Saturday, March 18, 2017

Calumnated Ruins Domino

I started this week with a caricature of Donald Joffrey Trump's head of the Environmental Plunder Administration. Now that the administration has released its budget proposal cutting EPA funding by nearly a third, let's end the week with a Sierraback Saturday retrospective of the Trump gang's model for environmental policy. My cartoons below date from December, 1981 to July, 1984.
"I know Teddy Kennedy had fun at the Democratic convention when he said that I said that trees and vegetation caused 80% of the air pollution in this country. ... Well now, he was a little wrong about what I said. I didn't say 80%. I said 92%—93%, pardon me. And I didn’t say air pollution, I said oxides of nitrogen. Growing and decaying vegetation in this land are responsible for 93% of the oxides of nitrogen. ... If we are totally successful and can eliminate all the manmade oxides of nitrogen, we’ll still have 93% as much as we have in the air today." —Ronald Reagan, Oct. 9, 1980. (The 1979 quotation Kennedy was referring to: "The American Petroleum Institute filed suit against the EPA [and] charged that the agency was suppressing a scientific study for fear it might be misinterpreted... The suppressed study reveals that 80 percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees." —RR)

Republicans have long had a receptive ear for industrialist complaints that any attempt to protect the nation's air, water, forests, and purple mountain majesties are a job-killing, profit-choking nuisance. While Ronald Reagan's first budget cut funding for the EPA by 25%, it is useful to remember that the agency was established by a Republican president.

My cartoon above imagines that president phoning from his beachfront San Clemente estate to complain about Interior Secretary James Watt's plan to to lease a billion acres of offshore oil fields to petroleum interests.

Watt's fire sale of federal lands and waters also benefited the coal industry and suburban sprawl. Meanwhile, Anne Gorsuch, later Burford, his first head of the EPA (as discussed here a few weeks ago, now that her son is poised to claim Merrick Garland's seat on the Supreme Court), was happy to ignore pollution of the nation's air and water in the interest of protecting commercial profit margins. When scandal forced her resignation, the Reagan administration tapped the first administrator of the EPA, William Ruckelshaus, to return to the agency's helm.

Contrary to my cartoon, Ruckelshaus is generally credited with restoring public confidence the EPA, staffing the agency with competent personnel committed to its original mission. In a later interview since removed from the EPA's web page, Ruckelshaus said, "At EPA, you work for a cause that is beyond self-interest and larger than the goals people normally pursue. You're not there for the money, you're there for something beyond yourself."

James Watt's mission to make sure there was no speck of nature left unspoiled when the Lord returned was foiled by his uncanny knack for making inappropriate statements in public. He snarked that there are two kinds of people in this country, "liberals and Americans"; described Native American tribal rights as "socialism"; and banned the Beach Boys from the Washington D.C. Fourth of July celebration because they would "attract the wrong element."

He might have had a point if the Beach Boys had continued making hallucinogenic music in the mold of Smile. As it was, Watt was forced to back down and apologize. Turns out, Reagan liked the Beach Boys.

The last straw was his claim that his sale of more than a billion tons of coal from federal lands in Wyoming was above criticism because on his federal coal commission "I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent."
A friend and colleague of mine at the UW-Parkside Ranger, Rick Luehr, satirized Watt's remark with his Hallowe'en costume that year, donning a wig, blackface, and fake breasts covered by a pair of mogen Davids. The wheelchair was already a part of his daily life.

Aside from providing the template for Donald Trump's Twitter habit, Watt pushed genuinely destructive policies that now find favor in the Very Famous Trump White House. Unlike today, however, Watt faced a Congress willing to push back:
Watt's earlier forays included a declaration that he would open wilderness areas in the West to drillers and miners. Congress put a stop to it: the House voted 350 to 58 to withdraw wilderness lands from mineral development. Fifty-two senators cosponsored similar legislation. Watt also proposed a major dilution of the Endangered Species Act and asked Congress to hold off its review of the law. Congress ignored him and renewed the law without significant weakening amendments.
He was replaced by a long-time friend of the President, jack-of-all-trades William Clark.

Clark's crowning achievement in his two years at Interior was keeping himself out of the headlines. The policies instituted under Watt continued, but without the media-eye-catching bluster and bombast.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Q Toon: Corps Values

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🇫🇮 Mar.16, 2017

For once, a cartoon I drew on Sunday night wasn't old news by Wednesday. Although it aged tremendously by Thursday, thanks to John Miller's leak to Rachel Maddow of Donald Joffrey Trump's 1040 the one year out of the past twenty when he actually paid taxes—a leak intended to distract the media from the attacks from all sides of Paul Ryan's sorry excuse for a health care plan and the cluster fork of the White House defense of Trump's lies about President Obama ordering "wire tapping" of Trump Tower.
Anyway, if you can remember all the way back to Tuesday, the Senate held hearings on the revelation that U.S. Marines were sharing nude photos of female soldiers on line in a private Facebook group, Marines United. Facebook shut the page down after the scandal broke, but as is the way of the internet, several secret pages sprang up to take its place.

