Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It
This cartoon arose out of my apparent inability to summon any interest at all in current events. The news is full of speculation about the 2008 Presidential campaignónow seemingly in its eleventh year, with the election still unimaginably distant--and about the various PR and stalling tactics being deployed by the Bush administration to try to placate the public on Iraq. The media has to try to turn all this dreary, predictable propaganda into some sort of dramatic narrative, interesting and significant and suspenseful, because in between news segments they run commercials for cars and Viagra and shit that they want people to watch. All this effort to get us anxious and excited about speeches and straw polls and surges and reports barely disguises the fact that most of this crap is an utterly foregone conclusion. Iím like: Whatever, dudes. Maybe this is just the same kind of numbing you inevitably experience as you get older and notice that the Middle East is still on the brink of Armageddon! for the 21,900th consecutive day.
Who knows? People are pretty bitterly disillusioned and seem ready for at least a dramatic cosmetic change, sort of like changing our national hair color rather than our personality, so Hilary or Obama might win the Presidency. But the smart money is always going to be on the guy who looks most like a game show host. I will say I think Obama is more "electable" than Hilary, just because I believe that deep down most Americans still hate and fear women more than they do blacks. (The rabid loathing on the political right for Hilary Clinton, a hawkish, pro-business moderate Democrat, seems inexplicable to me as anything other than the same kind of deeply inbred misogyny you see among Muslim fundamentalists, the kind who cut off girlsí clitorises and stone rape victims.) Historically, black men have preceded women in every political gain in this country: the vote, elected office, equal rights. (I just this week learned the phrase "bros before hos," which actually means something else entirely but summarizes this principle pretty snappily.) But to be honest, I donít care what happens anymore. It would certainly be a disappointment if the Democrats figured out a way to lose the next election, but I already lost whatever was left of my provisional respect for humanity after the 2004 election. Thatís when my fellow Americans stood up and showed the world what they really are: craven, bigoted pigs.
Thereís been some fuss and clucking inside the beltway over Alan Greenspanís recent book because he criticized the Republicansí fiscal recklessness, but of rather more interest to me is that he also wrote: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone in knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." I think itís a little letís say sheltered of Greenspan to imagine that "everyone" knows thisóit would sound like the most treasonous pinko faggoty to the "FREEDOM ISNíT FREE" T-shirt-wearing patriots of the Scum Belt--but still, itís kind of a refreshing shock to see it said in print, in plain words, from a guy youíd pretty much have to call an Insider. The world runs on oil; the oilís running out; we donít have enough; Iraq has a lot. So we took it. Hilary Clinton knows this, Obama knows it, Edwards knows it, and take my word for it, none of these people, if elected, is going to withdraw our army from Iraq until weíve established some puppet government thatíll hold together long enough to sign the oil revenue-sharing agreement and guarantee us our supply for the next fifty years. That is the whole point. Weíre going to be there as long as weíve been in the Philippines. Thanks to Jesse Fuchs for suggesting something like AT-ATs for the Iraq panel to indicate our far-future continued engagement there. I opted for something more like the Martian war machines, but the idea is the same.
In panel 4 I am perhaps affecting a glummer, more fatalistic view of our personal capacity for change than I really hold for the sake of a good joke. Itís a reflex. Sometimes, as Homer Simpson says, itís funny because itís true, but sometimes itís just funny. Pessimismís just funnier than optimism, is all. Humor is the invention of despairing people. Humor is what you use when youíre out of hope, the way youíll eat Taco Bell when you canít afford food. But itís not the whole truth. Iíve learned, to my regret, that itís possible to affect a cynical attitude for the sake of humor for so long that it becomes your default worldview, and it can be hard to find your way back out of it again. Do not let this happen to you. If any unhappy reader out there is despairing that his or her life is never going to change, please donít take the words of some cranky old cartoonist to heart. I am just a bitter man who loves only his cat. In all seriousness: you can change. Your life can be different.
Not to say that itís going to be easy. A few years ago I was telling my friend Boyd that I really felt like things were about to turn around for him and me, and he pointed out that I had been saying this same thing about once a year for several years now, usually around the holidays. This realization kind of took the wind out of me. And yet lately I really do feel like things are about to turn around for me. Boyd, however, is doomed.
I have absolutely no comment to make whatsoever regarding "Dr. Shrinker."
Make no mistake, though: I am in earnest about the Iron Man movie. I have watched the trailer about a dozen times. It always makes me happy. Fuckiní Tony Stark. Good olí Shellhead!
To all New York readers: anyone whoís renting or knows of an apartment in New York City should contact Tim Kreider c/o Ms. Czochula-Hautpänz at firstname.lastname@example.org.