Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

An Anniversary Nobody Really Cheered About

Well, at least we kept Peoria from being nuked by Saddam Hussein...

Please Note: the Anniversary Cake is Yellow

Last week, we saw the passing of the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq war—ooops, excuse me, Congress never declared war, so, ummmm, what do we call it?

When the airplanes struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, somewhere amid the horror of what I was seeing rose an additional realization, “Oh, my God, we’ve just had our Reichstag Fire.” I could see with horrifying clarity that this would be the defining moment that turned the United States from its democratic principles to something totally antithetical to the dreams of our nation’s Fathers. We have resisted the impulse of creating concentration camps for Moslems–we incarcerated many, but mostly exiled them for visa transgressions. We have created gulags where we gathered a mostly hapless group of alleged terrorists whose major crime seems to have been being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the wrong person wanted to collect a reward. We HAVE built massive PRISONS, but these are privately run camps to provide slave labor and corporate profit and anyone can enter. We passed the grossly obscene “Patriot” act through which almost any crime can be considered to be an act of terrorism–when the need arises.

Our incursion into Afghanistan almost looked legitimate. We claimed the head of, what was his name, Osama bin Laden? Yes, he was there, later on he claimed credit for “9/11″, which our government was already doing within minutes of the tower falls–since it had pointedly ignored the warnings from the intelligence community of terrorist actions inside the US. He was there, but the Taliban government had the nerve to ask for evidence before they would consider handing him over. So like a western posse, we went in and cleaned up the corruption in Rock Ridge and hunted down bin Laden until we were just yards from his hiding place in the mountains when…

Wait, what? The real danger is from Iraq? The country which had been under UN sanctions for a decade? Whose dictator, Saddam Hussein, couldn’t even afford to buy shoes for his army? HE had weapons of mass destruction? Yes, we had the ominous YELLOW CAKE requests–which turned out to be forgeries. We had George Bush and Tony Blair smirking their way into war. We had Dick Cheney and Condi Rice promising us mushroom clouds of doom if nothing was done immediately. We had a mountain of evidence that Colin Powell presented at the UN. I remember listening to him and being absolutely convinced by the man’s sense of sincerity… until the next morning, when I realized that all that evidence had no context. That if you believed it was something bad it was, but those conversations about hiding things could have just as easily been hiding the porn when the inspectors arrived.

And so we went off and destroyed a country within weeks. Killed several thousand Americans and maimed 10s of thousands. Killed 100s of thousands Iraqis and destroyed the infrastructure of the country. Wasted around two trillion dollars (when asked about the loss of a trillion dollars from the Pentagon budgets, Donald Rumsfeld remarked, “I’ll have to look into that,” and didn’t) which the Tea Party is now trying to collect from the poorest among us. For which sinful errors of judgment or outright acts of war-mongering for profit no one has been held accountable.

Many of us felt powerless to do anything to stop it. Only after the deed was done did I decide that I could do a political cartoon series against these criminals. I was scared too–protesting the war COULD have been considered an act of terrorism according to the Patriot Act.

HAPPY F$%^&*G ANNIVERSARY.

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And the Magic Word is: al-Qaeda

What? We're still fighting 'al-Qaeda' in Afghanistan?

Say the magic word and we can have troops there until doomsday.

“You Bet Your Life!” “Say the magic woid,” Groucho would say, but our answer today is, “and we can have troops anywhere until doomsday.”

President Obama made a surprise trip to Kabul the other week as part of his up-and-running campaign against the Mittster to emphasize that HE was the one to have success in our Middle Eastern snafu, that the troops supported him and–possibly an afterthought–shore up some agreements about our post-2014-withdrawal presence in Afghanistan. What? you say–we’re going to keep a presence in Afghanistan? You bet your bippy. We still have a “presence” in Italy, Germany and Japan, 67 years after the end of WWII, much to the dismay of the Japanese although, except for the Okinawans, nobody is saying it very loud.

