Day: 2015.04.06

A Note on Cartoons and Communication

Detail of cartoon by McGettigan, 5 April 2015.

Sometimes you can just see that a relationship is in trouble. From the outset.

To the one, I owe a certain apology. Or maybe I should blame McGettigan. See, acknowledging a particular stick-figure comic strip, I tried explaining to my daughter how to go about drawing cartoon figures differently. The thing with setting hard outlines and then detailing is … er … well, right, we should probably pass that one off to a design specialist to explain. But I learned to draw stillframe cartoons by tracing Wasserman and Trudeau, and the first thing I learned in doing so was to save certain outlines and borders for last.

Nor can I say how anyone else actually does it, but the whole point was to get past a certain drawing style.

Just like we all strive to get past stick figures.

So, yeah, there’s Randall Munroe. And now there’s McGettigan; with New Yorker styling to his panels and a sense of humor verging toward Kliban. And now I have to figure out some other way to explain basic cartooning to my daughter.

Then again, as tasks go, that’s one to hope for any day.

To the other, right. Relationships. Look, it’s one of those things we experience in daily life; now and again it comes up that we might witness others experiencing some sort of interpersonal crisis, and when you hear one say, “How was I supposed to know …?” the first instinct is to wonder how long one waited to ask.

What? In truth, you’d be surprised how many people need that lesson.

At least he didn’t slip peanuts into her chocolate chip cookies, you know?

(“But … but … how was I supposed to know secretly feeding you peanuts would kill you?”)

(No, really, the jokes only go downhill from there.)

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McGettigan, Merp. “New Heights (#75)”. The Story Enthusiast. 5 April 2015.

Something Important

Evangelist Joshua Fuerstein, April, 2015.  (Image: WKMG)

Well, right. Almost missed this. How could we almost miss this?

Days after the anti-gay pizzeria controversy rocked Indiana, former televangelist Joshua Feuerstein went after a Longwood, Florida, bakery for refusing to put the words “We do not support gay marriage” on a cake.

Feuerstein made the request himself, and when Cut The Cake owner Sharon Haller refused, she said threats started pouring in.

“He wanted us to put a hateful message on a cake, and I said, ‘We’re not gonna do that,’” Haller told Orlando news station WKMG Local 6, adding, “We started getting some hundreds of phone calls and making very nasty and negative gestures towards our business, towards us.”

As for Feurestein, he believes he’s teaching a lesson about tolerance.

(Weingus)

This is just another example of a conservative failing to comprehend basic differences. In this case, what, between merely existing and choosing how one exists? Or between existing and expressing? How about the basic difference between celebration and antagonism? Sympathy and hatred? Any of this ringing a bell? Of course it isn’t.

Christianity is a choice; being gay isn’t. Ms. Haller can no more refuse Mr. Fuerstein service for simply being Christian than any other baker can refuse service to a gay person simply for being gay. Asking businesses to go out of their way to be hateful and provocative? That’s a different notion altogether, and apparently one that is too complicated for those who have sacrificed their intellects for the appearance of pious faith.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Weingus, Leigh. “Florida Bakery Faces Threats After Refusing To Print Anti-Gay Message On A Cake”. The Huffington Post. 5 April 2015.

Fifteen Minutes, and Then Some

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 6 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.

Cynicism can be difficult.

Well, okay: Cyncism can be difficult for a person with a conscience.

Not long ago there emerged in my circles a notion that bakers and florists refusing to serve gay weddings “were probably going under before”, a note that prompted a brief and general reflection at the time: “blaming the government and calling yourself a victim is one way to appeal to the fifteen minutes”, and, “It seems like almost a side note, but watch how showbiz and the fifteen minutes become so many Americans’ backup plans”. It really is a cyncial outlook, except reality keeps suggesting it; funds raised on behalf of picking a fight with gay people reinforce the notion that “a stunt like this would seem more plausible to the actors because they can reasonably hope for a crowdsourced bailout”.

That seems to be where this is all going. Over at Huffington Post, Cavan Sieczkowski reports on the fundraising response to over $840,000 given in support of an Indiana pizzeria that picked a fight, cried that they were being bullied, and shut down their business; it’s been a profitable “fifteen minutes” for the O’Connor family. And Dominique Mosbergen reports on Baronelle Stutzman, a bigot from Richland, Washington, who has collected $94,000 in donations with a similar publicity stunt.

