January 23, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

Gone Fishing

Fixing to go on hiatus for the next few weeks and missing y’all already.  In the meantime I leave you with some recent things for print.  First, some thoughts on topics I might have blogged on:

The heart and soul of The New Yorker apparently is NOT fired.  Stanley Ledbetter, the erudite, urbane receptionist/gallery curator/philosopher-king of the mag has escaped the Newhouse axe, but, I read, will not be out front anymore.  So great is our print crisis that Condé Nast has hired an outside efficiency expert (yes, like in the old sitcoms) to tell them whom they can do without.  13 other firings so far and, god save us, more are promised.  If Stanley is there, I will still believe in green shoots.

Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, ultra-right mob wilding at town halls and the Birthers.  The loss of meaning, the loss of brain matter in the US.  Since when is it sort of okay to be this stupid!!!?  Since http://gawker.com/5330803/glenn-beck-man-of-a-thousand-voices?autoplay=true?skyline=true&s=i

The other day I caught the restored and expanded print of All Quiet on the Western Front at the Film Forum.  It is a sight to behold. Perhaps the greatest anti-war statement ever made on film.  If the war wasn’t the war to end all wars, this film could have been the thing to do it.  Alas, the world doesn’t work that way.  Thinking about that war now, as the last British Tommy, Harry Patch passes we are reminded of the horror of that war and the dreadful pointless bloodshed that raised the curtain on the 20th Century.  The war left Harry ferociously anti-war.  From the Times today,” His message was not the traditional story of valor and patriotism under fire. Rather, he took as his themes the futility of war and the common humanity of soldiers who meet as enemies on the battlefield.

“It was a gospel expressed in the simple language of a man who was a 19-year-old private when he was struck by the burst of a German shell over the British trenches in September 1917 and sent home to recover from his wounds. Working as a plumber in Wells until his retirement, he lived to the age of 111 before he died on July 25, when he was listed by Britain’s Defense Ministry as the last survivor among the millions of British soldiers who fought in the trenches on the Western Front. The last French and German veterans of the trenches died earlier this decade.

“In his last years, he became a national celebrity, memorialized in a poem written by Andrew Motion, then the poet laureate, and in a song fashioned from Mr. Patch’s own words about the fighting in the trenches that was recorded by the pop group Radiohead (“I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground/I’ve seen hell upon this earth.”) He met it all with the same modesty, saying that it was not he who should be honored but the men who fell at the battlefront, “the ones who didn’t come home.”  Here’s that piece:

The boy in All Quiet who returns to the old classroom and tells the truth to the kids, I see now, could have been Harry:

While we can, I want to salute our last doughboy.  And as Harry said, all of the souls sacrificed, even the Germans.  He had German soldier pallbearers, by the way.

If you’re going after someone in American politics you either use stats for the NewsHour / NY Times crowd, or see how low below the belt you can go, alá Rush / Drudge.  Over in the UK they use a kind of hybrid, all done with a very sharp and quick scalpel.  Soon the pol walks quietly away in pieces.  Check out this calmly ferocious piece on Gordon Brown by Howard Jacobson in TNR.

I did a totem pole some weeks ago and it snowballed into a spring/summer project.  Here are some recent ones:

The Weed Ring550On the Mexican Drug Wars

Terminator Timeline550On California’s new economic situation.

Pakistani Nuclear Totem Pole550The Pakistani Nuke Totem.

So that’s it for a while. I promise a full report on the flip. Till then stay well and cool everyone. And keep making noise.

Beer Garden

Beers 550The beers may have been cold on Thursday, but did they cool the emotions of the folks involved? I suspect the cold compress will require more regular application.

“Would the gentleman be interested in what the people have to say?”

Mr. Obama550To an illustrator, a cardinal sin is getting your metaphor wrong.  Leave it to the GOP.  Sen. Jim De Mint , who recently called for Health Care Reform to be Obama’s Waterloo, is a case in point.  He should have said that it would be his “Willet’s Creek”.  The better metaphor is Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in which, you’ll remember, the young naif accidentally steps on the Boss’ toes and eventually and painfully discovers who really runs things in Washington.  The Taylor Machine, in the film, crushes him with public opinion.  Telegrams ginned up by a controlled media put the finishing touches on Smith and his bill.  The fix is in (Capra’s Hollywood ending notwithstanding).
Mr. Obama’s health care bill is stuck in the August recess, now hanging out in the open for a one million dollar-a-day ad campaign by a well-oiled Insurance and Big Pharma industries.  Already people are frightened out of their skulls with nonsense about old people being driven to suicide.
And now the results are coming in. In the new NY Times/CBS Poll we see the numbers change in just 30 days . . . and these are the first 30 days.
Very concerned that a “government program” will force your health care to get worse? In June, 28%, now July 41%.  Should the government guarantee health insurance for all Americans? June 64%, July 55%.  Would you be required to change doctors? June, 33%, July 37%.
The numbers creep with the onslaught of the campaign.  So now it’s August.  The bill is stalled, just as the industry and GOP and Blue Dog Dems wanted.  The Congress goes on holiday and the ads and the right wing echo chamber really can get to work.  And they are just warming up.
What is the strategy now? It’s just Obama, his allies, their money and the common sense that a public that may or may not be able to hear anymore.
For those who can’t see the clip, here’s what Jeff Smith (played by Jimmy Stewart, screenplay by Sydney Buchman) says before they lower the boom:

“Get up with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome . . . take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery.  You’ll see the whole parade of what man’s carved up for himself after centuries of fighting.  And fighting for something better than just jungle law.  But fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet and be free and decent, like he was created.  . .  . There’s no place out there for graft, or greed or lies or compromise with human liberties. . . . And it’s not too late.  Because this country is bigger than the Taylors or you or me or anything else.  Great principles don’t get lost when they come to light.  They’re right here.  You just have to see them again.”