Wednesday, December 31, 2003

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What's your plan for today? If you are interested in what I have been up to, read my post, SMOKING, SPARKLING & BUBBLING...

Read Scott McConnell's article, What Is the Meaning of New Year's? Here is an excerpt:

"What then is the philosophic meaning of New Year's resolutions? Every resolution you make on this day implies that you are in control of your self, that you are not a victim fated by circumstance, controlled by stars, owned by luck, but that you are an individual who can make choices to change your life."

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

THE BLOGGING OF THE PRESIDENT: 2004

If you are interested in the "transformation" of the world of politics, go to Christopher Lydon's site, The Blogging of the President: 2004. For more on politics, read the article, Freewheeling 'bloggers' are rewriting rules of journalism. [Via InstaPundit.]

Monday, December 29, 2003

UPDATE: DECK OF CARDS

I hope that the $1 million bounty on the remaining names on the Iraqi Most Wanted list (the "Dirty Dozen" + Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri @ $10 million) will pay off well... You will get back that kind of money, if you find the money Saddam has "deposited in Switzerland, Germany, Japan and other countries."

Sunday, December 28, 2003

IS "JESUS" DEAN'S RUNNING MATE?

Who will Dean pick as his running mate (if he wins the nomination)? Wesley Clark, Bob Graham, Paris Hilton, or "Jesus"? For more on religion and politics, read Andrew Dalton's post, News flash: Howard Dean sucks even more, and Andrew Bernstein's article, Religion and Capitalism Are Antithetical: The Defenders of Capitalism Should Invoke Secularism and Reason, Not Religion and Faith, as Their Justification.

EARTHQUAKE IN IRAN

What do you think about this statement by Jahanbakhsh Khanjani:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime."

Read the statement, Tragedy of the Earthquake in Kerman Province, by the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran.

UPDATE 12/30/03: Here is an excerpt from Amir Taheri's article, Iran's political quake:

"The earthquake also focuses attention on the nuclear power plant that Iran is building on the Bushehr Peninsula. The plant is on the same geological fault line that destroyed Bam. Each year, thousands of tremors of various degrees of intensity are recorded on that fault line.

Bushehr itself has thrice been destroyed by earthquake in recent times (1877, 1911 and 1962). It is not hard to imagine what an earthquake that destroys a nuclear power plant could do to the entire Persian Gulf area." [Via ActivistChat.com.]

For more on the Bushehr plant, read my post, NUCLEAR THREAT BY THE AXIS OF EVIL.

UPDATE 01/06/04: Here is an excerpt from Geesou Atasheen's article, Iranians Begged the US Aid Workers to Stay:

"The Iranian National Seismological Center had provided the regime with report after report and data upon data stating that the repopulation of the area could prove to be disastrous. But the mullahs had responded by saying that the 12th Imam, who is "invisible," would shield the residents of the city from harm!"

For more information on the earthquake in Bam, read Allen Forkum's post, Earthquake Diplomacy.


For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.

Friday, December 26, 2003

THE SPIDER WEB OF POLITICS

I wonder if Howard Dean's campaign leaders are watching Jon Stewart's "Spider Hole 101" video at this moment... Mr. Dean has to be prepared before he is crawling into his "spider hole of denial." The word "spider-hole" is ranked #7 on the list of "Top Phrases of 2003" by yourDictionary.com. By the way: the word "blog" is #2 on the list of top 10 words.

In the news: Press and pundits have gotten tangled up with 'spider hole'.


Spin Control (05/20/02) by Cox & Forkum [Black & White World, page 65.]

Thursday, December 25, 2003

THE "NINE DWARFS" VERSUS THE COWBOY...

It will be interesting to follow the media coverage of the forthcoming Democratic caucuses in Iowa and the primary in New Hamshire. I will focus on the European newspapers and their coverage in future posts on my other blog, Lukeion.

Is it possible that one of the "nine dwarfs" will give G.W. Bush a real fight? I think they have to watch out for the cowboy... The other day I got an e-mail from "Blogs For Bush" with an invitation to join the blogroll. I am not a Bush supporter, but I must admit that I am glad that Gore didn't win in 2000... Do a Google (bomb?!) search on "bad presidents." [Hat tip to the Politburo Diktat. Editor: Is this the new "commie" version of a "Molotov cocktail"?]

