THIS SICKNESS 8 from Bottomless Studio, featuring John Linton Roberson, Emily Kaplan, Chad Parenteau, Charles Alverson, Gianna Ratto, Chris DeWildt and a cover by Molly Kiely. 100 pages! Available in print & Kindle at Amazon!
I Didn't Write That!
28 August 2003
  Schwarzenegger: I Won't Take Money, Except When I Do

It's nice to see that the psychotic state of California hasn't changed a lot since I left over a year ago. Except in that it's gone far more insane. As you no doubt know by now (and as I've been commenting upon for a couple of months), the plummeting economy and massive deficit Californians are bearing has put them in a mood to recall Governor Gray Davis, at the opportunistic prodding of the ever-sinister California GOP. Darrell Issa, used by the party for his money to initiate the recall, broke into big blubbering tears a couple of weeks ago while announcing that he would not be running as a replacement for Davis himself. The Bohemian Grove folks must have told him that it's Arnold or else, thanks very much all the same for making it possible. Bill Simon, the bland Patrick Bateman lookalike whose campaign was the most laughable I've ever seen, also abruptly dropped out, though he came in swinging with the news Arnold is not a conservative.

Indeed he's not. He supports gay rights, is pro-choice, has smoked pot and so forth, which means that hardcore conservatives will probably vote for McClintock, the Republican who refuses to drop out of the race(at least so far today). Unless those conservatives remember Arnold's unswaying friendship with former Nazi Kurt Waldheim.

But Arnold has been cagey about stating his positions on anything beyond promising to have experts(like his campaign staffers Warren Buffett and George Schultz, both Bohemian Grove boys from way back) look into it. Which is appropriate, because like most star candidates from California, Arnold is a front for other interests, a figurehead not intended to have any thoughts of his own. His whole attitude about the campaign seems a weary one, almost like he's wondering why he hasn't been made governor already. He even claims that he doesn't need donations and won't take them from special interests, that he has plenty of his own money. Nevertheless, he just took:

$100,000 from William Lyons Homes Inc., a builder, $21,200 from actor Rob Lowe, and $21,200 from winery Thomas Jordan. He has scheduled a series of high-priced fund-raisers in coming weeks.

Rob Lowe may not be a special interest(and it's interesting to see the lifelong Democrat suddenly defect to the dark side) but anyone who doesn't think builders and wineries are big special interests in California doesn't know the state.

In any event, Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor, is still surging ahead of Arnold in the polls, so we can hope people realize fun's fun, but c'mon. The conservatives are trying to portray Bustamante's entry into the replacement race as a defection from Davis, and the ever-idiotic Terry MacAuliffe of the DNC--and he needs to be forced out of that position as soon as possible because he's the worst thing to happen to the DNC in decades--almost fell for this like he always does, as he seems to always take his reverse-psychological cue from whatever Republicans say, and almost tried to make sure that in the event Davis were recalled, there would be no Democratic alternative. Yeah, slit your own throat and give the state up out of principle, Terry. That'll teach those Republicans.

The Republicans, realizing that it doesn't matter how you win so long as you win, are attempting a power grab for a number of reasons. Firstly, a personal animus against Davis, which is somewhat understandable--Davis is a political shark and quite brilliant at winning elections, but his methods are sometimes as dirty as any Republican's. They consider this infringement and it chafes, much like their special hair undergarments. Secondly, Bush lost California. They want to make sure this does not occur again. How can they fix the election there as they did in Florida without a Republican governor there looking the other way? They've been softening the state for this for quite some time, through both taking advantage of its collapsed dot-com economy and engineering(through Enron--remember how Cheney tried to use California's plight to demonstrate the need for his energy plan?) the blackouts of a couple of years past that worsened California's problems. California has been punished for being a blue state. And New York too. Or did no one notice that New York never really got the rebuilding money, nor increased money for cops & firefighters(in fact there have been layoffs among those), and that the EPA lied about the level of toxicity of New York's air after the WTC collapse in an effort to get Wall Street running as soon as possible? Babies are being born smaller suddenly in New York City as a result of stuff like dioxins spread throughout its air. It's being punished. Too bad for its Republican governor.

Davis might not even be recalled; only half of Californians polled, as of a couple of days ago, support the recall, and that's significantly less than during the over-enthusiastic drive itself. With the likes of adult film star Mary Carey and dwarfish celebrity ghost Gary Coleman in the race, and a little time to think about it, Californians might realize fun's fun, but come on. (By the way, if the recall succeeds, my endorsement is for Arianna Huffington, one of the only candidates who would truly help the people of that state, though there's an Evita air about her I don't completely trust.)