So the issue is, how many troops will we keep in Afghanistan after we remove all our troops from Afghanistan? I bet you thought “removing all our troops” mean “removing all our troops”! How cute! Don’t you know? According to the President, we’re still fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

AHhhh, the magic word! Al-Qaeda! Everything is justified after 9-11 by the use of that name! It justifies almost 11 long hard years of wasting countless dollars and thousands of American lives–not to mention the 100s of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan lives–and is the ne plus ultra raison d’etre for this morass (and I do mean MORE ASS!).

Now you may argue that there’s really only two al-Qaeda operatives IN Afghanistan since almost all of the left for Pakistan. We don’t really know what we know about al-Qaeda levels–it’s one of Mr. Rumsfeld’s unknown knowns. But that’s the way we are. We can’t make war on an ally, so we do the next best thing and make war on their next-door neighbor to prove how tough we are. That doesn’t mean we can’t break the rule sovereignity by pulling an assassination raid in Pakistan to get rid of Osama bin Laden–al-Qaeda again justified it!

Now our friends on the Republican side of the aisle and Fox and Friends have been raising a stink lately (a year later) over whether or not Obama SHOULD have authorized a raid that THEY would have authorized in a New York minute but now have to be critical of since Obama led the charge. AND getting upset that Obama is “spiking the ball” for having accomplished it, forgetting that George W. Bush spiked the ball on first down before we’d gotten anywhere NEAR the endzone. But that’s the way it is. Remember, they were FOR killing Osama before they were against it!

The I Ching says the superior man’s actions are both good AND correct. Unfortunately, superior men seem to be in short supply in politics today.

I will be in the Philadelphia area next weekend for ZENKAIKON, specifically, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, May 11-12. I’ll be returning on Sunday, so I won’t be doing a cartoon next weekend, but will return on the 20th. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

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All you really need is heart…

Dick Cheney wakes up in the hospital to discover a side effect of his transplant--he's suddenly developed a "heart"

"You've got to have heart..."

Two stories of note this week: the shooting of Trayvon Martin–which actually occurred a month ago today–and Dick Cheney’s new bundle of joy. I’ve always found myself to have a reluctance to draw cartoons about things that are sad. Things that make me angry on the other hand are fair game. And the shooting of Trayvon Martin makes me sad. But the reaction of the Fox News types is worth derision.

On one hand, you have Geraldo Rivera admonishing the dead kid about wearing a hoodie because it looks too “gangsta.” And then you have New Gringrich admonishing the President about noticing the kid was black. No two ways, Fox, it’s either racist or it ain’t. Add to this the “stand your ground” fans backing up shooter Zimmerman saying that he was only doing his job–self-appointed and told by the 911 operator not to pursue–and you start to wonder if their heads are in so far, will these guys ever see daylight again?

Fortunately, Melissa Harris-Perry took care of Geraldo, and the electorate looks like it will be taking care of Newt. And Paul Krugman reveals the truth about American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate shills behind the “stand your ground” laws.

Which leaves us Dick Cheney. The sight of all the people wishing him well with prayers for a speedy recovery—including those who’ve accused him of being a war-profiteer, a war criminal, and responsible for the sinking of the US reputation to historic lows by ‘OK’ing tortures the Japanese were hanged for after WWII—warms my heart. This is the mark of a civil society. We do live by the Golden Rule: Do not do unto the previous Administration as you would not have the next Administration do unto you.

Now a churlish man would be making comments about Mr. Cheney’s heart transplant like “Where’d they find one that small?” Or, “This one is perfect, Igor, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Or, “Wow, the old one really was made of stone–this will fetch a high price on EBAY!” But we won’t do so. Instead, we’ve decided to honor Mr. Cheney with some verses of a song:

Dick had to have heart,
Cheney really needed heart.
They kept saying that you didn’t have one.
But here’s one for a fresh start!

You never lost hope,
When they kept on saying nope,
Like with those weapons that could never be found,
Those visions were sound, your critics dopes.

Don’t you think of Halliburton,
And the profits from the war,
You will only feel some hurtin’,
And who knows what you’d outpour
to an enhanced interrogation!

So pick up the phone,
And when you hear the dial tone,
Tell your friend that you are sorry you graced
with buckshot his face,
it wasn’t smart,
Now you’ve finally got heart.

