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Behold the majesty that is this painting of 'SEAL Team 1776'
Move over boring political portraits, your term is up.
It's time for SEAL Team 1776.
Packed full of figures from United States history and set against the backdrop of the U.S. Constitution, the January 2019 painting by artist and history buff Jason Heuser, shows a stoic George Washington flanked by his fellow presidents: Teddy Roosevelt with a Desert Eagle in the top left, and an M4-rocking Jimmy Carter in the left-hand corner.
Teddy Roosevelt (top left); Jimmy Carter (bottom left); George Washington (center) and Benjamin Franklin (right) embark on a mission to safeguard 'Merica.Jason Heuser/Deviant Art
"I was trying to think: 'Who would be a really random guy to put in there,'" Heuser told Task & Purpose. So, he settled on Carter, who despite having served seven years in the U.S. Navy was, "Not particularly known to be all that aggressive, and that's a big reason I thought that would be funny."
Rounding out the cast on the right is Benjamin Franklin, the founding father that Americans love mistaking for a U.S. president.
"He wasn't a president, but everyone thinks he was," Heuser said. "I hadn't seen the old presidents in modern military gear, so I thought it'd be interesting to see, and thought it'd be kind of funny to see George Washington kitted out in military garb, with modern gear."
"Most of my ideas are just oh hey, this'll be funny. Then I try to bring actual information in there, but each idea starts with 'this'll be funny, or this'll be random,'" Heuser said.
Historically accurate, and yes, that's Abe Lincoln riding a grizzly with an M4 in one hand and the emancipation proclamation in the other.Jason Heuser
His work is a who's who of historical figures with a heavy dash of "rah rah" 'Mericana thrown in. It's also largely satirical, which is something that has to be explicitly stated this decade.
After the FBI arrested Cesar Sayoc, who was suspected of mailing bombs to critics of President Donald Trump, Heuser's art made the news when an illustration he made of Donald Trump riding a tank, was found on Sayoc's van, according to an Oct. 2018 interview with Heuser and The Verge.
What half of Twitter thought this year's 4th of July "Salute to America" was going to look like.Jason Heuser
Then, in March 2019, another one of Heuser's pieces landed in the national spotlight after Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) unveiled a print showing President Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor and firing a submachine gun, during a Senate vote on the Green New Deal.
Yup, that's Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor.Jason Heuser
"This is of course a picture of former president Ronald Reagan, naturally firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a dinosaur," Lee said during the Senate vote. "You'll notice a couple of important features here: first of all, the rocket launcher strapped to President Reagan's back, and then the stirring, unmistakable patriotism of the velociraptor holding up a tattered American flag, a symbol of all it means to be an American."
If you spend just a few minutes browsing the rest of Heuser's work on Deviant Art — which contains both Democratic and Republican figures, like Cybernie 2020, a light-saber wielding Obama on a lion, an FDR battle mech, and Abe Lincoln riding a grizzly bear — it can be hard to imagine how any of his paintings could be taken as anything other than playful humor, least of all a full throated endorsement of whoever or whatever happens to be depicted in those glorious prints.
But not everyone gets the joke.
"Especially the past few years as politics have heated up and things have gotten a little more divisive, people have become more blind to the humor and the satirical side of the art, and they start treating the art more like propaganda," Heuser told Task & Purpose.
"That's been a little weird for me as an artist," he continued. "I do this stuff to be funny and the original idea with all of this is I love history, and I see a lot of people don't like history and aren't really concerned about it, so this is my way to interject humor with art to try to get people somewhat interested in these people that we know: presidents and historical figures."
George WashingDONE with your crap.Jason Heuser
Given the current political climate and the take-everything-at-face-value mentality that's so pervasive in the 24-hour news and Twitter cycle, maybe Heuser's idea for SEAL Team 1776 will one day be discussed in complete seriousness in Washington or on cable news, much like Reagan on a velociraptor.
After all, art is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe it wouldn't be so bad: A top secret special mission unit assembled from the ranks of Congress and the White House might be one way to ensure politicians have skin in the game the next time they get all hot and bothered for a new war.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.