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Aaron McGruder’s MLK speech lands flat

Via ¡Journalista! comes a news report of a speech given by Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder to Earlham College to mark Martin Luther King day. The topic invariably turned to Barack Obama’s new administration. Here’s what Aaron had to say.

“I don’t think you’re going to see any dramatic change from Barack Obama,” said McGruder, who wore a “Boondocks” T-shirt over a black long-sleeve shirt and jeans. “I’m hoping he proves me completely wrong.”

McGruder bases his opinions of the U.S. presidency on the 2000 election and how nothing has been done since then to change the election system. “It was a sham then … It’s got to still be a sham,” McGruder said. “I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it’s what I tend to do.”

On the topic of race and ethnicity, McGruder said that to him, Obama is not black because he is not a descendant of a slave.

“The person who is one of us in the White House is Michelle Obama and her momma,” McGruder said.

The report goes on to quote at least one student who was put off by the statement that Obama wasn’t black because he’s not a descendant from slaves.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
January/20/2009
@ 10:07 am

“On the topic of race and ethnicity, McGruder said that to him, Obama is not black because he is not a descendant of a slave.”

Oh. Good to know. Thanks for clearing that up, Aaron.

#2 Clayton Bigsby
January/20/2009
@ 11:06 am

There is no doubt that McGruder is a genius when it comes to cartooning. However, having watched him on several appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher, he is a woeful speaker, so I am not surprised that it fell flat ;)

#3 David Reddick
January/20/2009
@ 11:41 am

Um, Clayton, with all due respect, I wouldn’t exactly call Aaron’s cartooning genius. He’s not that great a writer, and his art is subpar, unless you just plain love second-rate manga influence. He even held it in such low regard that he bailed on the possibility of animation. Aaron has consistently represented himself as a hateful ass.

#4 Mike Lester
January/20/2009
@ 11:42 am

?The person who is one of us” -AM

A separatist, bigoted, ignorant, anti-American, segregationist statement if I ever heard one. Good timing, “genius”.

#5 David Reddick
January/20/2009
@ 11:44 am

P.S. I think anyone (including Aaron) who just watched Obama’s imaugural speech can see the man is going to make HISTORIC change for us all. I, for one, could not be prouder.

#6 Wiley Miller
January/20/2009
@ 11:48 am

Well, at least he put to rest that old, tired refrain, “Black people can’t be racists”. And he’s living proof that intelligent people can say some stupid things.

By the way, if he was a “genius when it comes to cartooning”, why was he only able to last a couple of years doing it?

#7 Wiley Miller
January/20/2009
@ 11:50 am

When I said “he”, I’m referring, of course to Aaron McGruder, NOT President Obama.

#8 Norm Feuti
January/20/2009
@ 11:56 am

?I don?t want to rain on anyone?s parade, but it?s what I tend to do.?

Everyone has to have a hobby.

#9 Norm Feuti
January/20/2009
@ 11:59 am

… and I think that’s exactly what he wants to do.

#10 Randal Milholland
January/20/2009
@ 12:18 pm

Wiley: I doubt anyone would be confused on your intent unless they were just trolling to fight.

As for Mr. McGruder – so that’s all it takes? An ancestor who was a slave? Then there are a lot more of us who are black than we realized.

Beyond that, seems tacky to attack someone for their art style – every cartoonist has a different take and just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. But, then again, you could take potshots at him for the fact he didn’t even draw his comic for a good chunk of its life.

#11 David Reddick
January/20/2009
@ 12:41 pm

Randy, (love your Something Positive strip, btw) –
I certainly wasn’t attempting to be tacky in any way in my comment, and not “attacking” Aaron’s style. What I was making a point at was pointing out Aaron’s writing and drawing ability in no way equates with genius level. Neither does mine. That was all.

#12 Clayton Bigsby
January/20/2009
@ 12:49 pm

Er, Reddick, you must really love the guy ;). Genius according to Webster dictionary, can also refer to ” a person who influences another for good or bad”. I think it is safe to say, McGruder has at least met that bar!

#13 David Reddick
January/20/2009
@ 12:52 pm

heh heh – touche, Clayton. Indeed he has at least met that! ;-)

#14 Mark Tatulli
January/20/2009
@ 12:58 pm

I am a slave to my art. And while I am tan, I don’t think I’m black.

#15 Charles Brubaker
January/20/2009
@ 12:58 pm

I’ll admit it, I tried to read Boondocks. I tried to like it, honest. I even watched a few episodes of the animated series on Cartoon Network.

But…I just can’t get into the hype. It’s not my kind of cartoon, I guess.

And of course he just had to make that ignorant comment. Another reason for me to avoid the Boondocks.

#16 John Cole
January/20/2009
@ 2:32 pm

Why is anyone surprised that McGruder would peddle this sort of racial drivel?

#17 Darrin Bell
January/20/2009
@ 4:03 pm

A couple years ago, my grandpa’s neighbor told me Aaron McGruder isn’t black because he’s rich. True story.

#18 Alex Schumacher
January/20/2009
@ 5:51 pm

Wait, I’m of Jewish descent…and Jews were slaves in Egypt…so does that mean I’m black?

Honestly, it shouldn’t surprise anyone McGruder made this kind of comment. He’s basically built his career out of it.

#19 Carl Moore
January/20/2009
@ 6:27 pm

Aaron McGruder is a race hustler. His modus operandi is being the “victim.” Barack Obama is a living refutation of black victimhood and because he gives the lie to the black man as victim, McGruder has to tear him down. To McGruder and all race hustlers, only the descendent of an actual slave can be authentically black and a true victim. Alex Schumacher is right – McGruder’s built his career on this crud. It’s a pathetic attitude and a fast dying one.

#20 Mike Peterson
January/20/2009
@ 7:12 pm

“By the way, if he was a ?genius when it comes to cartooning?, why was he only able to last a couple of years doing it?”

As I understand it, his strip was brilliant for the first two years or so because he was recycling the best of several years of running it in the Diamondback, his college paper. He started running dry about the beginning of September, 2001, and then ran “Flaggee and Ribbon” in response to 9/11 — and then just ran out of energy. Eventually, he pulled the plug, proclaiming himself a genius who didn’t want to be limited by doing the comic strip.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I do know that his fans from the college/web days were calling on him to bring out the rest of the cast from that strip and it never quite happened, so I think he had a pretty good backlog of stuff and that what was in the paper was sort of a “best of” collection, albeit with some original material and substantial rewriting.

Corrections and elaborations gratefully accepted.

#21 Wiley Miller
January/20/2009
@ 7:54 pm

As I recall, McGruder himself said that he had burnt out after the first year and was ready to quit when 9-11 hit. Then it became a daily (well deserved) rant against George Bush. But he went to that well too often and ran dry.

And there’s a huge difference from doing a comic for a college paper, which is generally once a week, and doing a daily syndicated feature. Jim Borgman has spoken about this when he retells his story in editorial cartooning, where he was hired at the Cincinnati Enquirer right out of college. He said that after just a couple of months, he had hit a creative wall. He realized at that point that he done more cartoons in that short period than he had in 4 years in college. I think the same malady hit Aaron, who was just too young to handle the workload along with the notoriety.

#22 EC Woody
January/20/2009
@ 8:09 pm

Well, he basically sucked at Earlham. He should stick to the funny papers.

#23 Rich Diesslin
January/20/2009
@ 10:31 pm

Darrin, that’s too funny … and about sums up those kind of classifications!

#24 Chris Myers
January/21/2009
@ 6:25 am

Mr. McGruder has always been a marginal talent. His art is not great, his writing even less so.

His strips appeared because syndicates were under pressure for minority representation not because they are best out there.

It’s time for him to let go of the victim status because the last I knew slavery was abolished by the death of thousands of white people (and others) fighting a war to end it.

Get over it already. If equality is a true desire for any person, THEY have to cease separating THEMSELVES from the majority.

As for Mr. Obama, didn’t vote for him, wouldn’t vote for him, but I wish him luck.

#25 Mike Lester
January/21/2009
@ 8:47 am

Since Wiley brought up Obama (and Bush) and after perusing the last two days of “editorial” cartoons from various sites, I’d like to make the following observation: It’s no wonder editorial cartoonists are being fired. When it comes to liberal talking points and especially Barack Hussein Obama, they have “jizzed in their pants”.

