[tag]Right-Wing Cartoon Watch[/tag]: Challenging GOP talking points, celebrating the fine American tradition of editorial cartooning, and having a little fun in the process. (The longer blurb.)
Welcome to RWCW’s 34th installment (covering cartoons from 11/22/08 to 2/1/09, with the emphasis on the more recent). When last we saw our intrepid band of conservative cartoonists, a few were gracious about Obama’s election, a few more had actually acknowledged how disastrous Bush had been, and many more were inventing creative ways to blame all the ills under the sun on those villainous Democrats. With a new year and Obama’s inauguration, how might things have changed? Hmm…
As always, pace yourself, and definitely skip whatever you wish. Too many right-wing cartoons (and obsessive debunks) at one time can lead to a toxic overload!
Bush’s reflexes may be the most impressive thing about him. Many conservatives (cartoonists and otherwise) pushed this line – under Saddam Hussein, Muntadar al-Zaidi (the shoe-thrower) would have been executed. Well, that’s true, but that’s an awfully low bar, isn’t it? And al-Zaidi has reportedly been beaten badly in custody, which is hardly a great sign of “progress” in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein was an oppressive dictator, without a doubt. Yet with al-Zaidi, several far-right conservatives approved of the broken hand and ribs he received, leading Roy Edroso to quip, “I always suspected that when they were denouncing Saddam’s torture chambers, they were just angry that they didn’t get to say who got tortured.”
Ah yes, the native dogs show a lack of “gratitude,” the lament of imperialists everywhere, and an attitude we’ve examined before. Some Iraqis, especially among the Kurds, are happy to have the Americans around, and others are grateful to be rid of Saddam Hussein, but now want the Americans to leave (American withdrawal is overwhelmingly popular among Iraqis overall). As to why they might be “ungrateful,” well…
…As we’ve covered many times before, there are 4-5 million displaced Iraqis, and estimates of Iraqi deaths since our invasion range from about 150,000 to as high as one million. Basic services, such as water and electricity, are still worse than pre-war levels in many parts of Iraq. Muntadar al-Zaidi, who said he threw his shoes to avenge Iraqi widows and orphans, is not only a folk hero to many Iraqis, he had a monument erected for him (since taken down). Here’s the thing – even if you think invading Iraq was a good idea, even if you think Bush was/is underappreciated, how is it possible to buy the rosy picture of Iraq often sold (debunked here many times), when this incident shows once again how immensely unpopular Bush is in Iraq?
Sadly, throughout his presidency, Bush was happy to be ignorant of the dire realities in Iraq, and was surprised and irritated that the Iraqis would be ‘ungrateful’ (see the links for the previous cartoon). He really could not understand why this was the case, and despite years passing, apparently never bothered to find out. Bush certainly doesn’t need to condone the shoe-throwing, but he still seems completely oblivious as to why it happened and why Iraqis celebrated it. I agree that the most gracious and classy thing for Bush to do would be to forgive al-Zaidi publicly, and ask that he be treated humanely. However, I fear that would require Bush to first acknowledge realities he’s aggressively ignored and denied.
Several other conservative cartoonists also went with a variation on this gag, with some slightly emphasizing Iraq…
…While others emphasized Bush’s relationship with the American press. Considering how most of the press didn’t challenge Bush on a number of important issues, including the run-up to war, and wouldn’t even fact-check glaring falsehoods, this charge is just laughable.
Many cartoonists who aren’t dedicated conservatives went with some variation on this gag, focusing on Bush’s record and the judgment of history, but Bob Gorrell was the only conservative cartoonist I saw who did. (Hippy.)
Some of the media gushing over Obama has been pretty silly. But at least one National Intelligence Estimate pointed out what should be common sense – Bush’s invasion of Iraq has made America less safe, because it, and Abu Ghraib, and policies of indefinite detention without charges and torture, have angered many and radicalized others. Then there’s the staggering economic damage Bush’s policies have inflicted, and the international prestige he threw away. On top of that, there’s the Bush administration’s assault on civil liberties, which raises several questions – what does “safe” really mean, who is being kept “safe” from whom, and does it make any sense to claim an evil enemy ‘hates us for our freedoms’ while stripping those same freedoms away? (Oh, and none of the Bush administration’s claims of “protecting” us have been substantiated.) For all that, even if we grant Lisa Benson’s highly questionable premise – isn’t ‘keeping the country safe’ a basic job expectation for the presidency?
His earlier shoe cartoon aside, even Mike Lester won’t give Bush a complete pass. (A decent gag.)
Give credit to Henry Payne for a good punchline, at least! As to the actual record, well, we’ve covered that before, but Dan Froomkin delivers a fine summing up:
He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world’s champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.
Holbert might have the funniest gag of the lot!
One thing to say for Bush – he surprised many by not issuing last-minute pardons to members of his administration. Whether this was because it would be an admission of guilt, or due to hubris, or due to principle – or some combination – is as yet unclear.