For more politics, check out WatchBlog and Dick Morris' new project, The Official Internet Primary�.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

XMAS SPIRIT

Today I have enjoyed a sm�rg�sbord of many different dishes, e.g., ham, herring and meatballs, together with beer and snaps. We have exchanged plenty of gifts.

My post, X-MA$, is included in this week's edition of Carnival of the Vanities. This time it is hosted by Winds of Change.NET. Joe Katzman has done a great job, putting together a compilation of more than 50 different posts.

Read Wayne Dunn's article, It's a Wonderful Commercial Life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

IRAN: AL-QAEDA'S NEW HQ

Go and read Dan Darling's special analysis, Holiday Terror Alert. The section "Decentralized? Think Again" is very interesting. Here are two articles with information on Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts:

Bin Laden in Iran. Islamic leader says terror kingpin staying in nation with 'consorts'.
Discerning Terror Chatter.

Related: My post, IS OSAMA BIN LADEN IN IRAN?

UPDATE 12/29/03:
US seeks bin Laden here, there and everywhere.
Al-Qaeda chief, aide in Iran: UK Report.

UPDATE 01/05/04: Tape probably Bin Laden, CIA says. Click here for a translated transcript of the tape.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Sunday, December 21, 2003

EDITOR: MYSELF

Time for my weekly post on Iran. Read Jesse Elve's (BlogsCanada) interview with Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan (Editor: Myself). [Via InstaPundit.] Did you watch the "Hardtalk" interview with Nobel Peace prize winner, Shirin Ebadi?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

X-MA$

Are you ready to celebrate X-mas, winter solstice and Yuletide?

Stan (South Park) knows about the true "spirit of X-mas." I am not a huge fan of South Park (I got a dose of the show during my years at college...), but I would prefer to watch an episode of South Park's political incorrectness instead of socialist propaganda � la Robin Hood in Christopher's Christmas Mission on Swedish television. Here is an excerpt from Jason Roth's editorial, The True Meaning of Xmas:

"Despite all the commercialism, childish greediness, spiked eggnog, and endless gift-wrapped mountains of materialistic extravagance, there's a lot not to like about Christmas." [SaveTheHumans.com, 12/25/02]

Tune in to the History Channel for the real story of Christmas. If you want to get in the right mood, put a Yule log on the fire, get your favorite drink, and then take some time to read Leonard Peikoff's column, A consumerism Christmas. Celebrate capitalism with joy, not shame.

If you want to be a true capitalist "pig" (read: trader), read "Francisco's Money Speech" from Ayn Rand's book, Atlas Shrugged. I look forward to the day when capitalism is a well-known ideal.

I have illustrated this post with an artwork by Jerald Rough'. If you want to buy some Christmas presents, check out the gift shop @ Quent Cordair Fine Art.


[Holiday by Jerald Rough' � 2000]

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES

My post, INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COX & ALLEN FORKUM, is included in the 65th edition of Carnival of the Vanities. This time it is hosted by Drumwaster's Rants!

"Martin Lindeskog manages to score - big time! - with an interview with John Cox & Allen Forkum (of Cox & Forkum fame - whose book can be found in major bookstores across the country and on-line). They are a daily 'Must-Read'..."

Go to Silflay Hraka for more information on the carnival.

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

It is true that Wright Brothers' Flight Principles Still Rule After 100 Years (David McAlary, Voice of America News), but I also agree with Heike Berthold's philosophical statement: "America has abandoned the cultural values that made the Wright brothers' great achievement possible." Here is an excerpt from her article, Grounding the Wright brothers:

"The symbol of flight in America today is no longer the Wright brothers, but Icarus. Where once we venerated the bold exploration of new frontiers, we now condone bureaucrats putting shackles on anyone who seeks to test the untried � to soar too high or succeed too well."

A few days ago, I saw the first episode ("Heroes and Daredevils") of the TV series, Chasing the Sun. It is based on the book, Turbulent Skies: The History of Commercial Aviation by T. A. Heppenheimer. For more information on "the invention of the aerial age," read Heppenheimer's book, First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane.

