The good news is, Wankette resumes comix crit. The bad news is, the critter is worse than his victims.

To most reasonably intelligent readers, the incredibly sloppy writing and transparently inconsistent logic of Matthew Phelan’s critique of editorial cartooning render his opinions unworthy of serious attention. But this is the Internet, where most readers are neither reasonable nor intelligent. So some effort at restoring balance to the universe is called for.

First Phelan goes after Steve Sack, cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who won the Pulitzer Prize last year. As I wrote at the time, “Sack has been around a long time, is a nice, unassuming guy who is personally popular among the older generation of “mainstream” editorial cartoonists, so his win has been largely greeted as long overdue, sort of a lifetime achievement award as these things often are, a recognition of the fact that unlike many other political cartoonists who slavishly copied the artistic style of deceased Chicago Tribune cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, Steve developed his own drawing style.”

What Phelan appears to be trying to say, and if he is I agree with him, is that Sack’s cartoons are bland. And that bland shouldn’t win the biggest prize in journalism. To be honest, I think the Pulitzer Committee embarrassed itself with their selection. If he’d won at the peak of his career, about 15 years ago, there would have been fewer WTFs. As it is…well.

Sadly, Phelan resorts to rhetorical devices that are stupid and sleazy.

For example, Phelan points to a Sack cartoon from the build-up to war against Iraq that supports Bush’s pro-war position by depicting Saddam as a liar about WMDs. Obviously, Sack was wrong to believe Bush. So were most of my colleagues. And look, I fucking hate that cartoon. Along with most mainstream cartoonists, Sack has blood on his hands because his cartoon helped contribute to the political shift from “let’s not invade” to “no, let’s.”

But it’s a cheap shot. Peruse the archives of any cartoonist or political commentator and you’ll find stuff that makes them look bad — stuff they wish they could take back. Expecting a humorist to bat 1.000 is asking way too much.

Still, I don’t have too much trouble with his conclusion: “That, in brief, is the problem with Steve Sack,” says Phelan: “Like an antique weathervane, Sack’s cartooning is quaint, inoffensive, and deeply American — and more-or-less an adequate indicator of which way the wind is blowing.” This is true, of course, of the work of 90% of American editorial cartoonists.

Then he turns on your humble narrator.

He begins by calling me “Ted ‘Theodore’ Rall.” Yes. Ted is usually short for Theodore. This made me flashback to George L. Ernst Elementary School, where my dimmer classmates would rhyme: “Red Ted lies dead in bed.” Then they’d stare at me, wondering why I was neither impressed nor offended. I assume Wonkette doesn’t have editors or paid staff; otherwise, who signed off on this?

At this point, I should apologize for burying the lede. But here, we’re getting to it now.

Phelan calls my cartoon showcasing quotes from former USAF drone operator Heather Linebaugh “a nasty, sanctimonious piece of business.” Well, OK. Opinions are like assholes, etc.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Phelan: cartoons can be bland, or they can be hard-hitting. Edgy work may make some people uncomfortable. It may even offend them. In other words, you can’t reasonably attack Sack for being too bland in the same essay in which you criticize me for being too not-bland. Well, you can, but then, someone will write something like this, pointing out that you have written something stupid.

When done right — and most cartoonists don’t even try to do it right anymore — political cartooning is a blood sport. It’s ball-grabbing, throat-crushing, bile-inducing. Like some Chinese guy said about revolution, it is not polite, it is not a dinner party. A good political cartoon — or a cartoon that has a chance of being considered good — takes no prisoners, pulls no punches, and is perfectly willing to be nasty and sanctimonious in the service of an important cause (e.g., trying to convince Americans to end the drone murders).

Damned fucking right I’m sanctimonious.

P.S. Turns out Matthew Phelan is a children’s book illustrator with a twee, not terribly confident, style. And a truly crappy website.

28 thoughts on “The good news is, Wankette resumes comix crit. The bad news is, the critter is worse than his victims.

