Archive for December, 2007

December 31, 2007

Cartoon for December 31

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s my last cartoon of the year.

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December 31, 2007
Sunday Funnies
posted by TheDon

4 days to Iowa, and I don’t really care about predicting the horse race, so this post should be short by Sunday Funnies standards. As if there are Sunday Funnies standards.

Meat the Press
Huckabee and Obama. One can’t say anything that would make me like him, the other probably won’t say anything new that will make me dislike him. By the way, this picture:

has been touted as an image enhancer. I really, really don’t understand Republicans.

First up, Huck. Let’s see – polls are all over the place; Mitt is lying; Mitt was a bad governor; Republicanism is indefensible in real life; Huck will bomb Pakistan as soon as a target is fixed (!); Huck was “prophetic” for talking about Pakistan in September (eek! all the way back then?!?!?); Huck is a bridge builder; Mitt is running a desperate and dishonest campaign, McCain is not; Huck stands by everything he ever said, although he would like to “clarify” some things; Huck is ok with atheists (ok, that was unexpected); Huck links homosexuality, pedophilia, necrophilia and sadomasochism (ok, that one was not unexpected); abortion is murder, but you wouldn’t punish the mother because she is a victim (?).

Ok, one surprise, but on a claim, not a deed.

Now, the big O. O gets big crowds; O expects a tight race; (side note – Timmeh points out that without a big turnout, O could be in trouble. That’s right up there with football analysts who recommend outscoring the other team in order to win. Just.Fucking.Brilliant.); people are looking for change; O declines to name Bhutto’s killer (for all the right reasons); he also clears Hillary in the case, despite Timmeh pressing; voting against O is a bigger gamble than voting for him; O has been sniffed, prodded and poked; O is ready to lead and change how government works; O won’t mandate insurance enrollment, Edwards and Clinton will (none of them get rid of the insurance companies – the only good solution IMHO), O focuses on affordability; O is “not that far away from normal” (very recently lived an ordinary life).

No surprises, just a reminder of how likable and inspiring the Big O can be. He isn’t perfect, but if he gets the nomination I will enthusiastically support him.

Fawkes News

Nothing says “We’re Rudy!’s network and we don’t care about Iowa” quite like putting Fred! on for the first quarter of the show. Then the next quarter of the show predicting the caucuses.

Now it’s time to bash Huck with the panel, and I’m pretty sure that Huck didn’t say that Pakistanis were “scurrying over the border”. ew.

Time to get back to Rudy!, who Wallace says is in the lead nationally. Ummmmm…. a three-way tie with nobody above 20% isn’t a lead. But let’s continue…

Kristol seems worried that Daddy Warbucks won’t do well if he isn’t competitive in the first several states (as seems likely), says Huck can win if he makes it about likability, McCain wins a commander-in-chief election, and Romney has the resources to win if it becomes a race to the gutter. Ouch. Kristol appears to be in pain, and joins in the Romney-bashing with gusto.

Time to chat about the Dems. Juan Williams makes the most sense, as always, and Kristol can’t hide his sneer, especially when talking about Hillary. Yap.Yap.Yap. Mail. Hummer commercial, Rudy! commercial (Rudy invokes the Greatest Generation and 9/11, follows with threats to enemies – a new strategy!), and we’re out!

This Weak

First up? Hillary. Oh NO! Peggy Noonan says to not vote for Hillary because the right has spent almost 20 years demonizing her. That’s great logic! If you’re a right-wing drooler. I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons to vote against her, but the fact that she’s “polarizing” ain’t one of them. George S goes after her for reports that she didn’t have a security clearance and didn’t get PDBs, and therefor isn’t experienced at all.

Clinton handles questions on Rwanda, Bhutto and Musharraf very well, comes off as presidential. She talks about experience and Obama, focusing on herself and her husband. She’s still not my first choice, but is someone I can enthusiastically support, given who her opposition will be. I get all emotional with the realization that nobody on the D side is running to be torturer-in-chief.

Hillary calls for public financing of elections. I love her a little more for that! She downplays expectations, says she’s working as hard as she can and ducks out. Nicely done.

Now, The Straight-Out-The-Ass Talk Express, beginning with the latest Romney attack ad, and McCain’s response commercial. Jeebuz I have a low tolerance for Johnny Mac, and he’s not going to win anything, so as much fun as it is watching him call someone else mean-spirited, it’s on to the panel.