Fly over to The Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum of Pioneer Aviation.


For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.

For great inspirational fuel, go to Quent Cordair Fine Art - Celebrating 100 Years of Flight.

UPDATE 12/30/03: Read Hannes Hacker's article, First-Handed in Flight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

EGO RICH SITE SUMMARY (RSS)

I am playing around with something called "Rich Site Summary" (RSS) in order to give the readers the opportunity to syndicate my blog. You could subscribe to my blog with Bloglines. You could find the EGO blog profile @ BlogStreet.

Related link: The Atom syndication project.

UPDATE 12/18/03: Click on the "XML" logo and get EGO RSS feed. Please send me tips on news sources with RSS feeds. For more on syndication, read Paul Festa's article, Battle of the blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

SADDAM HUSSEIN 12/14/03, MOHAMMAD KHATAMI XX/XX/04?

It's time to put the spotlight on Iran. When will Mohammad Khatami and the mullahs receive the same treatment as Saddam Hussein? I will keep writing posts on Iran, until the ayatollah regime is gone. It could take a long time, because they are "smooth talkers" compared with "Baghdad Bob." President Khatami said at the UN digital summit that they have blocked 240 "websites that are not compatible with Islam."

Read about Ahmad Batebi in the article, After 2 Visits to the Hangman, More Horror for Iran Dissident.

From Iranian.ws: Cockroach & Mullah, a match made in heaven.

UPDATE 12/16/03: Read Nicholas Provenzo's post, Saddam Down, Iran Next?

THE BEST OF EGO

I have picked some of my "greatest hits" posts and added them to the "Posts from the Archives" category. I hope both my long-time readers and new visitors will enjoy the selection.

* TAX PRESSURE - Comparison of the tax systems in Sweden and America.
* WAR NOW! - Covering the anti-war demonstrations.
* AMERICAN IN SPIRIT - Standing up for the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Join the American In Spirit Webring!
* DECK OF CARDS - The complete Iraqi Most Wanted list.
* ANNUAL BLOG REPORT - My "blogiversary."
* THE LIBERTARIAN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT - Ideas have consequences.
* STEEL TARIFFS AND RUST BELT VOTES IN 2004 - Bush the protectionist & pragmatist.
* INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COX & ALLEN FORKUM - EGO interview with the creators of the Black & White World.

If you want to spread the good word, please scroll down to the Support category and click on the "tell-a-friend" button!

UPDATE: DECK OF CARDS

Great news! The #1 of the Iraqi Most Wanted has been checked off the list. Saddam Hussein has been captured (alive) in Ad Dawr, about 8 miles (~13 km) south of his hometown Tikrit. He has been hiding in a "spider hole" under a farmhouse.

Ace of spades (#1) - Saddam Hussein (Husayn).

For more information, go to the Command Post.

UPDATE 12/15/03:

In the news: Report: Saddam Tells Interrogators 'No WMD'.


For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.

Check out the slideshow to General Sanchez's brief on the Operation "Red Dawn." Watch the movie, Red Dawn.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

REBUILDING IRAQ...

Is it payback time for the "Axis of Weasels"? G.W. Bush is giving first dibs to the "friendly coalition folks" in bidding on the reconstruction contracts for Iraq. The members of the "Axis of Weasels," i.e., France, Germany and Russia, are excluded to participate. I agree with the authors of the article, Contracts for Iraq: Reverse the Pentagon's Decision. I think Bush has not acted in a smart way, to say the least. Bush, Cheney & company should not be involved in this kind of business. Let private enterprises take care of the matter instead. Read Robert Garcia Tagorda's post, Excluding the Unwilling.

UPDATE 12/15/03: Payback time for the axis of weasels by Mark Steyn.

Friday, December 12, 2003

EUROPE IS DIVIDED...

Right now it is a huge split between certain European countries, e.g., France and Germany on one side and Poland and Spain on the other side. The parties are not in agreement on what things should be included in the European constitution. I don't mind the deadlock.

Related: My post, UNITED STATES OF EUROPE?

