Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Week of Wonders

This week has been peppered with moments-that-make-life-worth-living.

The intimate stuff you needn't know, though it's been a good week (aside from the stomach flu), but suffice to say it's been a hoot to savor Tom DeLay indicted at last (we'll see if it sticks; these fuckers seem to be made of Teflon!), the filming of a live giant squid 5000+ feet under in the North Pacific (the cephalopod fought with the camera equipment for a full four hours, leaving a still-writhing 18-foot tentacle entangled in the equipment when it at last departed!), and the reading of Mike Mignola's second (and final) chapter of the revelatory Hellboy "The Island," wherein we finally learn the origin of Hellboy's massive appendage (his HAND, I'm referring to his hand!). Well done, Mike; you're one of the few who have kept me reading comics.

Yesterday morning NY Times journalist Judith Miller was released from prison. Miller having to testify in the ongoing investigation of the outing of CIA-operative Valerie Plame is a troubling issue for a number of reasons, but Miller's almost three months in jail is historic. The NY Times cites Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby as Miller's source; can it be that Karl Rove, 'Scooter' Libby and even Dick Cheney will be forced to see through this traitorous dance in a truly public arena? When will columnist Robert Novak serve his time behind bars?

It has to be clear now to the most devoted that President Bush has done, and will do, nothing to discipline either Rove or Libby, putting lie to his own characteristic bluster and swagger after Novak revealed that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife Plame was a CIA operative. This puts Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in a vital position, and he's now more essential to the survival of our democracy more than ever before; I truly hope he's going to take the core issues and players in the most confrontational manner possible, when the time is right. Thus far, Fitzgerald has played his cards close.

The utter moral bankruptcy of those in power is more obvious by the moment. It’s a form of Federalism, working in conjunction with unprecedented and largely unchecked corporate lobbying interests and entrenched representatives (most of whom now sit in control of the very agencies intended to regulate corporate interests and thus protect ‘the public good’), that has sold us all so far down the river that it’s nigh on impossible to assess just how truly fucked we are. Add the increasingly overt theocracy elevating itself (note even scoundrels like DeLay are reportedly devout Christians who have nothing but disdain for the separation of church and state) in a truly bizarre fusion of Bible-thumping and corporation-sanctioned sociopathic behavior, and it’s difficult to even sound rational in any discussion of the path we as a people, country, and culture are now on. The utter shamelessness of the government officials involved has ceased to amaze: ‘Brownie’ stood before the Republican-led initial investigation of the failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina and maintained a red-faced show of indignity and arrogance that has become utterly archetypal of this current Administration and its cronies. They are incapable of shame, and pathologically avoid responsibility or culpability on any level -- this is truly, truly sociopathic behavior, all the more terrifying when it characterizes men and women who have gravitated so ruthlessly to the highest seats of power (e.g., every component of the Bush Administration). Hmmm, this doesn’t jive with any version or reading of the Ten Commandments I was ever exposed to.

Consider the big-business interests that pushed through mortifying bankruptcy laws that are coming into effect in the wake of devastating natural disasters, the monstrous corporate welfare doled to petroleum and energy industries in the recently-passed "energy bill" that does nothing to help a single citizen or face our country's true energy needs and issues (much less address global warming, the truth of which we are living), the opportunistic Republican predation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita's wake to further ravage the very social infrastructures that were already fleeced to the detriment of all who suffered or survived those storms (and once again attack bugaboos like Amtrack and public broadcasting!), the ongoing disastrous health care and pharmaceutical circle-jerk that has (among other astounding brokering abuses) willingly removed the government's power to secure the best prices possible for drugs, the utter failure of leadership and strategy in the criminally "pre-emptive" Iraq War -- even the most fragmentary accounting is utterly mind-boggling. Any attempt to grasp its enormity and scope inevitably comes off as ranting and rambling. After the last two US Presidential elections, can we even pretend -- in the era we’re now in of electronic voting technology, unaccountable and uncountable, managed by CEOs transparently espousing which parties and candidates they actively support -- that any shred of a viable national democracy or possibility of truly fair elections survives?

Still, last week’s indictment of DeLay and the latest developments in the Plame investigation give one hope. Keep an eye on Fitzgerald’s activities. The growing evidence of widespread and blatant corruption amid Bush's circles of power -- Rove, Libby, Cheney, Frist, DeLay, etc. -- dwarfs the Watergate scandal on a daily basis. Perhaps Fitzgerald is up to the task. Here’s hoping.

It'll be interesting to see what cronyism shapes Bush's Presidential pardons on his way out the door.

So, being human, one seeks succor where and when one can.

Some things are worth waiting for. Sweetest of all this week’s treasures, though, has been the time I've been able to steal to drink in the enormity and emaculate artistry of Winsor McCay: Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays! edited by Peter Maresca (2005, Sunday Press). Maresca's selection of McCay color 1905-1910 Sunday pages is stunning; his editorial decisions are a delight, the text pieces punctuating the selections are worthwhile, and the color reproduction makes full use of the state-of-the-art technology available to provide the richest, closest-to-the-source reproduction of the chosen Sunday pages imaginable. But the almost overwhelming power of this new collection is due primarily due to the key decision to reproduce the Sunday pages in their full dimensions -- that's right, this tome measures over 21" x 16". It's a monster book, a thing of beauty, and an absolutely essential addition to any devoted comics library.

This first printing numbers only 5,000 copies, so despite the cost (it ain't cheap) I urge you to save, beg, borrow, or steal whatever you need to get your hands on a copy pronto. It's one of those difficult-to-shelf books, too... I mean, between my reading of the book and the rain and humidity of this week, the covers are already warping a bit, but who cares?
In full color.
Full size.



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