Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Three Kings

Three Kings
by Steve Brodner

Of all the Santas of all time here are my top three, and the guys who drew them.
My all time fave is Haddon "Sunny" Sundblom's Coca-Cola Santa.  He would be in print ads in all major mags all through my childhood, and, I discovered, way before that.  This Santa wasn't just jolly, but in charge.  Like a CEO.  The very image of Big Cola-cum-America.  Rich, smart, benevolent. Oiy.  Anyway.  You felt if you asked for trains, you damn well would get trains.  And they would arrive on time.  BTW: The Quaker Oats man is Sunny's too.
Next is Norman Rockwell.  Santa to him was yet another American myth he would put his stamp on.  This one is sweeter, more elfin, like the rest of his world.  Benign, warm, nurturing.  That's the America he wanted. Wars were good wars.  People essentially strove for a Jeffersonian civil society, sublimating personal animus for greater communitarian and spiritual ends. His Santa is another piece of that Frank Capra, Aaron Copeland world.  Never saw a lump of coal in his life.

Tommy Nast is our Pop.  Our bloodiest and most successful caricaturist, he developed Santa Claus into the character we know.  First used in large emblematic cartoons in wartime (the Civil War) to entertain the troops in the pages of his Harper's Weekly, his Santa survived into the more sedate and mercantile '80's.  It didn't take long for Santa to move out of the battlefield and into the boardrooms.
From me and all my toons to you and yours, a great holiday and new year. And Peace.


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Obama & Democrats Give Americans a Healthcare Con Job for Christmas

By Kevin Gosztola

In the final moments before passage, Americans will whine about how Republicans are Scrooges and do not understand the meaning of Christmas and they should pass this bill for the poor instead of always giving to the rich. And, some Americans will sympathize with Democrats who have to be in the Senate on Christmas Eve and cannot be with their families because Republicans continue to obstruct passage of health reform.

Corporate Democrats and the Obama Administration stand ready to deliver a gift to Americans on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies and private insurance industry in America: health reform.

Cloaked in the spirit of the holiday season, Americans will let politicians shove this right under their Christmas tree somewhere between little Timmy's Zhu Zhu Pets and daddy's new GPS navigator, which many Americans probably managed to barely squeeze onto their Visa Mastercard.See the words recently spoken by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) as he read his own version of the famous Christmas poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
"Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Senate/ the right held up our health care bill no matter what was in it/The people had voted, had mandated reform/ 'We'll clog up the senate,' they cried with a grin, and in the midterm elections, we'll get voted in""

Democrats hope Americans will focus on those in Congress like Sen. Kit Bond and Sen. Chuck Grassley who should be visited by three ghosts before this holiday season is over. They have setup this final vote with the hope that Americans will forget the part about how this Senate bill doesn't have a Medicare buy-in, doesn't have a public option, doesn't support a woman's right to choose an abortion or have full access to all forms of reproductive health care, etc.

They hope deals Big Pharma cut with the Obama Administration to make sure Congress didn't attempt to use government leverage to lower the prices of drugs or support a measure to allow the importation of generic drugs from countries outside the U.S. won't be thought of and the fact that a Medicare for All single-payer health care plan was effectively kept off the table and out of the discussion all year long to the detriment of the American people and for the benefit of health insurance and drug companies in America won't be a problem for a majority of Americans at all.

And, it looks like Obama and Democrats will succeed in passing this without any threats of civil unrest or resistance to how it empowers corporate and special interests getting in the way.

Which means, as Americans sip eggnog, few will grasp the reality that they are going to be forced to buy "poor-quality insurance they can't afford to use," which means that they may pay around "$11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above" their already expensive premiums.[1]

While baking those holiday cookies with loved ones, few will think about the insurance plan they have right now through their employer and how this bill will be paid for by taxes on this plan so that means their employer will inevitably cut back on benefits and increase co-pays. They won't think to wonder why they must start to pay taxes on this bill now if they aren't going to see benefits from the bill and an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions until 2014.[2]

Peace Activists to Set Up Encampment in Washington


photoIn August of 2005, Cindy Sheehan, who had lost her son in Iraq, set up camp outside George Bush's vacation home in Crawford, Texas. She had a simple question; she wanted to know what the "noble cause" was for which her son had died. Thousands of people joined Cindy in Crawford, and Camp Casey became a national story that breathed new life into the antiwar movement.

In March of 2010, Cindy Sheehan and other activists from a group calling itself "Peace of the Action" will be converging on Washington, DC, to set up a camp on the National Mall.

When asked how long the encampment will last, Sheehan responded, "as long as it takes, that will be up to the government; we are prepared to stay until our demands are met."

Sheehan went on to say that the demands are simple, "troops out of the Middle East, which includes drones, permanent bases, contractors and torture/detention facilities."

Sheehan said that she has known for years that the peace movement needs to take bolder action and that the group's goal will be to hold multiple civil resistance actions daily throughout the nation's capital.

Sheehan said that participants will be asked to adhere to agreed-upon nonviolence guidelines while standing up and resisting against what she called the "robber class."

The Danger of Moderation

JACK, JACK: Who’s Got Your Back?