REFERENDUM IN TAIWAN ON 03/20/04

Allen Forkum has a great post on the situation in Taiwan. Bush acts like a wimp and doesn't seem to have the guts to stand up against the dictatorship in communist China. Bush follows the same steps as Nixon on this issue. Do you think that the dictators in Peking will pull off the same stunt regarding Taiwan as they did with Hong Kong in 1997? Read Chen Shui-bian's (President of Taiwan Republic of China) interview by New York Times.

Additional reading: Taiwan Relations Act.

Related: My post, TAIWAN REPUBLIC OF CHINA.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

ROAD MAP TO WAR?

I have added Politburo Diktat's map of the blogosphere ("Commonwealth of Blogosphere States") to the Globalization category. Jonathan Crowe (Map Room) thinks that the map should be titled "warblogosphere"...

Related: My post, THE BATTLE OF IDEAS: CHICKENHAWKS VERSUS PACIFICISTS.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

IRAQ NEEDS A CONSTITUTION!

Zeyad (Healing Iraq) writes in his post, Great day for Iraq, about the anti-terrorism demonstration in Baghdad. [Via InstaPundit.] Now is the right moment to read C. Bradley Thompson's article, An Open Letter to the People of Iraq. If you are curious to see what the opposite side has to "offer," read (Nota Bene: for your own safety, please have a sickbag handy) the proposal by Lyndon H. LaRouche (Presidential candidate, Democratic Party). (Interesting that his proposal has been posted at Pravda.ru, Aljazeerah.info, and in his own publication, "Executive Intelligence Review")

SUPPORT H&M!

Support the management of H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) against the attacks by the union called Unite. Dennis Kucinich and Hillary Clinton have jumped on the bandwagon... Here is my suggestion: Go to H&M and shop until you drop! The supermodels Naomi Campbell, Angie Everhart and Daniela Pestova could give you assistance and inspiration! H&M knows how to use the A.I.D.A formula!

Book recommendation: Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR

I got very interested in reading Edwin A. Locke's book, The Blackwell Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior, after reading Mark Da Cunha's (Capitalism Magazine) review. Here is an excerpt from Edwin Locke's keynote essay, The Epistemological Side of Teaching Management: Teaching Through Principles:

"My goal in this article has been to show the productive role that objectivist philosophy, specifically epistemology, can play in teaching. Everything I have said here is the diametric opposite of today's "in" philosophy, postmodernism, which asserts that there is no reality to know, the language (concepts) have no objective or fixed meaning, that language creates rather than represents reality, and that certainty is impossible. Postmodernism is the dead end of philosophy and therefore of all attempts to gain knowledge. It would necessarily lead to disaster if applied to the field of management." [Edwin A. Locke, Editor, Appendix, "Conclusion," page 450.]

ISLAMIC "FREE MARKET" INSTITUTE: A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS

I have written several separate posts on taxes and militant Islamists lately. What would you say if somebody tried to combine militant Islam with tax reform ideas?! Read Frank J Gaffney's article, A Troubling Influence. [Via InstaPundit.] I wonder if Grover Norquist of "Americans for Tax Reform" would be interested in a bank account in Bahrain � la Shari'ah rules...

Sunday, December 7, 2003

CONTACT PROBLEM WITH THE IRANIAN DIASPORA?

Time for my weekly post on Iran. What has Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, done with Pentagon's Rolodex? Maybe some contact cards are missing? Rumsfeld: You shouldn't be listening to Powell!

In the news: Iran Students Rally for Free Speech, Prisoners.

SAUDI ARABIA'S TERRORISM CONNECTION

Read David E. Kaplan's detailed cover story in the latest issue of the U.S. News & World Report, on how the Saudis are sponsoring a global terror network. [Via Little Green Footballs.] It is scary reading on how Saudi Arabian officials and diplomats have been spreading their religious dogma - Wahhabism. Luckily, it looks like the clerics of the "Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America" will have a bit harder with their activities in the future... For more information, go to The Search for International Terrorist Entities.

Related: My post, TANGLED WEB OF TERRORISM.

UPDATE 12/12/03:

What do you think Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, will say at the City Club of Cleveland, on December 15?


For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.