OBAMA AND THE INAUGURATION
Apparently, Chuck Asay actually thinks Rick Warren possesses “righteousness” and “truth.” He’s also peddling the old social conservative complaint about other people being “intolerant” – of bigotry. We’ve discussed issues of tolerance in society before, but in addition to looking at how a democratic system works, let’s note that there’s a huge, qualitative difference between merely disagreeing with someone on a specific issue and judging that a certain group of people does not deserve civil rights. Many persons of faith do not share Rick Warren’s views. (There was a blogswarm of alternative invocations before the big day. Opinions on Warren’s actual invocation varied, even among liberals. Personally, I thought Warren was pretty bad, and proselytized rather than being inclusive, but also felt that Lowery, and Obama’s words about people of many faiths as well as non-believers, made up for that.)
Bad faith argument, or just blithering stupidity? Obama’s presidential limo has low gas mileage because it’s basically a tank built with special materials. This became the asinine non-scandal du jour pushed by Drudge, Malkin and many other conservatives back in November, dusted off by Henry Payne for January. Thers ridiculed this one, as did Michael D. at Balloon Juice:
The thing is that Obama has little to no say in anything involving his security. In fact, I would be surprised he even knows anything about this. Perhaps if America didn’t have to deal with some of the crazies (you know, like the nuts you regularly saw at Sarah Palin rallies) the president – no matter what his or her party affiliation – could still cruise through the streets of Dallas in an open air limo. The fact is, Obama can’t do that – and he has no say in it.
If the Secret Service determines that Obama is going to do “x” for his safety, Obama does “x” whether he wants to or not. I suspect security for Obama will be unprecedented. There are nuts out there – enabled on by crackpots on the right – who neither want “the most liberal, most socialist president in history” nor “an African American President” in the White House.
So, Obama will be carted around in a limo built like a tank that gets 10 miles to the gallon precicely because he has no other choice, and to use this as a jab to say that he’s not as green as he promised he would be is plain stupid.
I suspect Obama was briefed on a number of sobering situations. However, I highly doubt there’s been much to validate the Bush approach, which mostly has ranged from the counterproductive to the disastrous. Osama bin Laden said he wanted to drain America’s resources, and Bush was happy to cooperate.
Again, some of the media blather and hype over the inauguration was very silly, which is not to detract from the astounding turnout, and widespread interest from Americans and the rest of the world. As for extravagant “costs,” Eric Boehlert wrote the definitive piece on that bullshit story:
The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush’s 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That’s right, $157 million.
Unless the Obama inauguration tab (including security) ends up costing $630 million, we can safely say it certainly won’t cost four times what the Bush bash did in 2005. And unless the Obama inauguration tab (including security) runs to $257 million, we can safely say the event won’t cost $100 million more than Bush’s, as Fox & Friends claimed.
This Gary McCoy cartoon ran 1/20/09, Inauguration Day, continuing McCoy’s habit of weak attacks and attempting to satirize events before they actually happen. (Oh well, to thine own self be true and all that.)
Before almost every major speech by Obama, the media would hype it as ‘the most important one of his career!’ And that’s without the pressure of historical comparisons. I thought the actual inauguration speech was quite good, especially if you read it. Obama opted for a pretty somber delivery, but that was probably appropriate.
Gary Varvel delivers a celebratory cartoon.
Glenn McCoy has referenced Norman Rockwell before, so I imagine he’s a fan. Of course, Obama is not a young girl, nor is his entrance to the White House the result of anti-discrimination laws, and the country is excited rather than opposed to this development. Regardless, I think McCoy is noting a civil rights milestone, and is trying to be unusually gracious.
Ramirez is the most gracious I’ve ever seen him be to a Democrat. I guess that means he’s not in the Rush Limbaugh ‘I want Obama to fail’ camp. (Even some Americans who considered Bush a success aren’t.)
Eric Allie at least acknowledges that Obama faces a big crisis, even if he depicts him as delusional. That’s about as generous as he’s ever gotten (and who created that crisis, I wonder?)
Mike Lester’s inauguration cartoon makes some of the others look positively gushing. As we’ve explored before at greater length, conservatives really don’t seem to know what socialism actually entails.
Umm… Maybe things look different for conservatives down in Georgia (where Lester lives), but somehow, this take was not at all what first leapt to my mind after Obama’s election. As we’ve discussed before, “an end to racism” to Glenn Beck, Jonah Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh means, “I will no longer be challenged on my racism.” Maybe Lester is trying to be more conciliatory here, given the presence of Obama in the cartoon. Any other takes?
I’d add that “guilt” can be a poor motivator, and is not the same thing as conscience, nor accurate memory/history. The point is not to go around feeling guilty – it’s to acknowledge our actual history and the legacy that remains, and to work together to improve things.
