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Scott Walker Caricature

EPSON MFP image

Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admire the tremendous courage of Scott Walker. Most politicians would have caved after the vicious attacks he endured, all because he wanted to do the best for his state and bring in a little fiscal responsibility. Of course, that means putting some reins on the money train, but apparently that was enough to get out of state special interests to try and get him recalled… twice.

me and scott walker

I actually got to meet him. And I made him laugh. (always makes my day when I can get people to laugh, especially high ranking politicians.) I’m not all that crazy about the photo, however. The lighting’s weird and that glare in my glasses makes me look devious. I was having a bad hair day and my exhaustion is showing.

Because Walker wanted to avoid the appearance of all evil, he declined to take home the portrait, signing it instead (see the silver sharpee halfway down the image?), and putting it into the permanent collection of the Centennial Institute’s growing art museum collection.

Jonah Goldberg Caricature

jonah goldberg

 

My portrait of Jonah Goldberg. I didn’t really know much about him before the Summit, but he ended up being one of the most entertaining presenters. Combined with Bill Whittle, the two of them provided comic relief that had the whole room in stitches. His latest book’s cover is pure red, so I decided I would use that as a starting point. I also love the way I chose not to show any definition in the jacket, instead let the sleeve and hand come out of the solid shape. I really should push for that more often in my work.

It’s About Woman’s Rights

This cartoon is probably going to get me in trouble. But here it goes anyway.

It’s partially in response to another cartoon I saw recently. It portrayed an elephant whipping a woman (with lettering on her that read “woman’s rights”). The elephant was asking, “Why doesn’t anybody like me?” What an outrageous and disgusting cartoon! It proves nothing. It fails to persuade. It descends into the lowest form of debate tactics, name calling. And to me, when the other side starts resorting to name calling, you know your argument has been won. Of all the conservative issues out there, abortion is probably the easiest to defend.

Here’s an analogy. If a woman suddenly said, “I want to cut off my right arm,” and starts to do so, we as a society would try and stop her. To say that trying to stop her from cutting her arm off violates woman’s rights is absurd! How much more valuable is an unborn child, with a separate heartbeat, than an arm? Yet somehow we can’t even talk about the issue without the other side screaming hysteria and accusing us of all sorts of awful, untrue things.

I’d rather defend a woman’s right to cut off her own arm at her choosing than the murder of unborn children. Regardless of the circumstance, the heartbeat in her womb is another human being, whose right to life needs to be protected.

Another argument often heard is, “Well, I think abortion is a terrible act, but I’m not going to dictate my morals on other people.” (Thank you Joe Biden.) Really? Then what do you call the banning of lightbulbs? Large sodas? Keystone pipeline? Are not these your morals you are pushing on other people?

If you really thought something is horrific, then yes, you would work to ban it. I’ll use an extreme to prove the point. If you think pedophilia is morally wrong, you wouldn’t be saying, “well, deep down in my heart, I think pedophilia’s a horrific act and wrong, but I don’t think it’s right for me to push these morals on other people, therefore it should be legalized.” See how absurd that sounds? It’s not logically consistent.

Going back to the other cartoon, after reading it, I was flaming hot. Heck, if he’s going to go to those depths, I can be just as outrageous. Normally I try and hold back. I’ve a reputation to maintain, after all. In creating this cartoon, I debated on whether the character holding the bag should be generic, or should it represent the Democrat Party. I realized that going with the latter would turn up the controversial aspect of the cartoon several notches. But the fact of the matter is, the Democrat Party has chosen to take the side of abortion. It’s within their bylaws. I’m not stating anything that isn’t true. And it’s the Democrat Party that has proclaimed that the Republicans are waging a “war on women” simply because we believe life is sacred. Until they change this position, the donkey stays.

Final note, the pro-life position is not an attack on women. And we certainly do not wish to leave women out to dry who may have been victims of man’s cruelty or simply made a decision they now regret. That’s why Christians have always done more than just state a position. Despite zero mentions of it in the media, hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers exist across the nation and are staffed with compassionate and caring people who are not there to judge anybody, but are there to help protect life… both the woman’s and the child’s.

Unquestioned Reality

sequestered 2-9-2013-b-hummel

Last week was the celebration of (Republican) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech, of his hope and dreams of an America where race is inconsequential. Unfortunately, (Republican) Dr. King would be rolling in his grave right now at the way an entire political party has decided to use false allegations of racism against their opponent to stir up a fever pitch of fear and hate against them. It’s absolutely disgraceful to (Republican) King’s memory and legacy and it’s sickening.

Racism is a terrible thing, whether it’s white on black, Polish on Jew, or black on white. All of it God frowns upon. And false allegations of racism are nothing more than a form of racism, pitting one race against another with false fears and making that divide even greater.  Since Obama’s election, everybody was hoping that this signified the end to racial disharmony. Instead, it has only gotten worse and he has done nothing but watch his cronies stoke the flames of racial rage.

I’m a huge fan of (Republican) Dr. Martin Luther King. I grew up in a mixed race neighborhood and experienced the beauty of being exposed to different cultures. So I was looking forward to last Wednesday as being a day of unity. Instead, what I saw from other political cartoons and heard from liberal commentators on the day when we’re supposed to be coming together as races, horrified me.

Saw one cartoon that had Republicans hanging black people. No other explanation. That was their premise, no need to provide any evidence. Several others equated the Republican desire for voter ID as somehow not allowing blacks to vote. *

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was one cartoon that had all these gravestones and plaques with an elephant with a shotgun standing among them. On them were written: Jim Crow, No Japs (a reference to Japanese internment), No Irish…. And in the far corner was a border agent hauling off a Mexican.**

This is a working editorial cartoonist, working with a respected paper, drawing this. The obvious wrong in this cartoon was that what was written on the tombstones were DEMOCRAT INITIATIVES! Japanese interment… (Democrat) FDR’s idea! Jim Crow laws, written and propagated by the Democrat party! And the sign that said no Irish…? Not quite sure what he was referring to there.