I think the recall is a very, very bad idea, and that it's nothing more than offering up Davis as a sacrifice to the gods, and will not save California. It appears the state is throwing itself into an abyss out of panic, and this is typical. The whole country is suffering thanks to Bush's neglect of the economy. But California, the 6th largest economy in the world, has a far lower threshhold to privation than most other places. If you prick them, they not only bleed but scream and convulse. And then sue you. California is not suffering necessarily worse than, say, Illinois. But California isn't as used to suffering either. So they're more vulnerable to doing something hysterical like this, and the GOP is playing them like flutes. Californians are willingly going along like sheep in the GOP's ongoing experiment in being elected despite elections.

__________________________

Meanwhile, remember again that at the start of the summer, in response to increased threats toward US troops in Iraq, Bush said "Bring 'em on." I hope he's happy now. Since he said that more American troops have been killed keeping the "peace" in Iraq than in the hostilities. We have turned Iraq into the hot destination for every damn terrorist group in the Mideast, and worse, we now need the UN's help. I assume that by allowing the carbomb to hit the UN Embassy last week, we'd convince Annan. Certainly after his shoddy bullying and insulting of the UN about a year ago, when he was trying to convince
them to go along on this, he needs something a bit more forceful than "please."

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26 August 2003
  Conservatives: What A Bunch of Whiny Crybabies

As you probably know already, Fox, realizing from Judge Chin's ruling last week against their injunction(calling the case "easy" and "wholly without merit," and warning too that if they pursued the suit their "weak" trademark on "fair and balanced" could be lost), that placating Bill O'Reilly is not worth this kind of humiliation, dropped their lawsuit against Al Franken and his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

Naturally, even Fox lawyers get the testosterone injections to keep them good and pigheaded. They could not even drop it gracefully: "It's time to return Al Franken to the obscurity that he's normally accustomed to." Obscurity? Franken has been a known force in American satire since 1975, in large part because of his involvement from the very beginning with that little cult show Saturday Night Live. You might as well say Father Guido Sarducci(aka Don Novello) is obscure. If you only count his Stuart Smalley, Franken is probably better known in our culture than Bill O'Reilly.

What amuses me about conservatives is how much they seem to enjoy the flavor of bitterness, how much they like the feeling of having someone to revenge themselves upon. It's all very sadomasochistic. Do they understand that they come off like Lex Luthor? When someone like Ann Coulter loses a media battle, you can almost see her slithering back to her dark lair, vowing bloody revenge under her breath; set in a crimped face that resembles nothing so much as a hatchet with a wig, her mouth seems to fall easily into a default snarl.

And I can see O'Reilly becoming a major priss with his Fox bosses over this, no doubt making threats about his contract and such at this very moment, sounding like a combination of Richard Nixon and Felix Unger. O'Reilly probably thought Franken's publishers would immediately cave in about this, rather than realizing that the publicity would make the book so successful the payout for the flimsy lawsuit--which Fox probably wouldn't win anyway--would be easily affordable. O'Reilly probably believes that Fox dominates all media, as opposed to still being in fourth or worse place consistently. All he managed to do was make the sales of Franken's book skyrocket. I enjoy it when conservatives try things like this. For one thing, it puts the lie to their anti-lawsuit rhetoric, because that's their favorite tactic to win fights they couldn't otherwise. Including elections. They like to waste valuable court time. For another, they always end up making the thing they claim they're trying to destroy more successful and known. (you'd almost think Fox was getting a kickback from Franken's publishers for the publicity)

O'Reilly has, of course, had it in for Al Franken ever since a bookseller's conference earlier this summer which had Franken, O'Reilly and Molly Ivins, which led to O'Reilly having a hissy fit and shrieking, "Hey, shut up! Just shut up!" at Franken, to which Franken replied, "This isn't your show, Bill." It got kind of nasty and O'Reilly got very personal about it, particularly since Franken had revealed that O'Reilly lied when he said he'd won a Peabody Award(what he won--and he didn't, his old show Inside Edition did--was a Polk)

In other news, John Ashcroft, your pal and mine, not satisfied at draping a tit on a Justice Department statue(I imagine it's more like if the statue could see what the department has been up to it might come to life and tear the place down like Samson) has finally gotten around to cracking down on stuff like pornography, now going after the extreme work of Lizzie Borden, which I have not seen. I'm not much of a consumer of porn as such--I'm more one for literary smut and only find about three porno films interesting, and all of those are thirty years old. I have more than a few Taschen books of visual smut, most of which is either drawn or painted, the photos generally not less than eighty years old. I also like Crepax and some Serpieri. I suppose I'm a bit of a wuss. But though I draw the stuff, at least for a little while,(and it looks like I picked a fine time to do so, lucky fucking me) I don't really read or watch it much. As I understand it, Borden's work is quite over the edge and would be quite hard to defend, not to mention kind of tacky and gross, involving women being beaten and that sort of thing. If it fits any description I've heard of it, it'd certainly be impossible to defend from a taste viewpoint. (I at least try to make sure there's something pretty about it and frankly, the men in the strips are just props; the women are in control even when acting submissive, so there)