Most every editorial cartoonist has done some take on the mess Bush left and/or the mammoth task facing Obama.
Stantis has used these figures of doom before, but this time, he was not…
…the only one…
…to go with a “monster” theme.
THE OBAMA CABINET
Eric Allie either doesn’t think the Vice President can wield much power (and is ignoring the past eight years), or is engaging in wishful thinking here. (Biden has said he doesn’t want to follow in the Cheney vein, and will not be usurping the Obama agenda, but will be weighing in on important decisions.)
Stantis has more of a point if he’s talking about former Clinton staffers versus Bill Clinton himself. This is fair up to a point, but it’s silly to think that Obama wouldn’t hire anyone from the previous Democratic administration. Ideally, his team will be a mix of savvy experience and talented new blood.
No matter how many years pass, conservatives will obsess about the Clenis. (Meanwhile, it’s never made much sense to blame Hillary Clinton for Bill’s infidelity. My theory is that it’s how some conservatives rationalized their begrudging respect for Bill Clinton – or maybe they just hated her even more.)
Plenty of CIA directors did not have direct intelligence agency experience, and Panetta is hardly a novice in the field. Conservatives have an odd relationship with the CIA – during most of the Bush era, especially Plamegate, they were bashing it, even when the CIA was doing Bush’s bidding. And as Digby‘a observed, “liberal bloggers have long defended the CIA’s analyses and never held the torture and rendition regime against the rank and file, while the right wing was defaming them at every turn, blaming them for 9/11 and the failure of Iraq.”
Meanwhile, Ramirez just likes to ridicule Dems. When and if Panetta starts posting semi-nude photos of himself from Langley, Ramirez might have a point, but until then…
I have no problem with anyone leveling some criticism at Geithner and Daschle over their tax issues. (Dasche’s now withdrawn, but I found his industry ties much more troubling.) Given the Bush administration’s torture policies, though, and Payne’s occasional approval of them, this cartoon holds some unintentional, dark irony.
Eric Allie, classy as usual, heckling Nancy Pelosi through her dead parents. As long as we’re on the subject of contraception, though, what possible reason beyond obsessive social control is there for opposing provisions to fight the spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS? Are these conservatives really that insane that they think their moral disapproval will do the trick? Or as Sadly, No’s Brad put it:
Can someone tell me… why Republicans are attacking Democrats for funding STD prevention? Like, where is the partisan gain in all this? Can you imagine campaign ads that say something along the lines of, “Mike Pence voted AGAINST Barack Hussein Obama’s plan to prevent you from getting a sexually transmitted disease!” In a sane country, this stuff would just not be controversial.
Hmm, maybe another $800,000 to fund acts like Derek Dye, the abstinence clown will do the trick. (Warning: do not watch with your mouth full.)
Yes, folks, Chuck Asay has just accused the Democrats, normally stereotyped as bleeding hearts who push for social services (and just passed health care for underprivileged children), of wanting to lower the American population; they will accomplish this by somehow forcing Americans to use condoms and have abortions – and then kill off old people.
I’m assuming even Asay doesn’t object to the first two. Meanwhile, Congress didn’t initiate either of the investigations he depicts. Naturally, he chooses Democratic scandals, even though he’s really sweating about the many scandals perpetrated by the Bush administration, such as spying on Americans without warrants, the U.S. Attorney scandal, and torture.
Look out, rich people! Nancy Pelosi’s gonna shoot your ass and genitals off! (Umm, after mounting stories of financial villainy by the rich, does Glenn Foden really think this pitch doesn’t appeal to many Americans?)
Asay needn’t worry – the Blue Dogs aren’t that cooperative, nor bright. Eleven of them joined every single Republican in the House to vote against the stimulus package. Over to Digby:
The Blue Dogs are conservatives who consistently vote on the deficit issue, whether against tax cuts or government spending. This is their main distinction from the Republicans who actually want to take money from working people and give it to corporations and the wealthy. But mostly, they are simply intellectually lazy people who I suspect find that it’s always a purple district crowd pleaser to make the anti-debt argument. It is one of those things you can say in a mixed political crowd that everyone can agree upon. Who likes debt? But it’s a governing cop-out. Sometimes debt is necessary to survive or invest for the future — a point which they have no problem making when it comes to military spending.
Unfortunately, we are in very difficult economic times which require that the government be free to act with some dispatch and creativity in order to keep this thing from turning into a catastrophe. This is not the time for their simple minded brand of fiscal discipline. As I’ve said before, it’s like telling the patient he needs to jog and go on a diet while he’s in the middle of a heart attack. It’s good advice, but not particularly relevant at that moment.
