Thursday, December 14, 2017

Q Toon: Second Best Wishes

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🎂Dec 14, 2017

I have to confess that I'm conflicted about the Supreme Court's current case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. As a legally married gay man, I'm perturbed by the claim that I might be denied service by any given business establishment on the basis of the proprietor's religious-based prejudice against me.

On the other hand, as someone who draws freelance cartoons for publication, I think I ought to be able to refuse, were someone to offer to hire me to draw a cartoon I vehemently disagree with. I also play music for weddings and funerals, although I've never had the dilemma of being  presented with musical requests that I would have refused to play.

Still, refusing to stick two plastic grooms on the top of a wedding cake seems almost dickish to me. I've been around to see all manner of wedding cakes for different-sex couples, frosted to match the color of the bridesmaids' dresses or the groom's army camouflage, festooned with homages to Star Trek, country music or Harley Davidson.

Mr. Phillips may very well be the artiste that he portrays himself to be, but if he should win the right to discriminate against same-sex couples, how far does that right extend? The so-called religious right has been agitating for decades now for their right not to participate in society's progress; it is no stretch of the imagination to suppose that they would press further for the right of plumbers or auto mechanics or firefighters or emergency medical technicians or (now that corporations are people) insurance companies to refuse service to LGBTQ persons.

Given that the same religious right feels persecuted by commercial transactions during which the employees of the business sell them whatever goods and services they want, but wish them anything other than a Merry Christmas, it's hard to be completely sympathetic with their plight.

Monday, December 11, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon won't be published until after we find out how many Alabama pedophilophiles came out to vote for Roy Moore, so my attitude for now is "Let them eat cake."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Remembering John B. Anderson

SimonSezback Saturday today pays tribute to John B. Anderson, who died this week in Washington, D.C. at the age of 95. The Republican Congressman from Illinois was the first person I voted for in a presidential election, first in the 1980 Minnesota Republican caucuses, then in his Independent candidacy for the presidency.

We college students for Anderson were a devoted bunch, and I've seen a lot of Facebook comments from people my age who are still proud to have voted for him, and have never voted for a Republican candidate since. In the small town where I went to college, we vastly outnumbered supporters of all the other candidates —put together!— at the local caucuses, held on the same day as the New Hampshire primary.
John Anderson campaigning at UW-Parkside, March 27, 1980.
But by the time of the Minnesota Republican Convention to select the state's actual delegates to the National Convention, representatives from non-college districts had the votes to send a delegation committed entirely to the presumptive nominee, Ronald Reagan.

What endeared Anderson to us brand new voters was his earnestness and his willingness to go against a politician's instinct to say exactly what the people in the room might want to hear. From his New York Times obituary:
Mr. Anderson refused to pander, telling voters in Iowa that he favored President Jimmy Carter’s embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union after it had invaded Afghanistan. He called for a gasoline tax of 50 cents per gallon — when a gallon cost $1.15 — to save energy.
Early on, when all six of his rivals for the Republican nomination assured the Gun Owners of New Hampshire that they firmly opposed gun control legislation, Mr. Anderson said, “I don’t understand why.”
“When in this country we license people to drive automobiles,” he added, “what is so wrong about proposing that we license guns to make sure that felons and mental incompetents don’t get a hold of them?”
He was roundly booed.
My cartoons of John Anderson in 1980 betray the humorless earnestness of a dewy-eyed supporter of a doomed cause (and the difficulty I've always had with drawing hands). My characters were stiff and two-dimensional in more ways than one.

Anderson's campaign left me with a lasting dislike of media coverage that focuses on the poll du jour. But for third-party candidates like Anderson, popularity polls have a real and practical effect on whether the League of Women Voters allow them to participate in televised debates, or even whether they can get on the ballot at all.

