Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This Week's Q Syndicate Cartoon

My apologies if this is too much of an inside joke only Lutherans can understand...


Paul Berge
Racine Post
Aug 25, 2009


...There is a Lutheran saying that wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, coffee will be among them.

The 2009 Churchwide Assembly (CWA) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MPLSMN) in August. Pursuant to a directive from previous CWAs, voters approved a social statement on human sexuality that expressly refuses to condemn monogamy for gays and lesbians. The 676 to 338 vote was exactly the two-thirds margin required for the adoption of the social statement. There is a great deal in the lengthy statement that deals with heterosexuals, but the portions on homosexuality got all the attention.

The CWA also approved, in a simple majority vote (by nevertheless a commanding majority) a change in church policy that would allow gay and lesbian pastors in committed same-sex relationships to remain in their jobs. The church cannot require a congregation either to call or to continue the call of a gay or lesbian pastor, but congregations are now free to issue a call to an openly gay or lesbian ordained pastor. (Infidelity and bigamy are still big no-nos.)

Some congregations have threatened to leave the ELCA over the adoption of these resolutions. The ELCA is the largest of the Lutheran denominations in the United States, the other major ones being the more conservative Missouri Synod and the ultra-conservative Wisconsin Synod. (It can be confusing to outsiders and insiders alike that the regional districts of the ELCA are also called Synods; the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods are national denominations named for the state where they are headquartered. The Missouri and Wisconsin Synods don't even allow women to be pastors, so don't expect them to have anything nice to say about gays any time before the rapture.)

We'll see how this shakes down among the rank and file. I work as a secretary at one ELCA church and as organist for another, and know people on both sides of the issue at both congregations. When the church where I grew up called its first female pastor in 1977, there was an awful lot of rancor; but of the 15 ELCA churches in town, only one has never issued a pastoral call to a woman.

On the other hand, most of the 15 ELCA congregations in town still use the version of the Lord's Prayer and 23rd Psalm with all the thees and thys and thous.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Week's Totally Gay Cartoon

In Maine, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, a marriage equality bill. Christian Civic League Maine Family Council leader Michael S. Heath wrote an op-ed piece offering the observation that a spell of cold, damp weather and a potato blight just might be a sign of God being peeved with the state legislature and Governor Baldacci.



Paul Berge
Racine Post
Aug 20, 2009


I just thought it curious that the right wing of this country firmly doubts that a century of CO2 and methane emissions by billions of people couldn't possibly affect global climate, but same-sex marriage can.

Incidentally, the cold snap in Maine has since broken.

But a tornado hit Minneapolis just as the ELCA Churchwide Assembly there was about to vote to adopt (by the exact 2/3 margin required!) a statement on human sexuality that pointedly refuses to condemn homosexuals. Hmmm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This Week's Racine Post Cartoon



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 18, 2009


Governor Jim Doyle announces he will not run for a third term in 2010, setting up the first gubernatorial election without an incumbent since the Earl-Kohler race of 1982.

In his announcement, he makes subtle jabs at 3.5-term governor Tommy Thompson --
"This is the norm in this country. The President and most governors are limited to two terms by law. Most others have followed tradition. It has largely been Wisconsin’s practice over its history. I am already the longest serving Democratic governor and by the end of my term will be the second-longest serving governor in Wisconsin history. And I think this national norm serves good purpose. It keeps the political world from becoming stagnant. It allows new leaders to develop. It gives the voters more choices. It allows us to draw new insights and inspiration from the wellsprings of renewal in each generation."

...and at a certain quarterback...
"I personally would like to have put this decision off for another three or four months to see if I feel differently then. I know I will regret the decision many times over the coming year. But I am not going to go Brett Favre on you. I am announcing my decision now to allow other candidates to step forward and get going."


Doyle's successor will have to deal with the loss during the current recession of several of the state's major employers and the resulting hole in the state budget.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Promises, Promises

From the August 16 Christian Science Monitor: "When Should Presidents Break Their Promises?" by Egil "Bud" Krogh (yes, the Nixon lackey) and Melanie d'Evelyn:

In his remarks to gay activists at the White House earlier this summer, President Obama said: "I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps."

He may have meant to emphasize that results matter. Fair enough. But at face value, it sounds like we should disregard his "words" and "promises" he can't or won't keep and only look at the results of those promises he decides are important. That's disconcerting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This Week's Racine Post cartoon



To understand this story, you may need to know that the two principal commercial streets in downtown Racine, Wisconsin, are Main Street (north-south) and 6th Street (east-west). The 1970s and 1980s saw a collapse of the downtown area as commercial businesses fled to the fringes of town. A concerted effort to revitalize Main Street has been underway for the past decade, while the effort to revitalize 6th Street is only a couple years old.

From the original story in Racine Post:

A proposed convenience store on Sixth Street can't get any traction with city officials because the owners want to sell packages of wine and beer.