No applause please, the patient is convalescing.

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FINALLY!

A tank leaves Iraq--a little bit more peace on earth.

Going home--now let's wind up Afghanistan

Four score minus 72 years ago–the length only SEEMS Lincolnian–eight, nearly nine years, to be exact, the United States armed forces gave up the hunt for bin Laden when only a football field away from his cave to go into Iraq and do–something. It was never too clear what that something was. It was supposed to be to disarm and save the world Saddam Hussein, the mad dictator who possessed thousands of WMDs in a country that had been under UN economic sanctions for over ten years. The world was treated to visions of mushroom clouds, dancing over their heads, if this action wasn’t taken. For some reason, the French, Russians and Chinese weren’t impressed. We focused our indignation on the French and named them “surrender monkeys,” and without imprimatur of UN resolutions, blitzkrieged our way to Baghdad.

Funny thing, turns out the French were right. No WMDs. That’s OK, they’re still surrender monkeys to the vast numbers of Americans who were convinced that Saddam Hussein was going to nuke their mall in days if we didn’t invade. Turns out the country was broke–that decade of economic sanctions had done its work. The troops who faced the American-led onslaught barely had shoes, let alone WMDs. The country was SO broke in fact, that Saddam Hussein was using his reputation for insanity and for once having WMDs to protect his country from being attacked by one of his neighbors! Talk about a strategy being too successful!

The war, we were told, would pay for itself. The oil that we’d get first crack at would lower the energy bills for the United States 10 times over. Hmmmm, I wonder how THAT worked out. Forty-five bucks to fill the tank of a Honda CIVIC??? We were also told the war would be so cheap that it wasn’t worth putting on the budget. Nearly a trillion dollars later we can chalk that up as another miscalculation.

Lives? Only about 5000 American, British and “coalition of the blackmailed”. But over 100,000 Iraqi lives. The wounded figures are far greater and the wounds they suffered are far more severe because we can save lives better than we can save limbs or protect heads from explosions. The number of Americans with PTSD number in the hundreds of thousands.

A little over 8 years ago, I began a cartoon series, Hail Dubyus! lampooning the Bush administration in the hope of being even a small voice of sanity. Like the WMDs, my influence was vastly over-rated :D When the Bush era finally ended and the new era of hope began, I changed the name of my cartoon. I was under no illusion that things would be immediately better. In some significant ways, they are. In others, we’re in worse shape than we were before, mostly due to Congressional obstruction and economic advisors whose loyalty to Wall Street has been greater than their concern for Main Street, a chief executive who thought that good faith negotiations were possible with people who have pledged themselves to his destruction, and a Supreme Court that thinks that while all men are created equal, dollar for dollar they’re not quite as equal as corporations. On top of that, as our troops finally leave Iraq in accordance with our word to the government that we set up, these same Congressional obstructionists ask if we shouldn’t stay there a little longer to better fulfill our goals.

WHAT GOALS?

I lift my voice in thanksgiving that some of our forces will be home for Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Solstice and whatever other year end celebrations they will be able to partake of without being shot at. Happiest of holidays for them and their families! My wish for the New Year is that soon we will be able to finish whatever it is we started in Afghanistan and bring those troops home as well. And so we shall be able to say ourselves, as GIR observed when Invader ZIM told him that he could now self-destruct:

FINALLY!

Happy Holidays to Everyone. We shall take a winter break until January 23 to have time to update the website and work on other projects and get fat on Christmas cookies.

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The Other Day At #OccupyDC

I WILL BE POSTING A NEW CARTOON ON TUESDAY OCT 18, TO RECOVER FROM THE NEW YORK COMIC CON.

