Matt Wuerker

Reince and the Chain Gang

'Harder boys!' (Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, via Daily Kos Comics, 16 April 2015.(chortle!)

This is one of those obvious points, you know, the kind where a cartoonist like Matt Wuerker might feel somehow obliged, as a matter of simple duty, to remind that just because ideas or behavior might seem mundane cannot be taken to mean they are not extraordinary. That is to say, among works of genius we rarely place such cartoons, but neither is that the point.

“I kicked a giant mouse in the butt!” Homer declared. “Do I have to draw you a diagram?”

Yes, sometimes people need pictures.

Of course, that is the wonderful thing about human frailty, isn’t it? Certain Republicans would just be offended by the notion.

By “certain”, of course, we mean, “seemingly all of them”. Then again, that’s not exactly true either. The Republican Party and its affiliated community are not entirely devoid of minds and consciences capable of understanding the critique.

The question for them is what they can do about it. This is not an enviable conundrum.

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Wuerker, Matt. “Reince’s Women Issues”. Daily Kos Comics. 16 April 2015.

Something About Justice

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, 27 November 2014 (via Daily Kos Comics)This is what it comes to. This is the problem. And no, it is not so simple as black and white.

Jenny Durkan, formerly a U.S. Attorney from Seattle, offered some insights recently, in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson with any crimes related to the shooting death of Michael Brown, about why it is hard to secure any sense of justice when police officers have the appearance of being criminals. “I know firsthand,” she writes, “how difficult it is to prosecute police officers.” And then she recounts a really awful period in the history of the Seattle Police Department, a force whose misconduct demanded and received federal attention, a story that is still playing out, a hyperdrama that includes the police complaining that they cannot do their jobs properly and safely without excessive force.

There comes a point at which some might argue that of course the police are going to fight for every last scrap of force, and it really is properly arguable in the context of how the laws of our society operate and intermingle with diverse customs. Trying to identify a threshold between what is tacitly known and accepted—officers can customize their incident reports, omitting or rearranging details as they please to make for a more prosecutable narrative, and the state is allowed to destroy the evidence that would support or contradict those narratives—is an abstraction both peculiar and common. It is customarily inappropriate to speak ill of the police in any terms, which is its own bizarre question insofar as we should not hold our breath for any explanation of just how one applies to become black.

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Election Reflection

It seems a vicious cycle.

One party, usually the Republican Party, stoops to a new low in campaigning. The people validate the maneuver because negative ads, argumentative fallacies, and outright lies are much more entertaining than boring policy details. Now it’s on the market. The other party must play along, or else get waxed yet again. And that’s when voters start complaining.

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, via Daily Kos, 6 November 2014.It’s been this way at least since Atwater.

Who remembers 2004?

With John Kerry on the Democratic ticket, a pack of angry conservatives who showed up for basically any election he was involved in unleashed their fury on the nation, denouncing him as having received combat awards he did not deserve. It got so bad that a man named Paul Galanti denounced truth as un-American. But the ringleader, named Larry Thurlow, swore up and down that he had eyes on Kerry and the future Massachusetts senator and U.S. Secretary of State did not do what the reports earning his medals said he did.

One of Kerry’s awards was for pulling a man out of the drink under fire. This is an ironic setup, of course, because life provides great punch lines.

Larry Thurlow himself received awards for that day.

And there was a third medal. Eventually a reporter figured out who received it and obtained the relevant reports.

That medal was for pulling Larry Thurlow out of the drink, while under fire.

You would think that would pretty much end the fake scandal. Except it didn’t.

The accusations continued to erode Kerry’s credibility, despite the fact of being untrue.

So the question is: In a competitive marketplace, why would what works not be adopted by competitors?

So every time Americans reward that kind of vice with votes, they are simply setting themselves up for more viciousness.

And then they complain about the wretched state of our politics.

There seems to be a contradiction in that outcome.

It is almost as if we are enacting a modern variation on the ancient scapegoat ritual, and elect politicians specifically to complain about them. And while that might seem an entertaining sport of some kind, it also has real, living consequences.

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Wuerker, Matt. “Poli Sci”. Daily Kos. 6 November 2014.