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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Freak Show

This is the state of the Republican party today:
NEW YORK - The two Republicans vying to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton this fall tore into each other Wednesday in a debate dominated by angry accusations of personal and professional misconduct and abject dishonesty...

While married to another woman, Spencer fathered two children with his then-chief of staff and substantially raised her salary. He eventually divorced his first wife and married his chief of staff...

"That's something that, in 1998, the Republican Party impeached President Clinton for exactly the same behavior," McFarland said to gasps from the audience. "If you'd been in the military, you would have been court-martialed. If you worked in the federal government, you would have been subject to indictment."

Spencer angrily shot back, saying McFarland had unfairly insulted his children and lied about his record...

So much time was spent discussing Spencer's private life that Carter finally turned the tables, asking McFarland whether disclosures about her own messy past — she accused her father in 1992 of sexually abusing her as a child — were relevant to her fitness to serve.

"That was 50 years ago. I've addressed it. I have nothing further to add," McFarland said...

When asked to pose questions to each other, McFarland cited instances when Spencer had threatened to kill Gov. George Pataki and had used ethnic slurs against Italians and Chinese.

"Is this how you plan to conduct yourself?" McFarland asked.

Spencer said he'd apologized for using crude language and for making jokes that fell flat.

"I'm human," he said.
Then he stripped naked and bit the head off a chicken.

And it lived for 18 months!


"Is This The End Of Zombie Lieberman?"

Mark Schmidt at Tapped: "Let's find a way to give [Lieberman] a dignified way out, and accord him exactly the level of respect for his service that Lamont did last night, which was considerable and was deserved."

Schmidt makes eminently reasonable points about the aftermath of the Connecticut primary; I agree with him completely that Lieberman is likely to bow to reality and drop his independent bid sooner or later. The guy who thinks the general election voters of Connecticut will love him as much as he loves himself is the same guy who completely, fatally misread his own primary, after all. I assume that polls over the next few weeks will bear this out, as the moderate Dems and independents Joe assumes are his by right recoil from his hubris in the face of concisive defeat.

But man, is it hard to accord Joe considerable respect for his service after everything he has said and done over the past 10 years. I resented him in 1998 for knifing Clinton in the back, even as I understood the alleged politics behind it. I loathed the guy in 2000 based on his obnoxious sanctimony, and his utterly ineffectual performance against Cheney in the VP debate. He intentionally, unforgivably brought a butter knife to a howitzer fight--a tendency that characterized his whole candidacy, right up to his eagerness to cave during the recount. This is the guy who has repeatedly, despicably asserted that "the Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." Who led the morality police against the phantom evils of video games, diverting attention from, you know, actual problems. Who turned his back on Social Security, one of the defining positions of the Democratic Party. Whose people had the gall to argue with CT soldiers in Iraq over their choice of requested weapons, rather than busting his ass as their representative to get them what they wanted. And yes, who made a hobby of basically rimming Geroge W. Bush on national security over the past five years while demonizing his own party. As Josh Marshall has said, Lieberman grew to advocate bipartisan compromise (i.e. capitulation to right wing thugs) for its own sake. Whether he foolishly but sincerely misread the political moment, or just let the admiration of D.C. pundits and his GOP pals go to his head, it doesn't really matter. I don't care why he's such an asshole. I really just want the guy gone, and if official Washington flattering his ego for the next month is the only way to do it, fine. But I run the risk of choking on my own vomit.


There Is A Heppy Land--Furfur A-waay From Bloggink

I've spent the last couple of weeks blissfully away from this place getting my mind blown by comics all over again. Much of my time has been spent digging into critical texts and resources (most recently Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art, David Carrier's The Aesthetics of Comics and the uneven but fascinating The Education of a Comics Artist anthology, worth it just for things like the Barron Storey interview and McCloud theory on cartoonist types (classicist - formalist - animist - iconoclast), which may well be artificial, a joykill and even wrong, but is quite entertaining nonetheless. As a result of all this, I'm paying much more attention to form and technique than I usually do. And reading better comics.

Every few years my enthusiam for comics wanes--usually after slogging through a glut of superhero books, looking for the kind of kick I got at 14 from Moore's Swamp Thing, or at 17 from Ostrander's Suicide Squad. (Grant Morrison is still reliable in that regard, but he's only one guy.) Luckily, my love for the form has been renewed by a succession of artists well outside the superhero mainstream. Around 2002 I began a huge crush on James Kochalka comics. A year or so ago, in the midst of rotting my brain with DC's endless Crisis crossovers, I was given a jolt by Kevin Huizenga, who seems fluent in the language of comics like nobody else--even Chris Ware, whose meticulous design and relentless darkness occasionally overwhelms me. Huizenga is every bit as deliberate, every bit as inventive, but with a bigger emotional palate.

I have two new objects of cartoon affection, one brand-new, the other 80 years old. The Best Amazon Box Ever arrived on my doorstep last week with Allison Bechdel's recent memoir Fun Home, and the first two volumes of Fantagraphics' Krazy Kat Sunday strip reprints from the 1920s. I'm still unpacking all of them in my head, after which I hope to have much to say. Bechdel's book has instantly vaulted onto my all-time favorites list, along with From Hell, Stuck Rubber Baby and other Important Graphic Novels. What jumps out at me initally is her powerful observational kung fu, that evokes such photographic-memory memoirs as Nabokov's Speak, Memory (helped by obsessively detailed notebooks kept since she was 10) and explicitly, the writings of Marcel Proust. Also, her sense of control, both over her story and her cartooning, is astounding. The last few pages of the book--especially the final page--are like a master class in synthesis of text and art, not to mention hitting you like a ton of bricks (or a bread truck).

Speaking of getting hit with a brick: Krazy & Ignatz. I finally see what Carrier, The Comics Journal and so may others are on about in calling this the greatest artistic achievment in comics history. I know I love it to death; I'm not sure how to talk about it yet. I can say that 1) it provides a clear context for another one of my favorite comics, Kochalka's Peanut Butter and Jeremy, and 2) after even one evening with Herriman, it's very hard to pick up the latest Green Arrow.

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