#26 Wiley Miller
January/21/2009
@ 9:45 am

“Since Wiley brought up Obama (and Bush)…”

Um… no I didn’t.

#27 Mike Lester
January/21/2009
@ 10:21 am

#7 When I said ?he?, I?m referring, of course to Aaron McGruder, NOT President Obama.

#20 Then it became a daily (well deserved) rant against George Bush

Yes you did. But that’s irrelevant -just like the Obama circle jerk that passes for editorial cartooning.

#28 Phil Wohlrab
January/21/2009
@ 10:22 am

Dah! He might as well said he doesn’t like “Mudbloods” Obama has Muggle Parents! (Harry Potter reference)

#29 Wiley Miller
January/21/2009
@ 10:28 am

Well, that wasn’t “bringing them up”. They were responses to other posts. But, whatever. You were just using them as an excuse to vent, so vent away, my son.

#30 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
January/21/2009
@ 10:48 am

“…after perusing the last two days of ?editorial? cartoons from various sites, I?d like to make the following observation: It?s no wonder editorial cartoonists are being fired.
-just like the Obama circle jerk that passes for editorial cartooning.”-ML

Never fear: there will always be Eric Allie, Gary McCoy, Chuck Asay, Michael Ramirez, John Trever, Gary Varvel, Bill Garner, Bruce Tinsley, and others that form their own circle that goes in the opposite direction.

I always thought that “Boondocks” was pretentious and limited. Merely a daily rant. If flawed, but identifiable and likeable characters could have been developed, then perhaps it could have become a narrative that could be extended ( such as “Doonesbury”). JMHO.

#31 Mike Witmer
January/21/2009
@ 10:48 am

?On the topic of race and ethnicity, McGruder said that to him, Obama is not black because he is not a descendant of a slave.?

I guess I’m not white cause I’m not a descendant of a slave owner. This kind of pot-stirring crap in a time of optimism is grade-a baloney. Nothing like being controversial for the sake of commercial attention.

#32 Sam Arpens
January/21/2009
@ 11:04 am

The thing that strikes me as erroneous about the “black = descended from slaves” argument is that no one needs to know your heritage to victimize or marginalize you.

I’m sure Barack Obama (and his father) suffered racist indignities simply because they are dark-skinned. Racists don’t really give a crap what your heritage is and don’t discriminate (ha) between descendants of slaves and descendants of willing immigrants. To them, you’re black. Period.

They’re not gonna do a background check and excuse Obama because his great-grandparents weren’t slaves. It’s a phony argument, based on a culture of obsessive victimhood.

#33 Matt Bors
January/21/2009
@ 11:10 am

Are Malia and Sasha half real black, half fake black?

#34 Ted Rall
January/21/2009
@ 11:16 am

Enough with the McGruder-bashing, my white male colleagues.

Aaron McGruder may come off as rude and snotty sometimes, but he also talks about stuff in public that “polite” people say among themselves. I *loved* the time he raked liberals over the coals at a dinner for The Nation. When he talks about Obama not really being “black,” he’s right–in the context of U.S. history, he neither is nor looks like nor has directly felt the historical effects that are common to the experience of descendants of slaves. Largely through the First Lady, he has chosen to “identify” as black. And that’s his choice, and yeah, it might have been hard for him to hail a cab in NYC when he was at Columbia. But it is hardly outrageous for him to point that Obama is black* with an “*”, not black in the typical meaning of the term in the United States–which is, like all racial identification, arbitrary as hell, but hey–there it is.

Chris Meyers said: “It?s time for him to let go of the victim status because the last I knew slavery was abolished by the death of thousands of white people (and others) fighting a war to end it. Get over it already. If equality is a true desire for any person, THEY have to cease separating THEMSELVES from the majority.”

It is unbelievable that y’all have tolerated this kind of hateful BS. Anyone who doubts that racism remains a huge problem in the U.S. needs to spend some time walking the streets of the slums where the cops patrol like occupation troops and are definitely not there to help people. Blacks are overrepresented in prison, underrepresented in the executive suite, and as McGruder said, a descendant of slaves has yet to be elected to the White House. (I wonder if even Obama could have gotten elected had he been, say, liberal.)

“Boondocks'” worth is self-evident by the amount of controversy and discussion it generates. Would only that the same be true of many editorial cartoons, which elicit nothing but yawns.

Like others, I am jealous of the fact that he launched in hundreds of newspapers in his early 20s. I also suspect it’s not really good to be so successful at such a young age. But his art is far from worthless and his writing, at its best, was excellent.

Finally, the term “race hustler” is patently racist, used by right-wing talk-radio hosts out to discredit African-American activists like the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

#35 Tom Heintjes
January/21/2009
@ 11:45 am

Well, I’m glad that cartooning–and society overall–now has an Arbiter of Race. I guess all the ignorant yahoos down here where I live (in Georgia) who said they wouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s black must have just been confused and not racist. Good thing Aaron cleared that up for them. (By the way, I’m of Dutch descent, but I’ve never traded a tulip bulb, so I guess I don’t have any REAL Dutch blood.)

#36 Wiley Miller
January/21/2009
@ 12:08 pm

So, to sum up, Ted, pointing out that Aaron’s racist comment was racist is racist? Got it.

#37 S.A. Beals
January/21/2009
@ 12:31 pm

Ted, my (adopted) daughter is just like Obama in that she has a white mother and a black father. If McGruder said she wasn’t really black I’d … well, I’d let her knock him to the ground. She’s only 13, but I think she could take him.

As much as I like McGruder and admire his talent, I think he lost me when it became obvious that his repetitive “shock value” statements weren’t any more creative or clever than any of the “yawners” that you complained about. A lazy joke is a lazy joke whether it’s “shocking” or a traditional “family newspaper” kind of thing.

That said, I think the “you’re not black if you didn’t descend from a slave” thing is so out there that you won’t find many people biting to argue the point. Rather, people will just shake their heads and think McGruder’s really trying to get attention.

I have called people “racist” as a joke. They’re so jumpy about it. My daughter can’t play the fourth quarter? Why, coach, that’s racist. The coach does a double take. HA! Just kidding, coach …. Nobody with a brain wants to be a racist and it’s very easy to get a response from from people by bringing it up. It’s like telling jokes to an audience that’s high. You’ll kill ’em every time.

Unfortunately, I think what you wrote about racism still being out there is dead on. I’ve called a few people racists when I wasn’t joking. We still have a long way to go.

Take care.

#38 Tony Piro
January/21/2009
@ 12:42 pm

I think this is just another instance where McGruder’s inability to articulate his point subtly is getting him in trouble. No one would argue that Obama is not black. But it’s definitely true that the experiences that have shaped Obama’s life are very different than the experiences and history that unify many African Americans. In this context, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say to the African American community that this is an important step forward, but there is still work to be done for the dream to be realized.

Although Obama’s background relative to the African American community isn’t usually publicly debated, plenty of my friends and I have had this discussion. I think it is commendable that McGruder has brought the discussion to the broader public. What I’m less sure about is how he tends to frame issues in rather blunt, provoking ways.

#39 Jim Lavery
January/21/2009
@ 12:46 pm

“Are Malia and Sasha half real black, half fake black?”

Stop this ridiculousness. The question should be are they THREE QUARTERS real black or THREE QUARTERS fake black? Do the math.

#40 Norm Feuti
January/21/2009
@ 12:59 pm

What I take umbrage with is McGruder’s implication that Obama isn’t black enough to qualify his election as significant.

Is it the end to all racism? Of course not. But my son and daughter will grow up with a dark skinned man in charge of our country and it will seem normal to them. I think that’s worth something.

Maybe the day before the celebration of a major milestone in our country’s history isn’t the best time to bitterly lecture people about the difference between the battle and the war.

#41 Sam Arpens
January/21/2009
@ 1:16 pm

“Enough with the McGruder-bashing, my white male colleagues.”

First of all, Ted, you don’t know who here is white or black, so can the condescending lecturing.

Second, the color of my skin no sooner precludes me from offering my opinion on common sense than it excuses McGruder his fallacious arguments.

“he neither is nor looks like nor has directly felt the historical effects that are common to the experience of descendants of slaves.”