It’s one thing to falsely accuse somebody of something, but to lie about history to try and gin up hatred for one party?! Absolutely disgusting!

The Democrats have found a goldmine. Racism is a crime of the mind and it is nothing that can be proved or disproved. If you accuse somebody of tweeting his junk to young gals, he will demand you provide evidence of such accusations. But with racism, no evidence is needed, nor can any be provided, for or against. You can’t say, “well open up my brain and peer in and you’ll see I’m not a racist…” Without the need for a smoking gun, the accusations stick and the despicable tactics work.

The other problem is that the public is slowly starting to believe these false charges, despite any evidence. They take them as truth without questioning whether or not there’s a motive behind them. Fear and hate then creeps into their mind, blocking their ability to look at the arguments of any issue. If only there were a way to convey this in a cartoon…

*An aside… Really? So being in favor of rule of law is racist? I’m sorry, isn’t it MORE racist to assert that somehow blacks are incapable of getting photo IDs?

**Another aside… Now the accusation is that Republicans are wholesale racists because they oppose amnesty. This is a case where there is broad and intentional misunderstanding about the ISSUE. We sit and tell a Sudanese refugee, brutally torn from his murdered family, to wait three years and to pass all these tests in order to enter our country. He dutifully does so, desiring to honor the laws of the new country he is about to come into. And while he sits and waits, we just let millions of Mexicans gain instant citizenship simply because they broke the law and snuck in. Talk about fairness, this is not fair to the Sudanese! I’m not a hardliner on this issue (read any of my previous columns and you’ll see), but I understand that a desire to implement rule of law and order to our immigration process is not in any way racist.

KT McFarland Caricature

KT McFarland

So I don’t watch Fox News, and I didn’t really know who KT McFarland was when I started her caricature. All I had was a few photos to go by and in each, she had big hair. So naturally, I exaggerated. Then when I saw her in person, she had a whole new hairdo, and she looked much younger. Oh well, that’s why it’s a caricature and not a portrait, right?

Oh, and by the way, KT McFarland, besides being a commentator on foreign affairs, held national security posts under Nixon, Ford and Reagan.

 

Mia Love, the portrait

Mia Love, Mayor of Saratoga Springs

This is my portrait of Mia Love. Mia Love is currently mayor of her small town in Utah, but has her sights on the national stage, running for congress for her district in 2014. One of her first major appearances was at the Republican Convention of 2012.

I started on this piece first thing in the morning, so my creative energies were the most in tune, and it really comes across as evident in this piece. I painted the board very dark and I could not see the pencil lines. I finally decided just to go at it, putting in quick lights and darks to define my areas and I was able to finally find the caricature from there. I had a lot of fun with the detailing in the hair, and as I finished, it only seemed appropriate to add a heart, her namesake, above her head.

Mia graciously accepted her painting and it now sits in some office somewhere in Utah, hopefully to make it one day to Washington DC.

 

Western Conservative Summit Review

allen west

 

Western Conservative Summit, was, in a word, pretty dang awesome (okay, so that’s a few words). Just for reference, this past weekend Centennial Institute hosted the fourth annual Western Conservative Summit, a three-day gathering of like-minded conservatives (think CPAC of the West). The house was packed to the gills as we listened to big name guest speakers (like Allen West and Dick Morris) come in and encourage, train, brainstorm, inspire as we work to sway the country for the next few elections.

Most of the speakers were very optimistic about the future of the conservative movement.

Other observations that really stuck out for me:

Despite unfounded accusations to the contrary, the conservative and Republican movement is NOT a racist movement. (Never has been, check the history). This year, much more than last, the summit was an ethnically diverse event. Attendees and speakers were represented by all different races and colors, black, white, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, German, you name it. Not that race is important, as conservatives, it’s all about the content of your character that matters.

The Youth Vote

What WAS still missing was young people. While there was a large student delegation representing CCU, when you removed them, the amount of gray heads in the room was overwhelming. This was an issue that was addressed ad nauseum by many of the speakers. Why are the youth voting Democrat and how do we change this? True, a lot has to do with the liberal brainwashing centers otherwise known as public education, but it’s more than that. Deep down, most young folk are libertarian at heart. Nothing about liberalism is libertarian, except on social issues, and even there, the data is showing that the younger generation is actually MORE prolife than the baby boomers!

The problem is, they are believing the false narrative proclaimed about Republicans and Conservatives by the media, and Republicans do a lousy job at discrediting it. I loved what one student speaker said: Democrats and Liberals show up at college campuses all the time. If Republicans just simply showed up, who knows what kind of difference they could make (and not three months before the election, that comes off as disingenuous.)

And there may be some evidence to this. They shared some polling data from the last election. Overwhelmingly respondents voted Romney as better able to handle everything from the economy to foreign policy. Yet they voted Obama as being more likable and ultimately that’s what guided their vote.

The Third Party

Ted Cruz and several others lambasted the Republican Party for their willingness to cave in to Democrat demands, at the detriment of the country (all for the sake of perceived political gain). A few times the term “Democrat Lite” was used to describe much of today’s Republican leadership and the party in general. If there’s no distinction between Republicans and Democrats on voting day, the public will pick Democrat every single time.

Because of this, a question was posed to Jenny Beth Martin. She was asked if the Republicans continue to look more and more like Democrats, would the TEA Party break off and form a third party. She would not say no.

Use the Force, Luke!

Comic relief was provided by Jonah Goldberg and Bill Whittle. Whittle mentioned that the term “conservative” has a bad connotation for young people, and calling yourself one means instant turnoff. He suggests we change the term to something more appealing, you know, something like “rebel alliance.”

