Thursday, September 07, 2006

Emergency Alert: Cartoonist Loses All in Fire -- Help If You Can --

This just posted on the CCS discussion board by Jon-Mikel:

Cartoonist Lea Hernandez' house burned down last night and she lost most of her valuables, including two dogs and four cats. Any donations would be deeply appreciated. You can find her here.

If you'd like to donate, her PayPal email is

For other donations, write to her friend Lisa Jonte at to get Lea's ground address, and to find out if they can use your donation (no clothes, for instance - nowhere to put them!).

I voted in the state primary yesterday, via absentee ballot -- I'll be teaching all day next Tuesday, away in White River Junction throughout primary polling hours (and into Wednesday night, as I teach this year at The Center for Cartoon Studies two days a week). It was quick, easy, and a satisfying first step in what promises to be a vital election season.

...I urge you all to VOTE this year. There's no excuse not to, period. Whatever flinders remain of our shattered democracy, voting is still our primary bid to retain some measure of expressing our political will and beliefs. I'm lucky -- I still live in a pocket of the US where ballots are hand-written, hand-counted, and accountability is still possible. What to do in the land of the untraceable, unaccountable (and should be illegal) electronic voting booths?

I don't know.

But I urge you, one and all, to VOTE.

VOTE if for no reason other than to have your say about what direction you want, wish this country, your country, should be going in. Vote if only to register your confidence in, or lack of confidence in, the ongoing reign of the Republican party. They've got all seats of federal power, save for the judicial (which they've been working on), in their hands. So, are you happy with how things have been going the last six years? Are you unhappy?

Surely you have some notion about that.


It's a liability and embarrassment to our nation that so few Americans do vote.

Do we honestly believe all the red, white and blue dogma we are so forcefully ramming down the throat of the world?

If we do, why are so few of us voting -- in the primaries (which, as Connecticut's primary demonstrated two weeks ago, are vital) or in the elections, state and national?

The percentage of eligible voters who turned out in the last ten-to-fifteen years to vote is ridiculously low, particularly for a country so arrogantly flaunting democracy as a be-all-and-end-all ideology.

Do you believe in the right to vote? If so, do you vote?

If not, why not?

Don't give me that line of horseshit.

There's no excuse.


For those 18 to 30, I urge you to vote if only to acknowledge you and your generation have a very real stake in the direction the US has been going since 2001.

Vote, proactively or preemptively, to either promote or prevent your being drafted into the military, for instance.

The possibility of this President and administration reinstating the draft is increasingly probable and problematic -- in fact, it's only the inevitable backlash against their doing so that keeps that in check. But the steady depletion of available military human resources and reserves, and eroding volunteers willing to serve, is leading us to the brink. Whatever your thoughts or feelings about the matter, it's simple: do you wish/intend to serve, and thus think/feel others should be compelled to either serve or not serve in the military, too?

Get off your ass, register to vote if you haven't already, and VOTE.

If you're a college student -- and I've said this and will continue to say this to my own CCS students -- sort out the possible complexities of your ability to vote in the coming election, and be sure you can and will be able to vote, either via absentee ballot from your home town or in the town/city you attend college in. Given the problems many college students faced in registering and in voting the last two elections, which was reported via various national news venues, there's no excuse for that going down for you -- sort it out, now, take the necessary steps, and VOTE.

Lest you think my playing "the draft card" (I still have mine from the early '70s; yep, I registered -- my Dad would have shot me if I hadn't -- was in the lottery, and luckily my number didn't come up, but I sure remember that night watching the lottery on national television, sweating it out) is a cheap shot, wake up.

It's a numbers game. The Iraq War has seriously depleted military reserves, and quite rational (to my mind) decisions to not serve under the present delusional, irrational and arguably dangerous current President and administration have considerably eroded volunteerism for the military. This situation has been reported repeatedly in the past two years (always sans the decisive issue: who would want to willingly serve under the present Commander in Chief, given his ongoing behavior and record?), and the extremes the military has had to go to (e.g., extended tours of duty, calling in retired soldiers who have already served their country, etc.) on top of the arguably abusive misuse of the entire National Guard to wage the Iraq War clearly demonstrates how dire the situation has become.

The draft, or some variation on the draft, is at this point a rational eventuality. It's just a matter of time, the way this administration is going. The President's and his administration's abysmal misuse and squandering of the voluntary military has taken a terrible, terrible toll, and the numbers alone are pushing us closer and closer to that inevitability: military draft.

And it is no longer a gender issue, as it was for my generation, when tens of thousands of young men were shipped off to Vietnam: men and women will be drafted.

Whatever your gender, weigh your convictions, your beliefs, and your options.

Weigh your thoughts and feelings about being drafted: having your future -- life or death -- redirected and/or determined by our government.

Think about it.

Now, VOTE.

If I'd needed any impetus to make sure I didn't miss voting in the primary as well as the coming November election, our fearless leader provided an ample boot-to-the-ass with his latest speech in a series of exploitative, fear-mongering, power-crazed 9/11 speeches we're being treated to, compliments of Karl Rove and a very pragmatically concerned Republican Party.

They've been ruling the roost for five years now, unchallenged and unchecked, and the very real consequences of their agenda, policies, actions and inactions are coming home to roost.

Holy shit, time to hit the "terrrer" and fear buttons, BIG TIME!

