California is the place you ought to be – maybe.

I live in a strange, strange state. What’s hiding in all that smog, fog, and detritus, anyway? Is California really the land of dreams, or just schemes? Is it magical, a place to find your success and fortune, and is the weather worth it?

I’m about to find out. I’ve lived here over 15 years, so I have some answers, but what about the heart of it, where all the decisions are made? This month I started my cartoon for a new journalism group that’s covering the state of California, named appropriately enough, CalWatchdog. (Still waiting for a dog in the logo.) It’s connected with – get this – a think tank, called Pacific Research Institute!

fairy in the state capital cartoon

I’ve done cartoons in all kinds of venues, but I have to admit, never a think tank. I’m so excited to be a part of it, and especially to have my name associated with something that sounds so…smart. This is Arnold’s last year, so I’m prepared to have as much fun as you can have with a German, and to explore issues all over California. (JUST KIDDING, German-ophiles!) So keep an eye on it, as I’ll be uploading cartoons about California there before they go on Slate or appear anywhere else.

Did Jay Leno bribe Conan with one of his old cars?

My first cartoon of the week for Slate is always on Sunday night, so I have to find a story I’m interested in or passionate about over the weekend. Sometimes I get great news: Sarah Palin resigning oliver sudden on July 4th weekend, or something in depth that the papers ignore until the weekend. (I ignored Tiger Woods, which happened on the weekend, because…he’s just a golfer, and it was just a fender-bender. Right?)

Before Haiti, it was all about the Jay Leno – Conan O’Brien scuffle. (With Carson Daly thrown in the mix somehow, but I’ve never watched him… and some other talk show host I never watch.) I didn’t know if this was a real news story – I mean, networks move stuff around all the time, because they’re as bad at guessing as the rest of us, and does anyone really care about late night talk shows?

Well there’s sure been a lot of buzz about it, so, yeah.

who will win the late night talk show race?

Two more cartoons I’m glad I didn’t do.

Both of these cartoons are by Rob Tornoe. Let me start off by saying I LIKE Rob’s cartoons. Didn’t I just link to him in my blogroll? Seems like a good guy, a successful editorial cartoonist, and blogs with Daryl Cagle on Daryl’s popular editorial site, He’s a friend on Facebook.

I like his drawing style, and he’s certainly a professional, in many more publications, and for many more years than me! He’s one of the biggies, as far as editorial cartoonists go, and also has his own blog. (Very attractive – love the orange background, with the chocolate brown header! But alas, it’s Blogger. As you know, I seldom follow Blogger sites, because Google has that self-serving ME ME ME bar at the top, and also commenting is so difficult there. Why make it difficult for your commenters, Blogger blogs!?)

I disagree with his politics, however (Okay, almost always disagree) and I was certainly offended by these 2 cartoons. They’re both about gay rights. I think it’s quite possible to write about homosexuality without talking about actual sex, don’t you? I’m pretty sure gays have the same modicum and decorum and sensitivity as straight adults.

He linked to this on Facebook last month:

Did Obama help gay rights? Maybe he didn’t do anything really big, but he wasn’t like Bush, who tried to stop it.  And at least President Obama wasn’t as rude and disrespectful as Rob is here, having the office of the President give someone the finger.

The next one is worse, because it’s salacious – oh, hell, it’s ob-scene. I don’t know what No on One is, but Rob does a lot of cartoons for New Jersey, so maybe it was there.

Making raw meat into Obama’s War Team.

One cartoon, two versions, about a shocking event in 2009 – President Obama deciding to continue the war. Wow.

I missed the 60 Minutes interview the LA Times is talking about here. (Is that show still on the air?)

Discussing in strikingly personal terms his order to escalate the war in Afghanistan, President Obama said Sunday that sending 30,000 new combat troops was the hardest decision of his presidency so far.

Can you understand now why I get so annoyed with the Times? WTH, “strikingly personal”??? Because he said he felt bad talking to the cadets? Geez, what a revelation.

It goes on:

Critics have said his plan is confusing and contradictory because although it calls for the new deployment, it also sets a July 2011 date to start withdrawing troops.

I don’t know about contradictory, but I’ve found that the best way to broadcast your intentions, leak your war plans, and help out the enemy is to put the details on Twitter, Mr. President.

(another version of the cartoon is after the jump)

CNN says:

In his speech Tuesday, Obama said his strategy had three objectives:

• Deny al Qaeda a safe haven

• Reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow Afghanistan’s government

• Strengthen Afghanistan’s security forces and government

I hope it works out that way. This is a DayPlanner type strategy, isn’t it.

 Barack Obama, International cartoons

Santa was laid off. AGAIN.

This is normally a Christmas cartoon, but should it run before or after Christmas?!

Santa visits the unemployment office cartoon

It seems logical that Santa would visit the unemployment office AFTER Christmas, of course, but those pesky editors just aren’t in the mood to buy Santa Claus anything after Christmas Day – I guess they think the cartoon should be half price! This year, with over 10% unemployed (as Obama confirmed  in the oh so casual before Christmas White House Special that Oprah did, that has already aired twice – yeah, it’s over 10%.) seems like unemployment is any time of the year. There’s a good chance many Santas didn’t get to work this year at all, so I hope this makes sense both before and after Christmas.

Yikes, unemployment went up to 12.5% in California, the Los Angeles Times said!

California still has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, yes, and its unemployment rate is a whopping 4.5 percentage points higher than it was in October 2008. But the job gains are a significant part of a trend that’s seen the pace of job loss slow as the economy pulled itself back together again.

What the hell do they mean?