Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Red State update

Jackie and Dunlap discuss the conservative Bible, prepare for Halloween, suggest the music that should be used for torture at Guantanamo Bay, and offer their take on the "Drunkest Guy Ever" You Tube video.

Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

That's why air is free . . .

Two South Carolina Republican party chairmen remarked in a recent op-ed piece in a local state newspaper, the Times and Democrat, that Senator James DeMint (R- S.C.), was simply following the good example set down by the "wealthy Jews" by refusing to earmark funds for pet projects. Jews came into their money, according to these estimable historians of economics, religion and cultural development, by "taking care of the pennies and [letting] the dollars taking care of themselves."

Don't these outstanding modern 21st century men know why Jews have such big noses? Because air is free!

I'd suggest clicking here, here and here to learn more about how Jews control pretty much everything that is worth controlling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red State update

Jackie and Dunlap prepare for Halloween, and worry that Obama's efforts to find health care for all Americans is "un-American."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reefer madness, revisited

Marijuana, like homosexuality, strikes many conservative cultural warriors as a late 20th

century phenomenon. Just as there were no gay people until the Supreme Court outlawed state-sponsored school prayer in the early 1960s (and yes, there are people who really do subscribe to this view), marijuana use is often portrayed as an unfortunate consequence of the Beatles transition from lovable moptops screaming "yeah, yeah, yeah" to sweater clad pre-teen girls to psychadelic pseudo-druggies no longer fit for anyone's daughter who made mysterious references to "tangerine dreams and marmalade skies."

"Someone was smoking something when they wrote those songs," my friend Michael's mother used to tell us when she would hear us listening to Abbey Road, usually the side 2 medley. It definitely wasn't what she was smoking, which was usually a Salem Menthol cigarette. "And it was him," she would say, pointing to a picture of John Lennon that Michael kept over his dresser. "I don't think the other ones wanted to do it. He was the bad influence."

How did she know someone was smoking "something" if she had never smoked marijuana herself? That was always the question we wanted to ask and never did. And she was wrong about John introducing marijuana to the Beatles. It was Paul; John introduced the Beatles to LSD. But at 12 or 13 years old, it's best to hold that information close to the vest.

By the time I started high school in 1975, marijuana was easier to find than beer, even though the drinking age in Georgia was 18. Like now, people who used marijuana operated under code terms. They "partied or "partook," were "cool," or were "into expanding their horizons." The common refrain when discussing a pot smokers went something like this:

"Hey, do you guys know anything about that new kid who just moved in down the street," someone would ask.

"Not much, but I did notice he was wearing an (Pink Floyd) Animals concert t-shirt the other day, so he must be 'cool.'"

So, in other words, he probably smoked pot. No word on whether he drank beer or mixed liquor with coke, sprite or some other soft drink to mask the taste. But, in my high school, drinking was assumed of everyone, with maybe the exception of the National Honor Society or Math Club members, until proven otherwise. Marijuana smokers, on the other hand, consituted a completely different class of people. High school high society-types -- jocks, cheerleaders, yearbook editors, student government geeks, the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes -- always made it a point to let you know that they did not smoke dope.

"No fucking way I would get near that shit," I remember our star soccer player saying to me, breathing the remnants of Jack Daniels and Coke into my face before heading into the stands for a football game. "Do you know that you can kill, like, thousands of brain cells every time you take a hit? Do you think I want to end up in shop class making bongs like the rest of the freaks?"

And, of course, as soon as the coast was clear, the same lunkhead would seek me out behind the concession stand. "Ivers, do you know where I could buy a joint?"

"Why would you ask me?"

"You seem like the partying type, you know, since you're into Yes, Pink Floyd and Genesis. Aren't you friends with that guitar player?" A concert t-shirt does indeed make the man. And, by the way, my friend the great guitar player did not smoke dope.

"Can't help you," I'd say. "Dry myself."

"All right, but don't tell anyone we had this conversation," like we were Cold War spies floating a prisoner swap out of official view.

For as long as marijuana has been around, which is a lot longer than the last 39 years (Sgt. Pepper was released on June 1, 1967), it has carried a negative reputation. Marijuana, depending upon the era, has been the choice of Communists, 20s swingers, early porn merchants, African-American jazz musicians, white beatniks, 60s pop celebrities, misguided professional athletes, contemporary rock stars and other undesirables. Cool, smart, together, fun, attractive people do not smoke pot.

They drink. And drink. And drink. And drink.

Doctors tell us and the wine industry reminds us that red wine is good for your cholesterol . . . and your heart . . . and stress . . . and will make you incredibly hot and desirable, especially after you kick your Jimmy Choos off in your $65,000 kitchen and hop up on the buffet counter holding your Reidel glass. Scotch is the choice of the sophisticated, affluent professional. Who doesn't want to sip Johnny Walker Red sitting in an Adirondack Chair in the front lawn of a glorious Tudor home, while a fleet of Mercedes sit gleaming in the circular driveway? Laugh, smile and frolic by the beach while enjoying a glass of Italian Pinot Grigio?