  1. Honest intelligent people can tell the difference between gratuitous hostility and standing up for what’s right, and people who carry on overly about being nice tend to be hiding something. Women are always having to deal with these kinds of silencing attempts because we are often socialized to be meek and accommodating. This is because it would be too much of a threat to the established order if we all fought back.

    What you describe as the reality political cartoonists face sounds quite similar. Don’t make waves and we’ll give you a cookie.

    • What decade are you living in? This is the era of you go girl, be true to yourself, stick up for yourself, girl power, do whatever you want, kick him to the curb, fuck around like a man, be aggressive in the workplace like you perceive men to be in order to get somewhere, happy wife happy life, whatever you say honey. Lifetime, and Hallmark (My mom lives on those channels) and the like are full of shows in which bewildered regular guys are being shouted at by women. Most men in real life don’t even know how to respond to a woman who is belligerent. Plenty of men are SCARED of women period. I grew up being taught that girls and boys were exactly the same, not that I should ignore female opinions.

      And forget sex, I don’t know many PEOPLE who know how to be assertive and still fair and reasonable enough to say something useful. You’re the exception, Miep. I’ll leave it at that before I get myself into more trouble.

      • Jack, the vast majority of CEO’s and politicians are male. Otherwise, while it’s true that some of us have learned to be more assertive – and that’s a good thing – it’s still true that women get paid less for the same work, and that violence is by far mostly coming from men, although a lot of it is male-on-male.

        Also, there are likely regional and generational differences. I grew up in Los Angeles and have been living in what is effectively a rural West Texas mining town for 15 years, very churchy place. What I see is women apologizing and saying excuse me much more than men do, women worrying terribly about “having a man,” because women who don’t are socially marginalized, and even in this relatively peaceable place, enough male-instigated domestic violence to be concerned about.

        This is the face of the Republican Party. To the extent that Democrats are different, it does tend to be about social issues, so YMMV if you live in an urban area. But we still have no real power. See recent changes in Texas abortion laws.

      • You know what, Russell? I wasn’t going to go here, but now I am. You read too much into things.

        Pols may be male but they pander to women voters. They pass feminist legislation.

        And I fail to see how pointing out the elephant in the room makes me bitter. I like my life. I like it all the more because I can operate based upon reality, which is that I have probably only met a couple women of any age who were not fickle. Their opinions change every week it seems. It’s whatever benefits them at the time. They think emotionally first and then use their rational faculties to excuse their decisions and actions. Have you never heard the “It just happened” line from a woman? They’ll think of anything to keep guilt at promiscuity or infidelity at bay. Most of them appear to live in a fantasy world in which they lack any agency. They are just at the mercy of events.

        Have you guys never noticed how commercials and movies and sitcoms always make out the guy to be the useless goofball while the woman keeps everything together?

        A majority of women are in constant fierce competition with each other. They’ll backstab for no good reason. Sometimes it’s over a man, or family, but more often it’s work. Russell, if you’ve never observed these things then you are either deluded beyond all hope or have barely lived at all.

        We live in the golden age of feminism having had success after success. All of the media and politicians save a few GOP nuts are on board, but somehow the patriarchy is still keeping women down. Well, I don’t buy it. That’s all. They should be guaranteed maternity leave and not be fucking fired for being too pretty and all that but come on already.

        Bitterness? No. I get mine. Just disappointment and a little sadness that women aren’t what they were cracked up to be in my childhood. I got the impression they might be better than men and should perhaps be idolized. That they cared more and were more loyal. Men were the ones who are selfish and hurt people. Well I don’t see it. I have definitely seen guys bending over backwards for their cold women too many times. I think to myself, ‘How could anyone be willing to do so much for so little?’ It’s not my fate though.

        One last thing. A woman just got approved for the most powerful job on the planet. The new Fed chairwoman. What was that about women not having any power?

  2. Here’s a recommendation for anyone, especially younger people, who want to discuss frustrations pertaining to sex and relationships in this culture: Broadblogs.com. Georgia is a professor in Los Altos and invites her students to participate in these discussions, and occasionally posts guest pieces from them. She does a good job of promoting discussions without being overbearing or judgmental and I get the sense that both men and women appreciate the opportunity to (often) vent. The outcome is the expression of a surprisingly wide spectrum of attitudes and beliefs.

