Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 09/10/08


Announcement: an interview with Tim Kreider far longer than anyone, even Tim Kreider or Tim Kreider's mother, could possibly want to read all the way through appears on the website Walrus Comix!! You might want to skim the interview for surprising revelations about Tim's tangles with the law and stint in rehab, his rumored tryst with Meghan McCain, and his newfound faith in the Lord.


Artist's Statement

As often happens, this week’s cartoon was inspired by last week’s artist’s statement. I sent out an email to my elect circle of Humor Consultants to solicit humorous ideas for this premise, and I find myself deeper in gratitude debt than usual this week.

The most elaborate answer came from my friend Aaron:

Idea 1: Thought it was 44 BC and I was living in Rome. (Other dates could be chosen, but this is when the republican backlash at Caesar's dictatorship fomented to the point of assassinating him.)
Idea 2: I thought it would be funny.
Idea 3: Why stop now?
Idea 4: Fuck You. [This is an in-joke between Aaron and me—an infallible caption for any New Yorker cartoon.]

Alas, this came too late to steal, but it could’ve composed an entire alternate cartoon.

Panel 1 based on a suggestion by colleague Tom Hart. I can no longer remember where I first heard the analysis that most Americans vote against their own economic self-interest (the working class supporting the party of Management and regressive taxes) not because they don’t understand that the Republicans’ policies favor the rich but because they believe they will themselves be rich someday.

Do not steal my million-dollar ideas or you will regret it.

Is Panel 2 perhaps too labored a juxtaposition? I don't just mean to make the pretty obvious point that, although all Republicans are not bigots and fag-bashers, it does seem to be the case that all the bigots and fag-bashers are Republicans. I just wish everybody in the world would stop pretending to give a shit about any political ideology at all. Everybody’s political philosophy is exactly the same: they want to get what they want. Only a handful of puds who had nothing better to do in college have ever bothered to formulate a political ideology, and even they all abandon it anytime it becomes inconvenient. Let us look, as an example, to the recent bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (A disclaimer: I do not even really know what these entities are so maybe you should not pay too much attention to anything I have to say on this subject.) All the same Wall Street wankers who believe in free markets and deregulation and the ineluctible wisdom of the Invisible Hand are now letting out a vast, shaky sigh of relief that the despised Government has come to save their asses now that their various lies and swindles and ponzi schemes have imploded on them. Nobody actually believes in, or cares about, limited government; they believe that the government shouldn’t be able to keep them from running any scam they can and that they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, but they also want the government—meaning taxpayers—to give them a metric shit-ton of cash when they've accidentally blown all theirs on the high-finance equivalent of Keno. They are actually not so different in their political ideology from the sneering teen anarchist who calls his dad a capitalist asswipe until he needs to borrow a couple hundred to pay for an abortion.

Panel 3’s scenario would be interesting only on a purely narrative level. I myself do not wish to be a character trapped in that particular narrative. Also, let me make clear, Sarah Palin is no Laura Roslyn. I admit it: at first I thought she was cute. Then I learned a tiny bit about her—including her inquiry into banning library books—and she started looking to me a lot more like the woman currently at #2 on my enemies list: a smug, pushy, mean, self-righteous meddler. Also, as my friend Myla noted, it’s nice to see that the whole family clearly uses the same method of birth control. Another thing that would be narratively interesting, and for which I am kind of rooting, would be the father of Bristol Palin's child to panic and bolt. Right about now, Myla and I imagine, that dude’s thinking to himself: Okay, let’s just keep cool here, they’re probably not going win, we can ride this out, just wait ‘til after this election thing’s over and all this crazy bullshit’s blown over and then just get in the fuckin truck and go—Canada, Lower 48, doesn’t matter, man, just get a nice little shack somewhere, do some huntin’, maybe find a cute little barmaid, yeah, okay, this could all still work out all right for The Kid.

It was Jenny Boylan who first envisioned Hillary Clinton in the black robes worn by The Emperor, saying something Wicked-Witch-of-the-Westish, like “All part of my plan, dearies,” which image somehow morphed into the panel you see here. An interesting aside: I turned to Google image search looking for a suitably surly photo of Hillary to use as a visual reference, and the one I chose turned out to be on what appeared to be a Wikipedia page. But in the course of procrastinating I got to irrelevantly reading the entry, which proved to be so full of errors, distortions, forcibly decontextualized factoids and flat-out lies (example: that Hilary’s famous charge about a “vast right-wing conspiracy” referred not to the effort to destroy her husband’s political career but to the exponential growth of the internet) that I did a furrowed-brow double-take, thinking to myself, man, this article has clearly been riddled with disinformation by partisan wackos, and even the editors of the notoriously unreliable Wikipedia ought to have been a little more on the ball. Then I realized that what I was looking at was a Wikipedia lookalike—the Conservapedia. I suddenly recalled having heard something about this project a while ago. As in real life, conservatives, unwilling to accommodate their political views to the facts, have decided to abandon the consensual reality we all formerly inhabited and create their own customized facts to better conform to their political views. Okay, guys. Fine. Better you should do it online than in the Middle East.

I am succeeding as well as can be expected in shielding myself from the daily minutia of the presidential campaign--all that fake dramaturgy, manufactured scandals and trumped-up suspense to keep people excited, buying papers and watching commercials. A reader recently sent me a survey of polls consistently showing Obama ahead by between 1 and 9 points and told me to quit worrying already, but now it seems like Palin has really energized the crucial Braying Ignorant Biddy Vote, and McCain is reported to have pulled into a dead heat. My advice, for whatever it's worth, is to pay no attention to the race in the media, contribute some money, maybe volunteer some time, and go and vote on Election Day. If, the next morning, it turns out that the shitheads truly rule this country, you can, like Myla, sequester yourself forever in New York City, or, like me, find out if Corsica is really as pretty as they say.

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