But nothing says "U.S.A." like beer, the choice of the slacker, dumb guy sports nut who just wants to hang out with his buddies, wear his jersey, eat potato chips and pump his fists, except, in the case of "upscale" brews, when it's the choice of an impossibly good-looking, single, and presumably white collar professional man. A martian who sat through an hour of any televised sports event in the United States (with the exception of golf, which turns its nose up at such debauchery, preferring to bombard you with hedge fund and luxury car ads) could come to no other conclusion that the average viewer is a male alcoholic who suffers from erectile dysfunction. Drinking beer, and lots of it, holds the keys to the promised land for the demographic target -- the male loser who is crashing on someone's couch or still living in his parents' basement. Drink beer and women will dig you. Bring designer beer to a party and women will not only dig you, they will demand a turn with you right then and there.

Pot smokers are not so lucky. Advertisements directed towards them are not intended to glorify their lifestyles. No, not at all. The point of national drug control policy is to persuade pot smokers and anyone thinking of taking a hit off an herbal jazz cigarette not to do it -- at all. The little, bitty language at the bottom of beer ads on television and in magazines encourages people to drink responsibly, not to drink and drive and so on. But you can rest assured that no one is paying attention. If you can swig a few Heinekens and have a shot at Heidi Klum, what good is moderation?

Our national anti-marijuana policy assumes that anyone who smokes pot is incapable of moderation. Even the best of the anti-marijuana ads produced for the Office of National Drug Control Policy refuse to concede this possibility. I've seen two so far: Pete's Couch and Whatever (click here to see them). Give the ads credit for laying off the "if you smoke marijuana now and then, pretty soon you'll be dropping acide and craving heroin" approach. The prohibitionists seem to accept the medical evidence and pyschological research that rejects the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug to more evil doings. But they perpetrate the stereotype of marijuana smokers as chronically stupid, lazy and incoherent because they are always and without exception stoned to the hilt. In Pete's Couch, a high school age boy talks about his experience smoking pot. No, he didn't kill anybody or think about using heroin. Like his friends who did not get off the couch for the entire commercial, the boy just didn't want to do anything but just sit there and presumably stare into space. Perhaps his parents were lucky enough to have surround sound, and they broke out the 5.1 SACD version of "Dark Side of the Moon." Our hero learns his lesson: he doesn't want to be lazy. He wants to be a productive member of society, meet girls and ride his bike. Someone should have warned him to shy away from any hacky sack games in his new found enthusiasm for exercise. We all know where that would lead -- back to Pete's Couch. In Whatever, the good guy is a street-smart, clean cut African-American teenager who tells the camera that he has ambition for a real life -- college, a good job . . . the works. Unlike his stoner friends in the bag, who appear not to know where they are, our hero in this ad lets the world know that once he's gone his buddies won't have anyone to drive them around and get them through the day. Let his friends toke it up . . . he's moving on.

Okay, let's, for a moment, suspend our sense of disbelief and imagine a beer commercial that portrays drinkers as drunks, sans the occasional designated driver. A camera beams in on a group of guys at a baseball or football game. They're drunk as hell, courtesy of the vendors who have no problem selling them beer after beer as long as the cash keeps flowing. One is cursing up a storm while grabbing his genitals, oblivious to the little kids who are sitting in front of him. Another, having neglected to establish his food "base" before the game, is throwing up on the seat in front of him, while screaming at the hapless usher to "let me enjoy the fucking game you goddamn rent-a-cop" (I saw this once at Camden Yards). A third guy has stripped to the waist. And despite having failed his unsolicited audition for America's Hottest Bachleor, he demands that every woman around him "show me your tits." Then the camera isolates the responsible member of the group who says, "These losers can keep on truckin' after I leave for medical school next year. Let somebody else put them in a shopping cart and wheel them home after a night on the town."

Uh, no, that's not happening anytime soon.

There is something strange about criminalizing a drug that, when used in moderation, has never been shown to carry the health risks and social consequences (alcoholism and related illnesses; spousal and child abuse; chronic fatigue, to name just a few) of excessive drinking. And cigarettes? It's the only product on the market that, when used as directed, will either kill you or make you really sick.