  3. Oh, my.

    “Pols may be male but they pander to women voters. They pass feminist legislation.”

    They also pass anti-racism legislation, and laws against torturing your pets. Yet women still get beaten and pets still get tortured.

    “And I fail to see how pointing out the elephant in the room makes me bitter. I like my life. I like it all the more because I can operate based upon reality, which is that I have probably only met a couple women of any age who were not fickle.”

    How do you know that? Do you have no married friends? Are you saying almost all women cheat on their husbands, or what?

    “Their opinions change every week it seems.”

    This just comes off as misogynist. Empty-headed idiots, all of us.

    “It’s whatever benefits them at the time.”

    More misogyny. Bunch of opportunistic bitches, as opposed to long-suffering dudes.

    “They think emotionally first and then use their rational faculties to excuse their decisions and actions.”

    Yup. No real brains, just hormones, tits and a hole. That’s us. Oh, and we all lie like rugs.

    ” Have you never heard the “It just happened” line from a woman? They’ll think of anything to keep guilt at promiscuity or infidelity at bay.”

    Hateful.

     “Most of them appear to live in a fantasy world in which they lack any agency. They are just at the mercy of events.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    “A majority of women are in constant fierce competition with each other. They’ll backstab for no good reason. Sometimes it’s over a man, or family, but more often it’s work. Russell, if you’ve never observed these things then you are either deluded beyond all hope or have barely lived at all.”

    I dunno, Jack. Maybe he just hangs with a better crowd? Or isn’t virulently paranoid?

    “Bitterness? No. I get mine. Just disappointment and a little sadness that women aren’t what they were cracked up to be in my childhood. I got the impression they might be better than men and should perhaps be idolized. That they cared more and were more loyal.”

    Well, there’s your mistake right there. Why should we have to be better than men?

    Shit like this is why women get tired of talking to men. You’ve decided upfront that we aren’t the saints you expected, so we are all hateful manipulating bitches. 

    I really hope you’re young enough to grow out of this, because Russell is dead on right about your being bitter.

    • @Miep, thanks, you saved me a post. Only one thing I’d add:

      “They think emotionally first and then use their rational faculties to excuse their decisions and actions.”

      I’m pretty sure that’s what it means to be human.

      • I like women fine. I just don’t expect much from them anymore. It’s just a long way to fall from angel status to where they really are. I’d love for them to be equal, really. That’s all anyone can expect. I believed most of my life they were. I can’t help that most women spend most of their mental energy rationalizing their own poor behavior and that of other women. I can’t fault them for the way they are biologically wired. Of course there was a time when older women would teach the young to be loyal and selfless, but now that they’re taught ‘to be true to themselves and damn everyone else,’ I’m mystified any guy would willingly enter marriage. I was just stating facts, but hey if you want to emotionally explode and prove my point…

        Oh and on the topic of equality, they want to be soldiers, police, and firefighters BUT WITH EASIER PHYSICAL STANDARDS.

        If one points out the many discrepancies between feminism and reality, he will invariably be called misogynist (never mind all the codified misandry). And all I did was point out what I thought was a very accepted truth since it is in pop culture constantly: don’t argue with a woman; you will never win because she won’t fight fairly.

        I’ve heard women argue that stealing from a company is wrong unless an employee helps you do it, then it’s OK.

        I’ve heard women argue that cheating on their husbands, even lying about paternity, is OK because nature intended it. On this topic, courts routinely rule that men continue child support even when they can prove they are not the biological father.

        I’ve observed women OBSESSED with a boyfriend one week, bored of him the next.

        I’ve observed mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers fight over a child as if he were a possession or prize.

        Even the smartest woman I know will excuse any behavior of Israel because of “those poor Jews.” I still have a lot of respect for her anyway.

        But hey let’s forget about my personal experience, I’m clearly biased even though I identified as a feminist most of my life.

        Off the top of my head, scientific studies show that women are more likely than men to:

        cause car wrecks, kill their children, initiate divorce, cheat, and think emotionally instead of based upon principles.