So too election rules crafted by the two major parties to safeguard their own interests. Anderson had to fight to get on the ballot in Ohio, where the deadline for an independent candidate to get on the November ballot was in March, well before either major party's nominee had been decided. In Anderson v. Celebrezze, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Anderson's favor, reasoning that
"Not only does the challenged Ohio statute totally exclude any candidate who makes the decision to run for President as an independent after the March deadline, it also burdens the signature-gathering efforts of independents who decide to run in time to meet the deadline. When the primary campaigns are far in the future and the election itself is even more remote, the obstacles facing an independent candidate's organizing efforts are compounded. Volunteers are more difficult to recruit and retain, media publicity and campaign contributions are more difficult to secure, and voters are less interested in the campaign. It is clear, then, that the March filing deadline places a particular burden on an identifiable segment of Ohio's independent-minded voters."
Mainstream cartoonists who had welcomed Anderson as a breath of fresh air in February were dismissing him as a quixotic kook in October. Still, I desperately clung to the prospect that The Issues were more important than The Polls. I even let the candidate of the Libertarian Party (which had a small but vocal presence on campus) in on the act.

President Carter in the above cartoon alludes to the brand spanking new Stealth Fighter planes (the F-117 and B-2 Spirit) announced by the Carter administration earlier that year.

This last cartoon was an extra wide oeuvre which you probably need to beclickify to embiggen to eulegibilitous size. I expect most readers to recognize the poem (itself a parody) and the song parodied by Ronald Reagan and John Anderson in this cartoon; the James Russell Lowell hymn parodied in the Jimmy Carter panel is more obscure today (my Lutheran denomination dropped it from its hymnals after 1978).

Ah, the zeal of youth! Been there. Voted that. Bought the t-shirt.
Thought I still had the bumper sticker, too.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Q Toon: Flip Service on AIDS

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Dec 7, 2017

Last week's World AIDS Day proclamation from the Corrupt Trump Administration was curiously lacking one thing.

Any mention of the LGBTQ community.

If not for his record eliminating some of the Affordable Care Act's protections of LGBT individuals against discrimination and his ban on transgender soldiers serving in the armed forces, one might cut Mr. Trump some slack here. One might suppose that perhaps Mr. Trump was trying to decouple the concept of being LGBTQ from the concept of having AIDS.

But the fact remains that here in the West, HIV/AIDS still disproportionately impacts LGBTQ persons, persons of color, the poor, and intravenous drug users.

The influence of Republican Party Theocrats upon the Corrupt Trump Administration reveals itself in petty slights such as this (which continued this week as LGBTQ and Black White House reporters were not invited to this year's White House Christmas party).

The practical effects of Corrupt Trump Administration policy on HIV/AIDS, however, are anything but petty. As former George W. Bush speech writer Michael Gerson pointed out this week,
For the first time since early in the American AIDS response, a fundamental change in approach is being debated. In its 2018 budget, the Trump administration proposes an $800 million cut in America’s bilateral HIV/AIDS programs (along with a $225 million cut for the Global Fund). Resources would be concentrated on 13 “priority” countries, while current levels of treatment would be maintained in other places. Neither South Africa nor Nigeria — which together have about a quarter of AIDS cases in the world — would be in the “priority” category.
The results? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 800,000 fewer people (compared to the current trajectory) would be placed on treatment in the first year of the new strategy, and 2.7 million fewer by 2020.
Domestically, the Corrupt Trump Administration has still not appointed anyone to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, whose web site has been a blank page all year. This year's White House budget proposal would have slashed nearly $1 billion from federal HIV-related programs, had not Congress reinstated the funds in a May omnibus bill.
However, Congress will be increasing funding for abstinence-only sexual education programs by $5 million, while also decreasing funding for the CDC’s [Sexually Transmitted Disease] division by the same amount.
"On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS," wrote whoever put together the White House proclamation last week. In the words of  Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal and one of six members who resigned in protest from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in June, "Prayers are good, but we need much more than prayers from this White House to solve the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States."