Umm, isn’t this how elections work? Republicans get their voices, but don’t get to dictate how things go, especially when their policies have been so disastrous. And that would be because…
Yes, Obama won, and the Democrats made gains in both houses of Congress. Who knows which poll Allie is cherry-picking or distorting to claim that Americans want “small government,” when numerous polls show they want effective government, and overwhelmingly support action on the economy – just without the corruption, please. (Even Republican pollster Frank Luntz has found that Americans overwhelmingly support infrastructure spending, and accountability.) The original Politico piece this line was reported in stresses Obama’s continued cooperation with Republican leaders. He gave them concessions, and they still unanimously voted against the bill (Republican state governors support Obama, however, maybe because their seats are less safe and they have to deliver). The same Republican party that pissed away billions on incompetently-handled Iraq reconstruction projects and aggressively fought against any oversight or accountablity now objects to the stimulus package, mostly on ridiculous grounds. Meanwhile, Bush and the media claimed he had a mandate after his narrow re-election in 2004, yet even after a greater win by Obama and the Democratic party, and the public’s repudiation of Republican policies, the GOP gets to set the course? Beyond the politics of it all, conservative policies are mostly horrible (such as this one). Their policies are precisely what we don’t need for economic recovery. If Republicans want to make gains, maybe they should examine that, rather than acting like petulant children. And if Allie wants to view Obama’s response, taken out of context, as snotty, fine, I guess, but a guy who extols authoritarianism and continually depicts Democrats as America-hating traitors doesn’t have a lot of credibility here.
Again, most Republican ideas stink. More money to the rich, because it worked so damn well every other time they pushed for the same damn thing? Have they been asleep the past 10-30 years, or do they just think they can sell the same crap? For all that, as Dan Froomkin notes, there’s been a significant shift:
Not too long ago, we had a president who didn’t just defy and shun his political opponents, he refused to respond to their actual arguments and chose instead to refute his own preposterous misrepresentations of what they were saying.
Somewhat lost in the furious Washington debate over how many concessions President Obama should be making to Republicans to win their support for his stimulus package is a public recognition of just how much has changed in the last few weeks.
The victorious president may not be pursuing an agenda that pleases the losers, but he is spending time with them, listening to them, and taking them seriously. That’s a big change from the way former President Bush treated Democrats.
Sigh. Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinions, but Republicans have the good ideas? Look, as we’ve said many times here, it’d be great if principled, reality-based conservatives took their party over. America would really benefit from it. Currently, the Republican party is almost entirely obstructionist. Plenty of Republicans have echoed Rush Limbaugh’s desire to see Obama fail. The country really could use another FDR right now, and the GOP could use another Eisenhower. Instead, they’ve got Jim DeMint saying it’s “not a stimulus bill. It’s just a spending bill,” and Michael Steele insanely claiming that “Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.” And they’re not even the craziest. I aqree with Hilzoy that it was wise for Obama to reach out, and he should keep on trying, but it’s folly to expect that the Republicans will behave like adults. It’s unfortunate, but Obama’s main challenge is public relations, as if the recession wasn’t daunting enough on its own. John Amato has a good post on Mark Halperin’s nonsensical scolding of Obama, and rounds up several other insightful opinions. Halperin’s an ignoramus and/or a hack, and he unfortunately has plenty of company among the chattering class. It’s a serious problem, and the stakes are too high for venal stupidity to win yet again.
No argument here. Funny, you give money to the people who created the mess, don’t put in many restrictions nor conduct oversight, and they misuse the funds? No one could have predicted that! Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs executives gave out billions in bonuses. Bank of America has apparently used bailout money to lobby against unions – robbing Peter to screw over Peter. And then there’s moral cesspool and money pit AIG. Maybe it’s time to hold some investigations into executives, strip some assets, even have them do jail time. Hell, I think the public would support bringing back the stocks… (Obama’s newly-announced restrictions on executive pay are welcome, even by some Republicans, but it’s too bad they’re not retroactive, and going after some of the scoundrels would be both good politics and good policy.)
Geithner deserves some criticism, but the intended jab at him is much more accurate than Summers intended – thieves running banks. Sweden temporarily nationalized some banks to get through their financial crisis in the 90s, and Paul Krugman points out that some private institutions have shown they simply can’t be trusted to manage taxpayer money. Why not take them over temporarily? Opposition to it seems to be solely ideological, regardless of its effectiveness. Bloomberg News reports that Krugman’s fellow Nobel winner Joseph Stiglitz opposes the Obama administration creating a “so-called bad bank to rid financial companies of toxic assets,” because it “risks swelling the national debt.” Meanwhile, David Cay Johnston covers how corporations avoid paying taxes and how average taxpayers wind up subsidizing them. The Campaign for America’s Future has a bevy of posts on the economy. Look, there are sincere disagreements between smart people about some aspects of a economic recovery, but any plan that depends on private Wall Street companies suddenly developing conscience, wisdom and integrity is sheer insanity. Oversight and accountability are necessities, and some threat of punishment ain’t a bad idea for Wall Street supahstahs.
