January 22, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

The Hungry, Hungry Elephant

Here’s Mother Jones’ and my first post-election collaboration: the GOP as the party of crazy. This was for a package that included a great Kevin Drum piece that lays out what you would have to be asleep not to see, that the Republican party had better shake hands with reality before it becomes an irrelevant elephant.  Or irrelephant.

Here’s the process video made of this piece and others for this assignment, posted as well in the Mother Jones website.

Once again, as always, loving working with AD Carolyn Perot, Designer Tim Luddy, Editors in Chief  Monika Bauerline and Clara Jeffery. And all their support in print an in video.

Here’s the Drum piece in full:

Its birth certificate says that the tea party was born one month after Barack Obama’s inauguration, on the day that CNBC’s Rick Santelli delivered a blistering on-air tirade against Obama’s mortgage bailout plan. But that’s only the official story. In reality, we’ve seen the tea party before. When FDR was president, it was called the American Liberty League. When JFK was president, it was the John Birch Society. When Bill Clinton was president, it was the Vince Foster conspiracy theorists. America’s far right fluoresces like this whenever a Democrat is in the White House, and Obama’s first term was no exception.

But the tea party burned bright and fell fast. Sure, it galvanized opposition to Obama in a media-friendly kind of way, and helped power the Republican Party to a big majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterms. But given the state of the economy this was a victory they probably would have won anyway. And on the other side of the Capitol building, the tea party was almost certainly responsible for the loss of three winnable Senate seats that year. By 2012, after tea party forces nominated several more “wackadoodles” (in Republican strategist Steve Schmidt’s phrasing) and helped the GOP lose two more winnable Senate seats, its name was officially mud.

But none of that matters. The tea party has done its job, and for all practical purposes its hard-nosed, no-compromise ideology now controls the Republican Party in a way that neither the Birchers nor the Clinton conspiracy theorists ever did. It’s no longer a wing of the Republican Party, it is the Republican Party.

So what’s next? Having now lost two presidential elections in a row, conventional wisdom says Republicans have two choices. The first is to admit that tea partyism has failed. 2012 was its best chance for victory, and evolving demographics will only make hardcore conservatism less and less popular. As South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has put it, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” So the party will need to moderate or die.

The second option is to double down. Party activists will tell themselves that Mitt Romney was never a true conservative, and that’s what voters sensed. But Republicans can win again in 2016 if they stay true to their principles, moving farther right and amping up the obstruction of all things Obama even more. In Congress, Paul Ryan will be their pied piper and Eric Cantor will be their enforcer.

To most liberals, it seems obvious that if the GOP’s leaders are smart, they’ll choose the first option. But the truth is that this isn’t as obvious as we’d like to believe. After all, moving to the right has worked out pretty well for the party. In 1980, the Reagan revolution gave them control of the Senate for the first time in decades. In 1994, the Gingrich revolution gave them control of the House. In 1998 they impeached Bill Clinton, and two years later won the presidency. In 2009 the tea party took over, and in 2010 they won a landslide midterm victory. The truth is that an ever more radicalized GOP seems to have done at least as well as a more normal GOP probably would have done. Maybe better.

So for now, at least, it seems probable that we’re stuck with Option 2. Republican Party elders will probably try to be a little more careful about vetting candidates for political Tourette syndrome (no more “legitimate rape,” please), but otherwise the tea party strain will remain ascendant even if the name itself is relegated to the ash heap of history. Republicans will continue to deny climate change, continue to insist that tax cuts pay for themselves, and continue to believe that Barack Obama is a socialist revolutionary. They will once again hold America’s economy hostage over the debt ceiling and tax cuts for the rich, and they will continue to filibuster every single bill that Democrats introduce in the Senate.

That much is, frankly, so predictable as to be uninteresting. What is interesting is this: Why doesn’t the American electorate punish this behavior? After all, polls don’t suggest that the public has moved much to the right over the past few decades, and yet it continues to give an ever more right-wing Republican Party about 50 percent of the vote. What’s going on?

At this point we enter the realm of guesswork. One guess is that the public treats unhinged behavior from Republicans these days as merely a kind of brand marker, not something to be taken seriously. Based on past experience, they figure that once Republicans are actually in office they’ll talk crazy but mostly act like a fairly normal conservative party.

For liberals, a more unnerving guess is that we simply haven’t made ourselves into a consistently appealing alternative for persuadable centrists. We’re too eager to raise taxes. We display too much public contempt for things like religion and gun ownership. We don’t offer the middle class enough in the way of concrete benefits, and when we do (as with Obamacare) we sell it so poorly that people barely even realize what they’re getting.

