Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Week's Toon: Joe Biden



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Dec 29, 2010

I spent a long time alternately scouring the internet for news and staring at a blank sheet of bristol board this weekend before coming up with this cartoon.

Christmas is usually a bad time to come up with cartoon ideas: governmental newsmakers have gone on vacation, and it's too late to draw any more cartoons about the holidays. Unless some terrorist tries to smuggle explosives in his underpants, we cartoonists are usually left with no other topic than the weather (wherefore all the cartoons remarking that the arrival of winter must ipso facto disprove global warming).

But at long last I found the story that Vice President Joe Biden had said in an interview on "Good Morning America,"
"I think the country's evolving, and I think there's an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. That is my view. But this is the president's policy, but it is evolving. I think the country's evolving."

If there's anything we cartoonists love, it's politicians like Joe Biden, Ed Rendell, and, yes, Sarah Palin, who delight in saying out loud exactly what they think. Especially at Christmas.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Before the DOD Had DADT

This is, I believe, the first cartoon I drew about the topic of opening the military to service by gays and lesbians. It was one of the first agenda items announced by President-elect Bill Clinton, and was met with swift resistance (in spite of the fact that we were not fighting two wars at the time. Not even one).

This cartoon dates from late November, 1992.

Don't Ask Don't Tell, 1993-2010



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Dec 22, 2010

And shut the door! You're letting in all the nasty weather!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gays in the Military: 1993

Now that the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is finally in sight, a look back at one of the earliest cartoons I drew on the topic of gays in the military:



(I think I might have drawn an earlier one between Bill Clinton's election and his inauguration, but I'm almost certain I had never addressed the topic before that.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

Since my syndicated cartoons appear mostly in weekly, biweekly and monthly publications, I have to try to draw a little bit into the future. I can't predict the news, of course, but it does mean that Christmas is over and it's on to the new year.

2010 was a cantankerous year from start to finish, which will be duly reflected in this week's Q Syndicate cartoon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Very Hate Group Christmas



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Dec 16, 2010

This week's Q Syndicate cartoon features several of the antigay organizations recently named as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): the American Family Association, National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, the Liberty Council, and others.

The Family Research Council has responded by calling the SPLC, founded in 1971, "marginal," and took out an advertisement in Politico and the Washington Examiner headlined "Stop Hating/Start Debating" -- in essence, calling their designation as a hate group itself hateful. The tear-stained letter was co-signed by House Speaker-designate John Boehner and 21 other Republicans.

Crooks and Liars has a rundown of the debate here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Week's Patch.com Cartoon


I had to draw a number of cartoons about Tax Incremental Financing districts when I drew for The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, and now I have been called on to revisit the subject for the Greendale, Wisconsin edition of Patch.com. Patch.com is an AOL venture into local news; the first of its Wisconsin editions went live this week.

Here's the link to Viviana Buzo's story. For further background, Southridge dates back to the 1970's, and was a big deal for Milwaukee, suburbs and exurbs at the time. But that was before every Tomville, Dicktown and Harrisburg got its very own megamall. Then, Boston Store parent company Bon-Ton bought out Younkers and closed Southridge's thus redundant anchor, and Southridge has not been able to attract a new anchor store to replace it.

And now I see that Viviana has tweeted that M&I (formerly Marshall & Isley) Bank will close its Southridge Mall location, creating yet another empty space.

Still, it's in better shape than the second kid in line, the 1980's vintage Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

R.C. Bowman's 1900 Cartoons: Minnesota Governors

In continuing celebration of Minnesota's certification at long last of the election of Mark Dayton as governor, here are a couple cartoons from The Minneapolis Tribune Cartoon Book for 1901: Being a Collection of Over One Hundred Cartoons by R.C. Bowman about the 1900 gubernatorial election.


Minnesota G.O.P.: "You want to watch out, now. I got lost in this pass two years ago."
Cap. Van Sant (the new guide): "Well, you know I wasn't on the job then."


Republican Samuel R. Van Sant narrowly won the 1900 gubernatorial election after being denied his party's nomination in two previous elections. He beat out the incumbent governor, John Lind (the mountain in the above cartoon).