While I laughed out of my seat on that one, it does anger me that our language has to be defined for us. If it has a bad meaning, then we need to be out there changing that meaning. Conservative means freedom, it means liberty, it means charity, it means being allowed to make your own decisions. Whittle also reminded us (and encouraged us to remind our socialist utopian friends) that it’s socialism that has a history of 100 million dead on its hands. History proves that nothing good has ever come from socialism. It goes against basic human nature and requires force to be implemented.

About this illustration

So what does this have to do with the portrait of Allen West you see above, you’ve probably been asking as you’ve slogged through this editorial? I was given the unique privilege and opportunity to create painted caricatures of the speakers. The idea occurred only two weeks before the event, but because of my chalk art gig in Crested Butte the following weekend, I ended up having 7 days to work on this project.

I knew I wanted to develop a new illustration style. I’ve been playing around with a rough and painterly new modern look. I’ve been trying to represent the most amount of information with the largest brush strokes I could. I also start with a textured painted background, which I like to let come in and out of the composition, as I use more opaque paints to bring out the highlights in the foreground.

This new style allowed me to work a little faster than normal. If you do the math, that’s 2 pieces a day. Each piece took an average of 4 hours each. In addition, I still had to keep working on other client obligations. Those 7 straight days I worked roughly 12 hours each and I just cranked out those paintings. I really didn’t have a whole lot of time to think much about the painting. I just had to do it.

Each painting has a story. As I roll out all 14 over the next two weeks, I’ll reveal the story behind each one.

Allen West was the first of this experiment. I decided to add the slight indication of an army camo netting above him as part of the picture.

I then had the opportunity to meet him in person, which was way cool, because I absolutely admire the man. It was a long line, and they were cycling us through fairly quickly, so conversation was out of the question. If you had the chance to say just one thing to one of your heroes, what would you say?

When it was finally my turn I said to him, “Your courage is an inspiration to us all.” Then after the photo, I concluded by saying, “May God continue His blessings upon you.” At that, Mr. West grabbed my hand firmly and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thank you. That means so much to me. And please, don’t ever forget to pray for me.”

Such is the man, and other events and run-ins with him the next few days solidified just how humble this guy really is. He accepted the above painting with honor, a Benjamin Hummel original, now in the home of former Congressman Allen West.

Separation of Church and State?

Okay, so to address the argument I hear spewed constantly, “Separation of church and state is guaranteed via our Constitution. Keep your religion out of our laws.”

Of course, it’s an easy argument to refute, you know, considering the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” isn’t even in our Constitution! In fact, the separation the Constitution does mentions is the separation of powers between branches of government, and considering the Congress’s and Supreme Court’s inability to keep the Executive or each other in check these days, one wonders how much this is being violated.

Thomas Jefferson did mention the “wall of separation” in a letter ABOUT the first Amendment, but Jefferson was more concerned about the state invading onto the church. Not to mention the fact that the Constitution wasn’t even ratified by Jefferson, and that the language of the first amendment was understood and passed by devout church goers to be exactly as it reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof!” As in, if a bakery owner does not want to make a gay cake topper due to religious objections and free exercise, she has that constitutional right!

But beyond that, the idea that there is no religion in our laws is ludicrous!

There is a Christian moral standard, just as there is a moral standard to every belief. State law is dictated by one person or another’s moral standard. Whomever is in charge will always impose their belief system on the populace. I don’t believe incandescent lightbulbs are going to destroy the planet. But because somebody else holds this moral belief, they have been banned. Sharia law is the moral standard in other countries, replacing Habeas Corpus. It’s impossible to separate “church” and “state” when you broaden the definition of “church” to all moral belief systems. In America, law is determined by the moral code of those whom the majority have elected. This is now what the will of the people has determined. Christians, now as a minority, must deal with the laws of the current “church” that is in power. I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, it’s just an observation I’m making.

So we are commanded to keep OUR religion out of law, but OTHER religion is permissible? I mention this to try and get you to recognize it for what it is. You’re fine pushing your belief system on others even as you scold us not to do so to you. Recognize that belief is belief and we ALL are working to try and get others to agree with us, regardless of where we stand on the religious and political spectrum.

Unsupervised… er, Manned Drones

So there seems to be a lot of snooping around lately. People are furious at Obama, as they riot in the streets in protest in Hong Kong and other Asian countries. And of course, you are well aware that I’m no Obama fan, so in my mind, it’s about time he received some bad press.

I’m not naive, however. I understand that many of these violations of privacy were made possible during the Bush Administration. What cracks me up now is role reversing the two parties are playing. Democrats, who once were furious at Bush for starting the program, are now defending Obama for expanding it. And Republicans who argued for the necessity for the Patriot act, are shocked that the Obama administration decides to use it for their own. And you have Miss Alabama saying that she’d rather have the government track her calls than have her privacy encroached. (?) The hilarity has reached fever pitch.

If you have paid any attention to my blog for the past 6 years, you’ll know that when it comes to erring on the side of either privacy or safety, (or freedom or safety), I’ll pick freedom/privacy any day. It doesn’t matter who the president is. I didn’t defend the Patriot Act under Bush, I’m not a fan of it now.

I guess it comes down to who’s in charge. Republicans trusted Bush and were comfortable giving him that power. They didn’t believe he would abuse it. Dems are comfortable with giving Obama all of that power today. Personally, I’m wary of an administration that has already demonstrated a willingness to specifically target groups and individuals with opposing political ideals. And just because you think you are safe with your own party possessing that kind of power, always remember that your party won’t be in power forever. Will you still be cool with the other party having the same power? Tell you what, I bet you the founding fathers wouldn’t have trusted any party. The executive branch needs to be severely limited, regardless of who is in charge.