The very life & legacy of Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, is at stake.

by Bonnie King

Jack Herer

Jack Herer in his natural environment, at his booth. Photo:

(SALEM, Ore.) – It's a sad situation. The making of a movie of the week, perhaps. When a world renowned author falls ill, his family and friends become enemies, all professing to do so on his behalf. In the meantime, his health continues to fail, and his good name is tarnished by the very people deemed to uphold it.

Much has been said, some of it true, some of it not true, regarding Jack Herer as of late.

Anchor of the worldwide hemp movement, Jack Herer lies in a bed in a rehabilitation center in Eugene, Oregon, continuing recovery from a heart attack and anoxic brain injury.

Whereas, we reported just over a month ago that he seemed to be making significant progress in his recuperation, now that progress has reportedly stymied.

Jack was rushed to the hospital and admitted November 7th for a four-day stay following dehydration and Stage 5 Renal (kidney) Failure. Doctors spent 35 straight minutes with Jack in Emergency, which is longer than usual to stabilize a patient. Even then, he wasn't stable.

Since then, the battle between those closest to Jack has turned from a skirmish into a war.


When Jack was admitted to McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center on November 7th, he was gravely ill with his blood pressure only reading 78/58.

Because doctors questioned the sudden and dramatic illness, the hospital ran a drug screen.

One person who has been consistently on Jack's team, Joy Graves said, "I was notified by a brief phone call that the state of Oregon had an active investigation underway. And, I can see why."

"The day before this test was ran, Avamere had run a drug screen, and it only showed THC, nothing else. So this is absolutely frightening," she added.

The drug screen at McKenzie-Willamette revealed positive for THC (50 ng), Alcohol (20 g/dl), and surprisingly, Amphetamines (1000 ng).

THC: Some might find it laughable that Jack would ever not have THC in his body, after decades of daily cannabis use.

Alcohol: This is a substance that Jack does not imbibe, for over 35 years by some accounts. The theory is that the alcohol may have been part of the hemp mixture he was given, perhaps a tincture, though that has yet to be confirmed.

Amphetamines: How amphetamines came to be in his system is quite the mystery, but the investigation is well underway. That's where this discussion takes an immediate downward turn. And, it is apparently where the State of Oregon decided to step in.

"In his condition, amphetamines are about the farthest thing from what he needs in the world," commented Dr. Phil Leveque, Forensic Toxicologist and friend of Jack Herer. "No doctor would knowingly administer such a thing to a heart patient."

Amphetamines elevate cardiac output and blood pressure making it dangerous for use by patients with a history of heart problems, causing life-threatening complications.

How the amphetamines entered Jack's system is unknown, but the investigation is ongoing.

Taliban claim control of over 80pc of Afghanistan


By Mushtaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Rejecting as baseless the US allegations about the presence of Afghan Taliban in the tribal areas, a militant commander said they did not need to flee to the neighbouring country when the Taliban controlled major parts of Afghanistan.

Mulla Sangeen, a key commander of the Afghan Taliban, claimed there was no truth in the US charges, as the Taliban were holding 80 per cent of the territory in Afghanistan.

In his video message, which the Taliban commander claimed was recorded in one of his camps in the Paktika province, he said the Haqqani network was active and based in Afghanistan. Sangeen is also affiliated with the network.

The network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, has nominated Sangeen as the shadow governor of Paktika. He said by pressing the government to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, the US was, in fact, trying to weaken the country. He said the US was making efforts to pit Pakistan's armed forces and people against each other. Sangeen said the Taliban had become a strong force and at the moment, they were ruling most of the country with the help of the Afghan people.

"The US knows that we are here in Afghanistan and are fighting against them. The US always levels such allegations whenever it suffers losses at our hands," he stressed.

Afghanistan War: The Soviet Lesson Not Learned

"Hell on Earth": Released Somali Speaks about Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington

Mohamed Saleban BareAFP secured an interview on Monday with Mohamed Saleban Bare (known to the Pentagon as Mohammed Sulaymon Barre), the Somali refugee, released from Guantánamo at the weekend with eleven other men (including another Somali, Ismail Mahmoud Muhammad), who ran a money transfer operation for the Somali diaspora in Karachi, Pakistan, until he was seized in a house raid on November 1, 2001. The organization he worked for was, in the eyes of the US authorities, involved with another money transfer company that had ties to the 9/11 hijackers, even though the 9/11 Commission concluded over five years that this was not the case.

Speaking to AFP reporter Mustafa Haji Abdinur in a hotel in Bare's home town of Hargeisa, the capital of the northern breakaway state of Somaliland, Bare declared, "Guantánamo Bay is like hell on Earth." He added, "I don't feel normal yet but I thank Allah for keeping me alive and free from the physical and mental sufferings of some of my friends. Some of my colleagues in the prison lost their sight, some lost their limbs and others ended up mentally disturbed. I'm OK compared to them."

Israel to seek another 1b euros Holocaust in reparations from Germany

Haaretz israel news English
By Moti Bassok

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz will demand between 450 million to 1 billion euros in reparations from Germany on behalf of Jews forced into slave labor during the Holocaust, it emerged on Sunday.

Minister Steinitz will reportedly present German government with the demand on behalf of 30,000 Israeli survivors of forced labor in wartime ghettos, during a joint session scheduled to take place in early 2010 in Berlin.

Israeli officials estimate that according to a ghetto workers act passed by the German parliament in 2002, all of the 30,000 living forced labor survivors are entitled to a retroactive payment of approximately 15,000 euros each.