Ugh. It’s a Bhutto-off montage between the candidates. I have to admit that George Will says what I was thinking about the propriety of John Edwards calling Musharraf in the wake of the murders. (Basically, What the FUCK?) George Will, of course, is a “serious” commentator who thinks the assassination will make a difference in how we choose the next president. Yeah. Right. He really has no more feel for the electorate than David Brooks, who is also on this panel. If Donna Brazile wasn’t on it, I’d be outie. Shockingly, Brooks is only impressed by candidates who expressed support for the Bush policy for Pakistan. Didn’t see that one coming.

Lots of inside baseball on Iowa, and the fracturing of the Republican party. Will and Brooks are worried about Huck’s “economic populism”. Some talk about the Dems in Iowa and the excitement on that side, worry about Edward’s populism by Brooks and Will (I’m spotting a theme here).

A very moving In Memoriam closes the show for the year. We lose big names every year, but this year we lost real pioneers and leaders – Benazir Bhutto, Kurt Vonnegut, Luciano Pavarotti, Lady Bird Johnson, Boris Yeltsin, Eddie Robinson and 1014 service members in illegal wars as of air time. Of course we also lost Jerry Falwell, so it wasn’t all bad.

December 30, 2007

Literary Agent Shoutout

My brilliant literary agent Toni Mendez died in 2003, at the age of 94. In the industry Toni was known for her exquisite sense of style and amazing collection of French designer hats. I knew her as a friend, someone I talked to at least once a week for many years, someone who despite her age (or perhaps because of it) didn’t shock easily and understood my work better than a lot of people half her age.

It has been a long time without Toni. I still can’t believe she’s really gone.

Now it’s time to find a new literary agent. I have ideas for new books that I can continue to pitch myself, but the guidance of a smart agent is something I could really use. So…if you are an agent or you know a good one, please email me. I’m at chet@rall.com.

Thanks and Happy New Year!

December 29, 2007

Cartoon for December 29

Mitt Romney’s rhetoric about making America less attractive to illegal immigrants reminded me of his background as an LBO specialist.

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December 29, 2007

Liberation by Starvation
posted by Susan Stark

If anybody doubts that this is a genocide being committed in Iraq, please read the following:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/oneworld/20071227/wl_oneworld/65731564101198796661;_ylt=Ajt9AZJR5kiWdKpgZ0Is2OkE1vAI

Iraq Slashes Food Rations, Putting Lives at Risk
Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service (IPS)Thu Dec 27, 5:31 PM ET

The Iraqi government announcement that monthly food rations will be cut by half has left many Iraqis asking how they can survive.
The government also wants to reduce the number of people depending on the rationing system by five million by June 2008.
Iraq’s food rations system was introduced by the Saddam Hussein government in 1991 in response to the UN economic sanctions. Families were allotted basic foodstuffs monthly because the Iraqi Dinar and the economy collapsed.
The sanctions, imposed after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, were described as “genocidal” by Denis Halliday, then UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq. Halliday quit his post in protest against the U.S.-backed sanctions.
The sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children, and as many adults, according to the UN. They brought malnutrition, disease, and lack of medicines. Iraqis became nearly completely reliant on food rations for survival. The programme has continued into the U.S.-led occupation.
But now the U.S.-backed Iraqi government has announced it will halve the essential items in the ration because of “insufficient funds and spiralling inflation.”
The cuts, which are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, have drawn widespread criticism. The Iraqi government is unable to supply the rations with several billion dollars at its disposal, whereas Saddam Hussein was able to maintain the programme with less than a billion dollars.
“In 2007, we asked for 3.2 billion dollars for rationing basic foodstuffs,” Mohammed Hanoun, Iraq’s chief of staff for the ministry of trade told al-Jazeera. “But since the prices of imported foodstuff doubled in the past year, we requested 7.2 billion dollars for this year. That request was denied.”
The trade ministry is now preparing to slash the list of subsidised items by half to five basic food items, “namely flour, sugar, rice, oil, and infant milk,” Hanoun said.
The imminent move will affect nearly 10 million people who depend on the rationing system. But it has already caused outrage in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.
“The monthly food ration was the only help from the government,” local grocer Ibrahim al-Ageely told IPS. “It was of great benefit for the families. The food ration consisted of two kilos of rice, sugar, soap, tea, detergent, wheat flour, lentils, chick-peas, and other items for every individual.”
Another grocer said the food ration was the “life of all Iraqis; every month, Iraqis wait in queues to receive their food rations.”
According to an Oxfam International report released in July this year, “60 percent (of Iraqis) currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004.”
The report said that “43 percent of Iraqis suffer from absolute poverty,” and that according to some estimates over half the population are now without work. “Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now.”
While salaries have increased since the invasion of March 2003, they have not kept pace with the dramatic increase in the prices of food and fuel.
“My salary is 280 dollars, and I have six children,” 49-year-old secondary school teacher Ali Kadhim told IPS. “The increase in my salary was neutralised by an increase in the price of food. I cannot afford to buy the foodstuffs in addition to the other necessary expenses of life.”
“The high increase in food prices led people to condemn the delays in the ration every month,” Salah Kadhim, an employee in the directorate-general of health for Diyala province told IPS. “The jobless just cannot afford to buy food.”
“The food ration still represents a big part of the domestic budget,” Muneer Lafta, a 51-year-old employee at the health directorate told IPS. Without the ration, she said, families have to go to the market. Because Iraqi families are large, usually six to 12 people, shopping for food is simply unaffordable.
“I and my wife have five boys and six girls, so the ration costs a lot when it has to be bought,” 55-year-old resident Khalaf Atiya told IPS. “I cannot afford food and also other expenses like study, clothes, doctors.”
People in Baquba, living with violence and joblessness for long, are now preparing for this new twist.
“No security, no food, no electricity, no trade, no services. So life is good,” said one resident, who would not give his name.
Many fear the food ration cuts can spark unrest. “The government will commit a big mistake, because providing enough food ration could compensate the government’s mistakes in other fields like security,” a local physician told IPS. “The Iraq will now feel that he, or she, is of no value to the government.”

