Art of the Union

Hello, my name is Mitchell. I am an artist and writer creating politically charged content. My goal is to use art and humor to introduce people to politics and history.

Ask me anything.

View my portfolio.
Follow me on Twitter.
Like me on Facebook.
See me on Instagram.
  • February 10, 2014 8:33 pm

    Talking trash in Baltimore [Commentary]

    I have a new Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun about Baltimore and its affinity for litter.

  • May 29, 2013 9:09 pm

    Reading news recently has been somewhat of a trying experience, and I blame it all on the article comment sections. I feel like a character in a Cormac McCarthey novel, trudging my way through a trail of misinformed dreck, waiting for a family to take me in and tell me that the road has been wrong all along.

    The comment section is a hierarchical tree of superuser badges and favorite commenter awards, all of which can be attained by scrawling such nonsensical junk as “Sarah Palin-in comparison, am I right?” Woah, make sure you sign that gem. Don’t want anyone to steal it. It can be comparable to a whitetrash caste system – the more furniture you have in your yard, the higher up you are. Having 12 couches on your porch will grant you the position of town Brahmin, much like having 12 super user badges will net you 13,000 followers on Huffington Post.

    Now, before I quickly derail my intended purpose for writing this, I should get to what inspired this post. It is not to combat all comment section writers, I want to hone my scorn in on a select few. Listen up Baltimore Sun commenters, this PSA is for you:

    Maryland’s gun control bill takes effect on Oct. 1.

    There you have it. That’s October, the month that comes after September and before November. It’s the 10th month of the year. It rhymes with Shmoctober. Please quit inferring that the bill has taken effect every time you take to your Utz salted keyboard and type “How’s that gun control working out for ya?” on every single article that comes into your line of vision. It is a ridiculous question, and unless you are Professor X strolling through comment boards while your gifted mutants are in study hall, it is an unanswerable question.

    This is a city that’s so eloquently nicknamed “Bodymore, Murdaland,” so you can imagine that city news outlets would provide acres of articles for such asinine comments to roam free. Normally I just sit and stomach them, but one finally broke me. It was an article about the fatal shooting of a 1 year old in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. Even the comment calling it the “gun grab” bill is incredibly wrong. A key tenant to the Maryland gun bill is that owners get to keep any gun owned or ordered prior to the Oct. 1 date. 

    What there is a severe lack of in comment sections is an understanding of what the writers are lobbying for. The least you can do is know when the law of your ire is set to kick in (In this case Oct. 1. Remember, rhymes with Schmoctober). After that date, feel free to say that it’s worthless, try and tie it to President Obama, or you can blame it on GNC being out of Gov. O’Malley’s favorite flavor of Muscle Milk. But until that date comes, you’re just a troll shouting into the wind.

  • February 24, 2013 8:48 pm
    This Tuesday is scheduled to be the Senate vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, finally one step closer to the ending of this incredible storyline and letting Hagel take the nap that his face has been screaming for since it started.
You are probably familiar with the accusations that have been trotted out against Hagel, everything from the Dan Friedman “Friends of Hamas” joke that went viral in the Senate halls to the idea that Hagel hates Jews (the monster probably didn’t even cry during Schindler’s List). Tactics that don’t even involve Hagel have been used to block Hagel, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham vowing to block the nomination until he receives more information about Benghazi. Don’t worry though, every other embassy attack during 2012 is ok in Graham’s book.
Most of the holdups on Hagel’s nomination have been purely cosmetic, an effort by a handful of Republicans to make sure we know they still exist after the election. But then you get to the real criticism against Hagel, and it seems that he is being punished for being ahead of the curve when it comes to disowning George W. Bush.
The Tea Party movement and new Republican ideology was (supposedly) spawned in part by a party upset with the direction that had been taken under Bush’s lead. And don’t forget that the 2012 Republican National Convention hid Bush in a closet like was a young Harry Potter. And yet, Hagel is being put to task for his tendency to go against the Bush Administration, primarily when it came to the Iraq War.
Fast forward 2009, and the whole Republican party had turned their negative opinions of everything that happened during the Bush Administration into the Tea Party movement. Anti-immigration, anti-government, and anti-spending. Logic would tell you that Hagel would be the “not in the mainstream” wet dream that Republicans are always trying to brew up in their dusty cauldrons.
Unfortunatley for Hagel it seems that he was ahead of the trend. And as with fashion, no one gets credit for predicting a trend, it’s not cool until it’s accepted by groups in the know. Hating Bush 10 years ago only made Hagel the guy in a coffee shop with a handle bar mustache trying too hard. 

    This Tuesday is scheduled to be the Senate vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, finally one step closer to the ending of this incredible storyline and letting Hagel take the nap that his face has been screaming for since it started.