        Then there’s the terribly harmful meme that only men cause domestic violence. The facts are that police responding to domestic violence calls blame the man as a matter of course regardless of which partner started the fight, which is hurt, or even which called the police. That’s right, a man who calls for help can expect to be carted off to jail. He has been socially conditioned all his life to believe that women are more delicate and he should never lay a hand on them even in his own defense. And he had better not defend himself or he’ll be in even more trouble. Actually, people don’t even care if a woman physically abuses her guy in public:

        http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2741047

        EVEN A FEMINIST WILL ADMIT THERE IS NO PAY INEQUALITY:

        http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/08/gender_pay_gap_the_familiar_line_that_women_make_77_cents_to_every_man_s.html

        But hey, don’t research these things. The evidence will challenge your worldview and fail to satisfy your character structure psychologically.

        It is disappointing to find that even here on rall.com, the trend is the same as anywhere else: attack the messenger, take the discussion personally, and be sure to attribute an opposing viewpoint to some emotional experience your opponent had. Truth is, I have not personally been a victim of a girlfriend or wife or whatever you think.

      • Jack typed with one finger, “I like women fine. ”

        Then banged out another 600 words belying that very statement. If you’re gonna be a chauvinist, at least have the balls to stand up and admit it.

      • You need to look at yourselves. If you see hatred in my comments, it is what you want to see. I harbor no hatred of women at large or in particular. I’ve just stated what I’ve observed. Perhaps if instead of saying women think emotionally, I had said men are not as socially or emotionally intelligent as women are, I still would have been called “hateful,” “misogynist,” or “chauvinist,” but I doubt it somehow. Maybe I would have been accused instead of hating men, of thinking men were stupid? I’m thinking probably not. Thinking emotionally is not always a weakness which is what you guys seem to believe. That’s sad. Women have many strengths though rational, abstract, or creative thought are rarely among them. That’s OK because they’re better than men at other things.

        Again, if you want to get really personal and ignore the facts of differences between the sexes, that is your business.

      • Jack: I don’t ignore differences between the sexes, I just don’t believe they are innate. I’m a social constructionist, you’re a gender essentialist.

        The latest best thing on gender is “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine. The text is 244 pages and the rest of the book constitutes almost 100 pages of cites, bibliography and index. I don’t expect you to read it as you have already made up your mind, but I’ve started it and am impressed.

      • @Jack: “If you see hatred in my comments, it is what you want to see.”

        No, actually, it’s not what I want, it’s what I read. It’s pretty obvious you’ve got some real issues with women. I mean, c’mon – just read what you wrote “I don’t hate wimminz, it’s just that they’re stupid, emotional, weak, lazy, dependent, deceitful, incapable, dishonest…”

        Do you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a link between your attitude and your bachelor status? Have you ever had a girlfriend whose last name wasn’t JPG?

      • I can see I no longer have to wonder if “CrazyH” can respond to me without juvenile insults. As I hinted at before, I was only impressed by women in childhood from afar. Once I was spending time with them that feeling wore off pretty quickly. Even so, I’ve enjoyed their company over that of men I would say. With women tired of all the wussy guys who are afraid of their own sexuality, women think I’m a breath of fresh air. I wonder how many times I’ve heard a woman say she loved how I talk/think. It’s my favorite way to be complimented for sure. They know I know them and myself and am always honest. More than anything they call me charming, genuine, or some variation. That being said, if a woman I like insists on monogamy, being my ‘girlfriend,’ she can take a hike and rope some other dope.

        Now that that is out of the way, Miep, have you not made up your own mind? I’m pleased you’ve returned to civility, but I don’t normally take reading suggestions from people who attack me, but I could make an exception. My book list is rather long, but I’ll keep it in mind. I am always open to new evidence and have been known to complete 180 opinion changes though probably all of them you would disagree with. Staunch Dem to Dem hater, pro-choice to pro-life, feminist to anti-feminist, socialist to capitalist. I’ve even recently endangered my own identity as a Leftist with these changes. When my major was still in social sciences, I too believed gender was completely a social construct. Of course, many dynamic, intertwined forces are at work, but your camp severely underestimates nature or biology. Underneath our civilizations and cerebrums, we are much more animal than 99% of us know or want to think. No amount of advancement will change who we really are.