Back to the cartoon. I listened to Robert Mueller admit they have used drones on US citizens. But he quantified it by saying that it’s okay because they are limited by all of this oversight. And I had to laugh. Out loud. Really? Oversight. Well, shoot. It’s too bad the IRS didn’t have laws telling them they couldn’t single out certain political groups. If only they had oversight, none of this would have happened! Like the government has ever listened to their own regulations. Puh-lease. Hilarity once again.

IRS Scandal

In case you live under a rock, or in case you get your news from MSNBC, the big scandal of the day is that the IRS is targeting conservative and Tea Party groups.

Yawn. This is news? I mean, I guess it is in the fact that it’s finally being reported, but no doubt this has been suspected for a long time.

My biggest frustration with all of this is the Democrats. When are you going to start cleaning house? What boggles my mind is that honest, hard working, freedom loving Americans are so loyal to their own party, that they are unwilling to rid it of corruption as it has taken over. I’m sorry, using the IRS as bullies to shut down political opposition (aka speech) during two election cycles is tyranny. There is nothing else you can call it. Sure it’s your guys doing it, so you’ll look the other way, but you same people screamed foul at W for barely even sneezing!

The Republicans have NOOOO problem jettisoning politicians the moment they are accused of wrong doing, whether or not such accusations are even true. Remember Tom Foley? Tom Delay? Dan Maes? Why can’t you Democrats do the same?

Of course, these attacks by the IRS are justified according to Democrat Harry Reid. According to him, because these conservative non-profit groups are sometimes fronted by rich (gasp!) people, they shouldn’t be allowed to qualify like the liberal non-profit groups (fronted by rich people). So, let me get this straight, rich people shouldn’t have free speech protection? Actually, yes, I’ve had some liberals tell me, and with all sincerity, they say money should be removed from speech so that it becomes fair. Then they pat themselves on the back for being so freedom minded.

Money does make speech easier, but guess what, it exists on both sides. Need I remind you that Democrats have outspent Republicans on every major national election since 2006? Money is speech and there shall be NO law restricting it!

Other prominent liberals have justified these IRS attacks by saying violent and racist groups like the TEA party should have extra scrutiny placed on them. WHAT?!? I’m confused. Do these liberals really believe that the TEA party is racist and violent, or are they just saying this as a convenient way to quickly demonize and dismiss their opposition? Every time a liberal tries to pin the TEA party as violent, I ask them, based on what? Can you name for me an actual violent incident involving a TEA party member? I can tell you how many times TEA party members have been falsely accused after any number of terrorist attacks, only to be quietly exonerated later. (Gabby Giffords, Aurora shootings, Boston bombings.) Perhaps they only remember the first media accusations and not the later correction?

And the charges of racism? Sooooo… let me get this straight. Smaller government and fiscal responsibility are racist?

This is a tactic often used by dictators. Falsely accuse your political opponent of the worst possible immorality you can think of. (In America, right now, that’s the charge of racism.) Then because they are so immoral, you can justify perpetrating whatever injustices against them you want, you know, like IRS harassment. It’s how Hitler got an entire German country to turn against the Jews.

What are your values? Forget party allegiance. Take the time to investigate the people on your side and those from the other side. When anyone, Republican or Democrat, engages in unethical activities in order to gain political power, the entire nation should be holding them accountable, not just the opposing party.

Side Note: Phew! Sorry this is so long. But it’s like the adage, a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can even put on its shoes. Lies are easy to spread as one liners on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else. “The TEA party is racist.” Once it’s out there and people start believing it, just saying “no they’re not” will not suffice. Unfortunately, it requires long documentation and rational explanation in order to set the record straight and even then, people are slow to believe. That’s the beauty of cartoons sometimes. They can hammer home a truth much quicker and more poignantly than words.
Post Script:  Even I was subjected to harassment by the Obama campaign. Back in 2008, I posted Obama’s position on Orphan Works based upon a Newsweek article. A week later, I received a phone call (area code New York City) from a lady claiming to be on the Obama election campaign, telling me they were going to sue me for libel if I didn’t take down that post, citing a Time article in which Obama was quoted as taking the opposite position. Of course, I took it down, but does that mean Obama might have read some of my cartoons? Cool.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: a review

I have just finished reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

If I were to sum up the crux of this book, I could say it in two words: emancipation and evangelism. Certainly, we are all aware of the former as being one of the main intents of this book. What is rarely discussed is its evangelical nature. Harriet Beecher Stowe is the sister of famed Brooklyn preacher Heny Ward Beecher and the Christian world view she brings to the text of these pages is very evident, and quite frankly, in our world that has turned so vehemently secular, refreshing.

Every argument she presents is done so in a context of a Christian mind set–in fact, she appeals to the heart of the Christian as a basis for her case for the dignity, humanity and equality of the black person. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She is quick to show of how even within certain churches of the age they tried to use scriptures twisted out of context to justify the activity of slavery.

What an amazing step in time this book was. And what a sobering and awful reminder of our past. Being 150 years removed, it’s easy to forget the cruelty of those days. Stowe’s account brings you as eye witness to the accounts of several slaves as they are ripped from their families and sold to good and evil masters. A great point Stowe makes is that in a system like slavery, in which the slave has no rights, their livelihood is dependent solely on the character of their master.

One critique I read on Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the steady use of the ‘n’ word. This, they proclaim, is the reason why it cannot be read in the public schools. Nonsense! The ‘n’ word is used in context as the vernacular of the day, and while demeaning, there were other books littered with profanity that were part of my required reading growing up. No, I suspect it is the evangelical nature of the book that has kept it from being part of the high school curriculum. Every chapter, it seems, shared the gospel. Stowe solidly makes the case that a man’s character cannot truly change without the transformative nature of Christ. We see this in the lives of Uncle Tom for sure, but Augustine, Miss Ophilia, Cassy, and even Topsy.