    You are probably familiar with the accusations that have been trotted out against Hagel, everything from the Dan Friedman “Friends of Hamas” joke that went viral in the Senate halls to the idea that Hagel hates Jews (the monster probably didn’t even cry during Schindler’s List). Tactics that don’t even involve Hagel have been used to block Hagel, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham vowing to block the nomination until he receives more information about Benghazi. Don’t worry though, every other embassy attack during 2012 is ok in Graham’s book.

    Most of the holdups on Hagel’s nomination have been purely cosmetic, an effort by a handful of Republicans to make sure we know they still exist after the election. But then you get to the real criticism against Hagel, and it seems that he is being punished for being ahead of the curve when it comes to disowning George W. Bush.

    The Tea Party movement and new Republican ideology was (supposedly) spawned in part by a party upset with the direction that had been taken under Bush’s lead. And don’t forget that the 2012 Republican National Convention hid Bush in a closet like was a young Harry Potter. And yet, Hagel is being put to task for his tendency to go against the Bush Administration, primarily when it came to the Iraq War.

    Fast forward 2009, and the whole Republican party had turned their negative opinions of everything that happened during the Bush Administration into the Tea Party movement. Anti-immigration, anti-government, and anti-spending. Logic would tell you that Hagel would be the “not in the mainstream” wet dream that Republicans are always trying to brew up in their dusty cauldrons.

    Unfortunatley for Hagel it seems that he was ahead of the trend. And as with fashion, no one gets credit for predicting a trend, it’s not cool until it’s accepted by groups in the know. Hating Bush 10 years ago only made Hagel the guy in a coffee shop with a handle bar mustache trying too hard. 

  • February 20, 2013 7:21 pm

    I’ve been watching the new Netflix series “House of Cards.” A quick synopsis for those unaware: “House of Cards” is a political thriller/drama based on various characters dealing with life and business in Washington, DC (The main 2 characters being House Majority Whip Frank Underwood and reporter Zoe Barnes.)

    To be honest, I love the show and have become completely enthralled with it. But, every time I watch the show the same question rings in my head - “What political world does ‘House of Cards’ exist in?” You see, “House of Cards” is a show populated with handsome men, beautiful women, and all are definitely not left wanting in the coolness category. Juxtapose that with the political world I worked in which consisted of a bunch of dudes eating Cheeze Nips in a small office bathing in their own smells. Sure, everyone was nice, but I feel like I missed out on a party.

    Now granted, the political scene of Florida is probably a very different scene than that of Washington, DC. But still, every character looks like they just got off of an L.L. Bean photoshoot and are on their to an Aerie video shoot. Has anyone actually looked at the political elite while watching the news? At best they look like a mannequin pulled out of a Marshall’s store window. On average, they’re like watching a turtle exhibit at the National Aquarium.

    Also, I feel like the bravado and intent on display by the characters is a bit of a fairy tale. Main character Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a calm, cool, and conniving Southern Democrat. He’s what we would’ve gotten if Charles Bronson ran out of death wishes and ran for Congress. His wife, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), is a supermodel who heads a non-profit. The closest real life example I can think of to this power couple is the Gingrich’s, and the coolest thing they can boast is that their hair hasn’t moved out of place since the 90’s.

    Obviously this is just nitpicking, and the show is a great watch. It especially is worth checking out if you are tired of the same dull real life story lines of Washington do nothings that seem to be on a repeat track these days.

  • January 30, 2013 6:01 pm

    Last night while catching up on the days news, I was introduced to the concept of the end of the NFL. The article in question, an interview with Ravens Safety Bernard Pollard, predicts that the end of professional football will come at the hands of disgruntled fans who will grow tired of the games rules and regulations. 

    Further investigation lead me to read articles predicting that parents will quit letting their kids play football due to new research linking brain damage to the game, eventually drying up the talent pool.

    I for one am inclined to brush the doomsayers to the side, if only because people who usually make such bold predictions fail to realize that their opinion is one of a handful. Take for instance professional wrestling. Despite numerous crippling injuries and suicides, the WWE still thrives as a half-naked multi-million dollar toy machine.

    There have been many theories on how the NFL can “save” it’s game, whether it be more rules or less tackling and pads (which, as a former rugby player, I can say first hand does not stop bad head injuries). 

    If I could postulate my own opinion, I believe that the NFL should implement size restrictions on it’s players. Now hear me out. Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the NFL had a love affair with it’s fans because it wasn’t watered down with rules as it is today. I believe that the onset of such rules came about as players morphed from larger than average men into striated industrial appliances. An impact from Jack Lambert would hurt, but not nearly as much as one from a modern Universal Soldier like James Harrison.