      • Jack, your diatribe about women was painful and disturbing to read. Your comments are disturbing because you contradict yourself so much. You like women, you hold us in contempt, you were raised to see us as equal to men, you were raised to see us as better than men.

        CrazyH and Russell are merely responding to the same stuff I’m seeing. 

        I have made up my mind to be critical of any self-referential ideology, as critical thought is much more interesting than having an agenda to support oppressive ones. And I have been holding back from attacking you. I have only responded to the appalling stuff you (sometimes) post. 

        And no, you don’t get to be a capitalist and be a leftist. That’s just silly. Libertarians aren’t leftists. 

        Hating feminism is meaningless without offering a definition. My definition is freeing women from obligatory engagement with men. If you hate that, you are a misogynist.

        You might as well spare us all your claims of being adulated by women, as you offer nothing appealing. What sort of charm is this, where you make all these claims about how untrustworthy women are and dismiss people who point out what you actually said? And you are “pro-life,” which I suppose means you think men should get to decide abortion laws, that being who is predominantly in charge of the government.

        There is no point in trying to talk to you because you don’t properly debate, you just ignore stuff and look for more opportunities to write hateful stuff about women and then brag about how irresistable you are. I’m done. Have a nice life.

      • @Jack sez, “I can see I no longer have to wonder if “CrazyH” can respond to me without juvenile insults. ”

        Uhhh ….Jack? Isn’t it a little late to try to take the high ground? You seem to be completely unable to defend your position without resorting to insults. Do you really expect to call people ‘stupid’ and ‘disgusting’ without them answering in kind? At least my barbs are creative and humorous.

        The thing is, it wouldn’t matter if your posts were all sweetness and light. You are espousing the most execrable talking points of the far right. Those ideas are extremely inconsiderate and rude, regardless of how they are phrased. You regularly disparage liberals on a far-left blog, what do you expect? Rose petals at your feet?

        You just insulted my mother, my wife, and my granddaughters. Try saying those words to my wife’s face; she’s a martial artist and thoroughly enjoys teaching humility to chauvinists, let alone misogynists. You’d be better off talking smack to my face, at least I stop hitting when my playmates start crying.

        Now why don’t you head on over to a freeper site where you’ll fit right in. Don’t let the door hit your head on the way out …

      • And you guys think you’re better than posters of other websites? I have a definite leftist worldview, but that doesn’t mean I accept each item in dogma on faith like you guys.

      • Oh, and you are implying your wife assaults people for disagreeing with her? Well, I’m sure that’s not a crime since she’s a woman. HA! Well the internet circle is complete. I have now been challenged physically in person by my esteemed opponent. Clearly a teenage grandfather.

      • “Obligatory engagement” what does this even mean? And how does your viewpoint not serve your own interests? As for me? I’d have been ecstatic to live happily ever after with my wonderful, reasonable, equal wife. She doesn’t exist. When that is what I really wanted, how does my current viewpoint self-serve?

      • Miep, there are no contradictions. I like women, but knowing their nature, I am wary. For example, when women have declared love for me, I know it is just infatuation. Studies have shown besides that women are more likely to mistake infatuation for love. My experience definitely bears that out. I’ve never made that mistake. When I have said I loved someone, it was because I really do.

        Now, explicitly, I was taught the sexes (I object to the imaginary term ‘gender’) were equal. Feminists always frame it that way. Implicitly, I got the message that they were better.

        Since you all already despise me, let’s bring abortion back into this! You will agree it takes two parents to conceive? When then is it only a woman’s choice to ‘keep it?’ If the father wants the child, too bad, she doesn’t. If he doesn’t, too bad, he’ll be paying for it for years. He made his choice, right? When he had sex? Why does the woman get an extra chance to get out of it? I mean, you want equal rights? YOU CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. There is no way to weasel yourselves out of this. You’re saying a father has no say. Well, I’m sure many feminists would love to be able to propagate the species without men’s help.