But as I also understand it, the stuff involves consenting adults. So unless this stuff is in fact evidence of the commission of a crime--which is one of the many good reasons child pornography is completely indefensible--I don't imagine this is a case Ashcroft expects or intends to win, just as Joe Lieberman's noises about Hollywood's pernicious, viral corrupting influence were in the end just a way of making himself better known on the political landscape in an election year. This is a way of Ashcroft demonstrating solidarity with the Christian Right in time for next year's election. (and notice at the very same time Ashcroft is on a tour around the country claiming the Patriot Act is misunderstood and no one believing him)

Peripherally, the story I'm working on right now, a Rosa & Annalisa thing called "Soft Ceiling," turns out to have a social comment buried in it, so I apologize in advance for any redeeming social value this work might end up having. I came up with a word for this kind of thing, which is probably a dumb one: "pornoganda."

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21 August 2003
  "I'll Be Found Dead In The Woods"--Dr. David Kelly

I'm away for a while updating the website and this appears. As I've said from the start that if I were in the SAS I'd have made such a "wet job," as they call it in the trade, look as much like a suicide as I could, and the "nothing to see here" immediate attitude of the police involved doesn't help. But really, who exactly slashes their wrists in a forest? It just strikes me as a strange setting in which to do that. Anyway, you'll find the full story here:

In a startling string of revelations yesterday, Lord Hutton's inquiry was told that Dr Kelly:

· confirmed there had been a "robust" debate between Downing Street and the intelligence services about the September dossier on weapons of mass destruction

· expressed scepticism about British claims that Iraq's weapons capability could be deployed quickly

· had been in direct contact with senior Iraqi scientists and officials he knew, promising them the war could be avoided

· feared he had "betrayed" these contacts and that the invasion had left him in a "morally ambiguous" position.

A government memo published yesterday showed that Mr Hoon tried to stop Dr Kelly talking about weapons of mass destruction when he appeared before the Commons foreign affairs select committee.

Mr Broucher said that Dr Kelly thought that the UN weapons inspectors could gain a good idea of the state of the Iraqi arsenal because the Iraqis had learned during the British colonial days to keep full written records. That assessment runs counter to the US, which insisted inspectors were wasting their efforts.

A crucial point in the conversation with Mr Broucher was Dr Kelly's revelation about continued links with Iraqis after working in Iraq in the 90s as a UN weapons inspector. He had retained contacts with Iraqi scientists and officials, and told Mr Broucher he had tried to persuade them to comply with the inspectors in order to avoid invasion.

In his email, Mr Broucher said Dr Kelly's concern was that "if an invasion now went ahead, that would make him a liar and he would have betrayed his contacts, some of whom might be killed as a direct result of his actions".

Mr Broucher added: "I asked what would happen then, and he replied, in a throwaway line, that he would 'probably be found dead in the woods'."

His interpretation of this was Dr Kelly feared a personal attack by the Iraqis: "I did not think much of this at the time, taking it to be a hint that the Iraqis might try to take revenge against him, something that did not seem at all fanciful then. I now see that he may have been thinking on rather different lines."


Well now. Again, political assassination is not alien to England.

__________________________________________________

And as I said, I've updated the website, though not the main part, which will soon be redesigned in a very spiffy way by someone that actually knows what he's doing. More like I've added a new wing, and I'm afraid it's for adults only. It's called Vile Smut and it delivers what it promises. Included are three entire stories and an excerpt from October Surprise, the full version of which was published by Eros Comix (edited very nicely by the inestimable Michael Dowers) , starring Rosa & Annalisa and the very silly episodes so far of Vladrushka. (I'll also be adding a sketch section onto the main site soon)

"Why so much pornography, John?" Well, first, my wife Kelly encourages it, so blame her, said the weasel. Secondly, I did only just finish a very long project (Vitriol, some unseen excerpts from the later chapters of which will be soon on the site, and a collection will be forthcoming in less than two years or else I'll die trying), and I'm doing these for fun. I feel more comfortable heavily experimenting with fluff, and fluff it is, though fluff done from the heart. I do genuinely enjoy drawing the stuff, but no one should think it's meant seriously.

It's not all I do, but it's certainly what I'm mostly doing this year. And I do enjoy that it rankles some people, and over so very little. I've no problem drawing explicit sex, though. I happen to think sex is one of the few chances people get to do anything truly human with one another. If you look at my work, what you'll see is that I'll draw the nudity or sex every time, but almost always have the brutal violence off-panel. I could go off on some screed about how I do this to show the hypocrisy of our violent media, but the truth is that violence is just harder to draw.

I've begun working with pencil without ink a lot in this work and hope to develop this further. Thank heavens for scanners. I've also begun a project which you will see at least partly serialized on the site soon, having to do with the story of Eden, which will incorporate just about as many art media as I can cram in. Also another smut piece starring Rosa & Annalisa called Soft Ceiling. Keep coming back and I'll keep you posted.

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