As this LA Times article lays out, an unholy alliance of the Koch Brothers, ALEC, Grover Norquist and utility companies is mounting a nationwide effort to roll back states’ renewable energy requirements and penalize solar customers with a hefty monthly surtax. Apparently all that stuff about cutting taxes and drowning government in a bathtub goes out the window when profits are threatened.
Not all conservatives are on board, though. It’s safe to say that taxing solar panels isn’t sitting well with off-the-grid Tea Party types. in Arizona, Barry Goldwater Jr. is leading an effort called Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed, or TUSK, stating that “Monopoly utilities want to extinguish the independent rooftop solar market in America to protect their socialist control of how we get our electricity.” That’s an interesting way of putting it, reminding me a little of my “corporate collectivism” cartoon from a few weeks ago.
When I was in DC for the Herblock ceremony, I did a quick video interview with Rick Klein and Olivier Know at ABC News. The video just went up today as part of the “Power Players” series on Yahoo News (apparently I am now a “Power Player” — ha!).
I will say, this is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done, as the hosts were well-prepared, and the editing is excellent. They spliced in some great images to match the conversation, including one of Voodoo Donut in Portland while we discussed my “Snack Gentrification” cartoon. Coincidentally, I found myself trying artisanal pork rinds at a trendy new restaurant later that night.
Getting a TV makeover was also fun. A mere half hour before this was filmed, I was wandering the streets of DC in a deluge, and they somehow transformed me from a soggy she-beast into a news anchorwoman.
It was time to upgrade my version of Photoshop last week, and as many a visual artist can tell you, Adobe is steering its users into the “Creative Cloud.” This is a monthly subscription service, wherein the same programs that cost several hundred dollars in 2006 now cost… well, there’s no telling really, since you keep paying into infinity. Apparently paying for software you can install on your computer and use as long as you like is passé. Not long after I purchased an old-fashioned non-cloud program, the Adobe server crashed, preventing people everywhere from signing into the cloud for a day or so. You could almost hear the screams of designers around the world.
If you’re a cartoonist who doesn’t need all the latest advanced photography features, I recommend buying one of the vanishing copies of Photoshop CS6 and sitting on it.
The Herblock Foundation has posted the video and transcript of my acceptance speech on their website. The whole thing went well, but for some reason the camera makes me look about twenty pounds heavier than I am. I assure you I have not been celebrating my Herblock win by gorging myself endlessly on honey hams and chocolate tortes, although a chocolate torte would taste pretty good right about now.
Before this cartoon appeared many places, I began hearing from anti-vaccine people. More are sure to follow in the coming days. It’s almost laughable for me to have to type this, but let me say up front: I have absolutely no ties to Big Pharma. In general, I find pharmaceutical companies to be morally skeevy, but this does not mean vaccinations are some sort of conspiracy. Nor does it disprove the science supporting vaccination as an essential part of public health.
When all reputable medical organizations — the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, etc. –- tell us that that any link between autism and vaccines has been thoroughly refuted, it takes a hefty dose of paranoia to think that you know better. What is fascinating about this issue is that it parallels global warming denial, but with a large lefty contingent. It’s a bit depressing, actually. But if progressives want to continue calling themselves “reality-based,” they have to take on pseudoscience wherever it appears.
This all started with a fraudulent paper in a prominent medical journal, long since retracted and refuted. It then took on a life of its own, fed by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy and even Robert Kennedy Jr. Nowadays it mostly boils down to the idea that Big Pharma is engaged in a huge cover-up in order to sell vaccines. I’m the first to note the many evils of many big corporations, but you cannot simply dismiss an overwhelming scientific consensus that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, based on many subsequent studies. There is a difference between healthy skepticism and anti-intellectual paranoia, and this clearly crosses that line.
This wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t vaccines we are talking about here, one of the most important life-saving inventions of all time. Experts in the U.S. say we are already getting small-scale outbreaks because of the anti-vaccine movement, and experts outside the U.S. are getting increasingly worried about the potentially catastrophic consequences if these ideas get entrenched in the developing world. A recent Center for Disease Control study estimates that vaccines in the U.S. from 1994-2013 will save 732,000 lives. We are talking about untold numbers of lives at stake here.
Here are just a few useful links:
I had a whirlwind of a week in DC for the Herblock ceremony, and did not get around to posting the latest cartoon on Monday as usual. Fortunately(?), Donald Sterling is still making headlines by putting his foot in his mouth.
Also, be sure to check out this truly wonderful Washington Post article by Michael Cavna that was published the day of the Herblock event.