Now to get to the main point of this essay. When I first heard the epithet “Uncle Tom” being used it was in context of a black person disregarding their heritage and acting like a white person. Having grown up in predominantly black neighborhood, I heard this phrase thrown around all the time. Lately, it’s instantly the label pinned to any black conservative, the accusation being that if they hold on to free market ideals, that somehow they are cowtowing to the slave holding republican– in a sense they are weaklings used by right wingers.

Having just read the book, I scratch my head and wonder, have these people making these charges of Uncle Tom even read the book? Yes, by their mischaracterized idea of what an Uncle Tom is, it surely is an insult, but the uncle Tom of Stowe’s account is nothing like that. Stowe portrayed him as the ultimate virtue of Christian character. He believed in the forgiveness of every man, including his persecutor. The accusation is that Tom embraced slavery as his lot in life and was unquestionably subservient to white man.

This is not the same Tom that I read. Yes, Tom respected the authority over him, as described in Colossians. But when presented with the chance to be free, Tom quickly embraced it, and even when the opportunity for freedom fell flat due to the untimely death of a tender-hearted master, he continued to ask of it and long for it.

The idea that Tom was weak, not willing to stand for anything but the slave owner’s will, obviously does not take in account the final chapters. The reason for Tom’s brutal beatings was because he wouldn’t do certain things he felt immoral. In fact, Legree was ready to make Tom chief overseer of all the slaves, as long as he was willing to “tow the line.” Quite the contrast from today’s modern portrayal!

In reality, though Tom’s life was a tragic one, he showed more strength in character and christian virtue than any of the white owners above him. “Uncle Tom” shouldn’t be a slander, if taken in the context of Stowe’s writings, but rather a term of endearment. In reality, by labeling black conservatives as “Uncle Toms”, these detractors are unknowingly attributing to them that same moral fortitude.

Having concluded with the reading, I often thought that this would make a great movie. Unfortunately, I do not trust Hollywood to do it correctly. The whole point of Stowe’s writing was to appeal to the Christian man. I would want any movie made from this writing to include the heavy Christian doctrine. Hollywood famously either disregards Christianity, misrepresents it, or mocks it. A lot of the text was building a case against slavery, written in a time where such activities were legal. These elements certainly could be downplayed or dropped for today’s world, however, I think it important to emphasize and showcase our sordid past, lest we be tempted to fall into it once again.

A movie of Uncle Tom would be epic and powerful, if done properly. The problem with most Christian movie houses, is they lack the budget to put together a quality project. The problem with most Hollywood outfits is that they lack the willingness to produce a Christian film. My hopes for such a film will have to remain as just that. However, if such a project does go underway, let me know, I’d be happy to work as art director or concept artist. (contact form available above.)

In conclusion, regardless of your religious affiliation, I highly recommend the book, and it would be hard not to read it and not be moved. A great step into history, a great portrayal of humanity.

Stop Motion Easter Animation – Matthew 26:31

For this coming Easter, I am working on a number of animations. I won’t reveal the finished pieces until after their debut at church Easter Sunday (to which you are all invited), however, in preparation, I created this six second stop motion VINE video as a working test, just playing around. Not often you get to see animation on this site. Hmmm… Maybe it’ll be a sign of things to come. Enjoy!

Christ, the Editor

This story is for allegory only and is not meant to be an accurate representation of actual future judgment day events.

The last thing I remembered was watching the large truck as we were approaching the intersection. After that, a ripping of the soul from the body, as a bandage is ripped from a wound, except at its fiercest level. It was then that I realized that this was it, my time on this earth had concluded, the final chapter had been written.

The next thing I knew, we were in a line and approaching a large table filled with books on it. As I came up to the table, an angel, strong and towering, handed me a book. “Take this,” he said, depositing the gilded artifact into my arms. I nearly sank with the shear weight of the object. It wasn’t heavy like we understand mass on earth. Sure the book was large in scale, but weight took on a different form in this new spiritual realm. Instead, what made it heavy was its significance.

“What is it?” I dared to ask.

“These are the entire recorded works of your life, good and bad, to be judged for admittance into the Kingdom,” boomed the angel. “At the gate, this book will be open, and the contents read aloud.”

Oh. I held the book in front of me. I was curious about what might be inside. Maybe I should open up to a page and read what it said. Perhaps I could open up to the part where I helped out at the homeless shelter, once, in 1997. Those were good times.

I inserted my fingers someplace toward the center of the golden pages and started to pull back just a little bit. But then I stopped. I realized that this line of people approaching the throne was thick. Even a casual glance my direction would easily read whatever contents happened to be on the page that I opened up. What made this thought worse was that I recognized some of the people I was in line with. Folks I had gone to church with, folks I knew growing up. What if I happened to open up to that one time I did… ?

As I stood there, it started to become quite obvious to me that there were quite a few moments of my life that were downright shameful. What made it worse is that these were moments that I had labored to keep hidden. You see, I had grown up in a Christian family, lived a Christian life. I worked hard at creating a polished Christian image for the outside world to see. I had built a reputation based upon spin and positioning. It wasn’t easy to maintain this image.

But now, in the presence of glory, I began to remember all of hidden thoughts of hate, of disgust, of impatience with people. How many times had I gossiped behind somebody’s back, as a form of revenge? How many times had I lusted with my heart and my eyes? What about the secret sins, committed in the darkest moments of my life? It seemed as though these were far more in number than any “good works” I performed. And what of the good works? Did I not do them for my own glory? Did I not do good works for the sake of tooting my own horn and shining the spotlight on my own life?

I pulled my fingers back out of the book. I became sick to my stomach. My goodness, the contents of this book point to only one conclusion about who I was.

Up ahead, were massive gates, sparkling with radiant beauty. I might have noticed them more, if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with my current situation. We were approaching what looked to be like a man behind a lectern. I assumed him to be St. Peter. A thin, knobby man approached the lectern. “Hand me your book,” St. Peter said. The thin, knobby man hoisted his book onto the wooden surface. It landed and made a heavy sounding “thump!” St. Peter opened to the first page and started reading.