While working at the home office yesterday, I listened to the entirity of President Bush's speech to the nation, and it was a scorcher -- his increasingly astonishing blend of blunt 'fessing up to previously denied "accusations" (read: reality reported but denied by the administration), self-serving distortions of reality put across with the occasional emphatic banging on the podium to hammer home his patronizin -- uh, patriotic determination, and typical passing-the-buck for delays in due process caused by his and his administration's ongoing attempts to circumvent national and international law. In short order, Bush treated us all to admission of the secret European detention camps, of use of torture (ahem, excuse me, "alternative interrogation methods"), palming the blame for delayed trials off on Congress and the courts (instead of his administration's five years of illegal practices and inability to bend the law to his will) -- and shamelessly doing so before an audience comprised in part of families of 9/11 victims! -- while launching this excrutiating display with the expected instant-association of 9/11 with his fucking "Wer on Terrrer" (per his twist of the phrase; can't you hear him now?).

As I and many others have said repeatedly since 2002, this isn't a war on anything definable.

It's a war on a military tactic -- hence, by definition, unwinnable.


There can, by definition, never be victory.

You do understand that, don't you? That by his own definition of this war, of victory, the President himself has created this unresolvable conundrum?

To top it off, we are expected to accept his most outlandish claims -- tracing what Bush touts as proof of the effectiveness of these detention and torture techniques via previously unreported cause-and-effect foiling of various "terrrerist" plots -- on the heels of his finally admitting to the very secret CIA detention camps and "alternative interrogation techniques" previously vehemently denied.

The man sees no conflict, no disconnect, no reason for suspicion and indeed absolute moral outrage in the contextual reality of his speech's most outrageous components.

Bush simply refuses to acknowledge for a nanosecond we no longer believe a word he says -- after repeated conflations of 9/11 and Iraq over a period of five years clashing with the reality of his own blunt admission of no connection as recently as two weeks ago (at the most recent press conference), the man and his cronies are simply no longer credible on any count.

Anyone who continues to fall for this shit is a fool. Period.

The verbal 'sleight-of-hand' shell-game rhetoric of deflect, misdirect and redirect -- the transparent redirection of culpability for four years+ of detainees and suspected terrorists not coming to trial onto the heads of the current Congress, who Bush is calling for instantaneous solutions for legal dilemmas he and his administration clearly created -- can only fool, well, a fool at this point.

Bush and his cronies state as fact that such-and-such detainee is a terrorist, and proceed from that simply cause-and-define presumption to their outlandish statements -- though not one single detainee has been brought to successful trial and prosecution from the morass of illegal detention and interrogation camps scattered across the globe.

Bush is asking, emphatically, for Congress to "act quickly" and decisively upon his current recommendations -- making it their problem, implicitly their fault with a churlish turn of phrasing -- skirting the absolutely core issue that it is Bush and Rumsfeld and Gonzales and this administration that has delayed, obfuscated, and caused the lack of any forward momentum to the trials he is now calling for (and the President is calling for this imperative to the applause of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack, further aggravating the absolutely staggering arrogance, refusal to take responsibility and deceit explicit in his framing of these very issues in his speech).

Bush still emphatically insists upon redefining the rules of engagement, based on nothing but his say-so, insisting upon redefinitions of due process to allow government prosecution sans presentation of any evidence on the claims said evidence is a matter of national security. We're to take the word of men who are proven liars, from the simplest of deceptions (e.g., Vice President Dick Cheney's debate-opening bald-faced lie about never having met or seen Senator John Edwards on the Senate floor, instantly disproved by news footage of Cheney introducing Edwards and family on the Senate floor) to their most deceitful behavior on the international stage, justifying the eruption of the Iraq War with constant and insistent conflation of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein to their desired end.

It was incredibly infuriating, a mad and revealing display of unrepentent power refuting all culpability for so much, while ceaselessly trumpeting already-failed strategies, outlandish abuses of power contrary to national and international law, and boastful assertions of fragmentary, untraceable claims of "success" as "fact." You know, the usual.

I haven't a clue what the expected outcome of such speeches is in the mind of Bush and his compatriots in crim -- uh, this administration. I'm relieved to see this morning almost all the major news reporting on his speech is focusing on the admission of international detention camps, which Bush positively bragged about.

There's no doubt first and foremost Bush and his advisors are determined to shape the coming weeks's national dialogue. Note the the blatant effort to redirect an election season's dialogue away from the utter failure of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, collapsing public education, record job losses, the economy, any coherent energy policy (don't even get me going on that one -- the man whose administration buried the electric car and allowed GM to salt the very earth that successful alternative energy solution was buried in, touting viable alternatives while the oil industry pockets record-busting profits!)... name your poison, they don't want you thinking/talking/voting based on that reality.

But thus far, they've only succeeded in drawing our national attention to their own Nazi-like behavior patterns, only emphasizing their own failures and, as of yesterday, admitting to the very abuse of power many voting Americans are growing increasingly alarmed by.

As if Bush's on the record speech yesterday wasn't absolutely infuriating enough, there's always his
  • forever revealing off-the-record comments to savor, like this pip in The NY Daily News, with an even pippier Karl Rove bon mot.

  • Therein, former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal recounts a November 2004 visit by President Bush and his political guru Karl Rove to the William J. Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, on the banks of the Arkansas River.

    "Bush appeared distracted and glanced repeatedly at his watch," Blumenthal writes about a presidential tour during the library's dedication. "When he stopped to gaze at the river, where Secret Service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: 'Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there.' Bush replied: 'A submarine could take this place out.'"...

    Blumenthal, who attributes his account to two anonymous eyewitnesses, adds that "Rove showed keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W. Bush library and legacy. "'You're not such a scary guy,' joked his guide. 'Yes, I am,' Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: 'I change constitutions, I put churches in schools.'"

    As my amigo Jean-Marc Lofficier so succinctly put it this morning,

    "Must... control.... the rage..... Harder to do these days. :-)"