Swedish-born Lind started out his political career as a Republican, appointed by President James Garfield to a position in the U.S. Land Office and then being elected to Congress from Minnesota. Due to differences with conservative Republicans, he switched to the Democratic party, losing the 1896 gubernatorial election but winning the 1898 race -- the first Democrat elected governor of Minnesota in 50 years.


Minnesota G.O.P.: "Thunder, man! That transfer's no good; it's two years old."

I can't say whether this is just the way cartoonist R.C. Bowman saw Lind, or whether this is an example of why you can't cite Wikipedia as a primary reference, but Bowman's 1900 cartoons of John Lind sure look a lot older than what Wikipedia says is a 1899 photo of Lind.

Lind would have been 56 years old in 1900, while Bowman was 30. Perhaps Bowman thought 56 was ancient; but Lind would outlive Bowman by 27 years.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

John Corley McCain, Jr.



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Dec 9, 2010

Arizona Senator John McCain makes another appearance in this week's cartoon for his dogged insistence that gay and lesbian servicemembers lie about their lives and loved ones if they have the temerity to wish to defend their country.

The reference in this cartoon, for those too young to remember it (or in those Southern school districts where the Texas School Board version of U.S. history holds sway) compares McCain to Alabama Governor George Wallace blocking the University of Alabama door in 1963.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

R.C. Bowman on Minnesota Politics

To celebrate Mark Dayton's election as Governor of Minnesota, I present this week some of the cartoons of R.C. Bowman (b. in Michigan in 1870; d. in Minneapolis, May 30, 1903) about Minnesota politics in 1900.


Some Minneapolis boys who will work their way into the big show."

I wish I could fill in the background about these cartoons better. Beyond the obvious fact that Tom Shevlin and S.E. Olson were active in Republican politics, I have only been able to find that Devlin was in the lumber business and had a son who made a name for himself in college football (Yale, College Football Hall of Fame), and that Olson started a chain of dry goods stores in 1881 which has been bought out and renamed many times over the last 139 years. (Some Twin City residents may remember it as Powers/Donaldsons.)


Whoa, boy!

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, I have absolutely no knowledge of P.B. Winston, Rosing, C.D. Baldwin, or T.D. O'Brien. Kansas City was the site of the 1900 Democratic National Convention, at appropriately named Convention Hall.

Bowman wrote no text for his books beyond that which was originally included in the cartoon -- there is no foreword or postscript -- so the topics of the cartoons were presumably common knowledge to anyone at the time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

Judging from Admiral Mullen's sullen scowl, I'm not in the festive holiday mood just yet.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another 1900 cartoon by R.C. Bowman


Indiana: "This is what a lady gets for being the bone of contention."

I haven't posted any cartoons from R.C. Bowman's The Minneapolis Tribune Cartoon Book for 1901: Being a Collection of Over One Hundred Cartoons by R.C. Bowman in a couple months. After the last post, which featured Bowman's cartoons about Montana Senator William A. Clark, I had a brief and pleasant exchange with a reporter working on a story about Clark's daughter Huguette (who may or may not be alive somewhere at age 104).

I've also been asked whether I knew when Bowman died. That information was not in the 1901 book, and Google only turned up that the Minneapolis Tribune published another book of his cartoons in 1903 (Bowman "doubtless exerts much influence In the Northwest," said a one-paragraph article in the New York Times reporting the book's publication), so I turned to the listserve of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. J.P. Trostle referred me to the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

There I discovered that Bowman's full name was Rowland Claude Bowman, and that he lived from 1870 to 1903. It also appears that the OSU BICL&M might have a copy of the 1903 book, and I hope it's in better condition than my copy of the 1901 edition.

Now you know as much as I do.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Umpty-umpth Cartoon on DADT



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Dec 1, 2010

I had to draw this cartoon before the Pentagon study was in fact released, so I'm quite happy that it did indeed include the finding that the Marine Corps harbors the greatest resistance to gays and lesbians being allowed to serve in the military without lying about themselves.