Not even getting halfway through the second page, Peter looked grimly at the man and said, “I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable, and cannot be allowed into the Kingdom. Be off.” With that, I watched as the book was suddenly chained to the man, his works bound to him for eternity and with that, he was gone.

Soon it was my turn. “Yes, my book, I know, you want it, here you go,” I humbly said. But as I lifted the book up, it oddly appeared as though it was much lighter than when I had first started carrying it. A bit bizarre, I noted. Then Peter started to open the pages and read.

I sat with my head bowed, but to my surprise, the reading was quick, and was filled with good works. I opened my eyes quizzically and peered onto the pages of my book. It was filled with a script that I could not recognize. But I did recognize that many sections were crossed out with red ink. It appeared as if Peter was skipping over the crossed out sections and reading on. He flipped from page to page, continuing to read, and continuing to skip over the red ink. “Excuse me, sir,” I interrupted, “Why aren’t you reading these parts right here?” I asked, pointing to the crossed out sections. “Because you gave your life to Christ, “ Peter replied, “the book has been in His possession ever since. These are just the sections He chose to edit out.”

St. Peter, knowing the long line behind me, quickly finished, and handed me my book back. “Well done, sir, take your book with you and enter the Kingdom.” My hands trembled as I gingerly took back the book, with tears in my eyes, and gratitude in my heart. I put my hand on the handle of the massive gate and felt a beautiful warmth fill my body. I turned and looked back at Peter. “I’m curious,” I called back to him, “the red ink that He used…?”

Peter turned and smiled back. “His Blood.”

Sequestered

Here are a few facts.

  • Congress has not passed a budget in close to four years.
  • Congress has never denied raising the debt ceiling limit when asked.
  • When the Republicans proposed raising the ceiling to a level lower than the Democrats, they are said to be making cuts.
  • Every time we approach a new deadline, what should be done is not and Republicans and Democrats, under a spirit of beautiful and wonderful bipartisanship, pass bandaid measures that kicks the problem down the road a few more months, ensuring only that the problem will continue to grow.

ENOUGH ALREADY! STOP SPENDING!

Neither side wants to be the side to rob grandma of her means of living through entitlement cuts. This is the untrue accusation that crops up every election cycle. So neither side seems to have the political courage or moral fiber to do the right thing.

One observation I have made through all of these impending deadlines we have encountered over the past four years, from fiscal cliffs to debt ceilings, is that the Democrats seem scared to death to have the deadlines pass without another “bandaid” fix. It’s as if the Democrats don’t want the sequestering to occur and the closer to the deadline we get, the more irate they become. I find it fascinating. Why could this be? Could it be a clue for the Republicans?

The Republicans must believe that if we go into sequestering that somehow they will get the political sword for it. Certainly polls indicate that this will be the case and we’ve got a media that is more than ready to write that story and broadcast it 24/7. But if this truly was the case, then I would believe that the Democrats would be a lot more casual about these approaching deadlines. I don’t think we’d see Obama come out shaking his finger at Republicans accusing them of not being willing to come together for the good of the country. Perhaps the Democrats do have something to lose.

Here is what I suspect. This new deadline includes several mandatory cuts. What do we know about government spending? Once it starts, it’s nearly impossible to stop. It becomes an unchecked cash flow from that point forward. This sequestering will automatically stop a lot of that spending. The biggest issue I believe is not that these programs will loose money. That’s not what the Democrats are worried about. No, it’s that when the cuts do go into place, we will discover that all of that spending wasn’t necessary in the first place! Those in charge, Republicans and Democrats alike, are not allowing these deadlines to lapse. Wishful thinking, maybe, but should the cuts occur, I think it becomes much harder to sell additional spending to the general public. This could potentially pay huge dividends in the upcoming midterms.

I am sick of party allegiance. Seriously folks, I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, don’t you care about out of control spending?

Your Bias is Showing

Everything’s An Argument

Good day loyal fan base! What can I say? A new year and the same politics. No doubt I’ll have opinions to push and I’ll surely try to use the art of the pen to persuade. At this time, I’m still only back to half strength from my four month length devastating illness starting this past September. But as I have time, I hope to be back to entertaining you with the hilarity of the institution we call government.

In the meantime, I thought you would enjoy some news! I am excited to share with you my recent major publication. Bedford/St. Martin’s just published one of my cartoons in a college textbook called “Everything’s An Argument,” written by Andrea A Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters.

I received, one morning out of the blue, in the mail, a copy of the finished book. Of course, I had written in the contract that I wanted a copy for my own portfolio, but permission was granted almost three years ago, so I had long since forgotten about this job. What a sweet surprise when it came in UPS.

I am published alongside a select number of professional artists including some New Yorker cartoonists.This text book will be used by colleges across the United States for debate analysis and other types of courses.

I was paid flat fee, so even if you purchase your own copy, I won’t receive royalties, but perhaps if it becomes a hit, they might license another cartoon in a future edition. In the meantime, here’s the Amazon link: everything’s an argument

A Message from a Prophet

“Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.”

Luke 2:33-35 (MSG)

As I was studying the story of Christmas, I came across this passage. Picture the scene. Mary and Joseph, a godly couple, are coming to get their miracle baby properly dedicated according to the laws of Moses. I imagine that despite the crazy events leading to the birth, that today they are in good spirits. They’ve seen angles, been adored by shepherds and wisemen, and they were probably full of anticipation about what raising Jesus, a man whose name meant “God Saves,” might mean.

No doubt they, like many others, saw the Messiah as coming down and bringing justice to the earth, lifting oppression from the land, crushing those pesky Romans, and making everything perfect and wonderful and better. And so when a strange old man approaches them, asking them if he could prophesy over their promised child, my guess is that they were like “sure, the more blessings, the better.”