Meanwhile, also via HuffPo, a bit of good news: At least the courts can still tell the difference.

Or, as Curtis M. Wong brings word that Marjorie Silva did not discriminate against William Jack when she refused to decorate a cake with “derogatory language and imagery”.

It is really easy to be cynical toward these stunts posing alleged acts of conscience as an appeal to crowdsourcing and the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. To the other, we hear a lot from conservatives about “sincere beliefs”, so it’s not entirely fair to be so condemning in our assessments; after all, there remains a strong possibility that people like the O’Connors and Ms. Stutzman really are that stupid.

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Image note: Detail of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow, 6 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.

Sieczkowski, Cavan. “That Anti-Gay Indiana Pizzeria That Received $840,000? This ‘Pizza’ Supports The LGBT Community.” The Huffington Post. 5 April 2015.

Mosbergen, Dominique. “Supporters Raise More Than $94,000 For Florist Who Refused To Sell Flowers For Same-Sex Wedding”. The Huffington Post. 6 April 2015.

Wong, Curtis M. “Colorado’s Azucar Bakery Did Not Discriminate By Refusing To Bake Anti-Gay Cakes, Court Rules”. The Huffington Post. 6 April 2015.

The Lindsey Graham Show (Pilot: Crash and Burn)

"US Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham speaks during a US Senate Armed Services Committee on global challenges and US national security strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington." (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

“The best deal comes with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side except maybe Rand Paul could do better.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

It is worth noting that Mr. Graham is apparently considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination, which would in turn bring him to contest Rand Paul’s ambitions. Still, though, the “Ouch!” about Palmetto senior senator’s jab is mutivalent. Then again, it is also predictable.

And if for some reason one is so interested in having a chuckle at Mr. Graham’s expense―no, really, we understand if you’re not interested in anything having to do with this once-respected statesman who has lately and so greatly tumbled into tinfoil and hatred―Darren Goode of Politico poses an interesting question: “Lindsey Graham: Too green for the GOP?”

No, really. That’s the headline.

Graham, who bases his climate views as much on Scripture as on science, balked when asked whether the GOP needs a moderating voice — akin to the pro-science, pro-climate-action role that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman played in the 2012 Republican primaries ....

.... And unlike Huntsman, Graham isn’t about to lecture people who disagree with him or aren’t willing to join the cause publicly.

“I’m OK with the science behind climate change. But if you’re not, that’s OK with me,” Graham said. “But what is our position about the emissions? What’s our position about the Clean Air Act? What would we do as Republicans to ensure that the next generation enjoys a healthy environment, being good stewards of God’s green earth?”

And that’s what counts as “too green for the GOP”.

Chris Warren, a spokesman for the Koch-affiliated American Energy Alliance, put it simply: “I don’t think anyone is taking Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid too seriously.” We need not wonder why.

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Schneider, Howard and Doina Chiacu. “U.S. Republican Graham says Hillary could have reached better deal on Iran”. Reuters. 5 April 2015.

Goode, Darren. “Lindsey Graham: Too green for the GOP?”. Politico. 5 April 2015.

When the GOP Turns Against ‘Job Creators’

Mike Huckabee, circa 2012.  (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“But let’s not miss the forest for the trees – since when do Republicans argue, in effect, ‘Let’s stop listening to private-sector business leaders’?”

Steve Benen

It’s a fair question. And it’s also an ugly, sticky mess Republicans have gotten themselves into.

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Benen, Steve. “The GOP finds itself at odds with ‘job creators'”. msnbc. 6 April 2015.

Mr. Paul’s Integrity

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“He has integrity. That’s pretty much it in a nut shell.”

Dominic Damiano

While we’re on the subject of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the question arises as to what, exactly, is this myth of integrity about the Kentucky junior.

There is, certainly, Simon Maloy’s consideration of Paul’s coming presidential run―

The true “compromise” that’s happening here is on Rand Paul’s much-vaunted libertarian principles, which he’s shown an eager willingness to shed as he moves closer and closer to announcing his presidential candidacy. He debuted on the national scene as a Republican who would stand on principle to buck the Republican establishment, and since then he’s steadily diluted his own positions to bring them into closer alignment with the mainstream of the party. The Rand Paul who once scoffed at the Republican “hawks” and “interventionists” has since joined their ranks in calling for a sustained military campaign to “destroy” the Islamic State. He used to support cutting aid to Israel, but now denies ever having espoused that position.

