Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 10/01/08


Note: a reader has asked me to share the following news story with my readers and ask for their help: a ten-year-old girl was sprayed with a burning chemical in a mosque in Dayton, OH this week, and local police are failing to treat it as a hate crime. We at The Pain are adamantly anti-hurting-little-girls. You can read the story for yourself and, if you want to get involved, contact the Dayton police at 937-333-1311, the mayor's office at 937-333-3636, and write letters to the Dayton Daily News at


Artist's Statement

Let the record show that I considered drawing a cartoon about Sarah Palin this week and opted not to, not because it wouldn’t have been funny (O, it would’ve) or because it would’ve been too hard to draw (in fact it would’ve been easier) but because I decline to treat her seriously as an issue or a legitimate news story. I will simply refer you instead to Matt Taibbi’s flaying of her in the current Rolling Stone. It is the bitterest, most vicious piece of political invective I may have read since H.L. Mencken’s eulogy for William Jennings Bryan. Sample line:

Here's what Sarah Palin represents: being a fat fucking pig who pins "Country First" buttons on his man titties and chants "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas.

It's all written in a kind of frenzy of disgust. Matt Taibbi is clearly a man whom coverage of national politics has driven to the brink of utter and irredeemable loathing of mankind.


Hey has anyone taken a good look at the President’s eyes lately? They do not bode well for us, my friends. They do not bode well. Although I have not seen the President's face on TV for years, I happened to see it on the front page of the Times over the weekend, and I immediately deduced two things from a careful study of his eyes: one, that he is heavily medicated; the other, that he is afraid. I’ve read rumors before that George Bush is on massive doses of antidepressants, which rumors I gave no particular credence until now, but that dude is utterly narcotized. Antidepressants, tranqs, ‘luudes, who knows---you know the President of the United States gets only the best stuff. Of course this is only a suspicion. But the fear is shockingly plain to see on his face. This is my opinion as a professional. Part of my job is to look at faces and see what’s in them, and I am telling you: George Bush is scared shitless. He has no idea what is going on or how it happened or what he’s supposed to do. I think it’s possible that, for the first time in his Presidency, George knows that he is in way over his head. God didn’t tell him jack shit about no mortgage crisis. God’s got nuthin’ for him. George is on his own. I now believe that there is no one in this country who more eagerly awaits the day George Bush leaves office—not me or Tom Tomorrow or Janeane Garofolo or Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn or those guys with the giant puppets and drum circles you see at protests--than George Bush. He is going to go home to Texas and begin drinking Jack Daniels straight out of the bottle and cut a shitload of brush and forget all about this whole terrible eight-year-long being-the-President nightmare. It even occurred to me last week, for the first time, that is was possible that George might commit suicide. Maybe he’ll cut his own head off with his chainsaw. Now that would be a manly death. Schoolkids in 3010 would memorize that Presidential fact alongside the cherry tree and the stovepipe hat.

Terror is not an emotion you like to see on the face of the man in charge of your country. It's alarming. But hey, as my friend Steve pointed out, what’s the alternative?--they’d still be stealing our money and the news would be boring. At least the cards are on the table now. And there is much to savor in the present situation. The Wall Street types who pay for politicians' elections are astonished to find themselves denied what they ask for; George is trying to scare everybody and tell them what to do like he always has but nobody believes him anymore; and the Republicans who've delayed the bailout will soon look like idiots and villains when the economy worsens. Of course, we're the ones who'll suffer most in the end, so my may as well enjoy our petty vindictive little kicks while we can. We live in interesting times, my friends, interesting as in the famous Chinese curse.

Speaking of whom: so yes, the Chinese have walked in space. Which big whoop, we did it over forty years ago, but, like the President's eyes, it does not bode well for us. I didn’t have space to explain this in a caption, but the Chinese are also building a demonstration version of something called an Emdrive engine, a controversial proposal for a propulsion system that would use different frames of reference to convert electromagnetism, via microwaves, into thrust, expending zero fuel. This is a theory devised by British scientist Roger Shawyer, a radar and communications engineer who’s worked for a European space company. A lot of his peers are dismissing this claim as perpetual-motion malarkey that violates the law of conservation of momentum. But the Chinese are going ahead and building one just to see if it works. If it does, they’ll soon be taking 41-day shuttle trips to their bubble-domed cities on Mars (although those bubble-domes will be opaque with smog and crammed full of hideous block-wide apartment buildings). Meanwhile, the U.S. is still working on that Missile Defense Shield, the Maginot Line of the 21st Century. (Cf. last week’s artist’s statement about Megan’s observations RE the Olympics.) For future reference, Mandarin for “Very good, sir,” is "Hao, shi fu."

Nor am I making up this shit about the universe getting sucked toward one spot. A microwave survey of superclusters of galaxies a billion light years across showed that those superclusters are all moving, at 2 million miles per hour, toward one ellipsoid area between the constellations Centaurus and Vela. This survey takes in like one-twelfth of the observable universe, which makes it seem fair to infer that the whole universe is involved in this motion. This motion is distinct from the general expansion of the cosmos left over from the Big Bang. It is believed that this creeping drift is caused by “the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe [italics mine].” No elaboration on what exactly this might mean—whether this matter is in another dimension, or on a different brane, or in another universe, or Shub-Niggaurath, the Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young. It is one of those big creepy unknowns like Dark Energy and Dark Matter. They’re calling it Dark Flow, a more ominous-sounding name than which would be hard to think up.

The smiley face is an allusion to Infinite Jest, and is also how Dave Wallace occasionally used to sign off on letters and notes. I’m afraid this last panel comes close to doing the very thing I cautioned against in my essay on DFW—reading his death as some sort of omen, symptom of some terminal malaise in the culture. It was, of course, no such thing. A couple of friends forwarded me an article from Salon which interviewed some members of Wallace’s immediate family, detailing the sad facts of last year of his life. It was the sort of thing I thought I had to know and then, once I did, wished I hadn't. It was just a personal tragedy from which there’s not much to be learned other than that if your meds are working, stay on them. It bodes nothing. It just happened to be a gut-punching bummer on top of all the other grim news in the last weeks.

To quote the movie Airplane!: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!"

Our donation button directly below. Titillating photographs also being accepted.


BACK TO The Pain Homepage