Uh, I’ve seen Obama be fairly frank about economic woes, including the debt and the deficit. Let’s review some history, shall we? Bush about doubled the national debt, from roughly 5 trillion to roughly 10 trillion – adding more to the national debt than every other president from George Washington to Bill Clinton combined. And there’s virtually nothing to show for it. The debt affects the deficit, most of all with skyrocketing interest payments, and then there’s the continued money hole of the Iraq occupation. As Johnston puts it:
And where did we end up at the end of the Bush administration? If you add up all of the bailouts that the Bush administration did in the fall, the investments, the spending and the guarantees, it’s over $8 trillion. How much money is that? It is more than all of the income taxes paid by all Americans for the entire eight years of the Bush administration.
So when Republican Congressman Jack Kingston, says “Six months from now, it isn’t Bush’s deficit… That’s the Democrats’ deficit,” he’s got a sliver of a point on the deficit, but on the debt, and overall, he’s completely full of crap. Obama has inherited one hell of a fiscal and economic mess, and regardless of what happens next, Bush will always be responsible for creating that mess, along with plenty of scoundrels in Congress.
It’s the duty of Obama to clean the mess up – but it’s Kingston’s, too. Let’s see if he steps up to the plate, or just continues to try to lay the rap on Obama and the Democrats for a mess Kingston and his party enabled and never gave a damn about before.
Allie ran this one on January 22nd, when Obama had not yet been president three whole days – and still hadn’t fixed the economy. (Slacker.)
But as long as we’re puncturing balloons, let’s turn things over to Barney Frank:
FRANK: The largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq. And one of the things, if we’re going to talk about spending, I don’t — I have a problem when we leave out that extraordinarily expensive, damaging war in Iraq, which has caused much more harm than good, in my judgment.
And I don’t understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care, that’s — that’s wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is going to cost us over $1 trillion before we’re through — yes, I wish we hadn’t have done that. We’d have been in a lot better shape fiscally.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a whole another show, so I’m going to…
FRANK: That’s the problem. The problem is that we look at spending and say, “Oh, don’t spend on highways. Don’t spend on health care. But let’s build Cold War weapons to defeat the Soviet Union when we don’t need them. Let’s have hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars going to the military without a check.” Unless everything’s on the table, then you’re going to have a disproportionate hit in some places.
I don’t think this Reagan-era bullshit is selling well these days, and it’s a key indicator of how bereft of ideas the GOP is that they’re still trying to shill it. Let’s return to that Luntz piece:
A correspondent raises an important point: there’s widespread public confusion between the fiscal stimulus plan — which should, on its face, be very popular — and the bank bailouts, which are deeply (and understandably) unpopular. Spending on infrastructure commands broad support; rescuing bankers from the consequences of their own folly, broad revulsion.
And the Obama administration hasn’t done much to make the distinction — and the result is much less public support for the stimulus plan than we should have.
Maybe the fleeing people in the cartoon are just terrified of Bush being in charge.
Lester’s sorta funny, at least. But, um, if using middle class taxpayer money to further enrich the super-wealthy is so great as an economic policy, why did that strategy under Bush not help the economy and instead contribute to it tanking? Any giveaways from the government, especially to rich individuals and corporations, should come with very strict guidelines and oversight. For instance, rather than giving yet another round of tax cuts, which Republicans claim magically create jobs, mandate that specific funds are contingent on actually creating jobs – and in the United States. The Obama team has floated that idea, and surely Republicans wouldn’t object…
Eric Allie will acknowledge problems, but apparently only if a Dem can be bashed for them. Meanwhile, he seems unaware that repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure creates jobs. Oh, and since, with the road in the foreground, Allie is trying to claim these projects are unnecessary:
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued an infrastructure report card Wednesday giving a bleak cumulative ranking of D.
“We’ve been talking about this for many many years,” Patrick Natale, the group’s executive director, told CNN.
“We really haven’t had the leadership or will to take action on it. The bottom line is that a failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy.”
Ramirez seems unaware that improving gas mileage would make American cars more competitive (in addition to the other benefits).
Yup, Republicans are still blaming unions, even though they fulfilled their side of the deal, they’ve been willing to negotiate further, and were never the big problem, anyway (we delved into this more last time). Conservatives just hate unions, sadly enough. I think my favorite bit to date has been Republican Senator Jim DeMint claiming he’s against unions because he’s for the workers. Really. Hey, if the workers choose to unionize, to hell with them, I guess.
Here we have the Tale of Two Asays. Rare for him, he bemoans the lack of oversight and regulation enforcement (and typical for him, ignores that there were plenty of other warnings made to the SEC about Madoff since 1999).
Meanwhile, here Asay conjures one of the spectres that often haunt him – government regulation! The most charitable reading is that Asay believes that somehow, government interference in the “free” market will hurt 401(k) accounts. I have to wonder if Asay has any idea of how 401(k) accounts work, and why many of them drastically lost their value in the past few months. Hint: it had something to do with the stock market plummeting, not an excess of government regulation.