Update: The Corrupt Trump Administration's pettiness is not limited to its Christmas party. Congressional Jewish Democrats were also disinvited from the White House Hanukkah observance.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

Oh, cussedarn... I forgot to draw Trump's lawyer drafting his tweet for him.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

With a Rebel Yell She Cried

Shaltnotback Saturday takes this last opportunity before the special election in Alabama to rehash the three cartoons I've drawn about the Republican standard bearer in the race. Alabama voters will go to the polls this a week from Tuesday to elect someone to complete Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's term in the U.S. Senate. The odds-on favorite according to the latest polls? Moore, Moore, Moore.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore made himself a cause celèbre in 2001 by unilaterally installing a 5,200-lb. granite monument of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state judicial building. He sparked a reprise of the lawsuits and countersuits sparked after he had mounted a wooden version of the Decalogue in his Etowah County courtroom in 1992, but this time it ended with his fellow justices removing the monument when he refused a federal court order to do so.

A judicial panel then removed Moore himself from the Court, but Alabama's voters returned him to the seat in 2012.

I occasionally get push-back from right-wing Christian evangelicals who object when I refer to the politicians who push their agenda as "theocrats." When it comes to the theocratic agenda, Judge Roy Moore is the case in point.
Having sworn to uphold the law, he nevertheless insisted upon being a law unto himself after the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges established marriage equality as the law of the land. He instructed Alabama officials to openly defy the Supreme Court decision and to deny equal rights to Alabama's LGBTQ citizens. The U.S. Constitution be damned, he declared; it's the Book of Leviticus that is the supreme law of the land.

And for the second time, the judicial panel removed him from the State Supreme Court.

For all his posturing as a paragon of Biblical morality, accounts of Judge Moore having been a creepy guy hanging around the mall angling to pick up teenage girls began to came to light last month:

His hardened core of supporters includes a number of prominent "Evangelical Christians" and their fiercely loyal flock; given their support of the Pussy-Grabber in Chief, why wouldn't they be equally eager to overlook Moore's prurient interest in pubescent girls? When you're a Republican, they let you do anything.

The other day, I read a comment on GoComics trying to cast this as a Democratic scandal, because Moore "was a DEMOCRAT when all the incidents are supposed to have happened" — a variation on the drivel blaming Democrats for racism because way back in great-great-grandpappy's day, all the racists were Democrats. (Left unsaid is that the racists have since found the Republican party more hospitable to them. If the Democrats drive Al Franken and John Conyers out, perhaps sex offenders will follow the racists to the party of Trump and Moore.)

Meanwhile, Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, prosecuted the men who bombed the two surviving perpetrators of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which you might think would give him some credibility as a defender of Christianity. But no.

I guess they can't forgive Jones for also coordinating the state and federal task force tracking down and prosecuting Eric Rudolph for a string of bombings 20 years ago, including the 1998 attack on Birmingham's New Woman All Women Health Care Center, killing a police officer and critically injuring a nurse.

It was an abortion clinic, after all.
Perhaps you remember Mr. Rudolph, a radical Christian terrorist whose other targets included LGBTQ bars and the 1996 Olympics.

With December 7 coming up this week, I would be remiss if I failed to take note of this Day That Will Live In Infamy:
100 years ago this Thursday, the United States, citing "repeated acts of war against the government and the people of the United States," declared war on Austria-Hungary. Unlike the European powers, whose treaties bound them to declare war on each other like a room full of tripping mousetraps, the U.S. had up to this point been at war only with Germany.

The House passed President Wilson's declaration of war against the Hapsburg Empire by a vote of 365 to 1, the lone dissenting vote being cast by Rep. Meyer London (Socialist-NY). The Senate approved the measure unanimously (Sen. Robert LaFollette, Progressive-WI, being intentionally absent).

The declaration enabled American soldiers to come to the aid of Italy in its fight against the Central Powers. 5,000 members of the 332nd Infantry would fight alongside Italian troops in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in the fall of 1918.