Are you really suggesting that Obama’s personal history would be that much different if the only thing to change was the fact that his father was descended from slaves? He still would have grown up in the relative racial calm of Hawaii. He still would have had a white grandmother who was uneasy about black people she didn’t know. His white mother still would have taken him to Indonesia and he’d still have a half-Indonesian sister. This is hardly the typical black American experience, but it has little to do with where his father grew up.

No, the only thing that would change is that Aaron MacGruder would consider him “authentic.” Isn’t this just more of the same Uncle Tom BS that has served to punish black people for choosing a path in America that doesn’t hew to historical anger and resentment?

And Isn’t that a kind of “racial purity,” if you will? Judging people by the content of their family tree? What’s the difference between some White Supremacist saying someone isn’t pure because they’ve got a Jewish great-grandfather? The difference, I think, is that that person wouldn’t WANT the endorsement of the White Supremacist in the first place. And I doubt Obama is losing any sleep over people who don’t consider him “black.”

You said it yourself – it’s arbitrary. So why is MacGruder’s arbitrariness more excusable than David Duke’s? Because as a white man you think it’s not your place to question the racial qualifications that blacks place on each other?

If you read his book, he has felt many more “historical effects” than not getting a cab at Columbia, and I find your dismissing of his experience as not “authentic” enough as just about as insulting as anything MacGruder has said.

#42 Darrin Bell
January/21/2009
@ 2:00 pm

Ted said: “When he talks about Obama not really being ?black,? he?s right?in the context of blah blah blah…”

Nigga please.

#43 Wiley Miller
January/21/2009
@ 2:18 pm

You’re such a racist, Darrin.

Look, the hyperbolic rhetoric Aaron puts out is as every bit as stupid, divisive and self-serving as anything spewed by Limbaugh-Hannity-O’Reilly, et al. Just what purpose did it serve, other than controversy for the sake of controversy? What ever happened to judging a person for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin?

#44 Corey Pandolph
January/21/2009
@ 2:29 pm

Good Lord, don’t you people have comics to draw?

Respectfully,

Fake Rockstar

#45 Kelly McNutt
January/21/2009
@ 2:49 pm

“?Boondocks?? worth is self-evident by the amount of controversy and discussion it generates.”

Plain silly. If self-evident worth is based merely on controversy and discussion generated… sheesh.

And as for McGruder bashing, please. He needs you to defend him? How is his opinion that Obama isn’t really black because of whatever more valid than the opinion of others who don’t agree with him?

I didn’t realize there was “An Official Guide to Determining Authentic African Americanism”, where if A=B then C=D.

#46 Stacy Curtis
January/21/2009
@ 3:20 pm

This is under the assumption all slaves were black.

#47 Tom Wood
January/21/2009
@ 3:28 pm

Good Lord, don?t you people have comics to draw?

I don’t draw, I do 3D. Discrimination!*

* – Nothing about this attempt at humor shall be construed to imply that the writer trivializes the very real discrimination that takes place on this planet against people of all colors and creeds. Sheesh…

#48 Abell Smith
January/21/2009
@ 3:35 pm

“Second, the color of my skin no sooner precludes me from offering my opinion on common sense than it excuses McGruder his fallacious arguments.”

Sure it does. Saying McGruder’s comments are “bad arguments” is one thing… they may indeed be bad arguments. But as far as “racist” and “stupid” go, here’s a good rule of thumb: whether or not his comments truly are “racist” or “stupid,” if you are a middle-aged white guy who spends most of his time huddled in front of a drawing table and has no real reference point for what the black experience is, YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO LABEL THEM AS SUCH.

Sorry white dudes… that’s how it goes being on top of history’s power structure… bummer, man…

#49 David Reddick
January/21/2009
@ 3:45 pm

What’s interesting is, if you look at Aaron’s original comment up there, in his statement that Obama isn’t really black because he wasn’t descended from slaves, that in itself is practically a racist statement against, well, his own race, digging an even deeper divide than color of skin. Is this what he wants? That now we as a nation can elect, deservedly, a black man for president, that there’s not enough of a divide, so we need to create even FURTHER division in NEW ways? He is, in effect, thumbing his nose at black men and women if they don’t qualify under his “authentic” label, shutting them out in effect from the rest. What Aaron proclaims as hateful racial bias from others in other ways, he himself just practiced it in his own miserable words.

#50 Kelly McNutt
January/21/2009
@ 3:55 pm

Abell, I’m going to go out on a limb and label your argument as a bad one. By your reasoning, as a 30-something animator from the midwest, married with children, a mortgage and one car payment, I’m not qualified to label comments from anyone not just like me as racist or stupid (I prefer less incendiary language, but that’s me…) or vice versa. I see what you’re getting at, but I don’t agree that it precludes people from having a valid opinion; assuming there’s some level of thoughtful reasoning behind the opinion… the lack of which could pose problems, of course…

Ack… slowly… digressing…

#51 Darrin Bell
January/21/2009
@ 3:59 pm

“Sorry white dudes? that?s how it goes being on top of history?s power structure? bummer, man?”

I don’t think either you or Ted realize that you’re talking to more than just middle aged white guys here.

Aaron was right about one thing: Obama’s experience is different from his. Obama’s been on the receiving end of bigotry from both white AND black people.

#52 David Reddick
January/21/2009
@ 4:03 pm

Well said, Darrin.

#53 Carl Moore
January/21/2009
@ 4:03 pm

“Finally, the term ?race hustler? is patently racist, used by right-wing talk-radio hosts out to discredit African-American activists like the Rev. Jesse Jackson.”

Jesse Jackson has made a lot of money threatening corporations with lawsuits charging discrimination. The CEOs, not wanting the bad publicity and the expense of a trial, fork over settlement money in case after case that Jackson and his lawyers bring. This is a nice little racket. Race hustling? You bet.

#54 Abell Smith
January/21/2009
@ 4:17 pm

Actually Darrin, I had you in mind… never met you, but I’m pretty sure this rule wouldn’t apply to you…

By the way, I include myself in this rule. I’m in my early 30’s, fairly well read, and I think McGruder made a bad argument… but I would have no basis whatsoever for labeling his comments as “racist” nor any business being personally “insulted” by them.

#55 Dave Stephens
January/21/2009
@ 4:24 pm

Racist drivel comes from racists talkin’ smack.

Skin color DOES NOT matter. Do you have completely racist opinions? Yes? Then, black, white, brown, purple – you, sir, are a racist. And a loud smack-talkin’ one at that!

But hey, I am a middle-aged white man – what could I possibly know about such things… Hey, wait a minute, that sounds VERY racist, as if my skin color matters! Forget that, my opinion is just as valid no matter what my skin color. To those that say otherwise, I am laughing loudly right at you. Don’t hide. I can see you clearly…
;)

#56 Ted Rall
January/21/2009
@ 4:42 pm

Reread the article. McGruder didn’t say that Obama isn’t black. He said that HE doesn’t consider Obama black. What’s wrong with that? Not only is it his personal opinion, it’s one that is shared by millions of people:

In November 2006, Mark Williams had Zogby International conduct an Internet poll of more than 2,000 people, telling them Mr. Obama’s parents’ heritage, then asking them “What race is Sen. Obama?”

Only 7.9 percent of whites identified Mr. Obama as black compared with 8.9 percent of Hispanics and 8.3 percent of Asians, said Mr. Williams, author of “The 10 Lenses: Your Guide to Living & Working in a Multicultural World.”

By comparison, more than 65 percent of African Americans surveyed identified Mr. Obama as black. And more than 75 percent of whites identified Mr. Obama as biracial or multiracial compared with only 22 percent of African Americans.

I don’t know whether Obama is really black or not. I don’t really care; to me, it would have been far more exciting to see a liberal (or a leftist) elected president than a black guy (or black* guy). But it’s ridiculous to dismiss McGruder’s opinions as beneath contempt or bizarre or unworthy of discussion when they are, in actuality, quite mainstream.

P.S. Darrin, I was referring to the white guys who posted nasty stuff here, not everyone who was reading (or posting reasonably).

#57 Wiley Miller
January/21/2009
@ 4:56 pm

“I don?t know whether Obama is really black or not.”

So then, what, exactly, is the criteria for one to be considered Black, or any other race for that matter? Or do we just go by what Aaron decides?

“P.S. Darrin, I was referring to the white guys who posted nasty stuff here, not everyone who was reading (or posting reasonably).”