This is a pretty funny one…
…But I think this one is even better.
GUANTANAMO PRISON TO BE CLOSED
This remains one of my biggest pet peeves, a talking point whose persistence is exceeded only by its stupidity. Miranda rights have nothing to do with battlefield combat and prisoners of war! Still, while I’ve heard some stupid claims on this before, the dumbest may be from Republican Steve King (R-Iowa):
Let’s just say that, that, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, is brought to the United States to be tried in a federal court in the United States, under a federal judge, and we know what some of those judges do, and on a technicality, such as, let’s just say he wasn’t read his Miranda rights. … He is released into the streets of America. Walks over and steps up into a US embassy and applies for asylum for fear that he can’t go back home cause he spilled the beans on al Qaeda. What happens then if another judge grants him asylum in the United States and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on a path to citizenship.
The Daily Show gives this the treatment it richly deserves.
Gary Varvel seems to believe there’s only one prison under American jurisdiction, and is likewise unaware that many terrorists are already being held on U.S. soil. (Oh, and the Pentagon has made some very dubious claims about former prisoners released under Bush “returning to terrorism.”)
Okay, here’s a little explanation. There’s no way in hell that confirmed, actual terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are going to be released. However, we’ve also imprisoned many innocents. Let’s turn once again to an in-depth McClatchy series:
The McClatchy investigation found that top Bush administration officials knew within months of opening the Guantanamo detention center that many of the prisoners there weren’t “the worst of the worst.” From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn’t belong there.
See the sad tale of the Uighurs for more. (Imagine telling a spouse to remarry because you’d probably never see each other again, even if released.)
Yeah, right, saying that justice will be done is somehow “soft” on terrorism. Let’s check in on some reactions to Obama ordering Guantanamo closed:
“One of the war’s most successful interrogators cheered Obama.
“‘It’s a significant step toward saving American lives,’ said Air Force Reserve Maj. Matthew Alexander – the lead interrogator of terrorists who betrayed Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before his 2006 killing.
“‘When I was in Iraq, the No. 1 reason foreign fighters said they were coming into the country to fight was Abu Ghraib,’ said Alexander, author of ‘How To Break A Terrorist.’”
Give Scott Stantis credit for being the only conservative cartoonist to highlight the dangers of violating Posse Comitatus.
There are few subjects quite like Israel-Palestine to get people worked up. Well, all right. But even with emotions running high, I don’t see why it’s so hard to condemn the killing of innocents, regardless of whose “side” they’re on. It’s not difficult to denounce rocket attacks into Israel. It’s also shouldn’t be difficult to bemoan the devastation in Gaza. The U.K.’s Guardian reported back on 1/14/09:
So far, 1,010 Palestinians have been killed, among them 315 children and 95 women, Dr Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza’s medical emergency services, told the Guardian. The number of injured after 19 days of fighting stood at 4,700, he said…
The head of the international committee of the Red Cross described the situation in Gaza as “shocking” after visiting a hospital in the territory.
“I saw this dramatic humanitarian situation. There’s an increasing number of women and children being wounded and going to hospitals,” Jakob Kellenberger said later in Jerusalem, the AFP news agency reported…
As well as the Palestinian death toll, 13 Israelis have been killed, including three civilians. At least 35,000 Palestinians are holed up in UN schools operating as emergency shelters. Tens of thousands more are staying with relatives or friends.
About two-thirds of the territory’s 1.5 million people have no electricity; the rest have only an intermittent supply, according to the UN.
Lester acknowledges the disproportionate response, but doesn’t seem troubled by it. And of course, many more besides Hamas members were hit, and military strikes are not a game. In contrast to Lester, here’s part of J Street‘s statement from December:
While this morning’s air strikes by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza can be understood and even justified in the wake of recent rocket attacks, we believe that real friends of Israel recognize that escalating the conflict will prove counterproductive, igniting further anger in the region and damaging long-term prospects for peace and stability.
Respecting Israel’s right to defend itself, we urge leaders there to recognize that there is no military solution to what is fundamentally a political conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Today’s IDF strikes will deepen the cycle of violence in the region. Retaliation is inevitable, though we don’t know how far the violence will spread or how many more Israelis and Palestinians will die and suffer in the days and weeks to come.
We call for immediate, strong diplomatic intervention by the United States, the Quartet and allies in the region to negotiate a resumption of the ceasefire which dramatically reduced violence and preserved quiet for over five months…
Random firings aren’t justifed. But “surgical” strikes are often not precise at all. There’s a funny thing about human beings – when their loved ones are killed or maimed, they tend not to care a hell of a lot about the targeting attempts, good intentions or grievances of those doing the firing, regardless of the sides involved, and even if they the victims were somewhat sympathetic before. Meanwhile, the use of white phosphorus in Gaza is horrible. Again, what’s hard about condemning it all?