  4. Oh, all right. It would be just too cold to cut Jack without an appropriate goodbye.

    So, here is a spam composite, from my very own blog, circa last June.

    Adios, muchacho!

    Spam Poem for Jack

    Visit your local dentist today to place health first! Whether you find a handful of rust spots, shoppers can rub these kind of down with steel wool.

    In the instance that these scraps don’t clog your pipes, they will bottom up in a sewers. Paint an outline in orange marking spritz paint.

    Sound music has for ages been popular and has been in for many years. Exactly how you do through it later for in life happens to be entirely up so that you you.

    These bungalows have spas, swimming pools, gardens, open aura dining places, plus more!
    The location should be in a anchored and riots lying down zone.

    Septic system cleaning is no optional service for homeowners.
    The vegetation over the cesspit would doubtless the most look different from the vegetation around.

    In general, look for irregularities among the shrubbery surface. Stress is an internal conflict approximately between what you expect and what you fear.

    After which they choose the house hold that perfectly best for with your team. Staying in a bungalow will cost you more than tenting.

    Your misery carries its rather own underwriting risk.

    However a tangible indication that can’t are overemphasised. Perhaps we’ll get the bar as high and the goals won’t always be met.

    • And here’s a Jack composite:

      ——————————-
      It’s just a long way to fall from angel status to where they really are.

      Have you never heard the “It just happened” line from a woman? They’ll think of anything to keep guilt at promiscuity or infidelity at bay.

      That being said, if a woman I like insists on monogamy, being my ‘girlfriend,’ she can take a hike and rope some other dope.
      ——————————-

      In other words, it’s wrong for women to be promiscuous, but it’s fine for Jack. So how does that work? Do you expect them not to sleep around on you while you sleep around on them? Or do you just look down on them because they sleep around too? Everything finds its own level, Jack… if you are looking for angels don’t act like a dog.

      • Fallacious again. I feel no guilt at promiscuity. But women often do and cannot deal with it so they shift the blame to the man in the situation. “One thing led to another.” Oh, yes, dear girl. You were helpless as you tripped on his dick. You didn’t mean for it to happen. It’s OK. It won’t count! If there’s anything a woman can’t stand, it is feeling guilty.

      • You fools actually think you can get me to leave with some Puritan shunning act? I’m here for Ted’s ideas.

        It is a shame I can’t seem to get any stimulating discussion from any of my comments, but look out if you guys disagree. Then you’ll keep coming back for more because you just can’t let that shit stand, huh? You’ve all certainly proved my point that most people are just animals.

      • You’re probably all too old to know this, but currently, dating has descended into serial monogamy territory. The only commitment in an LTR is a courtesy call before sleeping with someone else. These are simply one night stands with longer undefined terms. I have never cheated because I will not lie. Lying is for the weak and there is no attraction or connection to be had in lies. I expect honesty and I give it, but trust must be earned. Apparently I have to point out the difference between being open and sneaking around. The girl in question should find someone else because she’ll never get monogamy from me. She’s better off elsewhere.

        We are not programmed for monogamy. Science has shown this. As ‘liberals’ you should know this.

        Thinking women aren’t as capable is not the same as hating them. I’m not sure why that’s so hard for you guys to get. Egalitarianism is deeply entrenched to be sure. Perhaps if I used a helpful analogy you would understand. 😀 I LOVE dogs and children. They make great pets when properly trained. Now here’s the most fascinating thing about all this to me. Stay with me. Women talk about men like that all the time but aren’t called out on it. Do they hate men? I don’t think so, not for that. It’s as plain as can be. We have a double standard at play. Men are punching bags. If something goes wrong, blame a man. It’s a great slogan. There’s an easy litmus test right there. It’s OK for a woman to say it about a man, but woe to the man who says the same of a woman.

      • Oh, I’ll add (though it won’t matter) that I’m as disgusted with men who have largely bought into all this nonsense. Then again, women aren’t attracted to these feminized males, so more women for me!