Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.
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I have to confess, I can’t figure Kyle Rittenhouse out. One minute, his lawyers are repeatedly throwing out a Tucker Carlson film crew. The next minute, Rittenhouse is sitting down for an interview with Carlson, and is traveling to Mar-a-Lago to meet Trump.
Whatever the case, it looks like one element of the deplorable world is turning hard on one of its latest heroes. Apparently the QAnon world is not pleased that Rittenhouse dared speak ill of one of its top luminaries—his former lawyer, Lin Wood. It turns out that Rittenhouse and Wood are currently in a legal battle over the money raised to get Rittenhouse out on bail last year.
According to HuffPost, the feud between Rittenhouse and those who are still “trusting the plan” dates to Rittenhouse’s interview last Tuesday night with Ashleigh Banfield on NewsNation. (Watch a clip below.)
If you’re a QNut and you’ve lost Greene, that says something.
I have to confess, I’m taking Rittenhouse’s desire to stay out of politics with a grain of salt given his trip to Mar-a-Lago. But it seems Rittenhouse is telling the truth about Wood trying to screw him. After all, he told Carlson the same thing on the deplorables’ favorite network. Moreover, his portrayal of Wood hews closely to what his former law partners are saying about him in a suit they filed against him in August 2020. They claim that they severed ties with Wood in response to a long pattern of bizarre behavior, including rambling and incoherent communications and claims that God himself was directing Wood.
It says a lot about QAnon that it’s siding with a guy who not only sat on money intended to get Rittenhouse out of jail, but is now trying to claw it back.
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While the emergence of yet another troubling coronavirus variant seems abrupt, it was entirely predictable — and fully anticipated here and elsewhere. More than predictable, the mutation of the virus will remain inevitable for so long as it continues to infect millions of human hosts.
Scientists don't yet know for certain whether the new "omicron" variant — so named by the World Health Organization — will prove to be substantially more infectious, transmissible or dangerous than the delta variant that became dominant last year. What they do know, however, is that sooner or later, as COVID-19 continues to spread and change, our prospects for emerging from the pandemic will dim, and millions more will die.
To prevent the new variant's rapid spread, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other nations closed their borders to travelers from southern Africa, where it is believed to have originated — and are requiring their own citizens coming home from that region to quarantine. But while this swift response may prove more effective than the useless border closing ordered by then-President Donald Trump at the pandemic's outset, such measures cannot permanently shut out the latest threat.
Already at least one case has showed up in Belgium, and two in Hong Kong; the appearance of thousands more could be only weeks away. By then the nature of omicron, sporting more mutations than any of its predecessors, will be better understood. And that may well mean that we are back where we began in early spring 2020, with lockdowns, isolation and a crushing recession looming. Markets are behaving now as if the worst is to be expected.
Was there any way to avoid the viral mutation that has led us back to this familiar and very dark territory? Is there any way to avoid repeating this same cycle for years to come, while we neglect the world's other pressing crises?
Perhaps historians will someday offer definitive answers to the first question, but it is clear that our efforts, as a species, to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic were halting and inadequate. As soon as effective vaccines became available last winter, the advanced industrial countries ought to have mobilized their entire capacity behind a global inoculation campaign — precisely in order to block, insofar as possible, the emergence of novel and lethal variant viruses.
This would have meant abandoning patent protections for the vaccines produced by Western pharmaceutical firms, all of which benefited from government subsidies and research. Beyond that, the vaccine manufacturers ought to have been required to open up their methods to enable replication in the developing world.
Instead, the pharma firms fought the suspension of their patents, while too many of their home governments endorsed that myopic stance. The contracts they negotiated with the blindly "America First" officials in the Trump White House had allowed them to escape any obligation to license the vaccine processes to other countries. Then the Biden administration dithered until late spring, when the White House at last announced its support for lifting patent protection on the vaccines. That came too late and meant too little, without the investment of billions to jump-start production and distribution around the world.
Bitter experience has proved that making vaccines universally and freely available will not, by itself, suppress the pandemic or the appearance of variant viruses. Government and nonprofit campaigns to encourage vaccination have too often been frustrated by anti-vaccination networks whose shadowy sponsors include authoritarian regimes, fascist organizations, and quasi-religious cults, their influence powerfully enhanced by digital technology.
Anti-vaccine extremists finally forced officials to implement the policy they had protested against most vociferously: vaccine mandates. Even before omicron appeared, Western governments were beginning to plan the implementation of mandates to stem the latest surge of infections. Now those vaccination requirements should expand as swiftly as possible to protect us all from the next threatening variant.
Maybe this newest mutation won't prove to be a harbinger of apocalypse, just a loud warning about the policy failures of the past two years (and all the prior years when pandemic preparation languished). If so, the message will be unmistakable: Hesitation is doom.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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