PEARL HARBOR DAY

Today in history: The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Read the editorial in the New York Post, 12/7 and 9/11: America & the world, and then Onkar Ghate's article, Blame Unprincipled Foreign Policy for 9/11. Here is a quote by Dr. Ghate:

"At home, we treated our attackers as if they were isolated criminals rather than soldiers engaged in battle against us. In 1941 we did not attempt to indict the Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor--we declared war on the source. Yet we spent millions trying to indict specific terrorists--while we ignored their masters."

Saturday, December 6, 2003

"SCRAP THE CODE"

Moxie wants to have a discussion on alternative tax methods. I thought that Steve Forbes' flat tax plan was a pretty good idea back in the day, but I changed my mind after I listened to Leonard Peikoff's interview with Bill Archer (The Leonard Peikoff Show, 06/17/96) and came to the conclusion that a retail sales tax is a better idea. Bruce Bartlett thinks that the flat tax makes a comeback. I wonder if the tax reforms in Slovakia could be implemented in other countries in Europe. For information on the situation in Sweden, read my post, TAX PRESSURE.

UPDATE 12/09/03:
Thanks for the comments! I agree with Aaron that "Anything is better than the quagmire we have now" and I think that the consumption tax is the best way to go.
Brian Yoder correctly points out: "Unless the income tax is completely and permanently obliterated, we will end up with both a national sales tax and a national income tax and things will be worse than they are now." That is what happened in Sweden. The VAT started out as a temporary sales tax at a level of about 3% and is now 25% (20% off the total price) and a progressive income tax.
Moxie: Here is an excerpt from Edwin Feulner's article, Simplify the Tax Code with a Flat Tax:

"The income-tax system began in 1913 as a two-page form backed by 14 pages of law. Today, we struggle with 742 different forms and 254 separate publications, backed by more than 17,000 pages of law." [Capitalism Magazine, 12/04/02.]

I look forward to Tax Freedom Day! In Sweden you have to wait until August... (Click here for the PDF version.)

Friday, December 5, 2003

TAX ON TAX ON TAX...

Today I got a shipment of EGO products. But guess what? I had to pay a total of >40% in different taxes (import VAT, customs, and Value Added Tax on the freight charges).

Remember: December 7 is Celebrate Capitalism� Day. I look forward to Dr. Andrew Bernstein's book, The Capitalist Manifesto.

Related: My post, FREE TRADE.

AMERICAN IN SPIRIT WEBRING

Are you American in Spirit? You are welcome to join my webring - American in Spirit.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COX & ALLEN FORKUM

I have enjoyed Cox & Forkum's editorial cartoons in The Intellectual Activist for a long time and it was therefore very interesting to read Robert Tracinski's interview with the dynamic duo in the March 2002 issue of TIA. I was one of the first individuals who had the pleasure to find Cox & Forkum's virtual home in cyberspace. I have enjoyed their book, Black & White World, very much.

I hope this interview will give you additional insight to the interesting online interviews by Dean Esmay and John Little.

EGO: First of all, I want to thank you very much for your work with the EGO logotype. Do you want to tell my readers how you came up with the logotype?

FORKUM: The initial idea for the logo was a graphic solution using the word "ego" to form a person's face, but the results didn't really connote egoism strongly enough. I knew John could illustrate a heroic, proud man so that is the tack we took. The original drawing had a square border around it. We eliminated that so the man would be the highest graphic element in the logo. The sphere was meant to connote a lofty peak or even the world itself.

COX: Heroic was what I was shooting for. There was power in his stance that I think captured a sense of joy and determination. I really wanted to work simple, simple, simple. You put the logo on a jersey and I've worn that shirt out. [EGO Editor: How about sending a X-mas gift to John & Allen?] I really liked the understated size of the artwork, yet its intent is a real attention-getter. That logo was a fun project.

EGO: Your first war cartoon, "Blend," was created on September 20, 2001. Please tell me your reactions to what happened on 9/11.



FORKUM: Disbelief, horror, fear, anger, grief ... and under all those feelings was a dismay at my own ignorance that such a threat even existed. Of course I knew that militant fundamentalist Muslims hated America and that they regularly attacked us overseas, from Lebanon to Africa to Yemen. I knew they had attack the WTC once before. I knew the Taliban had destroyed non-Islamic statues in Afghanistan. I recalled the name Osama bin Laden. But I never imagined Islamists' willingness and capacity to commit an atrocity on the scale of 9/11. It was a wake-up call for me, to better educate myself on the threat and how to defend ourselves against it. In particular I wanted to fight the battle against Islamist jihad ideology. That desire is fundamental to our editorial cartooning today.