December 27, 2007

Cartoon for December 27

Sartre said we’re defined by our actions. If Americans murder and torture, and do it routinely, and Americans don’t care, then how can Americans claim to have “values”?

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December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassinated

This is huge.

I’ve been writing since 1999 that Gen. Musharraf’s regime wasn’t the prescription for, but rather the cause of, instability in Pakistan and South Asia. Here’s where the rubber hits the road.

Now the only salvation for a post-Musharraf Pakistan–and Pakistan MUST get rid of Musharraf–is Nawaz Sharif. It’s far from certain that he enjoys the political credibility and broad-based support to rule the country. But if he fails, my long-predicted nightmare scenario could be at hand. Fracture, disintegration, warlordism, full-on Talibanization leading to Islamists waging (possibly nuclear) war against India.

This is America’s mess: we made Musharraf and we supplied him. Calls for military involvement there would not necessarily be legally or morally illegitimate.

Again: this is huge.

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas
posted by SantaDon
Help where you can. Spay and neuter your pets. Treat people better than they deserve. Call out BS when you see it. It all adds up in the end, and we’re kinda in a deficit. And yeah, that’s me posing with pets for charity. If anyone ever asks you “Do ferrets stink?”, you can tell them that I said yes. A lot.

December 24, 2007

Cartoon for December 24

Merry Christmas!