What came next was anything but expected. Instead of waxing on about how their lives over the next several years is going to be a bowl of peaches, he turns to Mary and tells her that this Christ child will be a polarizing character–misunderstood, misquoted, rejected. He even tells Mary that her baby will bring about a pain in her own life so severe that it will be as a sword piercing her very soul.

Not exactly the kind of news you’d like to hear coming from a seer. But that’s the whole paradox of the Christmas season. While the Christmas holiday is a glorious day, we have to remember that the whole reason Christ came to this earth was to suffer. Simeon knew this and prophesied it. It’s about Christ’s deliberate, willing, and redemptive suffering for mankind. Christ came to this earth, not to enjoy a long, plump life, but to suffer at the hands of His own creation. His life was marked by pain from the very beginning.

And consequently, so was Mary’s. By choosing to follow God’s plan, she brought pain onto herself. This, too, is a sobering thought. “Mary,” said Simeon, “this child will wretch pain into the very core of your being. But from it a greater good will come.” Christ later tells His disciples, “no servant is greater than his master. Since I have suffered, those who follow Me will also suffer.”

So this Christmas, as we remember the joys of the holiday–the time with family and friends, the wonderful foods and candies, the twinkle in children’s eyes–let us also not forget the real reason the baby Christ came to this earth. It was to endure great suffering so that we could be saved. And that is a reason to celebrate.

A Conservative’s Response to the Latest Shootings

I have remained unusually quiet these past few weeks in response to the shootings in Aurora, Oregon and Connecticut. The reasons are two-fold. One, my own suffering with my health has made it difficult to respond to much of anything. My time on the social media and blogosphere is way down as I battle daily pain and mental fogginess.

But that is no excuse for disregarding the pain of others. I confess I can have that tendency sometimes. I am not proud of this fact about myself and it is something I must keep working on.

However, the main reason is that my initial and still very strong reaction is one of anger and heavy controversy. I debated for weeks on whether I should put this out there, knowing it might cause some to be offended. But if I don’t say what I believe to be the truth, what culpability then is mine?

And if you are one who is easily offended, just know that I am not forcing you to read further.

Obviously we have a problem here. The frequency of these shooting binges is rapidly increasing. What is being done about it? Why are there that many killers who snap like this? Were not innocent adults in a movie theatre bad enough? Must we go after children now?

You can bank on the fact that within five minutes of any of these types of shootings the cry for gun control rings out. And it is tragedies like these that sharpen people’s opinion in that direction. While I’m not a fan of guns, I recognize that the problem is not the tool itself. A gun does not make a killer more likely to kill. A gun makes a killer more ABLE to kill, yes. A gun death is a quicker, easier death than a machete death, but if you remove the gun, you have not solved the problem. The killer still exists and he will find a way to kill, whether he acquires a gun illegally or utilize some other weapon.

The second solution being proposed is to put our society into a police state. After tragedies like this, it amazes me how quickly so many are willing to blindly trade in their freedoms for a little sense of security. Sure, I don’t mind extra long lines and pat downs in order to get into my local McDonalds, as long as I’m safe, right?

The problem is, for some of these murderers, their stated goal is to erode our freedoms. And when we capitulate in order to protect against them, we have lost twice as a society. And as we have observed, the more rules we put on OURSELVES in the name of “protection” the more these murderers work around these rules to commit their crimes, which inevitably leads to more rules placed on US.

In both of these knee-jerk solutions, we have not dealt with the core issue. We have not stopped the creation of these killers.

Violence has always existed. It is at the core of humanity. We look at fifty years ago as a bucolic time in America, but we tend to gloss over the lynch killings in the South, done in the name of justice and righteousness. The problem is that as a society, we have allowed moral relativism to blur the lines between right and wrong. We all have dark fantasies that creep up into our minds from time to time. It is called our sin nature. Most of us are quick to rid ourselves of them when they occur.

These young killers did not wake up one day and say, “Huh. I think I want to kill children today.” Getting to this point of depravity takes time. It is a slow indulgence into their dark fantasies that fosters over time. I do not believe for a moment that the Sandy Hook killer was just mental and therefore he somehow couldn’t help himself. No, whether the theatre shooter or the elementary school shooter or whomever, they made a calculated and deliberate decision to look a soul in its eye and remove its life. Perhaps by the time they had arrived at that murderous moment, there was an element of removal, as I suspect there would have to be in order to do this kind of horrific thing. However, getting to that point was a daily decision to not put to death their murderous fantasies, but to engage them instead.

The problem is that today’s society makes indulging in these dark fantasies much easier than it used to be. I may sound fuddy-duddy, but I point my fingers first at the entertainment industry. We have video games that glorify violence through hyper-realistic graphics, allowing players to become the mass murderers of their delusions. Instead of putting to bed these dark desires, we cultivate them through these games. The step from being a murderer in a fantasy world to becoming one in reality, then, becomes smaller.

Now I know the gaming community will scream foul at the last paragraph, as I have heard them try and defend themselves after all of these tragedies. I’m not saying ban video games. Angry Birds is not going to make people want to go out and kill pigs. There are certainly gray areas on this issue, but I am never shocked when we read the profiles of these killers to find that they played violent video games. There is a realm where it is too far, and I do not think it’s that hard to figure out. The problem is, nobody has the guts to stand up and say, no, this is immoral. As a gamer, do you have the moral fortitude to draw your own lines? If not, why not?

And I don’t want to just pick on gamers. The glorification of violence is everywhere. It’s in our movies, it’s in our books. I never saw the “Saw” movies, but after reading the description, I could not understand how they could be so popular. Why would anybody want to take their mind to that place?

We have allowed post modernism to tell us that there is no such thing as an absolute right and wrong. After 50 some years of preaching this, we wonder why we suddenly have teenagers that see nothing wrong with killing people point blank. We have an entire party that won an election based on an idea that killing unborn children should be a right, and then we scratch our heads when one kills children five years out of the womb.