So disagreeing with Aaron’s rather strident opinion is dismissed as “nasty”? Come on, Ted.

#58 Mike Peterson
January/21/2009
@ 5:53 pm

“His strips appeared because syndicates were under pressure for minority representation not because they are best out there.”

Let’s start here. The first several months — maybe first year — of Boondocks was brilliant stuff, the story of two young inner-city black kids going off to the suburbs — the “boondocks,” where they were fish out of water. And in that initial period, there was a wonderful interplay of their inability to adjust to a middleclass neighborhood and that neighborhood’s inability to adjust to them. It had wonderful potential. And it went nowhere.

But to suggest that the Boondocks was simply filling a quota is a statement so ignorant that raises some questions about motivation. It was a strip with terrific potential, a chance to bring an Ollie Harrington consciousness to a mainstream audience.

Now then … again, reading between some lines, it seems that Aaron himself grew up in the boondocks and found his racial identity late in life. For that reason, he apparently takes more extreme positions than someone who grew up in the midst of it all.

I knew some of those blowhards in the private college I attended. The guys who had grown up with a strong sense of their place in the cosmos were comfortable with it. Others were less okay. I had some good friends in the former group, none in the latter. And I think Cory Thomas is addressing this entire mess with brilliance in his strip, with a subtlety and depth that is rarely seen in comics.

Of course, Cory isn’t really black, since his ancestors were slaves in Trinidad rather than the Southern US.

#59 John Cole
January/21/2009
@ 6:29 pm

How about a wage slave? Does that count? ‘Cause if so, my shackles are long and heavy.

Considering the tired question of Obama’s “blackness” (and I think McGruder’s opinion is hardly unique), here’s my take: Put Obama in a time machine, transport him back to the summer of 1960 in Greensboro, NC, and sit him down at a whites-only lunch counter.

Do YOU think they’ll serve him a BLT and RC?

#60 Cory Thomas
January/21/2009
@ 6:48 pm

A lot of rage and thunder here but…

What’s conspicuously missing from this is an actual quote where McGruder says Obama isn’t black.

Here IS an actual quote from him today, though:

“Hey guys, never said Barack wasn’t Black… please don’t bother me with that bulls**t. Anything else… ask John Witherspoon. AM ”

I’ve heard of him address Obama’s blackness before and his belief was “Of course, he’s black.”

I’m thinking this article is a result of miscommunication, poor paraphrasing or editorial filling-in-of-blanks. It wouldn’t be the first time part of an audience completely misconstrued a message.

(Oh, and thanks Mike.)

#61 Richard_Foster
January/21/2009
@ 6:58 pm

This message is from the office of Aaron McGurder in response to the recent article about comments made during his recent visit to Earlham College in Richmond, IN.

Please see statement below from Aaron McGruder re: your article on his appearance at Earlham College:

For a long time now, I have tried to keep my opinions on the election and Barack Obama to myself. I occasionally do speaking engagements, which are not open to the press, and unfortunately some of my comments have been twisted around in a silly manner. The claim that I asserted our new President was not Black is categorically false.

I have seen an endless stream of Black pundits on TV pontificating about the significance of President Obama’s election – many of them making reference to the 3/5th’s clause in the constitution regarding slaves. The point I was making is that this is not an accurate comparison. Barack is the son of an immigrant, not the descendant of slaves. It’s like comparing a half-Japanese man to the oppressed Chinese who built the American railroads. Yes, they are both Asian, but it is not an honest or accurate comparison. We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today – we do not all share a common history. A history that in part makes us who we are – and in some cases (as with the psychological damage that still lingers from slavery) holds us back. These are not, I believe, insignificant distinctions.

I did say I was cautiously pessimistic about Obama’s Presidency – but this is simply acknowledging the reality of an American Empire that is out of control and on the verge of collapse. Let us not forget that on the eve of the election, we witnessed a near trillion dollar robbery of the US treasury. That robbery is still taking place. I do not blame President Obama, but I do not believe the financial and corporate interests that own and control this country will fold so easily. I do not question the integrity of the man as much as the power of his office – which I believe has greatly diminished over the years. I believe the Federal Reserve Bank, the Military Industrial Complex, and the massive corporate interests that run this country have more power than our new President. I hope I am wrong.

After 9/11, I witnessed most of this country become obsessed with squashing dissent and silencing critics. I hope this election does not turn Black America towards this same, fascist mind state; but already I am starting to see it, and it saddens me greatly. I absolutely wish our new President and his family success and safety. But after all I have witnessed in my lifetime, and especially in the last eight years, I am not ready to lay down my skepticism or my outrage for this government. To do so would be unwise and, ironically enough, anti-American.

Aaron McGruder

January 21, 2009


Regards,
Richard M. Foster
fosterpcs@gmail.com

#62 Carl Moore
January/22/2009
@ 12:16 am

Pomposity, thy name is McGruder.

#63 Darrin Bell
January/22/2009
@ 12:20 am

“We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today – we do not all share a common history. A history that in part makes us who we are – and in some cases (as with the psychological damage that still lingers from slavery) holds us back. These are not, I believe, insignificant distinctions.”

I’m not sure how that’s substantively different from what he was rumored to have said. Still reads as “he’s not one of us” to me. But whatever.

#64 Alan Gardner
January/22/2009
@ 12:31 am

Thank you all for your participation on this topic. For the most part it was entertaining and mostly civil – surprising when considering previous threads that touched on race here on TDC.

I am closing this thread as:
A. I think what could be said has been said
B. The longer the thread rolls, the more likelihood of it getting ugly
C. Aaron has issued a statement denying his comment regarding Obama’s heritage as reported in the media

I’ve posted the denial as a new story (currently on the homepage). Feel free to discuss the merits/content of the statement under that blog post.

Thank you again.

#65 Ebony Lathan
January/22/2009
@ 7:38 am

This coming from the man who has a CARTOON that says nigger all the damn time…

Is anybody really shocked at this..

#66 Sam Arpens
January/22/2009
@ 10:36 am

I just want to clarify one thing…

ABELL SMITH said:

“Saying McGruder?s comments are ?bad arguments? is one thing? they may indeed be bad arguments. But as far as ?racist? and ?stupid? go, here?s a good rule of thumb: whether or not his comments truly are ?racist? or ?stupid,? if you are a middle-aged white guy who spends most of his time huddled in front of a drawing table and has no real reference point for what the black experience is, YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO LABEL THEM AS SUCH.”

Regardless of the fact that I never said I was white, middle-aged, or a cartoonist (not that that would even preclude anyone from having a “reference point for what the black experience is”), I also never accused MacGruder of being “racist” or “stupid.” I suggest you direct your righteous indignation in a more focused way in the future.

#67 Pat Henry
January/27/2009
@ 9:00 pm

Obama spent most of his life in Hawaii, as did I. We are only a year apart in age. We didn’t go to HS together, but we chewed the same dirt.

Believe me….he lead a good life, even if was poor, which he wasn’t. I know without a doubt, Obama was not on the receiving end of racism in Hawaii. If you look at pictures of Barry then, he looked “local”. Infact, I would have wagered from early pictures of him that he was Hawaiian.

But I too do not consider Obama “black”. He is mixed race. He even referred to himself as a “mutt” publicly.

McGruder and his ilk just want to hate. They will find any reason to do so. I can’t wait to see their reaction to Obama when they find out he isn’t going to play the race game and they aren’t going to get any special treatment from “the brotha in the whitehouse”.

#68 chris davis
July/21/2009
@ 5:31 pm

Aaron Mcgruder is married to a White girl, so he’s a sellout now like the rest of em’. Whatever he’s going around yappin’ bout them white folks is lost in the dust now.

#69 chris davis
July/21/2009
@ 5:35 pm

Here’s a picture of Aaron Mcgruder and his wife. She looks very BLACK! Don’t she?

http://previews3.wireimage.com/SlideShowB.aspx?ItemI=14580038

#70 Shane Davis
July/21/2009
@ 7:33 pm

Wooo…I don’t want to get BBQ’ed here (with either vinegar OR brown sugar) but Wiley hit it on the head.

To say a person has the right to be racist because someone else has been racist to them but it is racist to point that out…geez, how much thinner can professional victimhood get stretched just to what…make a buck?