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December 24, 2007

Sunday Funnies
posted by TheDon

Meat the Press

Oh Goody! We’re starting off with a round of “How Crazy is Ron Paul?” The over-under is “raving loon”, and I’m taking the over.
First notion – get rid of income tax and the IRS. Make up the difference with spending cuts. I’m liking my chances of winning this round.
Russert: “But if you eliminate the income tax, do you know how much lost revenue that would be?”
Paul: “A lot.” (Seriously. That was his answer.)
Russert: “Over a trillion dollars.”
Paul: “That’s good!”
(shortly after that)
Paul: “You need the income tax to police the world and run the Welfare State. I want a Constitutional-sized government. Use the Constitution as our guide, and you wouldn’t need the income tax.”
This clip should be required viewing for all the liberals who are attracted to Paul’s anti-war views. And he’s just getting warmed up!
He then defends his view that Israel wants us to bomb Iran for their needs, and that he would cut foriegn aid to Israel, and all others. He uses the same arguments used to destroy our social safety net, that making them stand on their own two feet will make them stronger.
Paul then successfully defends his (correct) assertion that Al Qaeda attacked us because we provoked them in many ways for many years. He equates neocons and their empire-building ways with the (small number of) Islamists who want to take over the world, and dates planning for the invasion of Iraq to W’s first cabinet meeting.
Paul’s reaction to 9/11 was a fear of big government. Not (as I understand him) the kind we got (spying, torturing, police state), but he says he was concerned about an expansion of the “nanny state”, and is happy that people are rejecting surveillance and the abolition of habeas. He seems to mix up the two concepts, and must be seeing a rejection that I don’t. Last time I checked, we still don’t have habeas or any real checks on the spying and torture.
During his 1988 presidential campaign, Paul wanted to abolish the FBI, CIA, every agency except the Justice and Defense Departments, public schools, welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies. (side note – many Libertarians call for private currencies as well, in case you were wondering about the Treasury.) He would no longer abolish the FBI and CIA, just stop them from secret wars, torture, spying on citizens. He doesn’t “recall” calling for the abolition of public schools, and doesn’t call for it now. He wants to “offer the kids a chance to get out” of Social Security.
Timmeh nails Paul for voting against Katrina aid, but loading up on earmarks. Paul says that he put the earmarks in because of his duties as a representative, but says he never voted for an earmark. Timmeh calls shenanigans. Paul says that he’s just recovering the money that the Feds stole from his constituents, so it’s all good. Tells Timmeh that he (Timmeh) is “confused.” He portrays it as a holy duty, and votes against all spending. He’s a hoot!
Timmeh nails Paul for running on term limits, then serving for 18 years. Paul’s quote? “I never ran on VOLUNTARY term limits.” heh. He’s honorable.
Paul really goes off the rails on immigration. He’s for unlimited immigration, but with no “subsidies”. No food stamps, social security, free health care, free education and amnesty. Well. That WOULD be cheaper. Slaves always are, in the short term. He wants to take away birthright citizenship from illegal immigrants.
He admits to wanting to treat all drugs like alcohol (no real limits on production, sales or consumption by adults), so he’s not all bad. End the war on drugs! He rails against arresting sick people for using medical marijuana. Hear, hear! He then says that he wants to de-regulate at the federal level, but let the states do what they want. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Libertarian make that argument.
Wow. Ron Paul, in 2004, spoke out against the “forced integration” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Respond, please! Paul frames it as a property rights issue, and invokes the holy name of Barry Goldwater, completely skipping the part where he said it “did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the CRA of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.” He also claims that he has more black support than any other Republicans (by some measures) because of his freedom loving, war hating ways. I’m pretty sure that most of his black supporters are happy that the schools, lunch counters, neighborhoods, pools, restrooms and water fountains are no longer segregated. As much.
Paul argues that Abe Lincoln should not have gone to war, that there were better ways of getting rid of slavery. Why, look what the Brits did – buy the slaves and free them. Every other major country phased out slaves without a war. Lincoln went to war to eliminate the original idea of a republic,and did it to demonstrate the iron fist of Washington.
So… his PhD wasn’t in history? To buy his argument, you have to ignore the reality that the South fired the first shots, and declared that they were a new country. Slavery may not have existed by now, but neither would the USA.
Heh. Ron Paul’s web site brags about his support for Reagan against Ford in 1976. That would be a good thing in their primary, if only he had not spent a good deal of time disassociating himself with Reagan and calling him a “dramatic failure”. Paul says that Reagan ran on a good platform, but failed.
Timmeh asks Paul why he’s running as a Republican, since he says Reagan was a failure, 41 was a bum, he didn’t vote for 43, and he sent in his Republican decoder ring in 1987. Paul says it’s because he rolls Old Skool Republican! He stands for everything Rs run on, but never deliver.
Ron is “pretty darn sure” the he doesn’t intend to run as an independent if (if!) he doesn’t get the nomination.
Paul responds to himself quoting Sinclair Lewis (“When fascism comes to this country it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.”) He backed quickly away from a Huckabee comparison, and takes the time to bash the PATRIOT ACT, corporatism, “support the troops” mentality as having a fascist tone. Says we’re getting close to fascism. I don’t disagree at all.
Overall I’ll give Paul an 8 on the loony-meter, but only because the bar has been raised so very, very high.
Now, a mini-panel discussing polls, commercials and upcoming votes. My take? When your top candidate polls at 20%, you don’t have a top candidate. Lying about marching with MLK in at a Republican primary seems stupid – why would they care? When you are up by 25% in the national polls, your campaign has not imploded, no matter what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire. National head-to-head presidential polls at this time are meaningless.
Next Sunday: Obama and Huckabee. That should be good TV.
Fawkes News
The surge is “working”! Now the question is how fast US troops can come home.
oh.dear.god. And they are going to ask General Betray Us himself.
Speaking of god, they will also have Rev Joel Osteen.
And a look ahead to what’s coming in 2008 with the panel.
I don’t have the stomach for this one. I’m out.
This Weak

Rudy! There’s no way I’m sitting through that interview. It’s straight to the panel.
Oh good, they are going to talk about the xmas campaign commercials. I can normally take the insipid and look for the gems, but the family is on the way and I still don’t have Santa nailed to the cross. Good night, and good luck. Maybe I can watch more next week, but I make no promises.