No cartoon this week because it is the October 12th holiday (celebrated on October 10 this year). It’s not very PC to like Columbus Day anymore and for some very good reasons, like celebrating the introduction of slavery and genocide to the New World. On the other hand, it is the official start of Western civilization in the Western Hemisphere and that, for good or for ill, is something worth remembering. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I have an emotional attachment to the holiday since it is my birthday and I LOVE to get a day off for my birthday, even if the actual date falls on a Monday only once out of every seven years–3 out of 7 if you include the weekend. Nevertheless, I do not have any emotional attachment to Columbus himself, since he seems to have been something of a jerk, so I would not be adverse to anyone changing the celebratory intent of the holiday. Unfortunately, no one is going to call it Greg Day, so let’s call it American Culture Day. Just leave it in the second week of October, thank you. I don’t want to have to go changing my birth records to make my birthday July the 4th–you not only get a day off ON the day, but you get fireworks too! And Happy Birthday to all the other October 12ers out there–you’re special people since you partake in MY DAY!

Anyway, since I knew I was going to take some time off today, I decided belatedly to try to find out what was happening at #OccupyDC sometime BEFORE whatever it was they were going to do got done so I could actually get down there and do it with them. #OccupyDC is our local version of the #OccupyFillInTheBlank movement that is slowly gathering momentum throughout the country. The most well-known of these is, of course, #OccupyWallStreet which was finally discovered by the mainstream news the other week when some cop decided to randomly pepperspray some of the protestors on camera and then several days later when 700 people were induced to take paddywagon rides at the City’s expense. I have mentioned OWS a few times in here, but well, quite frankly I was kind of unaware of the DC branch until it had been in existence for a few weeks. This is what I get for getting so much of my news from the Huffington Post–there weren’t any Kardashians taking part in it so it never made the Front Page (THX Arianna for selling out to AOL).

Anyway, I made my way over to McPherson Square on Friday where the Washington Post had said a march to the IMF building was to start. There was a small crowd there, since, I was told, the MAIN group which was actually starting the demonstration was at “Liberty Plaza”, a place I had no idea existed, unless he meant Liberty Square in Manhattan. Which I later found out was actually “Freedom Plaza”, a place I had actually heard about in my 40-odd years in the DC area. We really need some originality in naming our landmarks and parks. What the heck, since it was starting down there, I had time to get new batteries for my camera and a chili dog–it’s my only weakness. Anyway, a few minutes after the introduction of food to my digestive system, the main group arrived and the forces swelled to about 300-400 people and off we went, alternately chanting “Occupy Wall Street, Occupy K Street,” and singing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land.” It almost felt like the 70s–well, a hallucinogenically-deprived version thereof.

We had a big police escort–something like a dozen police cruisers and a few dozen officers on foot or bicycle. But it was not an NYPD situation–there was a respect between the protestors and the police. Partially because the group has not hit the size necessary for over-reacting and partially because, I suspect, many of the police unofficially sympathized with what the protest was about. Besides, most of the bigwigs at IMF had already absconded for the weekend, rather than face all those “people.”

Despite the snide remarks of some of the pundits and professional pooh-poohers, it is not unknown what the demands of the #Occupiers are. Pace President Obama, we are not frustrated with a system that doesn’t seem to work, we are DISGUSTED with one that only DOES work for the top 1%. We are disgusted that the banks which caused the economic mess the entire world is in because of their greed were deemed too important to allow them to bear the brunt of their sins. That they were bailed out to the tune of 3/4 of a trillion dollars while the victims of their greed were allowed to go bust and get thrown out of their homes. We are disgusted that we, the taxpayers, had to bear the brunt of this cost while the banksters themselves were not only not punished, but rewarded themselves with billions of dollars in “bonuses” and didn’t even get their taxes raised or even get regulations prohibiting their worst activities. We are disgusted with “corporate personhood” which has enshrined political dependency on corporate largess. We are disgusted that corporations are so much more important than people that so-called health care reform was formulated around the institutionalization of parasitical health insurance companies. We are disgusted that so much importance is laid on the deficit at a time when government spending is needed for the American people that important job supporting programs like rebuilding the infrastructure and education are being cut left and right to satisfy a small bunch of yahoos who want to “drown government in the bathtub.” And we are disgusted that so much of our resources are being wasted by wars that we seem to be fighting solely so that we “don’t lose.” And finally, but most of all, we are disgusted that no one is listening to us.

Anyway, here’s a few of the pictures I took while on the march. You can see the entire album at my Flickr pages. Have a great holiday and happy birthday to all my astrotwins out there!
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