I was once sitting in a fast food place a few years ago in a predominantly black neighboorhood. A very nice older black man came in and sat down and started chatting with me. Very friendly guy, too.

All of a sudden, a young light skinned black guy came in to order something. This dark skinned black man who was speaking to me (a lily white Irish guy if one ever existed) suddenly saw this young guy, stopped in mid-sentence and said to me angrily “Look at that #*&damned high yellow! Son of a b#@&h, uppity ni**er!”

Ok, wow. I had to ask what he meant by all that and got the most racist vitriolic rant I have ever heard in my life about who is really black, who really did slave work, who is a sell out, blah blah blah. I didn’t want to point out NO ONE has been doing slave work since the latter 1800’s. Anyway, I was so uncomfortable I got up and left.

McGruder seems to me to trade in this exact game of ‘victim me against evil you’ – the type of instigation that pits people against each other for the benefit of continuing a very profitable race industry. That’s sick.

Ted mentioned Jesse Jackson – great example of this type of garbage. Does anyone really think this multimillionare tax free cheater REALLY wants racism to go away? What would he do then to replace that big income? Sell Amway?

Remember how happy he was about Obama’s nomination? I think he said he wanted to cut his onions off. Nice solidarity, there.

Anyway, McGruder’s peddling of of hatred and anger is tiresome and depressing – I’m glad he ended his strip.

But as far as his attitude about this country, you’d think a young man that made a good living doing something he loved might inspire him to be more grateful and positive – or is that too ‘white’?

And does doing a decent, wrath-less strip make Robb Armstrong & Stephen Bentley pseudo-black, weak sell-outs to Mr. Mcgruder?

I sincerely hope his 15 minutes is up…

#71 Shane Davis
July/21/2009
@ 7:50 pm

“Anyone who doubts that racism remains a huge problem in the U.S. needs to spend some time walking the streets of the slums where the cops patrol like occupation troops and are definitely not there to help people.”

Oh, and Ted, quit listening to Air America or your ACLU newsletter or whatever crap is making you think that.

Lemme tell, pal. I wear one of those uniforms. I know what is like to have to go into an all minority neighborhood at 3AM to serve felony warrants. I’ve had to haul the 25 pounds of kevlar vest, raid gear, weapons and so forth to get an ugly job done.

You have no freaking idea what you are talking about. If you really believe the police are ‘occupation troops’ then your extremism has poisioned your commonsense fatally.

I have had fellow officers stabbed, shot, and run over just for doing their job, and their is NO job in this nation where you can be fired faster for one tiny mistake that ‘offends’ someone when you had 3 seconds to make a game plan to save your ass on the guy’s next to you because some sh*t storm started you could never have seen coming.

Why don’t you get away from your nice safe drawing pad and go on a ride along with ANY large Metro PD for at least two weeks.

See what they have to put with. See how little community support they often get. See how fast terror can explode and take a piece of your ass away. Go put on 25 pounds huck that ruck through a dark alley after some vicious douchebag that has a gun and will kill you without blinking just because he doesn’t like jail.

If as a police man I’m the equivalent of an ‘occupation troop,’ then your the equivalent of Joseph Goebbels.

#72 Carl Moore
July/21/2009
@ 11:55 pm

Shane,

You can write. You have talent. Ever consider the Joseph Wambaugh route?

#73 Dave Stephens
July/22/2009
@ 4:16 am

Every single human being alive on THIS planet is a descendant of slaves AND a descendant of slave-owners.

The entirety of written history contains infinite evidence of the trade of slaves, the cost of slaves, the rights of slaves, etc.
The Bible was re-written changing the word, “slave” to “servant” or “maid” as the authors of the Bible had no ability to imagine a world where slaves did not exist.

And there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of slaves being abused RIGHT NOW in every third world and many 2nd world countries. Within the last 5 years, China found 500 slaves working at a brick factory, I think, complete with whips and chains – South America frees thousands of slaves each year working in abominable chain gangs harvesting sugar cane and kept there by guns and hired thugs.

“Qualified” to label, indeed…

#74 Jim Lavery
July/22/2009
@ 9:58 am

Shane: “This dark skinned black man who was speaking to me (a lily white Irish guy if one ever existed)”

I thought you looked kinda pale.

#75 Jim Holson
July/10/2010
@ 10:30 pm

So, it’s now 2010. Was/Is he right about Obama/change?

#76 Dave Stephens
July/11/2010
@ 2:15 am

I voted for Obama but I could not remotely stomach the ‘koolaid’ he handed out. His rallying cry was comically stupid then and it’s just as hilariously stupid now. I’m just not a “hopey-changey” kid anymore – I’m 46 and I know pure BS when I hear it and I’m sure Aaron knows it, too (and just because he and I agree on that doesn’t mean we agree on ANYTHING else).

Obama is no Bill Clinton, who moved to the middle the very second he realized he’d be a one-termer if he did not and I really don’t think Obama is nearly as smart to figure that out until it’s far, far too late.

It’s Jimmy Carter all over again, wait and see…

#77 Mike Peterson
July/11/2010
@ 5:19 am

McGruder is a true believer, and, while he speaks some uncomfortable truths, he also voices some really foolish true-believer twaddle. The net effect is like an ice cream sundae in which the ice cream, whipped cream and cherry are fine, but the hot fudge was replaced by something else warm and brown. Kind of ruins the whole thing.

I compare Obama to Bobby Kennedy, though, of course, we never got to see what RFK would actually have done in office. But they both campaigned on a lot of true-believer hype which couldn’t possibly have been fulfilled.

But should we judge them by what their most star-struck followers thought was going to happen or what did? Again, Bobby never got the chance to bring home all the troops by March, but I don’t think the majority of his supporters really expected that kind of unrealistic accomplishment.

As for Obama, I am disappointed in some of his accommodations, like having Geitner and some of the other usual suspects in power in the financial area, and his coddling of Israel on the topic of settlements and Gaza. And I think he started out too worried about trying to draw the opposition into his program — in hindsight, he should have flexed his majority while still in the afterglow of the inauguration and said screw the GOP. He underestimated the damage they were willing to do to individuals and to the country simply to gain back their momentum.

On the other hand, he got a health bill through — not a perfect one, but certainly a giant step in the right direction, and he’s about to get a less monumental but still important financial re-regulation bill through. There are some other initiatives in progress that could greatly benefit the country if he is willing to jam them through instead of waiting for the obstructionists to have some Scrooge-like epiphany. And he took BP to the woodshed and forced them to put $20 billion on the table, instead of letting them hide behind lawyers, countersuits and delays in making restitution available (though I haven’t seen, or counted, the money myself).

I will be curious to see if a political appeal can be made to people on the basis of what they are experiencing rather than what they are hearing from talk radio and Tea Party coverage. Can you really destroy the appeal of the Bill of Rights by editing Thomas Jefferson out of history books, or portraying him as a devout Christian? If you keep telling people that the health care enjoyed in nearly every country in the developed world is a bad thing, will they finally tell you to shut up, or will they believe you and vote accordingly? Can you champion BP’s right to retreat into lawsuits and denial, and blame Obama for the oil spill? Will those who feel their party is in power show up at the polls to maintain that edge, or will they sit back and let the opposition be the motivated voters?

We’ll see, I guess.

#78 Ted Rall
July/11/2010
@ 9:34 am

Overall, of course MacGruder was right. He usually is.

On foreign affairs, he campaigned as a right-winger. He repeatedly pledged to double down on the war against the Afghan people, and he has kept his promise.

On economic matters, he promised to be a militant moderate (a militant AMERICAN moderate, which would be a far rightist in Europe, but whatever). He has tacked significantly to the right of that pledge. It is difficult to imagine a Bill Clinton, no liberal he, refusing to lift a finger to create jobs during the greatest economic collapse since the 1930s.

On social and ethical issues, he promised to be a leftie. He said he would close Gitmo, stop torture, end domestic surveillance, get rid of the USA-Patriot Act. He has broken those promises.

Overall report card: center-conservative, with a decidedly Bushian level of incompetence and inaction on BP and the economy.

The only thing liberal about Obama was the tone of his campaign, and the implicit fact of his being black. What we should have realized was that, in a nation where 90% of blacks are liberals, only one of the 10% would be allowed to become president.