Unease in Israel is understandable, but intent does not equal capability. Here’s Ezra Klein reacting to a New York Times article back on 12/28/08:
This is the paragraph that I can’t get out of my head:
Hamas had in recent weeks let it be known that it doubted Israel would engage in a major military undertaking because of its coming elections. But in some ways the elections have made it impossible for officials like Mr. Barak not to react, because the public has grown anxious and angry over the rocket fire, which while causing no recent deaths and few injuries is deeply disturbing for those living near Gaza.
No deaths and few injuries. “Deeply disturbing.” Hamas lacks the technology to aim its rockets. They’re taking potshots. In response, the Israeli government launched air strikes that have now killed more than 280 Palestinians, injured hundreds beyond that, and further radicalized thousands in the Occupied Territories and millions in the region. The response will not come today, of course. It will come in months, or even in years, when an angry orphan detonates a belt filled with shrapnel, killing himself and 25 Israelis. At which point the Israelis will launch air strikes killing another 70 Palestinians, radicalizing thousands more, leading to more bombings, and so the cycle continues.
Oh, well, then it’s all right. The important thing is that someone kills them. But don’t stop there. Luckily, in every conflict, men, whether innocent or not, are always fair game.
Ah, those dumb chimps in Hamas! Maybe killing more of the civilian population will make them change their minds! Or maybe another coup would help!
I’m glad that antisemitism is not as prevalent on the right-wing as once it was, but bigotry toward Arabs, Persians and Muslims is sadly commonplace. We’ve seen much more explicit examples in RWCW before, but the “Not Like Us” attitude does not make anything better. And fear or vegeance rarely do. There’s an extremely persistent and dangerous conceit that military action is always the more “realistic” course, and other approaches – even when proven effective – are somehow naive. Rockets into Israel don’t help, nor do air strikes from the IDF on this scale. Per the J Street statement, even if one believes some action by the IDF was necessary, and these specific actions were justified, how were they not counterproductive? And was all this really unavoidable? The U.S. special envoy, George Mitchell, faces an extremely thorny, difficult situation, but here’s hoping for progress.
I think late-night comedians are about the only group who like Blagojevich at this point.
Illinois has not exactly showered itself with glory…
I don’t understand support for Blagojevich, either, but it’s funny that Gary McCoy doesn’t make the connection with support for a certain Republican president.
Several conservative cartoonists tried to link Obama to Blagojevich, and claim that Obama was somehow tainted by the Blagojevich scandal. And the chattering class would acknowledge there was nothing there, but then breathlessly talk about how it could hurt Obama. (Meanwhile, the same journalists virtually ignored the real scandals outlined in a major torture report that had come out). Well, on Obama, let’s go to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference:
I should make clear, the complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever, his conduct. This part of the scheme lost steam when the person that the governor thought was the president-elect’s choice of senator took herself out of the running. But after the deal never happened, this is the governor’s reaction, quote, “They’re not willing to give me anything but appreciation. Bleep them,” close quote. And again, the bleep is a redaction.
Blagojevich was taped angrily swearing about Obama at other points, too – but clearly he knew he was being taped, and only attacked Obama to throw right-wingers off the scent.
Not a bad punchline, but it’s ridiculous. Glenn McCoy chooses to ignore the statements and investigations by Fitzgerald’s office so he can pretend that Obama and his staff have been uncooperative and that they’re hiding something.
Of all the silly chatter on Blagojevich, perhaps the most laughable were charges from a few Burris supporters – and also conservatives – that the Democrats were somehow opposed to Burris because he was black. No, being appointed by a corrupt governor who was talking about selling off the Senate seat couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.
A few conservative cartoonists slammed Caroline Kennedy. There was some media swooning over her, but most of the liberal blogosphere questioned her qualifications – as did a fair amount of the media. Regardless, she never said anything as dumb as Sarah Palin’s offerings.
Minnesota politics have been pretty weird for a long time…
…But the right-wing claims that Franken somehow “stole” the election are pretty silly. (I guess it’s nice they care about the integrity of elections now, though.) For more on the Minnesota recount, see FiveThirtyEight and the Brad Blog.
The only thing more tired than this gag (many cartoonists used it)…
…is conservative hatred for Al Gore.
Wow, since when have congressional Democrats been something other than pushovers? There’s an old trick here, though. Beetle infestations are a problem, and can leave patches of dead trees upright, which then become a serious fire hazard. Back in 2003, then California Governor Gray Davis lobbied Bush and FEMA for emergency funds to take care of this problem, but Bush denied them – and Southern California was subsequently hit by devastating fires. The trick is that Republicans under Bush tried to make “healthy forest” clear-cutting bills apply not (only) to beetle-infested trees, but also to old-growth forests the timber industry wanted to cut down. Oh, and guess what? Global warming is thinning old-growth forests, and old-growth forests help fight global warming.
