Mark Fiore

Take a Trip on the Kafka-esque Veterans Affairs Hotline

One of the first things I did after the VA story was call the VA's phone number for health care information.  At once, I entered a Kafkaesque world of confusing phone options and recorded web addresses I was supposed to visit instead of calling on the phone.  ("Just go to 'V-A dot gov forward slash health benefits forward slash cost forward slash inquiry forward slash we're about to hang up on you dot html.'")  Now civilians everywhere are getting an idea of what veterans go through to try and get an appointment at the VA.

There are so many issues wrapped up in this VA scandal.  (Yes, I think we finally have a real live scandal. What was behind all of this excess demand  for the VA?  Do those reduced wait times the VA reports actually mean anything?  What was the name of the guy  put out to pasture for giving an accurate troop estimate in the event we invaded and occupied Iraq?  No matter how hard we try, we just can't shake these wars.

It's a scandal and a tragedy that veterans in the United States are forced to wade into a world of secret lists and substandard care.  The true cost of war keeps rising in ways that are completely predictable.  Enjoy the cartoon and if you have a VA experience, positive or negative, post it in the comments!

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"Antitrust Us!" AT&T Swallows Yet Another Media Company

We have to decrease competition in order to increase competition! Sit back, relax and get ready for humongous corporations to explain how fewer choices mean more and better choices. (Or so goes one of the arguments in support of the AT&T and DirecTV deal.)

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Learn All About the Insane Obsession the Right-Wing Can't Let Go Of

If you thought the Benghazi tragedy was a thing of the past, think again. House Republicans are falling over themselves to rev up the scandal machine in an attempt to sink Obama, but more importantly, stop Hillary Clinton's march to the White House. Even though there have been numerous Congressional (and other) investigations into the Benghazi attacks, Republicans are ready to fire up the ol' Congressional investigation machine once again.

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Mark Fiore Animation: When It Comes to the Death Penalty, America Is #1 for Creative Execution Techniques

I would still be opposed to the death penalty if we executed prisoners by tickling them to death. Now, thanks to Oklahoma's governor rushing an execution, more people now know that "lethal injection" is not as neat and civilized as it might sound, regardless of what you think about the death penalty. After the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett, we're learning more about what goes into a condemned person's veins and how it gets there. Personally, I've never bought the argument that killing people reinforces the concept that killing is wrong. (Not to mention executing prisoners is expensive and is definitely not a deterrent.) Seems like no matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to kill people in a moral, efficient way. Go figure. 

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Watch Mark Fiore's Latest Animation: Why the NRA Stokes Paranoia and Fear

I had already been planning on cartooning the National Rifle Association's ridiculous annual meeting when my nephew's unarmed friend got killed in what is shaping up to be another "Stand Your Ground" case. The circumstances surrounding this shooting may make things a little more difficult for the shooter, who was basically laying in wait to murder someone. The shooter's defense attorney has already said his client is going to use a Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground defense. Regardless of what the circumstances are in this particular case that happened to strike close to my family, it is perfectly clear that the NRA is stoking the fires of paranoia and fear in order to pass legislation, sell more guns and make more money. All you have to do is listen to the apocalyptic, conspiratorial speech made by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre to get so scared you probably will rush right out and buy a couple AR-15s. (Which were conveniently available at the time of the speech in an adjoining gun showroom that covered nine (9) acres.) It is baffling to me that members of Congress speak at the NRA's annual gun fest, an orgy of military hardware marketed to civilians, while the head of the gun lobby group essentially trumpets the need for armed revolt. (Join now, buy now!) As a bonus, the NRA held a "Youth Day" last Sunday, which coincidentally was the day my nephew's unarmed 17-year-old friend was killed. Ugh. While you're watching the cartoon, see if you can pick out which lines are direct quotes from Wayne LaPierre, and which are my interpretation.

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Watch Mark Fiore's Hilarious Animation: Cliven Bundy's Hypocritical Home on the Range

In case you haven't heard about cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in Nevada, he's the guy who has become the latest anti-gub'mint celebrity for the libertarian gun crowd.  Ol' Cliven Bundy and I have a lot in common.  (Except for the backwards racist part.)  Both our families homesteaded in the West and started cattle ranches.
The only difference is that for the past twenty years or so, Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees for grazing his cattle herds on public Bureau of Land Management land.  (You know, that land that belongs to every person in the United States.)  He's taking a stand against those invasive government regulations that charge him a whopping $1.35 a month per cow (and calves) if they use public lands.
Now Bundy and his pals are calling the anti-government militia types to his side to keep him from having to pay past due grazing fees, not to mention stop grazing his cattle on protected land.  (Say hello, desert tortoise.)  There are so many issues rolled into this, it seems only fitting to set it to "Home on the Range."  Enjoy the cartoon, and enjoy our public lands!