People who smoke too much dope will turn to mush, no doubt. But there are millions of people making good grades, planning a future, paying taxes, mowing their lawns, staying involved in their communities, raising families, and living a productive life who prefer marijuana to alcohol as the relaxant of choice. They're no threat to anyone or themselves. In our current culture, it's perfectly fine to tell a friend at the office that you're looking forward to unwinding with a glass of wine or stopping off for a "pop" to brush back the day. You can't say in polite company that you're looking forward to sitting on your porch and taking a hit off a joint to take the edge off. Of course, if you did, your friend might well want to join you -- that is, unless the cool kids were looking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Red State Update

Jackie and Dunlap join the Gay Equality march in Washington this past weekend, and suggest a modest proposal to reduce health care costs.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Constitutional stupidity?

As the Supreme Court kicks off its week hearing two interesting but not terribly difficult First Amendment cases -- one involving the display of a cross in a public park (unconstitutional) and a federal statute banning animal cruelty videos (unconstitutional) -- my former state of Georgia (no, not the one in the former Soviet Union) offers up its own entry into the free speech debate.

Students sometimes ask me how I make up some of the case hypotheticals I use in class. I don't -- instead, I just read the papers.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Live Zeebop this week

Live Zeebop this week and next . . .

Thursday, October 8th, Gaffney's, 7141 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md. Three sets of straight-ahead jazz from 7.30-10.30 p.m.
Saturday, October 10th, Clare and Dons, 130 N. Washington St., Falls Church, Va. Three sets of straight-ahead jazz with the Pablo Grabiel Quartet. 7-10 p.m.
Wednesday, October 14th, Epicurean, 4250 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. Three sets of straight-ahead jazz with the Duff Davis Trio. 6.30-9.15 p.m.
Zeebop is represented by Grabielismo Productions.

Thanks for your support.

Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Red State update

Jackie and Dunlap review President Obama's failure to persuade the International Olympic Committee to land the Olympics for his adopted hometown of Chicago and get started on Halloween.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bumper sticker bozos

Like a lot of kids, I had a dog growing up. Her name was Sandy, after Sandy Koufax, and we brought her home from the Humane Society when I was seven years old. In those days -- by the way, is there any other phrase as damning as "in those days" to confirm that you are moving well past middle age into AARP territory? -- there were no leash laws where I lived, so dogs were free to roam the streets. Our neighborhood was full of dogs, and, as best as I can remember, they came and went -- and sometimes crapped and went -- as they damn well pleased. My dog, at first, was less social than most of the others -- shy, withdrawn and fearful of people not familiar to her. We were told when we adopted her that she had been abused -- hence, the limp -- and I wanted to give her a home where she would feel protected and loved. Sandy turned out to be a great dog -- smart, curious, loyal and friendly. She even buddied up to the cat my sister demanded after I refused to share custody of Sandy with her, insisting that she was "my" dog in the same way that my sister claimed that our mother bought the Count Chocula cereal for her and not me, and that if I ever thought about eating any she would tell all my friends that I used to practice my pitching motion in front of the TV in my footie pajamas, which wasn't completely true, but neither was it completely false.

As much as I loved my dog and, admittedly, my sister's cat, it never occurred to me to pester my mother to put a bumper sticker on our car informing all other drivers, pedestrians, meter-readers, construction workers and gas station attendants -- yes, "in those days," no one pumped their own gas -- that we (a) owned a dog; (b) owned a dog of a certain pedigree or (c) owned a dog of a certain pedigree that was smarter than dogs of other, presumably lesser pedigrees or (d) owned a dog that was smarter than a human being, much less an honor student at a nearby public school. Asking my father was absolutely out of the question, since he already had two huge magnets advertising his business on the driver and passenger-side front door panels of our Chevrolet Kenwood station wagon. Riding in that car was embarrassing enough, so there was no need to compound the humiliation we already felt when confronted by strangers and friends with the entirely reasonable question of why my dad's clothing stores were named "Out of Sight" and "The Cat Bag." And, no, I still don't have an answer, other than it was the late 1960s and early '70s.

Nor, despite spending the years between the ages of 8 and 18 playing baseball, football, street hockey, soccer, basketball and tennis or running cross-country did we ever have a sticker or magnet of any kind on our cars sharing my modest sports accomplishments with the broader public. No magnets with an outline of a pitcher holding a runner on, no sticker with a black runner striding through the woods against a white background, no sticker with my name and number framing the community sports organization to which I belonged and absolutely no sticker or magnet that proudly defined my mother or father's adult identity as a "BASEBALL MOM" or "CROSS-COUNTRY DAD."

Thinking about this not even a little more, we did not have any publicly displayed proof that we vacationed in exotic places, belonged to an exclusive club of some sort, thought that people, not guns, killed people, that my sister and I attended our local public schools (which we did) and excelled in them (which we didn't), or that I was loved unconditionally despite not excelling in school. And this was not just us. Bumper stickers of any sort were a rare occurrence when and where I grew up. Growing up, I knew my fair share of good athletes, honors students, cat and dog owners and people -- although not many -- who vacationed in places more than 15 miles from their houses and were generally loved and supported by their parents. I just never knew anyone who felt compelled to share their children's activities and accomplishments through bumper sticker boasting. To this day, I still don't get it.