COX: That day changed America. It changed me. How could it not? Now, all I want to do is take the fight to the horrific ideologies that fueled such anti-Americanism. We're editorial cartoonists, so the battlefield is there.

FORKUM: Along those lines, I elaborated about the "Blend" cartoon in our book: Islamic terrorists share an irrationalism with certain activists in America which results in a common bond -- a willingness to use force against those who disagree, a willingness to place their causes above individual rights.

EGO: I think that your cartoon, "Censorship, Berkeley-Style," is showing how the leftists of the academic world are trying to use dirty tricks as a method in order to stop the freedom of speech at universities. For a background, read my post, ANTI-REASON AT UC BERKELEY. Have you been in contact with many students through your blog?



FORKUM: Yes, they've contacted us. University students have asked permission to use our cartoons on flyers advertising demonstrations and lectures. Some student newspapers have published our cartoons. The cartoon "Affirmative Racism" even caused somewhat of a controversy at Texas A&M. So there's definitely some interest there.



And I would add regarding the Berkeley cartoon that it also shows what many college leftists are in essence: intolerant, anti-free-speech thugs.

EGO: What's your favorite source and inspiration for new cartoons?

FORKUM: Mainly current events, though sometimes we "lead" by commenting on issues we think are important. I spend a lot of time checking the latest news online at CNN, FoxNews and Google News as well as surveying information in the blogosphere, which is abundant and useful. I often wish that I had more time just to keep up with the blogosphere. The op-eds at The Ayn Rand Institute are also inspiring.

EGO: What's your view on today's media?

FORKUM: My general view of them is pretty negative. There's seems to be a gross lack of objectivity that leads to biases of every sort, from editorializing in "news" articles to the total evasion of important events. Some of this may be laziness, some may be political sympathizing, and some may be out and out propagandizing. But whatever the reason, it is not good journalism. This is not to say that all journalists and every media outlet are corrupt in some way. I don't know enough to comment on the extent of the problem. But when you have major news organizations like Reuters that even after 9/11 refused to call terrorists "terrorists," it's an indication of deep problems.

EGO: During a panel discussion at the Oslo Objectivist Conference, one question was about the fact that several individuals have learned about Ayn Rand's books and philosophy, through listening to a rock group called Rush. Do you know if you have inspired some of your readers to check out literature by Ayn Rand?

FORKUM: Yes, a couple of people have mentioned to me that they've looked further into Objectivism, and I find that immensely rewarding even though it is not the primary purpose of our cartoons.

EGO: What kind of different feedback have you got from your readers?

FORKUM: The overwhelming majority of our feedback is positive, but we also regularly receive criticism, from the full political spectrum -- conservatives, libertarians and leftists.

COX: The biggest kick I get out of our work is opportunity to hear from folks so fast. I've stated it before, but the time between airing the work and hearing what fans think of the work is now down to virtually nothing, and I truly dig the vulnerability... laying it out there and experiencing the response.

EGO: It was very interesting to read the interview in TIA on how you developed an idea for a cartoon. You refer to Ayn Rand's book, The Art of Nonfiction. How have you been able to achieve such clarity in your style?

FORKUM: That's a tough question. It's partly a matter of practice. I used to write editorials for my own publications as well as write letters to editors of other newspapers. Effective op-eds and LTEs boil an issue down to its essence and comment on it concisely, often using analogies and metaphors to drive home a point. Creating cartoon ideas is a similar process. Beyond that the execution of the drawing must clearly communicate the idea, which is where John's skills are so important.

EGO: Could you compare an op-ed with an editorial cartoon? What are the differences and similarities?

FORKUM: I've already mention some similarities above. Of course the main difference is that an editorial cartoon concretizes an opinion with an image. Metaphors and symbolism that are merely handy for an op-ed become essential tools in cartoons. The better editorial cartoons are the ones that emphasize visuals over words and dialogue. That doesn't mean that word-oriented editorial cartoons can't be effective -- we do those type all the time. But the strongest cartoons essentialize an idea to a quickly perceivable concrete.