If either—or both—of these things are true, it’s easy to see why Republican extremism hasn’t hurt them very much. The next few years, however, could finally be different. If Republicans hold the American economy hostage over the debt ceiling again, their crazy talk might start to sound a little more worrisome. If voters start taking climate change more seriously in the wake of Sandy, concerned independents might abandon a denialist GOP. If the growth of the black and Hispanic electorate causes Republicans to double down on efforts to suppress the nonwhite vote, they could provoke a serious backlash. And if Obamacare gets implemented competently and Democrats make serious progress on reining in the deficit, centrists might not have much reason left to vote against them.

In any case, there’s a simple message here for lefties: Don’t worry so much about Republicans. Worry about getting the public on our side. If we do that, the GOP will either back away from crazytown or else it will die a natural death. To borrow James Carville’s famous epigram, It’s Public Opinion, Stupid.

The Grey Wolf

This drawing of a grey wolf in snow reminds us that wolves are being hunted mercilessly in states like Montana and Idaho, after Congress has eliminated them from the endangered lists. It is the intention in some states to eradicate them. SIGN HERE: https://secure.defenders.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2437
to raise your voice, which of course, counts.

Contented Cow



This Independence Day we can celebrate a revolution in our thinking about food.  The happy beef cow above is a vision of the way things could be.  In last Sunday’s Washington Post piece on what agribusiness has turned into (and what it is turning US into), Traci McMillan, to paraphrase, submits facts to a candid world. This is the story of your hamburger.

Some points from the piece.

*Every American-raised burger (or steak) comes from cattle on one of about 742,000 ranches across the country. Yet 85 percent of them will be slaughtered by one of just four companies.

*This concentration is a problem for animals, whose chances of a humane slaughter diminish substantially as they crowd into increasingly mammoth facilities, and it is a problem for workers, who are forced to pick up the pace. It is risky for human health, since centralized processing makes it easy for meat contamination to spread far and wide.

*This is also bad for small farmers who cannot sometimes get their cattle to slaughter on time. Many of the these smaller operations are shutting down.

*Concentration is also bad for shoppers. The retail price of beef has been inching up since the 1990s, but “the inflation-adjusted price farmers receive has been going down,” says Robert Taylor, an Auburn University expert on the beef industry. “In a competitive market, [that] would translate into retail food prices going down . . . and that has not happened.”

*Wal-Mart has become a dominant baker of bread for buns. This cuts out small farmers and millers.  Wal-Mart will deal with another conglomerate on this and cut out competition but charging less all round. It also cuts out farmers.

*The tomatoes and lettuce are picked by migrants, immigrants, who are paid about $13,000 a year and are exposed to highly toxic pesticides. Many give birth to children with severe birth defects.

Tomorrow get organic, non-factory-raised beef, local vegetables and buns from a local bakery. Or order in pizza.



I can’t think of too many things more beautiful than a sea turtle.  My black and white drawing doesn’t do any justice to these amazing creatures.  They come in the morst brilliant color combinations.  They bring majesty and magic to the seas. And, as a result, we love them. US kids go to nesting grounds every year to help ensure their survival. So why do we allow them to drown by the thousands in US fishing nets?  Thanks to a net device called a Ted, turtles can escape. Let’s do what we can to make the fishing industry adopt Ted nets. Please read the below from Oceana and sign the petition for the Ted nets. On behalf of these guys.

Save Turtles from Nets

Turtle Excluder Devices (shown above) help turtles escape from fishing nets
Sign today to support TEDs and give turtles a second chance»

If a turtle gets swept up in a net, it’s in trouble. Sea turtles need air to breathe, and when held underwater by fishing gear, they will drown. Tens of thousands of turtles meet this fate in the US every year.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Turtle excluder devices (TEDs) are escape hatches for fishing nets—big turtles can push them open and swim away, while smaller fish or shrimp stay inside.

Help turtles escape. Sign today to support making TEDs mandatory on shrimp trawlers»

TEDs are life-savers. But not everyone uses them. And turtles keep dying.

A new rule would require all shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico and southeast Atlantic to use TEDs, saving thousands of turtles’ lives. Shrimp trawling is one of the largest threats to sea turtles in the Gulf, with thousands captured in nets each year.

Sign TODAY and show your support for turtle-friendly fishing»

All six sea turtle species in the United States are threatened or endangered. This regulation will save lives and give the turtles a chance to recover.

But there is some backlash in the fishing industry against these new regulations, and we need to make sure the National Marine Fisheries Service knows that the new rules for turtle-friendly nets have support. That’s where you come in. Sign today and tell the NMFS to keep turtles safe with TEDs»


Here’s a film  about drawing a rhino that has everything to  do with saving them. Watch and sign the petition at AVAAZ.org !