I'm also pleased that I was able to draw this marine so that he didn't look like a second consecutive attempt to mimic Tom of Finland. No, this fellow looks more like a character in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Now, one additional note about the topic of this week's sneak peek blog entry, the current cover of Time magazine: If you see fit to include "Ilovely computer virus," "Chandra Levy disappears," and "The Dark Knight released," does it really make sense that the first legal same-sex marriages in this country didn't rate any mention at all?

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

Okay. Now you know what the cartoon is about.

I was looking over the headlines cluttering up Time magazine's "What Really Happened" cover story last night and noticed that not one of them was an LGBT news event.

I suppose there could be some LGBT news item hidden behind the area left blank for the mailing label (the death of Michael Jackson and the shootings at Fort Hood are partly hidden there), or behind the cover title or the flag. But I'm not sure what story they could choose. The two major LGBT stories between 2000 and 2010, marriage equality and gays in the military, arrived at the forefront in the 1990's, and have yet to develop in a decisive direction.

A report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is scheduled to be released tomorrow, after nearly a decade of discharges of openly or outed lesbian and gay service members during wartime. A few state supreme courts ruled that denying marital rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, but many states passed restriction of marriage amendments to their constitutions. Meanwhile, George W. Bush pushed a Different-Sex Marriage Only amendment to the U.S. Constitution during his reelection campaign in 2004, never to take the issue up again once the election was over.

If tomorrow's Pentagon study paves the way to allowing lesbian and gay service members to serve their country openly and honestly, the federal government will have to address the issue of same-sex couples again. Spouses of service members are entitled to certain benefits; will those benefits be extended also to legally wedded spouses of gay and lesbian service personnel? What of service members in the "domestic partnerships" and "civil unions" available in states which do not recognize "marriages" between same-sex couples?

I hope our LGBT community leaders are ready for that battle when it comes. Their track record to date is not impressive.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bon Voyage, with Benefits



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Nov 24, 2010

This week's cartoon imagines how Tom of Finland's Kake would cope with U.S. airport security this Thanksgiving weekend.

I had considered casting in this cartoon the unnamed character who has appeared in two previous cartoons I drew for Q Syndicate on airport security -- last January and originally back in 2002. I had also thought about putting disgraced former New York Congressman Eric Massa in this cartoon, except that a.) it would be funnier to have him working as the TSA screener, if not for b.) hardly anybody remembers him any more.

Surely among those people who pick up the LGBT newspapers which carry my cartoons there will be some readers who recognize this Tom of Finland character and can imagine how the rest of this episode plays out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

Here's your sneak peek at this week's cartoon. It's looks like a tribute either to Tom of Finland, or 1970's Dick Tracy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cindy McCain Reconsiders



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Nov 18, 2010

One of the main challenges in caricaturing women is their hair.

Men tend to keep the same hairstyle as long as they can. A hairstyle change may be forced upon them by genetics (e.g. Jerry Brown), or it may simply go gray (Russ Feingold), but that change tends to be gradual. Sudden changes, such as when Jimmy Carter started parting his hair on the opposite side of his head, or when Al Gore tested out a beard, tend to be rare.

But some women change hairstyles relatively often.

In her appearance in the NOH8 campaign video, Cindy McCain does not wear the hairstyle I drew on her head in this cartoon. This hairdo comes from an appearance on the campaign trail in 2008, whereas her hairdo in the video is a sort of short, free and breezy cut. Unfortunately for the purposes of the cartoon, that haircut wouldn't be distinctive enough for people to recognize it again in the last panel.

Some cartoonists still draw Sarah Palin with her hair piled up in the 'do she wore when most of America first met her, even though she hasn't been favoring that style in over a year. There aren't a lot of cartoons of Hilary Clinton these days, but the few that you see tend to show her wearing her hair as she wore it in the '08 campaign, or even when she was First Lady.

Look for considerable consternation among cartoonists if Nancy Pelosi ever restyles her hairdo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Racine Post Farewell Cartoon



Pete Selkowe asked me to draw a cartoon for the announcement that the Racine Post would be closing up shop, and sent me a link to an interview on YouTube of himself and Post founder Dustin Block in what I have taken as a mild suggestion that the two of them appear in the cartoon.