What a radical idea, letting a distinguished professor of environmental policy help set the course rather than James “Icicles prove there’s no global warming” Inhofe.
Seriously? This would be Asay’s response? Nothing about reducing child abuse, lowering juvenile crime, or providing shelters, food and education? When a waitress asks him his order, does he start babbling about murdered babies? Pro-lifers view outlawing abortion as a moral absolute, but generally view the issue in a vacuum from any consequences. Chuck Asay wants to outlaw abortion, but also opposes social services, including health care for all. As the saying goes, “the pro-life commitment to life ends at birth.”
Many pro-life cartoons leave someone important out – the mother.
Fetuses can banter back and forth and wear festive hats, but women have no faces nor voices.
As gag-writing goes, it’s not a bad punchline, but the cartoon implies that animal rights activists don’t care about children, and it’s funny how a woman’s choice never come into the conversation. (As for killing kittens, clearly the dippy PETA activist has never heard of Bill Frist!)
A few other liberal blogs featured this one. Glenn McCoy is quite the zealot when it comes to abortion, and believe it or not, this isn’t his worst, but it’s characteristically nonsensical. As usual, he suggests that some people celebrate abortions. Moreover, somehow doctors, nurses, Democrats and specifically the dread Barack Obama can force a woman to have an abortion against her will, and they want to impose that. See, that’s the funny thing about the pro-choice position – the woman gets to choose. Oddly enough, many pro-choice people have families, though apparently this mystifies pro-life conservatives. (Maybe they believe it’s the stork.)
For an added dig, McCoy suggests that torture, opposed by many liberals and rule of law conservatives, is somehow less offensive and less immoral. I suppose forcing a woman to bear a child against her will is Righteous? The simple concept of choice or consent remains a foreign one to authoritarian conservatives. Gosh, I just can’t see any qualitative difference between allowing a woman to decide for herself about her own body and inflicting extreme pain and suffering on a human being against his or her will.
(Come to think of it, this cartoon explains a lot.)
Points for the reference to A Christmas Story, but boy, was this paranoia stupid. The run on guns over Obama’s election was good for gun shops, but had little basis in fact.
Chuck Asay has mostly updated his paranoia from fearing Ruskies and the ACLU to fearing scary Muslims and the ACLU, but is there anyone other than Asay who seriously believes that America’s security is threatened because it hasn’t re-ignited a nuclear arms race it won long ago? (This is the “let’s build Cold War weapons to defeat the Soviet Union when we don’t need them” mentality Barney Frank spoke of.)
Even crazier is this one. Goddam, how crazy do you need to be to feel frightened and “exposed” in a national park without a gun?!? Did Chuck Asay go around saying, “Sorry, honey, I just can’t enjoy that sunset over the mountains without a concealed hangun”…? Recreation – You’re Doing It Wrong.
(I’m reminded of the Doonesbury cartoon where Duke explains to an incredulous paramedic how he shot Zeke – before he enters a darkened room, he likes to empty a clip into it “to soften it up a bit.”)
Uh, the idea that John Lennon needed to be “forgiven” for a comment taken out of context that he later explained and apologized for is a litte silly. Still, let’s assume the Vatican was trying to be gracious, and it’s a good thing to come together, because all you need is love. Yes, it took the Vatican 42 years, falling short of the 25 years it took them to admit they got the whole “Joan of Arc was a witch” thing wrong, but it’s still waaaaaay better than the 359 years it took them to acknowledge their treatment of Galileo was a wee bit shoddy (even if the new pope might disagree). The important thing is that Ken Catalino doesn’t forgive John Lennon, and he’s tight with the Big Guy. (Wait a minute, is Catalino suggesting Lennon had been sent to Hell?)
Having seen people drive slowly on L.A. freeways while texting and not looking at the road, I can’t back the kids on this one. Now stop texting in your SUV on my lawn.
That was a remarkable landing in the Hudson. Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger reportedly had 11 Facebook fan clubs by the next day. I agree that talk of “miracles” should be kept in perspective, but bravo and well done to everyone involved in the landing and rescue.
Matt Millen is possibly the worst football GM ever and thus might not have been the best choice for Super Bowl analyst, but I see no need to insult Jessica and Homer Simpson. The Detroit NBC affiliate came up with a better solution – they ran a caption underneath Millen that said:
Matt Millen was president of the Lions for the worst eight-year run in the history of the NFL. Knowing his history with the team, is there a credibility issue as he now serves as an analyst for NBC Sports?
Bill Kristol, you’re on notice.
Well, that’s it for this time!
Editorial cartooning is a fine American tradition, and as always, we celebrate the right of cartoonists of all sorts to mock others, as well as our right to mock them.
As usual, feel free to vote for the most offensive/ridiculous/stupid/funny cartoon(s) of this installment in the comments.
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