Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 11/05/08


Artist's Statement

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, & incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. . . And if we feel their power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the happiest situation in which we can exist. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake.”

-Thomas Jefferson (quoted by reader Robert Cotton)


November sunshine
The shitheads are on the run
Barack Obama

-Samuel Sweelsen


“Holy shit, dude.”

– Ben Apatoff


I had to turn this cartoon in on Saturday before heading down to canvass for Obama in Philadelpha for a couple of days, but it wasn’t going to run in the paper until Wednesday. Obviously, I decided not to hedge my bets. If I’d been wrong I suppose my cartoon might’ve been the thing John McCain held gleefully up to the cameras a la Harry Truman and the Chicago Tribune.

Pace this cartoon, when Barack Obama won the election, I found myself, to my surprise, not much inclined to gloat cruelly over the defeat of the people who have been my ideological enemies for so many years, truly repellent though many of them are. Instead I felt sorry for them. And I don’t mean this rhetorically, the way you’ll spit, “I feel sorry for you!” at someone you in fact despise. I felt truly sorry for them, the way you’d feel sorry for someone who was tone-deaf at a Bach recital, or colorblind at a Monet show. It’s the same kind of helpless pity I secretly feel for Creationists when I manage to apprehend some glimpse of the awesome and elegant beauty of evolutionary biology or cosmology. It’s sad to imagine how small and paltry and impoverished their world must be. It was a beautiful night, a once in a lifetime moment when, for the first time in a long time, every American could be proud of our nation before the whole world, and those poor surly losers were left out of it, in a self-imposed exile of their own fear.

For decades, cynical Republican campaign strategists have invoked scary black rapists, trotted out gay-marriage referenda, and railed against the verminous swarm of illegal Mexicans to get their “base” to the polls. As Matt Taibbi pointed out in a recent column, for the last eight years conservatives have controlled all three branches of government and a lot of the media—everything except the culture. And at some point, while they were busy instituting their tax cuts and declaring war on Iraq, minorities became the majority in several U.S. states, and it became no longer cool for high school kids to call each other “faggot.” It all happened incrementally, insidiously, under their radar. And this year, when they tried their usual fag-bashing tactics and their xenophobia-mongering against illegal aliens, when they made fun of a candidate’s foreign-sounding name and implied he wasn’t a Christian, when they told us all that small-town hicks were the only America that counted, to their incredulity and helpless dismay, it didn't work. That shit only worked back when we had no real problems. But by now , after eight years in power, they had made such a stinking wreck of reality that even very stupid people had noticed. (It's a shame that the only sure way to defeat conservatives is to let them do whatever they want, but it is sure-fire.) And suddenly they were like some old warlock whose magic has deserted him, whom you can now walk right up to and punch in the stomach. Watching the immolation of the Republican party, I found myself too exhausted for glee. I could only let out a long, weary sigh of vindication and relief, like Admiral Ackbar bowing his big bug-eyed head as that twenty-mile-long superstardestroyer nose-dives into the Death Star and is swallowed by a titanic gout of flame. Good riddance, assholes.

But, truly, other than tuning into Fox now and then just to watch Brit Hume sulk, we didn’t waste much time thinking about the losers. It was really a moment too pure and joyful to sully with shadenfreude. When they called the election for Obama I tried to call Megan Kelso in Seattle and couldn’t get through—everybody was calling everybody, like a happy 9/11. When I finally got through to her, she said that the last eight wretched years had occupied so large a chunk of our adulthoods that we’d forgotten that nothing lasts forever, we’d thought that this was just how the world was: mean-spirited shitheads would always win and we would always lose. It was hard to believe it was really over. The night was full of the sort of transformative moments of grace that only happen in movies. John McCain, after debasing himself utterly in his campaign, was like a possessed person in a horror film when the demon has fled and they are briefly restored to their true selves before dying. And when Barack Obama stepped onstage into the spotlight of history, it was what it must have felt like the night men walked on the moon. It seemed both unreal and yet also as if we were all waking up from a horrible dream. To hear a United States President say the word “gay” in his acceptance speech, to hear him acknowledge the rest of the watching world abroad, to feel like we had a home country we could belong to again—it was all too much for an habitual cynic to take. I raised a toast: “To the Real America.”

I am now called on to experience emotions that have become unfamiliar and confusing from disuse, like pride in my country, and faith in my fellow man. My colleague Sarah Glidden told me she was thrilled to see a spontaneous crowd in the streets of Brooklyn unfurl a giant American flag and chant, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”--a spectacle that has previously only repelled her, since for the last eight years it’s generally meant that someone, somewhere in the world, was getting killed. Last night I was walking through a rain-sheened Union Square and found myself thinking, I’m pretty sure for the first time ever: “This really is the greatest country in the world.” Watching Obama’s speech Tuesday night, hearing him talk about America as a beacon of hope, an example to the world—and knowing that the rest of the world really was watching, and that maybe just this once, it was really true--I realized that some part of me never stopped believing in all that crap. I am reminded, embarrassingly, of the one scene I found moving in the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the Pevensie children meet the earliest and greatest of childhood myths, Father Christmas himself, looking like some splendid medieval lord, and Lucy, the youngest, smiles with quiet vindication and says: “I told you he was real.”


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