I took a very cartoony approach to these caricatures, and, having met both men in person, I'm quite confident that either Pete or Dustin would be able to strike up a conversation with anyone reading this cartoon and never be recognized.

The Post has been an exclusively on-line reporting and opinion site; Pete and Dustin used to work for the paper-and-ink Journal Times (for which I once drew, for that matter). In its brief existence, the Post actually broke a few important local news stories, and provided a needed counterpoint to the JT. (I mean nothing pejorative against the JT by that; I believe, however, that journalism without competition is unhealthy in the long run.)

But Dustin got a job with AOL's "Patch" (about which I know absolutely nothing save that it has something to do with local news), and Pete isn't so infatuated with his own writing that he wants to run the site solo. (Read their own explanation in the link above, while it lasts.)

So, fare thee well, Racine Post. It's been good to know you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Weeq's Sneaq Peeq

I'm planning to draw another cartoon for
the Racine Post this week also, although its publication could possibly be delayed. At any rate, this is a sneak peek at the Q Syndicate cartoon, and that's the reason for the misspelled blog entry title.

Speaqing of spelling, I discovered a peculiarity of English when sending this cartoon off to the syndicate. Did you know that retract takes "able" to become "retractable," but extract, detract, and distract all take "ible" ("extractible," "detractible," "distractible")? I may have to go back into my files to find out if I misspelled the word in my Greater Milwaukee Business Journal cartoons about Miller Park's retractable roof.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will Talgo Make Tracks Outa Here?


Spanish train maker Talgo opened a factory at the former Tower Automotive plant in Milwaukee only months ago because Wisconsin was committed to building a high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison.

Then voters elected Scott Walker, who had campaigned on stopping high speed rail in Wisconsin, governor. Walker had also promised to bring 250,000 jobs to the state, but, like cutting taxes and balancing budgets, Republicans are used to making totally contradictory promises.

Not surprisingly, Talgo is publicly considering moving elsewhere -- say, somewhere interested in its high-speed trains -- in spite of those tax cuts that are supposed to bring all the new jobs!

Walker is urging Talgo to stay, but is committed to stopping high speed rail; for, as his running mate, Rebecca Kleefisch so ably explained, suburban Republicans have minivans. Anybody who doesn't have a minivan has no business trying to get out of town.

Thanks to Walker, Kleefisch, and our Republican legislature, there will soon be 150 or so Milwaukee workers joining the long line of people waiting for those 250,000 jobs.

Perhaps someone will open up 62,500 gas stations at the Tower/Talgo plant.

This Week's Q Cartoon



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Nov 11, 2010


Last year, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that there was no basis in the state constitution for Iowa to discriminate against same-sex couples by forbidding them to marry (Varnum v. Brien). This November, the three members of the court who were up for voter approval were all rejected by the voters, prompted by an intensive campaign by NOM -- No On Marriage, or the National Organization vs. Marriage, or Nullify 'Omos' Marriages.

In Iowa, Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor from a list submitted to him by a 15-member Judicial Nominating Commission. Each judge has to run in a "retention election" every eight years, getting an up or down vote; if a justice loses a vote, their term ends that December 31; I presume that the state Judicial Nominating Commission presents the governor a list of new nominees -- probably after the new term begins, considering that the current governor is also a lame duck. From what I read, this is the first time since this system was begun in 1962 that any justice was not retained.

This system was enacted because of concerns that judicial elections were becoming overly politicized -- something voters in my state of Wisconsin have certainly seen in the last several election cycles, in which ethically challenged and poorly qualified candidates (yes, I mean Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman) have won election thanks to incessant, half-true or completely false attack ads funded by shadowy business interests and right-wing activist groups.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor spoke out in September in favor of Iowa's system for selecting judges:
"The health of the nation is affected by the system we use to pick judges. As Iowa goes, so goes the nation. I wish the nation would hurry up and go your direction."


Clearly, Iowa's system is just as susceptible to a concerted attack on judicial independence as other states' are. The opposition to a judge doesn't even have to put up a Ziegler or a Gableman in Iowa (although at least it is less likely that a Ziegler or a Gableman would end up on the court as a result).

