There is much fretting in Republican quarters about the lousiness of their presidential candidates. While it's true that Romney and Santorum both have weird if not downright repulsive personalities, it seems to me that Republican voters are getting more or less what they historically like: a Talibanesque theocrat, and Mr. 1% himself. Yes, yes, they both have their impurities, but really, either one would probably be more ideologically-consistent than Obama. Radical corporate-personhood types would be appointed to the Supreme Court, the social safety net would be slashed, the Global Gag rule reinstated. What Republicans want is a good ol' boy to make it all palatable to the masses. They're waiting for their cowboy to ride in on a horse and save the day with a Reaganesque smile and tip of the hat. But unless there's a brokered convention, they're stuck with major dweebs. (As some readers have pointed out, any Republican candidate is a major dweeb, but I'm referring specifically to backslapping/room-working skills.)
I realize creative destruction happens when technology changes, and to some extent it's inevitable. (The kind of "creative" destruction Romney practiced at Bain: not so good.) But some people become cheerleaders for economic disruption without the appropriate amount of empathy for affected workers, and that annoys me.
If you think the pundit in the cartoon bears a passing resemblance to Thomas Friedman, I won't argue with you. Friedman isn't as empathy-challenged as they come, but he's pretty bad. He endlessly fantasizes about retraining Americans to be high-tech imagineers, even though our current unemployment woes are broad-based, not structural.
"In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle... Average is over," he wrote in a recent tone-deaf column that glowingly referred to the above-average workers in China who were roused in the middle of the night to work a 12-hour shift installing iPhone screens. Aside from his apparent lack of concern that such labor conditions totally suck, it's kind of haughty to imply that the unemployed are suffering from a case of averageness. There are plenty of highly-educated Americans who can't find jobs -- never mind the fact that many jobs out there barely utilize your education. If we are to dismiss the average or subpar, then perhaps Friedman's column should be the first to go.
Few things are as grating as watching pundits like David Brooks get on a sanctimonious high horse about contraception and religious freedom, as though they were one with the salt-of-the-earth faithfolk. No matter that religious groups can be quite energetic about dictating public policy for those who believe differently than they do. If anything, forcing employees to conform to your religious beliefs seems to violate their freedom of conscience. It's not like the owners of Catholic hospitals and universities are being forced to pop the Pill themselves, or shtup with a government-mandated jimmy hat. Somewhere high above, the aliens are laughing at us.
And yes, my rendering of the Fallopitarian bishop is partly inspired by the Church Lady.
Exploring my outdoorsy side once again, I've got another travel piece in today's Oregonian. "Community spirit, Portland expatriates keep Galena Lodge aglow in the snow"
Lately I've been illustrating the Dallas Observer's local political column, written by Jim Schutze. Jim's column is something of an institution, so it's an honor to be providing the visuals. I've learned a lot about the Dallas political scene in the process, and can only say that Molly Ivins was probably right when she declared Texas politics the "finest form of free entertainment ever invented." Here are a couple recent ones; I may post more eventually.
I actually wrote this before M.I.A. flipped the bird at the Super Bowl halftime show, causing everyone to bring up Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction again. Such are the happy accidents of cartooning.
The blowback against Komen has been so impressive, I keep thinking of the March For Women's Lives that I attended in DC in 2004. It was a massive and awe-inspiring demonstration (though it barely registered a blip in the media). Hard to believe that was nearly eight years ago now.
To give credit where credit is due, my colleague Ward Sutton (whose work appeared on Daily Kos Comics a few months ago) drew a cartoon after the Janet Jackson incident that involved a chestal inscription. That image, unfortunately not online, is permanently seared into my brain. So he's kinda the Original Breastwriter.
If I only had a dollar for the number of times someone has accused me of hating the rich or wanting to punish success, I'd be a card-carrying member of the 1%. OK, I exaggerate slightly. But it's simply not true that that's where I'm coming from, nor is that the motivation behind OWS.
A couple weeks ago, the NYT published an article interviewing several wealthy people who had grumbly things to say about the Occupy movement. The quote that stuck in my mind was one from Adam Katz, the founder and CEO of private jet service Talon Air.
To many, 99 vs. 1 was an artificial distinction that overlooked hard work and moral character. "It shouldn’t be relevant," said Mr. Katz , who said he both creates jobs and contributes to charitable causes. "I’m not hurting anyone. I’m helping a lot of people."
It may well be the case that Mr. Katz is a decent person who's done a lot of good. But I find myself wondering: how does he vote? Does he support politicians who make it harder for ordinary people to be successful like him? Who appoint Supreme Court justices who seem hell-bent on creating plutocracy? Does he have any concern at all about our Gilded Age levels of inequality? Does he support the carried interest tax break that allows Mitt Romney to pay only a 13.9% income tax rate? These policies, and the arrogance, rationalizations, and excessive self-congratulation that lead to them are the things I hate. Not the rich. (Props, by the way, to the Patriotic Millionaires.)
Out of curiosity, I did a little digging about Katz's political contributions. According to this site, things ain't lookin' good.