The Marine Corps had known about the Facebook page for years (it had some 30,000 or so followers), but had done nothing about it. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) scolded Marine Gen. Commandant Robert Neller, recounting stories of some of the marines victimized by their peers:
“We have countless victims who have come forward — and they’re not just being harassed online,” Gillibrand said. “Once their name, face, where they are stationed is posted, do you think the harassment ends online? It doesn’t. I spoke to a civilian yesterday who has continued to be harassed in her community because her ex-boyfriend exploited her online. ...
“Who has been held accountable? If we can’t crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian aggression and cyber hacking throughout our military?”
Neller replied calmly that he agreed the Marine Corps has a cultural problem and then added: “I’m responsible. I’m the commandant. I own this. You’ve heard it before, but we are going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that’s the best I can tell you right now. We’ve got to change. And that’s on me.”
The "cultural problem" is something everyone was warned about when the decision was made to integrate men and women in the military. "Pin-up girls" were a staple of military life long before Al Gore invented the internet; they were an accepted fact even in a more sexually repressed era not just because "boys will be boys," but because a greater number of those boys than their counterparts today would not be coming home.

But those "pin-up girls" posed willingly (well, more or less) with the full knowledge that they would be ogled by strangers. The girls could consider it their contribution to the War Effort.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film MASH, carried over into the TV series, was Major Margaret "Hotlips" Houlihan's shower scene: engineered by Hawkeye Pierce and his buddies, the walls of Army careerist Houlihan's shower tent fall away to expose her to every man in the camp. The sexual harassment is played for laughs, and you are not intended to have any sympathy for her as she tearfully threatens to quit the Army, to a commanding officer who peevishly dismisses her with "Goddamit, Hot Lips, resign your goddamn commission!"

If the men of the 4077th matured greatly over the 11-year course of the TV series, it was because attitudes of society in general were progressing ahead of them. But the boys' club of the military services has lagged behind even as all but a handful of U.S. military occupations are open to women.

For the sake of unit cohesion, leadership has to come from the top and be reflected in every level of command down to the sergeant and corporal. Fortunately, the military is excellently structured to make that possible.

Monday, March 13, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

That "Gays in the Military" stuff was all fixed, wasn't it? So what am I going on about now?

All will be revealed sometime around St. Urho's Day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Scott Pruittpen

Today's cabinet portrait: Scott Pruitt, Donald Joffrey Trump's head of the Environmental Protection Administration Pre-Apocalypse.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The February Revolution

"Sic Transit Gloria" in Novy Satirikon, Petrograd (St. Petersburg, Russia), March, 1917
This March marks the 100th anniversary of the February Revolution in Russia. (Czarist Russia still adhered to the Julian calendar, which by 1917 had fallen 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar in use in much of Europe, European colonies, and the Americas. Ponder that while you're springing ahead one measly hour tonight.)

A series of workers' strikes and protests against food shortages beginning in early February grew in size, bringing industrial and commercial activity in the capital to a near complete standstill by March 10 (a.k.a. February 25). With much of his army tied up with the war in Europe, Tsar Nicholas II had only a residual force of green or injured soldiers available to quell the demonstrations, and many troops proved unable or unwilling to do so. Troops began to mutiny, and demonstrations grew into riots.
"The Sceptre" by Oscar Cesare in New York Evening Post, March 16, 1917
Attempting to return to Petrograd, Nicholas was arrested by revolutionaries on March 14 (March 1) and abdicated the throne on behalf of himself and his son Alexei the next day. Nicholas nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, as his successor; but Michael saw that the situation was hopeless and declined the crown.
"By Divine Right of the People" by Jones in Boston Journal, March 14, 1917
The center-left provisional government of the Russian Duma and the more radical Petrograd Soviet would spend the next eight months wrestling for power; but for now, it appeared to be a victory for democracy. Among American editorial cartoonists, there was near unanimous approval of the overthrow of the tsar.
"The New Boss of the House" by Wm. Hanny in St. Joseph (Mo,) News Press, March 15, 1917
If it could happen in Russia, C.F. Naughton wondered, where else could popular revolt throw off the shackles of their imperialist overlords?
"Even Russia Wins Liberty" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, March 17, 1917
John "Ding" Darling imagines that the Russian revolution might even inspire the German people to shake off their own monarchy. After all, "Czar/Tsar" and "Kaiser" derive from the same Latin root!
"Come Off That Fence" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 16, 1917
Judging from the cartoons allowed by the German censors, the German government wasn't terribly worried.
"The Czar's Plaything" in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, March 26, 1917
On the cover of Lustige Blätter a month later, the Russian revolutionaries look positively heroic:
"Die Hungerrevolution" (The Hunger Revolution) by Ernst Heilemann in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, April 23, 1917