As undemocratic as this may sound, judges do not represent The People, they represent The Law. That's why our founding fathers did not provide for any election of federal judges. There is an impeachment process in the event of actual malfeasance; but if voters don't like the law, their remedy is to have their representatives change the law, not to change the umpires.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post-Election Blues



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Nov 3, 2010

It turns out that I didn't have to redraw a thing for this week's cartoon. This year's elections held absolutely no surprises, coming out pretty much exactly as those omnipresent polls told us they would -- polls being those ever so newsworthy measurements of the truthiness of political campaigns, shadowy attack ads, and two years of unrelenting, well-coordinated attacks from conservative power brokers and conservative media.

Here in my home state, Senator Russ Feingold cast votes that Tea Partisans should have approved of -- against TARP and bank bailouts, for example -- but he's a liberal with a "D" next to his name, so the Tea Party (and, significantly, the K Street Chamber of Commerce) came down hard on him and elected a pig-in-a-poke businessman from Oshkosh. Feingold also barely squeaked by in 1998 and 2004, years when there was not a strong Republican tide, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that time caught up with him.

And Scott Walker now gets to do to Wisconsin as governor what he has done for Milwaukee County as County Executive: bring it to the brink of bankruptcy and push it over the edge on his way out. And it won't take either him or the Republican legislature long to distract their supporters from their dismal economic record by attacking gays and lesbians (not to mention immigrants, Spanish-speakers, union workers, the University system, and whatever other minority right-wing radio chooses to demonize).

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's post-election cartoon has already been drawn -- although I'm preparing any necessary fixes in case there are any unexpected developments.

Ten years ago, Chris and I were planning a vacation abroad that would coincide with the November election, so I proposed to my editor two alternate cartoons to celebrate or lament the election result. He nixed that proposal on the grounds that I would be wasting my time drawing one of the cartoons.

Little did either of us suspect that I would have wasted my time drawing both cartoons. Ten years ago, of course, was the Bush v. Gore election -- which wouldn't be decided until well after I got back from vacation. Neither the proposed cartoon of a Gore victory nor its alternative cartoon about a Bush victory could have been printed that first week in November except as a "Dewey Defeats Truman" update.

I should wrap this post up by reminding you, dear reader, to vote tomorrow because every vote counts. Bush v. Gore, however, isn't a very good example of that point. So instead, I'll repeat one of the stories my dad tells about elections.

Back when we lived in Delaware, long before I would be able to remember political matters, Dad was a young chemist working at Dow Chemical and raising a new family. He didn't much like either of the candidates for high office one particular year, but he has always believed in voting, so he wrote his own name in. Mom was not feeling well -- she might have been several months pregnant with one of my siblings depending which election it was. At any rate, she didn't get out to vote that year.

The next day, the Wilmington newspaper reported the election results, all the way down to showing that my dad got two votes.

He never found out who cast that other vote.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Week's Cartoon in the Clutch



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 27, 2010

This week's cartoon is occasioned by the most recent ruling staying the penultimate ruling overturning the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but it really would have been nice to get out one more cartoon prior to the midterm election.

When polls suggest that there is a serious chance that Tea Partisans who believe in repealing the 14th, 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution, in making it legal for corporations to bribe foreign governments, in returning control of health care to insurance company profit managers, in teaching superstition as science, in allowing our major auto manufacturers and all the businesses that depend on them to go out of business (not to mention allowing cascading bank failures on a scale not seen since 1929), in trusting against experience that tax cuts for the richest 1% will ever trickle down past the next richest 1%, and in attacking whatever minority is convenient when their economic theory goes bust -- when there is a serious chance that these cretins will take over the House, the Senate, and the legislatures handling apportionment for the next decade, I find the task of boiling that prospect down into one cartoon daunting in the extreme.

When the alternatives in many races are spineless Democrats running away from their base in a futile effort to convince voters that they really really really are almost like Republicans, however, it's equally hard to muster any enthusiasm.

How can one explain the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsing