be thought of as a key or "map" that represents the structure of the universe.

Clark Gable nearly destroyed the t-shirt industry when he appeared without an undershirt in It Happened One Night. Claudette Colbert appeared without a shirt in Sign of the Cross while bathing in wild asses' milk. Polly Walker as Atia in Rome is more to my taste, none of which is germane to the case except to reinforce the Kinsey Institute's assertion that 54% of men think of sex several times a day, not every seven seconds as claimed by urban myth.

Tourists complain that koalas are fractious and not as cuddly as portrayed by the media, but it must be remembered that for the koala, posing for a photograph with a tourist bus at midday is like waking a human at 4 in the morning. Koalas are believed by the Aborigines to call the rain, though their name means "doesn't drink" because they get their moisture from eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees = the kabbalistic tree of life-- kabbalah, koala-- coincidence? I think not.

The book of Deuteronomy is full of shit.

How to Confront Organized Hate

Hug, nay, kiss and buy drinks and dinner for the comic book geek of your choice (ahem.) And pass this along to the PFLAG community, community organizers, and other people of good will.

Apparently a few members of the the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas, notorious and reviled for their "God Hates Fags" protests outside military funerals and other events, thought they would get their picture taken by protesting outside the Comicon in San Diego, biggest event in the comic book year. The Eisner Awards, comics' equivalent of the Oscar or the Pulitzer, happen there, and the big movie studios stalk the halls for "buzz", which I suppose attracted Fred Phelps.

Somehow, the fans at the convention not only got advance of the demonstration, they put together a counter-demonstration with materials at hand (costumes, signs) that was ten times larger and MUCH funnier. More in-jokes than ... than.. well I can't think of anyplace with more in-jokes than a comics convention, unless it's a couple of "Monty Python" fans, and those groups overlap.

Where else would you find a loving Jesus side by side with an invocation of the Hypno-Toad? Gail Simone was one of the pros there; she spoke clearly and simply about the protesters' intentions as you'd hope from the writer of Birds of Prey, Welcome to Tranquility, and the best run on Wonder Woman since Greg Rucka. I hope word spreads, because this seems much more effective at dissipating Phelps' power than the righteous anger and well-intentioned complaints he encounters elsewhere.

My friend Wayne hopes the Baptists try again in Chicago, giving him an excuse to break out the crotchless Riddler costume and a "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD" sign. As if he needs an excuse.

Commonplace Book of Quotations for July

“... It was the fixation of businessmen that the WPA did nothing but lean on shovels. I had an uncle who was particularly irritated at shovel-leaning. When he pooh-poohed my contention that shovel-leaning was necesary, I bet him five dollars, which I didn’t have, that he couldn’t shovel sand for fifteen timed minutes without stopping. He said a man should give a good day’s work and grabbed a shovel. At the end of three minutes his face was red, at six he was staggering and before eight minutes were up his wife stopped him to save him from apoplexy. And he never mentioned shovel-leaning again.“ (John Steinbeck, “Primer on the ‘30s", anthologized in America and Americans )

“Colleges must counter the experience of conventional high school education in the United States, where learning is little more than a standardized test-driven chore with utilitarian benefits. In college, students should discover that most of the important writings and discoveries they will study were not generated for their benefit, but rather came into being in order to illuminate and improve life.”
(Leon Botstein)

“Revolutions are always impolite because the upper classes have never taught manners to the people.” (Leon Trotsky)

“... The supposed rise of the “mama grizzlies” of the right, has obscured where things really are with women in politics. One in six members of Congress is female; out of a total of 535 seats, Republican women hold only 21, or 4 percent. It’s hardly an onslaught.” ( Julia Baird)

“The motor of accumulation has been sputtering for nearly four decades, and its coughs can be heard again now that the roar of combusting paper wealth is dying down. This doesn’t mean capitalism or even growth is at an end. Economists of all kinds have pinned their hopes on the transformation of laboring and saving Chinese into hardy consumers. In any case, the US consumer—a ravening appetite in a paper house—appears to be finished as the world’s buyer of last resort. It would add a nice dialectical twist to the future history of our period if it could be said that, around the time the post-Maoist Chinese took up shopping, the post-bubble Americans turned to studying Marx.” (n+1, uncredited)

“Professional historians were in danger of killing off history, he [Hugh Trevor-Roper] wrote, just as philosophers were killing off philosophy, through a misplaced zeal for ‘unimportant truth’. He therefore committed himself to promoting history as a public discourse aimed at helping ordinary readers to understand the world in which they live... By bringing history “down to earth”, Gibbon and the other Enlightenment historians had contributed more to the discombobulation of know-nothing theologians than any number of philosophers would ever be able to do... if skeptical secularism is to get a new lease of life, perhaps it needs a little more history and a little less philosophy, more explanation and less indignation.” ( Jonathan Rée)

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” (Unknown comment on Wonkette)

Whereas in the late 17th and early 18th century, an orange rock guy wearing a beard and a pirate costume is de rigueur for the Caribbean. Why? ‘Cause comic books, that’s why.

" 'Everything I'm doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement's at,' [Lindsey] Graham said. . . . On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was 'very, very contentious,' he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: ' 'What do you want to do? You take back your country -- and do what with it?'. . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.'”
(The New York Times Magazine)

“Most media outlets have someone parked in Ballroom 20 and someone parked in Hall H, writing about the big developments in both rooms, and that makes it seem like the only stuff going on at the Con is the big set of announcements from the major studios and networks. There's a whole other world of weird, hyper-personal geekery that flows around the edges of the stuff that gets written about... So much of Comic-Con is about making you forget what you really love to replace it with a temporary high that clinging to the things that truly mean something to you becomes that much more important.”
(Todd VanDerWurff)

"The opposite of war isn't peace, its creation."
(A character in Rent)

Betty Lawyer Kimball

Cartoonist and muse Betty Lawyer Kimball passed away last week at the age of 97. Cartoon Brew posted a heartfelt obituary with charming photo album here.


We need a book for children that explains propaganda and media manipulation, from the Pharaoh's pyramids through Edgar Bernays, Madison Avenue and modern "spin doctors". For every seeker of the truth, there's a roomful of advertising executives and media consultants working overtime to create a perception that flatters their client.

Just how persnickety can they get? The Daily Beast has an excerpt from Randall Lane's The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane:

"As part of a public diplomacy program similar to Radio Free Europe or Voice of America, the State Department had allocated more than $4 million a year to launch a magazine about American culture, which would be translated into Arabic and sold across the Arab world.
... One of my favorite sections loosely translated to 'Window on America.' It was a simple conceit: a photo essay showing what America actually looks like, unfiltered. A bass fishing tournament, a breast-cancer walk, the Puerto Rican Day parade—these were exotic images to most Arabs, too often poisoned about the United States by their inflammatory local press. But during one review meeting, held before a star chamber of 10 high-level State Department officials, the co-leader specifically took offense to a photograph from a classic Western scene: campers and pack mules heading out on a rugged weekend expedition.

Our team always remained vigilant about cultural sensibilities, avoiding the bottoms of shoes, or bare arms, or other seemingly innocuous images that could backfire with the Arab audience. This official’s concerns, however, were more parochial. She held up the offending photo, as wholesome as a Norman Rockwell painting, and pointed to a pack mule that, by other names, might be known as a donkey. This has to go, she said. Too pro-Democrat. And out it went."

This sort of report is why I asked to be Cultural Czar after the revolution: Day One, a guillotine set up on Madison Avenue and we'll see how long it takes the media consultants to get the message. Place will look like a berserker's bowling alley.

My fellow revolutionaries may perceive a note of hostility in this plan. Let me make amends with this more pleasant reminder of Miss Betsey Trotwood, the old lady in David Copperfield equally obsessed with trespassing donkeys:

"Janet had gone away to get the bath ready, when my aunt, to my
great alarm, became in one moment rigid with indignation, and had
hardly voice to cry out, 'Janet! Donkeys!' Upon which, Janet came running up the stairs as if the house were in flames, darted out on a little piece of green in front, and warned off two saddle-donkeys, lady-ridden, that had presumed to
set hoof upon it; while my aunt, rushing out of the house, seized
the bridle of a third animal laden with a bestriding child, turned
him, led him forth from those sacred precincts, and boxed the ears
of the unlucky urchin in attendance who had dared to profane that
hallowed ground.

To this hour I don't know whether my aunt had any lawful right of
way over that patch of green; but she had settled it in her own
mind that she had, and it was all the same to her. The one great
outrage of her life, demanding to be constantly avenged, was the
passage of a donkey over that immaculate spot. In whatever
occupation she was engaged, however interesting to her the
conversation in which she was taking part, a donkey turned the
current of her ideas in a moment, and she was upon him straight.
Jugs of water, and watering-pots, were kept in secret places ready
to be discharged on the offending boys; sticks were laid in ambush
behind the door; sallies were made at all hours; and incessant war
prevailed. Perhaps this was an agreeable excitement to the
donkey-boys; or perhaps the more sagacious of the donkeys,
understanding how the case stood, delighted with constitutional
obstinacy in coming that way. I only know that there were three
alarms before the bath was ready; and that on the occasion of the
last and most desperate of all, I saw my aunt engage,
single-handed, with a sandy-headed lad of fifteen, and bump his
sandy head against her own gate, before he seemed to comprehend
what was the matter. These interruptions were of the more
ridiculous to me, because she was giving me broth out of a
table-spoon at the time (having firmly persuaded herself that I was
actually starving, and must receive nourishment at first in very
small quantities), and, while my mouth was yet open to receive the
spoon, she would put it back into the basin, cry 'Janet! Donkeys!'
and go out to the assault."