    Just look at a position comparison. Compare linebacker legend Mike Singletary to modern day linebacker Ray Lewis. Singletary, a Hall of Famer, looks like your uncle who works construction. On the opposite end, Lewis looks like a monster who was pulled out of a Universal Studios warehouse.

    If the NFL pushed more natural bodied players over performance enhanced monstrosities, and couple that with the new helmet designs that will undoubtedly be developed overtime to help absorb shock, perhaps the NFL would no longer have a need to keep thinking of the best ways to protect the players from each other.

  • January 16, 2013 8:06 pm

    To me, the biggest scandal about the new NRA attack ad is that the election has been over for 2 months and I’m still saying the words “new” and “attack ad.” Lord help me if I open my mailbox tomorrow and find a piece of campaign mail.

    The ad starts out by asking “Are President Obama’s children more important than yours?” As anyone who’s ever seen the movie “First Kid” knows, the answer is yes. We as civilian children didn’t need the combat expertise of Sinbad because we stood a far less chance of being held hostage by Timothy Busfield everytime we snuck out of the house.

    This ad also highlights Americans strange view of police authority. We want to outfit our schools like a Riker’s Island inmate housing facility. But, whenever we get pulled over for driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone while instagramming our steering wheel, we scream that we are being downtrodden by big brother’s muscle.

  • January 7, 2013 7:40 pm

    I’m really confused by Ann Coulter’s career. She is a prominent media figure, but never has anything of worth to say. Imagine if you will, the Mumm-Ra of the political media class. It’s as if whenever she opens her mouth, all I hear is the sound of a shop vac sucking up nails. The things she says are just disgusting, but she’s allowed to have a career because she’s one of the only female talking heads that Republican media can cart out who isn’t thumbing through a pamphlet for the National Institute of Senior Centers.

    Saying things like non-whites are “nitwits who deserve lives of misery and joblessness” are especially bold statements coming from someone whose job is to be a contrarian while looking like a piece of chewed gum stretched over a pretzel rod.

    Most recently, Coulter acted out in a paycheck induced outrage on Sean Hannity’s show. She went on to suggest that since the New York Journal news published a list of gun owners, then they should publish a list of people who have had abortions so that people would know who would “murder a child.” Despite what your or my opinion is on gun ownership or abortion, this statement is incredibly stupid for the sake of filling empty space. In New York, gun records are public, and obviously abortion records are not. But yet, this haggard saltine cracker will receive yet another paycheck for just saying words, regardless of their validity. 

  • December 23, 2012 10:42 pm

    To end the night, I wanted to talk about Kay Bailey Hutchison on MSNBC today saying that we need to look at “XBox 360 and Wii” when it comes to violence. First off, why do politicians always refer to videogame names like they’re a cousin that the family disowned in the mid 70’s. Second off, this attempt to keep blaming media violence is making me so angry because it shows how out of touch these old decrepit mummies are who we elect to govern. We already addressed this, it’s called a ratings system. Every form of entertainment has it, and it tells you exactly what’s in that form of entertainment that could be offensive.

    These officials are so behind everything, but it’s not surprising since the last form of entertainment that most of these relics of time participated in was candy cigarettes and trying not to catch meningitis from the local swimmin’ hole.

  • December 20, 2012 7:58 pm

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a political columnist, a music critic, a ballerina, and a failed congressional candidate walk into a bar … wait, that’s a different joke. What I’m actually talking about is MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” hosted by the aforementioned four. If you aren’t aware, “The Cycle is a political commentary show that MSNBC is using as a fancy dress to make the audience think that the channel is hip. It comes with the complete package of stale, saltine humor and all the Florence and the Machine songs you could want as transitions into commercials for hedge funds and insurance companies.

    With that said, “The Cycle” caught me a bit by surprise on Tuesday, when they broke character as MSNBC’s Kool & the Gang to rehash the paint-by-numbers argument of scapegoating violent media for mass shootings. Host Toure questioned their guest, clinical psychologist Dr. Stanton Samenow, about the correlation of modern violent media to kids displaying violent behaviors. Dr. Samenow responded by completely dismantling the link between media and violence in a span of 5 seconds, leaving the hosts to scramble for talking points to last the rest of the segment.

    In retrospect, this embarrassing bit of television could have been avoided if “The Cycle” had done it’s job as a news show and researched their hypothesis. Once they did that, they would have learned that media does not cause violence.