This strength in editorial cartoons is a weakness compared to op-eds, which can present full arguments, refer to multiple sources and contexts, and deal easily with high-level abstractions. It's basically the difference between a book and its cover. One
advertises an opinion; the other explains it.

EGO: Have you read Ayn Rand's book, The Romantic Manifesto?



FORKUM: Yes, I highly recommend the book -- all of Ayn Rand's books are worth reading. The Romantic Manifesto is an excellent, philosophical analysis of art, from television to novels to painting.

COX: The Romantic Manifesto was a fun read. It kind of gave me a beginning point to justify my "throwback" aesthetic. Instead of being an unimaginative hack, I could be a messenger bringing back the joy of Realism. I found her words to be very invigorating. Now I had something to say to all those stiff-necked modernists who prefer barbaric paint globs over humanist values.

EGO: John, for how many years have you been a painter of fine art? Who's your favorite artist?

COX: I've been showing my paintings for 10 years, and I hope to do it for the rest of my life. I consider my fine art goals to be the engine for my cartooning. A lot of the adrenaline rush I get from a sharp cartoon is found in the experience of selling a very personal painting. I've come to realize that my two loves are inseparable, and I want to pursue them both with equal passion.

Who are my painting heroes? Andrew Wyeth for his elegant use of the figure in large expanses of landscape. Edward Hopper for his sense of solitude in his work. He found a dignity in physical isolation that I find very romantic. Maxfield Parrish for his sense of design and his magical take on Realism. But for pure bravura and lust for the human experience, I'd have to say writer Ernest Hemingway's life is the most inspirational. Not his outrageous fame per se, or his shameless irresponsibility, but how he reveled in physical and intellectual pleasure. I really admire his sense of adventure and the courage to see it through. Although, I think I'll pass on the shotgun thing.

EGO: Allen, could you provide us with a gag cartoon from your magazine, Automotive Report? How about something on the topic "Amish versus Technology"?



FORKUM: This cartoon is from 1996 and, if I remember correctly, it was entirely John's idea.

COX: Yeah... the Amish thing. Loaded with paradoxes that lead to some really funny ideas. Granted, the cartoon was also skirting the meaning of progress, but when I hit upon the idea of a horse crunched in a garage door, it became pure slapstick. The cartoon represents my tendency to make fun of religious dogma... and dumbfounded farm animals.

EGO: What are your plans for the future? When could we purchase your next book? Another Cox & Forkum product?

FORKUM: We're still striving for syndication. We recently sent out submissions and are waiting for reactions. In the mean time, we're producing cartoons as if we're syndicated. Publishing a second book is a strong possibility, perhaps sometime next year. But first we want to sell more copies of "Black & White World." I have too many stored in my garage! We'll likely add more t-shirts to our line. And we're considering selling some of our original artwork.

COX: Ultimately, I'd love to see our work in a big gallery show. Think of a nice airy room with cream walls and hundreds of original drawings all matted and glassed. Bottles of cabernets and pinot grigio piled near a bandstand oozing delicious jazz music across the room. Kind of a celebration of art and ideas. Until then, though, I'm thrilled with the possibilities of where the drawings can lead us. I tell everyone, You ain't seen nothing yet.



For more cartoons like this, check out John Cox & Allen Forkum's book, Black & White World.

Monday, December 1, 2003

JOHN ADAMS

This Book of the Month is John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty by C. Bradley Thompson. Read Eric Daniels' review of the book in the November issue of The Intellectual Activist. Listen to Bradley Thompson's speech at the Ashbrook Center.

For further information on John Adams, go to the Internet Public Library.org.

"ASSOCIATED STEEL" VERSUS "REARDEN STEEL"?

I wonder if GWB's advisors have read my post, STEEL TARIFFS AND RUST BELT VOTES IN 2004... Read Mike Allen's and Jonathan Weisman's report, President To Drop Tariffs On Steel, in today's Washington Post. [Via Rule of Reason.] But maybe Bush will make a political compromise after his fund-raising visit in "Steel city"...

If you wonder about the title of this post, check out Andrew Bernstein's book (Cliff Notes guide), Rand's Atlas Shrugged.