Take, for example, a car that I sat behind at a stop light last week in the affluent Washington, D.C. suburb of Bethesda, where I live. Not one, not two, not three, but four -- FOUR -- bumper stickers adorned the back of the driver's car testifying to his dog's brilliance ("smarter than your honor's student"), athleticism ("faster than your soccer player"), attractiveness ("hotter than your girlfriend") and, finally, political prospects ("Greyounds make better presidents than people"). Frankly, I don't even get why a Black Lab owner needs to place a "WOOF" sticker on the rear window of her car. Silly, yes; creepy, no. But a grown man with four stickers on his bumper going on about his dog's perceived academic abilities and hotness quotient? That's just plain bizarre. There was part of me that wanted to follow him to see where he worked to make sure that if I ever came into contact with him in any professional context I would know to just get up and leave. Regardless of what he did -- fix my car, prepare the meal I ordered in a restaurant or lead the triage team in the ER closet to my house -- I don't want some guy so hung up on his damn dog that he thinks is smarter than me or more attractive than my wife having anything to do with me.

Vanity license plates are, to me, an extension of bumper sticker exhibitionism, which is, of course, a further extension of the real American exceptionalism, which is the constant need to engage in child-like, "look-at-me" behavior just to let anyone who might be watching know that, in a nation of 300 million people looking to stand out from one another, you . . . "LUV GLF," or "LUV WINE," or have "GRT KIDS," or believe in "NO YNIN," or have multiple degrees, "PHD JD," or have morphed from a "PTY GRL" into a "MILF," or feel the need to confirm publicly that you love your children or husband or wife or dog or gerbils by placing their initials on your license plate (I've often wondered if these public displays of affection are linked to family therapy of some sort, or the need to convince a reluctant parent/husband/wife that, yes, you do love your children and your spouse -- perhaps akin to the more recent alternative punishment movement of having shoplifters wear sandwich boards in public that say, "I STOLE FORKS FROM MACARONI GRILL").

And on and on it goes. Years back, my family spent an extended vacation driving through Eastern Canada, and the one thing I noticed right off the bat while navigating the roads and highways of our cleaner, more polite and generally more enlightened northern neighbor was the complete absence of bumper stickers and vanity license plates. My guess is that the Canadian aversion to self-promotion and braggadocio has more to do with the absence of this visual pollution than any law banning their use.

But I must confess that there is some social utility to these misplaced cries for attention. Any time either of my children misbehaves or does something to piss me off, I always come back with the same threat, "Do you want your name and number on the back of the car?" or "Do you want us to put one of those stick-figure families on the back of our rear window?" Shuts 'em up.

Every single time.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Liberal pets

An organization called Liberty Counsel is sponsoring an outreach program called "Adopt-a-Liberal," which calls on all right-thinking conservative Christians -- there are, apparently, no other kind -- to save liberals from themselves through prayer and support. If this sounds suspiciously like an "Adopt-a-Puppy/Kitten/Hamster/Gerbil/Pirates Fan" pity program, think again. "Adopt-a-Liberal" is a registered trade mark of the Liberty Counsel, which means that everything time I mention the "Adopt-a-Liberal" program I have to remember to use quotation marks around the words or risk infringing on their legally protected name.

Clever . . . clever . . . clever.

Liberty Counsel was kind and thoughtful enough to provide a list of those "leaders" most in need of prayer and counseling. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg heads the list, followed by the "pro-homosexual" Barney Frank and Hillary Clinton, whose support for gay service in the military will mean that servicemen and women will bring their "unnatural" sexual preferences into combat with them. And since these armchair warriors are determined to stay in Afghanistan and Iraq for as long as possible so that we can convert them to our natural, Christian and democratic way of life, it is more important than ever to weed out the weirdos. Can you imagine what kind of strange sexual poses gay soldiers might demand of their enemy combatant detainees that managed to escape our fair-minded, natural heterosexual soldiers at Abu Ghraib?

You can? Holy shit. I guess someone has to place those ads in the back of the City Paper.

Naturally -- as opposed to "unnaturally" -- I was disappointed not to see my name anywhere on the "Adopt-a-Liberal" Most Wanted List. There is, though, at the bottom, an "Unknown Liberal" category that allows participants to pick their own "unique liberal" for prayer and salvation.

What's the old expression? "Takes one to know one." But that doesn't apply here. How about this? "It doesn't matter how you get invited to the dance as long as you get invited." Actually, that's not true either. Assuming you don't live in West Virginia, the panhandle of Florida or southern Mississippi, getting invited to the dance by your cousin, sister or brother doesn't quite hold out the same possibilities as getting invited by someone not related to you.

Oy, veh!