Reversals like these also undercut what is supposed to be the core of Rand Paul’s appeal: that he’s a “different” kind of Republican who can hold on to hardcore conservatives while simultaneously poaching traditionally Democratic voters. “Rand is the Republican who has the best chance of keeping and energizing the base while going into their constituencies,” a Paul aide said last August. “It’s kind of dangerous to have a Republican like Rand.” With each flip-flop, Rand is turning himself into the thing he can’t afford to be: just another Republican.

―but even that examination of a “spectacular crash” starts with the erroneous presupposition that the fake libertarian was ever a “man of principle”. And perhaps it is true that he was in some context a man of principle, staunchly dedicated to being a racist and misogynist with some assertion of integrity about his supremacist paranoia, but that doesn’t mean he should be allowed anywhere near children.

And with such a definition of “integrity”, neither, it seems, should Mr. Damiano.

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McLaughlin, Tom. “Rand Paul hosts fundraising dinner in Destin”. Northwest Florida Daily News. 30 March 2015.

Maloy, Simon. “Rand Paul’s spectacular crash: How a man of principle turned into a generic politician”. Salon. 26 March 2015.

Mr. Paul’s Priority

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) listens during a news conference on military sexual assault November 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  A bipartisan group of senators are pushing to create an independent military justice system with the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images).

It’s pretty simple. To the one, we can all grasp the idea of taking a bit of time to charge up before a long, hard run. To the other, there is a question of priorities:

Should an aspiring presidential candidate break a self-imposed silence for …

• … a matter of war and peace?

• … a civil rights question of vital importance and escalating clamor?

• … the satsifaction of some lobbyists in Iowa, where you hope to win the Ames Straw Poll later this year?

Whatever you or I might decide, we are not Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Scott Conroy of Huffington Post explains:

Despite the Paul camp’s avowal of reticence in the week leading up to his announcement, in a story published in Politico on Wednesday afternoon, an anonymous Paul aide was quoted affirming the senator’s support for a bill backed by the ethanol industry―an influential lobbying bloc in Iowa.

At least we know what is important to Sen. Paul. You know, because he is about to spend months telling us how much he cares about this issue or that. His priorities are clear.

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Image note: WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 06: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) listens during a news conference on military sexual assault November 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of senators are pushing to create an independent military justice system with the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images).

Conroy, Scott. “Rand Paul Opts For An Extended ‘No Comment’ On Indiana Law, Iran Deal”. The Huffington Post. 2 April 2015.

Appalachia Sunshine

“You know what they always say. As goes Mark Sanford, so goes the nation.”

Meredith Shiner

Is that what they always say? I thought it was something about hiking the Appalachian Trail in search of the Golden Palace of the Himalayas.

"You know what they always say. As goes Mark Sanford, so goes the nation." (Meredith Shiner, 6 April 2015, via Twitter)Five points if you know what that means.

And, no, it’s not really that important.

But, seriously, Mark Sanford?

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Shiner, Meredith. “You know what they always say”. Twitter. 6 April 2015.

A Matter of War and Peace

This would probably be a good time to pay attention to the news cycle:

Detail of cartoon by Randall Enos, 4 April 2015, via Cagle Post.For most independent experts, assessments of the preliminary framework tend to range from good to surprisingly good to astonishingly good. Among congressional Republicans, those parameters vary from bad to Neville Chamberlain to oh-God-oh-God-we’re-all-going-to-die levels of opposition.

The question, however, is not what GOP lawmakers intend to do; the now infamous “Iran letter” from 47 Senate Republicans already makes clear just how far the congressional majority will go to sabotage American foreign policy. Rather, the pressing matter at hand is whether Democrats will help the Republicans’ sabotage campaign.

(Benen)

It is easy enough to grasp the Republican position; this is about the New American Century, and an opportunity to create a new worldwide rivalry akin to the Cold War in the guise of a series of blazingly hot wars across the Middle East and into South Asia.

More mysterious is the Democratic motivation. In the face of Republican warmongering, we find ourselves wishing that just once the Democrats could actually go about their jobs with some degree of collective competence.

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Image noteDetail of cartoon by Randall Enos, 4 April 2015, via Cagle Post.

Benen, Steve. “To sabotage or not to sabotage, that is Congress’ question”. msnbc. 5 April 2015.