The Public Safety and Licensing Committee voted 3-0 Monday night to deny a license for a proposed store at 420 Sixth St. The vote practically dooms the store, which was opposed by several Sixth Street business owners.

James and Caroline Chun had proposed opening a convenience store that would sell basic groceries and household items along with prepackaged beer and wine. ...

Fritz Cape, the owner of 302 and 304 Sixth St., said there was already a large concentration of liquor licenses on the street.

"It's not in keeping with the vision of a revitalized Sixth Street," said Cape, whose wife, former Alderwoman Cherri Cape, also spoke against the proposal. Cherri is also the owner of Moxie Child at 304 Sixth St. ...

Blogger and Downtown business owner Dennis Navratil argued the city doesn't have problems with businesses that sell packaged alcohol, and pointed out businesses like Uncorkt and the former Braun's and Historic Century Market never have had a problem.

Navratil also pointed out Downtown has at least 20 vacant buildings, which would seem the indicate the need to attract new businesses. If Downtown bars are creating problems, he said, take away their licenses, don't punish a convenience store that's never opened.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Week's Q Cartoon

No PDAs, please, we're skittish:


Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 12, 2009


There have been a number of reports this summer of gay couples getting harassed for kissing in public. The couples have been evicted from fast food restaurants and bars, and have even been threatened with arrest. (One police officer told a couple that there was a law against same-sex kissing. We may need to coin the term "frivolous prosecution.")

Friday, August 7, 2009

Da Do Ron Ron

One of the most difficult questions I ever have to answer is "How long does it take you to do a cartoon?"

A cartoon such as last week's syndicated one, showing from a fair height two buses and an ambulance stranded in a vast wilderness alongside a lonely road, took fairly little time to draw. It was just a matter of getting the vehicles drawn in the same perspective as each other and adding a few faces that were too small to allow for any actual detail. I probably spent more time on the lettering of the balloon than on the rest of the drawing. Maybe an hour for the whole thing.

But that doesn't count the hard part of the cartoon: coming up with the idea in the first place.

I had decided early on that I wanted to do a cartoon about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's line item budget veto slashing the state Office of AIDS budget. The obvious idea for the topic would have been to depict him as the Terminator. That idea has been done before -- hundreds of times in one fashion or another since he first declared his candidacy for the office -- so I quickly rejected it. But what else to do?

I thought long and hard about it. During some of that time, any bystander might have mistakenly concluded that I wasn't doing anything. Or that I was mindlessly surfing the internet. Or napping.

Sitting around appearing to do nothing, surfing the internet, or napping for hours on end does not do much toward maintaining domestic tranquility at home, so I tried thinking up the cartoon idea while doing other things that needed to get done, such as housecleaning and mowing the lawn. Somehow, actually accomplishing something seems always to be thoroughly detrimental to germinating a cartoon idea.

I noticed about halfway through mowing the lawn that I had spent 20 minutes or so thinking of nothing but the lyrics to a nonsense song from the musical Hair. It's a pleasant enough tune, but there was no way it was going to be helpful in coming up with a cartoon about slashing funds to budget California's Office of AIDS.

That's when it hit me how much easier song writing must be than political cartooning.

A song writer can get away with writing "Glippety glub gloopy nibby nabby noopy La la la lo lo Sabba sibby sabba nooby abba nabba le le lo lo tooby ooby walla nooby abba naba" and still have a hit on his hands forty years later. "Oh wah diddy, diddy dum diddy doo" remains in the top 100 hits of all time. All the Police wanted to say to you was "De do do do, de da da da," and fans ate it up.

If I tried to get away with that sort of thing, 90% of my readers would respond, "I don't get it." (The other 10% would assume I was ripping off Zippy the Pinhead.) Editors would drop my feature faster than a flaming porcupine.

Considering how the job prospects for editorial cartooning get worse and worse with every passing day, how much harder do you suppose it really is to be a song writer? How much time does it take to write one stupid song, anyway?

All the doo dah day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Paul Ryan's Health Care Plan

Peter Selkowe at The Racine Post recently asked if I'd be interested in submitting cartoons about local politics on occasion. This first cartoon spins a local angle on a national topic: Health Care Reform.



Our congressman, Republican Paul Ryan, has actually gained some national stature by being the lone Republican to do more than bark "No!" on the issue. He actually put forth a health care reform proposal, although it failed to garner the support even of his own party.

One component of his proposal is a health insurance tax credit -- $2,300 for a single filer, $5,700 for a family. As anyone who pays for their own health insurance knows, that tax credit falls far short of what a decent health insurance policy costs these days.

Far short.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This Week's Cartoon

I really, really, really did NOT want to draw a cartoon depicting California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator for slashing the budget of the state Office of AIDS this week. It was mighty difficult to get that cliche out of my head, though. Here's what I eventually came up with instead...





Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 5, 2009

Psst.... there will be a second cartoon this week.