#79 Ted Rall
July/11/2010
@ 9:43 am

I forgot to mention healthcare.

Far from a “step in the right direction,” ObamaCare will actually cost middle-class people more (out of pocket) to see a doctor than it does today. It is a giant boon for the insurance industry?which should have been out of business but instead has become even more powerful.

We were better off without this step.

#80 Stephen Beals
July/11/2010
@ 5:26 pm

@Ted, You never fail to interest me As somebody who has to pay entirely out of pocket for health care (and who has a wife with several pre-existing conditions that would never, ever be covered) I’m very curious to see if life will be harder for Middle Class me.

I’ve listened to a lot of people complain about health care who have never experienced existence for years with a chronic health problem that’s difficult to diagnose. It’s impossible in this country. The doctors literally have to make guesses about my wife because we can’t afford MRI’s or any other tests. Needless to say, the points you make are the ones that concern me.

#81 Ted Rall
July/11/2010
@ 6:35 pm

@Stephen: I’m sorry to hear about your healthcare situation, which is scandalously all too typical. I’m relatively lucky?no health problems?but like you I do pay out of pocket. And it’s insanely expensive.

The following is excerpted from my March 18th column. The Senate plan, here referenced as a possibility, is what passed:

Under the Obama/Senate plan, the poor?individuals who currently earn under $14,500?would be required to go on Medicaid. Unless they don’t qualify for whatever reason, in which case they would have to pay at least two percent of their income to private insurers, or get dinged $750 a year.

The working poor, meanwhile, would get charged a percent of their income on a sliding scale. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, federal subsidies for poor workers would be too low. People who earn between $14,500 and $43,000 a year would pay between four and 12 percent of their annual income to private insurers. (That’s right: someone who makes $43,000 would have to shell out $430 a month. If they live in a high-tax place like New York,that would leave them about $2,000 a month to live on after taxes.)

And let’s not forget about deductibles.

As anyone who has ever dealt with private insurance knows, deductibles are the odious practice of official non-coverage?insurance doesn’t start paying (if they don’t deny your claim for some BS reason) until you’ve already spent a certain amount that year.

I don’t know why conservatives aren’t talking about deductibles. They are one of the biggest secrets of ObamaCare?and one of the most damning. Like the subsidies, the “actuarial value of coverage”?the percentage of medical bills your policy would pay every year?would slide on a scale. The more you earn, the more you pay and the less you get.

Under the Senate bill, for example, a family of three earning less than $27,000?we’re talking poor people here?would be fairly well covered. ObamaCare would cover 97 percent of their bills. But a family of three earning between $45,000 and $73,000 would only have 70 percent coverage. In other words, they’d have to pay a third of their medical bills out of pocket.

There would also be co-pays: $20 per doctor’s visit, $250 if you had to go to the hospital, and lab tests and X-rays would come completely out of your wallet.

Not impressed.

#82 Dave Stephens
July/11/2010
@ 10:29 pm

Thank you, Ted, for looking into the one issue that has the highest likelihood of affecting professional cartoonists. I am fortunate indeed that my wife’s employer provides me with excellent coverage – heck, I get a new pair of glasses every year, my dental coverage is very generous and I was able to go to a top-rated allergy specialist here in San Diego for the first time.

In contrast, before I was married, my earnings as a cartoonist and caricature artist were enough to pay the rent, etc., but there was no way I could afford the $900+ a month the insurance folks wanted for really crappy coverage. Essentially, they said I should pay them 25% of my income and they would sort-a, kind-a cover me. Unless, of course, I got really sick. In which case, I’m guessing they’d drop me like a hot potato. Maybe not. Whatever, I couldn’t afford to give it a shot and I’m guessing I was not alone in that.

So Obama has lowered my $900 payment for crap coverage to $430 – that sounds like a great start, but is the coverage better or worse? Is it still crap coverage or is it crappier coverage? Has my copay gone up or down? Complicated stuff. I hope I never have to find out the answers in real life, but I hope you continue to DIG DIG DIG for the REAL answers.

Keep up the great work, Ted – I know I’m not the only cartoonist who appreciates it.

#83 Stephen Beals
July/11/2010
@ 10:47 pm

@Ted, I gathered from what I’ve read before that this was crappy coverage. The defining difference for me is being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. I was, in fact, paying $118 a week for coverage that wouldn’t pay for any condition that we’d slightly experienced since birth. Useless.

I am happy to say that my sister turned down a higher-paying gig for Wellpoint to be one of those doctors who helps them invent reasons to deny coverage. I’ve always thought that health care was a human right and that society should morally treat it like my local library and make it non-profit. But there’s so much money being made here that it’s like breaking up a drug cartel. A legal drug cartel.

So I think my hope now is that I’ll be paying that $118 a week again, only have some sort of coverage for pre-existing conditions. It’s pretty unimpressive, indeed. But frankly, given that health care is such big business in America I’m surprised that any change has happened at all.

I’ve seen quite a few fundraisers for comic artists/writers who have cancer, or whatever, but don’t have health insurance because they’re freelancers. It’s pretty sad to see people you admire struggling to get the same service that so many others have.

#84 Ted Rall
July/12/2010
@ 8:26 am

I agree, Stephen, it’s a national scandal. If this were Europe, cities would burn over the way we are gouged for what is obviously a basic human right: medical care.

Personally I am terrified of old age: If a giant like Bill Mauldin can die impoverished, it can happen to any of us.

#85 Shane Davis
July/12/2010
@ 11:58 am

Ted,
Why is it obvious the medical care is a basic human right? Where does it say that? By what authority?

I’m not happy to see anyone suffer from any medical trauma or crisis, but when you make claims like that, it sounds as if you are referencing some universal known authority.

Just curious what that authority is.

#86 Terry LaBan
July/12/2010
@ 1:35 pm

@Ted
I’m a little confused by your breakdown of costs under the new healthcare bill. It’s my understanding that families earning between $45-$73,000 wouldn’t be on any kind of a fixed plan–they’d either keep the insurance they have through their employer or shop for a plan through exchanges set up to get them group rates. In any case, seeing as we pay close to $1000 a month for the plan my wife gets through her job, with deductibles, most of the rates you post would be a big improvement. I would additionally expect that once the initial programs are established, they will, as conservatives fear and I hope, be expanded. In any case, saying Obama is some actually a right-winger because he didn’t find a way to impose British-style National Healthcare by fiat(as well as end all outstanding wars, dismantle Wall Street and bring peace to the Middle East) is just silly. Even if he pulled a Palin and quit tomorrow to make big bucks as a talking head, he’d easily be the most successfully progressive president we’ve had since FDR. And the blackest as well.
@Shane
Who says heath care is a basic human right? THE WHOLE REST OF THE WORLD!

#87 Ted Rall
July/12/2010
@ 1:54 pm

@Terry: You can’t just look at your monthly premium. The point is, ObamaCare is a bad deal when you look at the combined picture of the premium and the benefits: you can get better coverage in the private market today than ObamaCare will provide, because ObamaCare will require us to subsidize increased profits for the insurers, which is why they stopped opposing it.

@Shane: It is as obvious that healthcare is a basic human right as it was obvious before 1860 that slavery was immoral. You either have a soul, or you don’t. Authority? *We* are the authority. Even in this authoritarian state, rulers rule with the consent of the governed.

@Terry again: If Obama had wanted to end the wars, he could have. He didn’t want to. All it would have taken was a stroke of a pen.

#88 Shane Davis
July/12/2010
@ 7:11 pm

Ted,
I assure you I have a soul, I also have a brain and I know that when you make flat statements that can’t be backed up except by your opinion, that’s hardly evidence of your statement. If what you say is true, then why isn’t food and shelter a human right? Why not transportation, why not fuel fo that transportation, why not clothes? Can’t you see the slippery slope your advocating?
Eventually, the end of you ‘basic human right’ argument is a massive one world government run by a small group of elites that ensure everyone has ‘acceptable’ incomes and lifestyles. That’s called socialism and in the end it leads to slavery. Or do you think that it hasn’t worked yet because ‘the right people’ haven’t been in charge yet?