    The attempt to blame media for our failings has existed for decades. Just think of it in terms of dogs – comic books were the German Shepherd of the mid century, music was the Rottweiler of the 1980’s, and video games are the Pit Bull of today. And just like how it was much easier to blame the dog than the owner, it’s much easier to blame the media that a shooter may have consumed than it is to blame society’s pitfalls. The Newtown shooting is no different. In wake of the massacre, Congress has introduced legislation to study the effect that violent video games have. And as I said before, if they did their job they would have already found piles of research in existence.

    And as always, it was introduced by people who quit paying attention to video games after “Bad Dudes.” Anti- video game advocates have been clamoring to say that Adam Lanza was trained to be a killer by playing said games. Now, I’m a life-long gamer, and the last time I went shooting I ended up getting smacked in the face with the scope because I mis-judged the recoil. If video games are supposed weapons training programs, then I think I need a refund.

    Perhaps news media such as “The Cycle” should take an introspective look when flinging accusations of violence. It has since been revealed that Nancy Lanza owned her guns and trained her son to shoot them because she thought the world was ending and severe economic collapse loomed. I wonder if video games made her think that, or if this real life Huffington Post article about a zombie apocalypse had any affect? Or how about “The Cycle’s” own S.E. Cupp decreeing that the American Dream is dead and that President Obama wants to take your money? Could news media’s drive to sell advertising by publishing extreme nonsense finally have caught up to it? No, it is because of Solid Snake. We shall hang him in the morning.

  • December 16, 2012 6:41 pm
    If I were to have mounted a search for an image that best encapsulates my idea of the American gun culture, I would have found it in this ad for a Remington Model 700. This is just me spitballing, but I’ve always felt that Americans think that they’re the main character from Contra as soon as they pick up a gun. No training needed. That trigger will be pulled with a Miller Lite still in hand, and the target never saw it coming. And what better target to envision in your head than a greedy politician coming to take your guns.
I could never wrap my head around anyone who thinks that Cousin Jebby is going to save us from the government with his wooden deer rifle. Uh oh, Cousin Jebby just got hit with a drone and his Remington 700 is now being used as kindle by a family of squirrels. It is a great work of fantasy to think that any amount of firepower that a civilian could attain would be armory enough to stave off the U.S. Government from taking residency in your living room and using you as furniture if they pleased. If the 2nd amendment was really about what protected the citizens of the time from tyranny, it would be about the right to bear French aid. Not guns.
And can we please quit saying that the only thing that protects citizens is an armed population. I can’t tell you how many conceal-carry rants that my Facebook feed was painted with the day of the Newtown shooting. How exactly was conceal and carry going stop a massacre where the average age of those murdered was 6 years old? “Don’t worry about the shooter Mrs. Washington, mom packed me a glock in my lunchbox.”
I am not anti-gun. Guns produced some great father-son bonding moments when I was a kid. I do believe in restrictions. I believe guns should not be brought out of the home, unless for designated recreational use. And above all, I believe there is absolutely no reason a citizen should own an assault rifle. Did anyone see the gun that the Newtown shooter used? It was a semi-assault rifle that he took from his mother. What reason did a suburban mother need to own a gun that’s more suited for combating an Afghan insurgency?

    If I were to have mounted a search for an image that best encapsulates my idea of the American gun culture, I would have found it in this ad for a Remington Model 700. This is just me spitballing, but I’ve always felt that Americans think that they’re the main character from Contra as soon as they pick up a gun. No training needed. That trigger will be pulled with a Miller Lite still in hand, and the target never saw it coming. And what better target to envision in your head than a greedy politician coming to take your guns.

    I could never wrap my head around anyone who thinks that Cousin Jebby is going to save us from the government with his wooden deer rifle. Uh oh, Cousin Jebby just got hit with a drone and his Remington 700 is now being used as kindle by a family of squirrels. It is a great work of fantasy to think that any amount of firepower that a civilian could attain would be armory enough to stave off the U.S. Government from taking residency in your living room and using you as furniture if they pleased. If the 2nd amendment was really about what protected the citizens of the time from tyranny, it would be about the right to bear French aid. Not guns.

    And can we please quit saying that the only thing that protects citizens is an armed population. I can’t tell you how many conceal-carry rants that my Facebook feed was painted with the day of the Newtown shooting. How exactly was conceal and carry going stop a massacre where the average age of those murdered was 6 years old? “Don’t worry about the shooter Mrs. Washington, mom packed me a glock in my lunchbox.”

    I am not anti-gun. Guns produced some great father-son bonding moments when I was a kid. I do believe in restrictions. I believe guns should not be brought out of the home, unless for designated recreational use. And above all, I believe there is absolutely no reason a citizen should own an assault rifle. Did anyone see the gun that the Newtown shooter used? It was a semi-assault rifle that he took from his mother. What reason did a suburban mother need to own a gun that’s more suited for combating an Afghan insurgency?