Lately I’ve been feeling like progressives have become so entrenched in their own conceptual frameworks that we’re splitting hairs and engaging in name-calling instead of constructively addressing the big picture. This is not to say we can’t disagree; but the abuse of the confusing term “neoliberal” is not helping, considering very few liberals actually subscribe to market fundamentalism. And it’s complicated: Austerity, for example, is a neoliberal economic approach that was (thankfully) not embraced by the Obama administration. It should go without saying that the term “neoliberal” has nothing to do with political “liberalism” – but sadly it does seem to need saying.
On a similar note, I use the term “socialist” in this cartoon because I see it thrown around a lot, but Scandinavian countries don’t actually have socialist economies; “social democracy” is a more accurate way to describe those governments.
This earlier blog post has more thoughts on how we’re prone to labeling ourselves in unhelpful ways.
The Constitution has a very narrow definition of treason — but conservatives only seem to notice when they are denying something anyone would normally call treason.
One of the supreme ironies of this whole Russia scandal goes back to Ann Coulter’s 2003 book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. A primary thesis of that screed is that Joseph McCarthy was unfairly maligned by nefarious liberals (Joe Conason has more on why Coulter’s revisionist narrative and worship of McCarthy is absurd). So here we have one of the bestselling books of 21st-century conservatism, proclaiming that liberals who were falsely accused of treason by an out-of-control demagogue are themselves treasonous for merely daring to point this out. Fast-forward to 2017, when Coulter seems strangely unconcerned by the Trump family’s coziness with Russia, a repressive authoritarian state that kills journalists, quashes dissent, and is actively engaged in a plan to destabilize America and Western Europe.
I don’t mean to insult people who live in campers out of necessity — it probably does make a certain amount of financial sense in some of today’s real estate markets — or eco-campers utilizing solar power and generally trying to be quiet and responsible. What I’m talking about is the phenomenon I’ve observed in my own recent travels, of oversize diesel pickups hauling enormous RVs hauling all manner of “toys” — motorcycles and 4-wheelers and dune buggies; of gargantuan RVs that literally look like tractor trailers; of people using, yes, weed whackers and obnoxiously loud generators that are the aural equivalent of a hammer to the head for hours on end. Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, we used to make fun of SUVs for being road hogs. Remember when Hummers seemed excessive? Now everything is getting bigger and louder and more disgusting, and no one even seems to notice anymore. The fact that Americans seem more oblivious than ever to this stuff, at this moment of climate crisis, with ice shelves collapsing and coral reefs experiencing a mass die-off, is astounding.
A “classic” for the Fourth of July. While Trump doesn’t follow the dogma exactly when it comes to free trade (for better or worse, probably worse), he and most Republicans in Congress do seem to be true believers in this peculiar form of witchcraft (no disrespect intended to Wiccan readers).
The first step of confronting the problem is to name it. “Market fundamentalism,” a term I picked up from George Lakoff, should be a buzzphrase on the tips of everyone’s lips. It has become THE defining force — paired with racism — of Americans’ economic lives. Pundits and Democratic politicians should be throwing this concept around, ridiculing it like the joke it is. Instead, we’re fixated on the right-wing term ”political correctness,” which blinds us to the real problems facing America. Swap these two out and you change the playing field.
Taking a break from headline news this week to talk about the lesser-known topic of lunch shaming. If you aren’t aware of this phenomenon, this provides a quick rundown.
Most people seem to get the sarcasm of this cartoon, but I’d like to be clear that my intention is to neither deprecate the “feminine” nor celebrate hyper-masculinity. I’ve been wanting to write a comic for a while about how virtually everything is gendered, especially when it comes to political rhetoric. Trump’s statements about climate change (and, well, lots of other things too) are loaded with manly-man dog whistles. Which is ironic, considering that Trump is hardly a chiseled specimen of manhood — the low-energy duffer had to ride in a golf cart behind European leaders as they walked a short distance. The thing is, a large swath of the American electorate is, unfortunately, swayed by tough talk — however stupid — and a fear of being perceived as weak or female. And I’m afraid that to reach those people, you may need to “speak their language” to some extent, by appealing to ideas of toughness. But toughness should not be understood as necessarily male. Caring for the planet we inhabit is a form of strength, virtue, and personal responsibility, qualities that can apply to men and women equally. Incidentally, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Republicans “climate cucks” in real life, as that particular term has problematic alt-right origins, and I use it satirically here. But climate weaklings? Hell yeah.
There seems to be a whole editorial subgenre now of so-called liberals trolling their own for not being nice enough to working-class Americans (as though progressives themselves are not largely made up of the working class). What drives me nuts about this holier-than-thou finger-wagging is that it largely renders invisible the decades-long campaign in right-wing media to demonize and dehumanize “liberals” as a category of person. It’s an enormous industry without any institutional equivalent on the left. Yes, people of all political stripes call those they disagree with stupid, and insults fly on social media. But the double-standard when it comes to professional, big-money media outlets is mind-blowing. How often do you see tut-tutting essays in mainstream publications about the incivility of rich, elite conservative pundits, and how they will alienate hard-working Obama/Clinton voters with their over-the-top insults? Not bloody often!
The reference to plumber butt jokes came from a recent NYT op-ed using this as an example of liberals treating Trump voters with “elite condescension.” Way to use the very frame about “liberal elites” that Republicans been hammering home for eons to divert anger away from themselves, and from the real causes of ordinary people’s economic struggles. It is simply astonishing that this agenda of turning “the libs” into monsters — which has led us to the very door of fascism — could be invisible to so many people. And even that is letting the finger-waggers off too lightly: they are now themselves part of the demonization machine, urging liberals to condemn themselves just in case they haven’t had enough from Fox.
To illustrate just how absurd things have gotten, I actually had the first panel of this cartoon drawn before news broke that Trump leaked classified intel to the Russians in the Oval Office. That was supposed to be parody! Okay, maybe the launch codes haven’t fallen from Sergey Kislyak’s jowls yet… but it’s only a matter of time.
The AHCA is so monstrously cruel any honest description sounds hyperbolic. Not only will it literally kill people, but it’ll kill entrepreneurship too, as workers stay locked in their jobs for fear of losing heath insurance. Self-employed people with pre-existing conditions are hosed. I face the possibility of not having health insurance for the first time in my life. My friend, a cancer survivor, was interviewed on the local news about the prospect of facing unaffordable premiums. So much wonderful freedom! Thank you, House Republicans.