Terry,
The whole world means nothing. This nation is only 234 years old and our free market, capitalist system of self reliance and rugged individualism has left the rest of ‘the world’ in the dust. Europe’s been around alot longer and haven’t come close to accomplishing what we have in the last century and a half. In fact, thier brilliant idea of a massive Eurostate and centralized socialist control is collapsing. Their taxes are confiscatory and they are drowning in the mess that socialism has caused. Is that the rest of the world that you want the US to imitate?

#89 Terry LaBan
July/13/2010
@ 7:38 am

@Ted “…you can get better coverage in the private market today than ObamaCare will provide, because ObamaCare will require us to subsidize increased profits for the insurers, which is why they stopped opposing it.”

But “Obamacare” won’t abolish the private market, which is why we’ll be required to “subsidize” insurers! You can get the best health coverage on the planet in the American private market right now, but hardly anyone can afford it. The real question is whether the exchanges the health plan sets up will offer plans that are better and more comprehensive than the ones people who aren’t covered at work get now. Most analysts I’ve read think they will, that in fact, people who are on their own now have the most to gain from the new plan. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect solution, but even you have to admit it’s a massive step in the right direction. Grousing because this country didn’t turn into Sweden on January 21,2009 makes about as much sense as expecting Obama to commit political suicide by suddenly ending all US foreign engagements–especially when one of his campaign promises was increased involvement in Afghanistan.
As for Shane–good lord, do you really believe all that stale nonsense about how America’s the envy of the world, Europe’s on the verge of collapse and healthcare reform is just a giant step towards the Gulag? Reagan was throwing around that kind of crap in 1980 and guess what? Europe’s still here. Guess what else? In most countries of the world, the phrase “American-style healthcare” is used to scare people.

#90 Dave Krainacker
July/13/2010
@ 1:55 pm

@Stephen: Sorry to hear about your wife. I’m not a cartoonist, but I like to look at this site because I like comics and the discussions get entertaining. I am a family medicine doctor, and deal with patients with poor insurance daily. If your wife needs an MRI, I strongly encourage you to shop around. The number of MRI machines exceeds demand in many areas of the country, so many centers are willing to work out a deal. Avoid hospital MRI’s if you can. Most hospitals can charge a “facility fee” which can double the price. For example, in my town the local MRI center price is roughly 45% of the “non-profit” hospital. The difference is primarily the facility fee. Don’t be shy about asking for a deal. It is better for some of these centers to make only a few hundred rather than let the machine sit empty. Also, check out surrounding towns, even if you must drive a ways. My daughter needed an MRI. Because of my insurance, it would have cost $1100 in town, but only $40 in a town ninety miles away. Be aggressive. Health care would be better off if patients would shop around for better deals. Best of luck.

#91 Ted Rall
July/13/2010
@ 7:30 pm

@Shane: Your facey thing creeps me out.

<blockquote?If what you say is true, then why isn?t food and shelter a human right? Why not transportation, why not fuel fo that transportation, why not clothes? Can?t you see the slippery slope your advocating?

Food and shelter are human rights. So is transportation. And clothes. Anything that is essential to life, including education, is a basic human right that you are owed just for being a human right.

Slippery slope?

Equal rights and privileges for all is a fantasy, a dream, and our inevitable future, thank a non-existent God.

#92 Stephen Beals
July/13/2010
@ 8:09 pm

@Shane, You seem like a nice guy and somebody I’d get along with, but I don’t see the point of gathering together and forming a society if we don’t take care of one another. Inevitably, providing the essentials helps us all. Otherwise, why not remain hunter/gatherers? I’ll be the first to call out anyone being simply lazy and taking advantage of the rest of us (I’m talking to my sister-in-law, here).

@Dave, Thank you for your advice. My sister is a psychiatrist for a hospital and has run down the cheap alternatives around, but we get so worn out that we haven’t pursued all of them. I’ve never paid only $1100 for an MRI before. She’s had two, unfortunately. Without going into all the details, she had complications from giving birth that didn’t get fully resolved for two years. An infection caused internal scarring, which wrapped around her sciatic nerve and she’s in severe chronic pain. Catherine is now 10, so this has gone on forever. Where I left off, a neurologist was going to go through all of necessary tests to determine what was causing what, but it’s just too expensive. To top it all off, she and her twin sister developed epilepsy at the grand age of 27. Unfortunately, she was driving at the time she had her first seizure and hit a US Mail truck. She was ok, but the bills were unbelievable. She hasn’t had a seizure in four years (knock on wood), but I credit that to the good seizure medicine that costs $200 bucks a month. To look at her she looks young and pretty and you would never guess that she cannot stand for a long period of time or that if she starts seeing spots trouble’s a brewin’. She just loves hearing people with no health problems rant about health insurance.

But at least she’s not the co-worker who stopped taking his insulin because his son was diagnosed with diabetes. At the time there wasn’t a generic insulin on the market. Imagine having a big house, nice cars and all of that because you’re profiting off of people not wishing to die from diabetes? It’s too bad I don’t believe in Hell, because there’s no solace to be found in thinking of the people who made health care a big business.

Man, if I was Harvey Pekar I could make a nice graphic novel out of all of this. See? I brought it back around to comics.

#93 Shane Davis
July/13/2010
@ 8:41 pm

Terry,
I don’t believe nonsense about America at all. I know we are the envy of the world, which is why most of the folks in the world want to be here and the worst govts on the Earth target us and not Ghana as an enemy…we are still the beacon of freedom and arsenal of democracy. No one else comes close. Sorry you thing the US is stale nonsense, but I don’t.

Stephen,
Not sure what you meant by ‘secret society’ or hunter/gathers. But it seems our nation has gotten along extremely well without socializing medicine up to this point. In fact, when you compare all the Wall Street, Big Oil and other disasters of capitalism put together, they can’t touch one drop of how corrupt, ignorant and incompetent Washington is…to think govt. can run socialized medicine is to ignore history worldwide, not to mention our own national disasters of the IRS, Social Security, the Postal System, Veteran’s Administrations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, War on Povery, War on Drugs, etc. etc. etc. There is akmost NOTHING that govt. puts it’s hands to that it doesn’t pervert and wreck – why would you trust it with your medical care and very life, too?

Ted,
I guess the idea that anyone believes they are owed something material just because they are born escapes me. Our Bill of Rights guarantees rights, but not results. When you take away people’s requirement to provide for themselves, you take away motivation, pride, work ethic, self respect, dignity, self sufficiency and creativity. Forced equal outcome and living standard is a very good definition of slavery. I’m sure the folks that lived through 70 years of Soviet ‘fairness’ would disagree with you.

And by the way, my avatar creeps me out too. But I can’t seem to change it.

I’m scared of it.

#94 Stephen Beals
July/14/2010
@ 1:16 am

@Shane, Secret society? I didn’t write that. I was speaking in broad terms. Human beings were hunter/gatherers (individuals who hunted and gathered to provide for themselves and their mate (mates?) and offspring. Then we socialized into a society, the first biggie being Mesopotamia. The social and economic benefits of being in a society worked better than being alone and fending for ourselves. So it sort of caught on.

It’s late. Can anybody better explain this?

I’ve heard a description of what Russians have to deal with that sounds worse than what Americans have, but we have it pretty bad and a lot of bankruptcies that are due to medical bills. I don’t think non-profit health care (like librarians and teachers) is socialization.

I also don’t think we’re going to find common ground here. C’est la vie, as the French …. well, no forget that quote. No common ground there, either.

#95 Stephanie McMillan
July/14/2010
@ 6:58 am

@Stephen,
Hunter gatherers lived in groups, tribes — not as individuals or nuclear families. They lived collectively, in what Shane would probably have nightmares about: a form of communism. They took care of one another and shared everything. This is the social form in which we evolved. We humans lived that way for most of our species’ existence of 200,000 years. There are still a few hunter gatherer societies left, but most have been wiped out by the civilized.

Civilization did not start out because of social and economic benefits. It arose out of the development of agriculture (humanity’s biggest mistake), and resultant land ownership, and led to the stratification of society into economic classes.

It did not “catch on” so much as it was brutally imposed by those who had accumulated economic surplus (and thus could afford to support armies). Witness our own country’s history.

It is only in the last 6000 years or so of civilization that we are forced to work and pay money simply in order to eat and have a place to sleep. *That* is slavery. Shane’s notion that sharing and providing for everyone’s needs is slavery, is a symptom of the insanity of the civilized mind.