This is controversial, yes, but do we want to solve this problem or not? Do we want a prison society filled with killers or do we want to finally address the issue of the human heart?

Ultimately, we are a land that has turned against its Creator. Any society that has done so in the past has seen the consequences. I do not advocate that government should do anything about this. On the contrary, government should back off and let the church work. Love needs to be our motto. Truth needs to be our banner. We need to reach the hearts of the individual with the amazing Good News of Jesus Christ. He alone can save us from our darkness. It starts with Him. But the decision rests with me and you.

 

Post Script: In all of this, it’s easy to arm chair quarterback, but the fact remains, there are people hurting today and we must not forget this fact. My heart breaks for those families and my prayers go out to them, especially as we approach the Christmas holiday. I cannot know or imagine their pain and fear. Lord, cover them with your Mercies today, shower love upon that community. May we rise up as a Body of Believers in love for our fellow man.

Healthcare and the Economy

Another illustration for Centennial Review. Two excellent articles written by both an economist and a doctor.

http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/review/oct12/

First, this illustration hit close to home. Many of you know my long and extended medical history. I was born with an agressive auto-immune disease which still sends me to the hospital 2-3 times a year. The past month has been especially trying and there is some talk for additional surgery. So when it came time to needed some artistic “inspiration” for this illustration, I had plenty.

(Not to bore you with personal details, but I have made a cute little video that talks a bit about my story on YouTube. If you want more, go here:

http://youtu.be/9nnCIWCpQ-s)

So many times, Democrats are confounded as to why I would be opposed to Obamacare, or the poorly titled “Health Care Affordability Act.” Wouldn’t it benefit somebody like me the most? I haven’t read the bill, but any law that takes over 2700 pages to write scares the heck out of me. That’s too much legislation and bureaucracy for governmental abuse, not to mention trying to keep track of everything in order to remain compliant.

Yes, the old system was broken. The biggest issue was pre-existing conditions. When you have an entire industry denying a certain group of people their product because of how they were born (as it were in my case), you have a problem. I don’t know how to resolve the issue, honestly. I understand that in the long run, I’m a liability to the company and they have to pay for my care by taking premiums from somebody else’s. Perhaps there is some good with Obamacare in addressing this issue.

Which brings me to the next point. Prices were way too inflated with the old system. Having been in the system all my life, there are a few reasons why this could be.


A) Hospitals treat and then bill and you never know what you are going to get until three months down the road, when you are still recovering and they are demanding payment from some doctor who looked at your chart in another room and sends you a $200 review bill. It’s really aggrevating when you get 15 of them from the same hospital. It’s like free money. Look at the chart, bill the patient, pay for your golf trip. It has happened to me frequently, in some hospitals more than others. I’ve tried calling to contest the bill and this practice, and the receptionist promptly sent me to collections.

You want to reduce costs? Require an upfront cost to the patient or their family and have them sign off before being allowed to proceed with any procedure or treatment (emergencies excepted, of course). Let the patient decide whether they want the doctor from the third floor looking at their chart.

Disclose upfront all of your costs for standard procedures such as bone setting, colonoscopies, xrays, etc. Let the patient then go to the hospital with the best combination of rates and service. This will drive costs down. Competition always does.

B) Cut frivolous and false malpractice lawsuits.  Anybody can file a suit for whatever contrived reason. Often they are settled out of court, even if the doctor is sure of his innocense, just because it’s cheaper than taking it to court and winning! I have an idea. Let whomever brings forth a lawsuit do so knowing that if they lose, they have to pay the doctor’s and hospital’s court and lawyer costs. This will kill the incentive for fake lawsuits. This will lower malpractice insurance dramatically, which the doctor and hospital can then pass on to the patient.


The problem with Obamacare is that neither A nor B can really be found in those 2700 pages. Simple fixes we can implement right away that will start to lower overall costs. Why aren’t they there?

American has the shortest waiting time of any industrialized nation. Those countries that have national health care have wait times that are 5 times or greater. For a country that is as large as ours, imagine how long those wait times will end up being. This could be the difference between life and death for me. I might have to outsource my healthcare overseas, like everything else the government meddles in.

Obamacare also promises rationing. Obama himself even said Granny should take the pain pill once she hits a certain age. For somebody who is a perfect candidate as an individual who should allow natural selection to finally do me in, you can see why I’m not jumping up and down for joy.

Obamacare is now the law of the land. I’m hoping that because we are Americans, that somehow things will be different. Maybe we will still have the greatest healthcare in five years from now. In which case, I hope to still be around to entertain you with my latest cartoons.

Obama Follows FDR Down the Path to Economic Stagnation

This was a fun illustration to do for Centennial Review. I nailed Obama’s likeness. I wish I could say the same for FDR’s, but I was trying to get him to smirk a little, which threw off the illustration a bit. I also had fun recreating the Presidential Desk. Initially, I rendered all the detail on the side of the desk as well, but it ended up making the entire piece cluttered and busy. I went back in and made it all solid black. This helps anchor the piece visually and redirect your attention back to Obama. Yes, I lost all that beautiful pen and ink work, but sometimes ya gotta do it for the integrity of the composition.

The truths of this article are overwhelming. Keynesian policies have proven not to work. How long did Roosevelt preside over a flat, sunken economy? No matter what he tried to do on a federal level, he could not get it to turn around. But he kept getting re-elected, assuring the American people that big o’ daddy government is here to get them through this, and (haven’t heard this one repeated over and over) imagine how bad it would be if we WEREN’T doing anything.

Liberals still see FDR bringing us out of the depression through high taxation and government policies. The robust economy did not finally occur until after WW2, during the 1950s, as a result of Harry Truman, the forgotten Democrat, who lowered tax rates dramatically.

Read more from this excellent article by By Burton Folsom, Jr.

http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/review/sept12/