#96 Ted Dawson
July/14/2010
@ 7:40 am

Awesomely put, Stephanie, but be careful: Your words were clear, concise and accurate. You even based your opinion on scientific evidence. Folks don’t cotton to that kind of thing in the Civilized World.

#97 Stephen Beals
July/14/2010
@ 9:04 am

Thank you, Stephanie. Better than my 3am self could explain or my 10am self.

I could read what you wrote to any random group in my conservative state and I would be met with either blank stares or hostility.

Still need health insurance.

#98 Tom Wood
July/14/2010
@ 9:19 am

I think I’ll wear my underwear on the outside today. Ted the atheist is arguing for selflessness while Shane the Christian is arguing for selfishness. Go secular humanism!

#99 Robert George
July/14/2010
@ 9:41 am

“It did not ?catch on? so much as it was brutally imposed by those who had accumulated economic surplus (and thus could afford to support armies). Witness our own country?s history.”

I don’t think it was so much that it was supporting large armies so much as large populations, Stephanie. Its important to remember, too, traditional, non-agricultural tribal societies, up until a few hundred years ago, periodically formed massive armies that demolished their more civilized opponents. Think the Mongols, Turks, or Huns.

Its also worth pointing out tribal societies made decisions about sharing and work too, and still do. Those who could not contribute were frequently left to die of exposure, especially infants and the elderly, because they literally could not feed them if they could not contribute. Agriculture may have created evils and slavery, but without it famine was even closer than it was 6000 years ago, and it was too close then or now.

#100 Steve Skelton
July/14/2010
@ 10:20 am

I would never belong to a tribal society that would leave its infants to die because they fail to contribute.

#101 Robert George
July/14/2010
@ 11:24 am

“I would never belong to a tribal society that would leave its infants to die because they fail to contribute.” That would have meant a contributing mother or hunter had to die instead, and could have killed the whole tribe.

#102 Robert George
July/14/2010
@ 11:27 am

obviously I am not a supporter of it either, but its easy to see the extreme, brutal calculus involved.

#103 Steve Skelton
July/14/2010
@ 11:28 am

I would take my babies and join the bic lighter clan high on the hill.

#104 Shane Davis
July/14/2010
@ 12:53 pm

Stephen,
I went back and read what you wrote…I responded on very little sleep, so not sure how my brain concoted the ‘secret’ part…maybe Bush’s Skull & Bones influence go to me and I didn’t know it…

Tom,
Nah, I’m arguing for keeping what I earn and Ted is arguing for getting without having to.
I figured you’d jump on the fact I was bashing the War on Drugs faster than anything else considering what I do fer a livin’

Oh, and I personally like your idea about the the underwear.
“Free Your Skivvies, Let The Puppies Breath! You’ve Got Nothing to Lose But Your Racing Stripes!”

#105 Ted Rall
July/15/2010
@ 6:48 am

Actually, @Shane, I am not arguing in favor of laziness or theft. What I am arguing for is the fundamental idea of fairness: there is no less intrinsic worth in the labor of a school custodian than there is in the labor performed by a CEO, and they should not be remunerated differently. I am also arguing against the inherently unfair advantage enjoyed by those who happen to begin to accrue capital early on, and use that advantage to stifle competitors whose products are superior (e.g., the classic VHS vs. Beta case).

The idea that all people are created equal is incompatible with an economic system that creates wide inequality of income and wealth. Despite the rhetoric of those who defend the system of rampant exploitation we have now, those at the bottom of the economic ladder–the vast majority of the population!–do not enjoy the same opportunity or chance to succeed as those at the top. Certainly, socialist regimes have failed their lofty ideals. By its own standards, capitalism is a failure…but what’s amazing about it is that it fails even as an uncorrupted ideal!

@Shane, your income is not what you “earn.” It is a share of what is ripped out of the earth and exploited from your blood and those lower on the food chain than you (illegal immigrants, for example, and foreign labor), minus what those in the power elite (your employers and their investors, and corporate thieves) keep for themselves just because they can and you don’t belong to a union. Part of what you “earn” has been stolen. At the same time, you never earn what is rightfully yours. You are a small-time thief being ripped off by a mafia don. As am I.

@Robert: It is ahistorical to cite the invasions of the the Mongols, Turks, etc. as examples of uncivilized tribes slaughtering more civilized, settled peoples. Under Genghis Khan, for example, the Mongol empire invented the first system of mail, as well as universally-accepted paper money. The Mongols were an incredibly sophisticated society.

Which is not to say it was a fun weekend in Samarkand when they appeared on the horizon.

#106 Robert George
July/15/2010
@ 7:34 am

“@Robert: It is ahistorical to cite the invasions of the the Mongols, Turks, etc. as examples of uncivilized tribes slaughtering more civilized, settled peoples. Under Genghis Khan, for example, the Mongol empire invented the first system of mail, as well as universally-accepted paper money. The Mongols were an incredibly sophisticated society.” The empire Genghis Khan’s successors created, and the one he lead, are dramatically different. The Mongols adopted the traditions of their conquered people and created new ones to fit the needs of their conquered empires. Before Genghis Khan united the tribes and conquered China had no mail service and no need of one. His heirs developed it as they moved on.
Anyways, sophistication vs. not isn’t what civilized is, its more about setting down roots in one area and complex agriculture. Traditional peoples had very complex societies, and still do.

#107 Stephen Beals
July/15/2010
@ 8:07 am

I love history. All of this is reminding me that I haven’t read any in awhile. I need to go find a good history book.

#108 Robert George
July/15/2010
@ 8:09 am

Ted:”Actually, @Shane, I am not arguing in favor of laziness or theft. What I am arguing for is the fundamental idea of fairness: there is no less intrinsic worth in the labor of a school custodian than there is in the labor performed by a CEO, and they should not be remunerated differently. I am also arguing against the inherently unfair advantage enjoyed by those who happen to begin to accrue capital early on, and use that advantage to stifle competitors whose products are superior (e.g., the classic VHS vs. Beta case).” Unfortunately, Ted, things (like labor) in the real world lack any intrinsic value. The value of something is dependent on how other people perceive its value, and the relative scarcity of that thing. So the labor of a custodian is, in fact, both perceived as less valuable by others (it would be easier to fire half of your custodians or buy equipment to make a smaller number of custodians do the same work than it would be to have the principal work half time), and the scarcity is different, with many more potential custodians than potential CEO’s out there. That’s not to say CEO’s don’t get paid more than they should, for various reasons, its just to say they should get paid SOME amount more.

@Ted”The idea that all people are created equal is incompatible with an economic system that creates wide inequality of income and wealth. Despite the rhetoric of those who defend the system of rampant exploitation we have now, those at the bottom of the economic ladder?the vast majority of the population!?do not enjoy the same opportunity or chance to succeed as those at the top. Certainly, socialist regimes have failed their lofty ideals. By its own standards, capitalism is a failure?but what?s amazing about it is that it fails even as an uncorrupted ideal!” Capitalism lacks ideals. It is frequently boostered by people with a variety of ideals, but it itself is just about the private ownership of capital. Anyway, some countries are capitalist without the problems outlined above. The US is just having some problems right now, and they aren’t unsolvable.

@Ted: “Shane, your income is not what you ?earn.? It is a share of what is ripped out of the earth and exploited from your blood and those lower on the food chain than you (illegal immigrants, for example, and foreign labor), minus what those in the power elite (your employers and their investors, and corporate thieves) keep for themselves just because they can and you don?t belong to a union. Part of what you ?earn? has been stolen. At the same time, you never earn what is rightfully yours. You are a small-time thief being ripped off by a mafia don. As am I.” You don’t earn anything, nor is anything stolen from you, Ted. Your labor is worth what other people will pay for it. Period. End of story. We have governments to change rules and move resources when we don’t like the outcome created by the above dynamic.

Also, if we treated everyone’s labor the same, both you and Shane would take a haircut so we could give a bunch of Africans a raise.

#109 Stephen Beals
July/15/2010
@ 9:27 am

@Robert, Got a haircut yesterday (too short). Which Africans did I help?

Sorry.

#110 Robert George
July/15/2010
@ 12:04 pm

ha!

My point is that people in Africa work a lot harder than school custodians and yet make only a paltry few hundred dollars a year. So to truly pay everyone the same for their labor the money would have to come from somewhere….

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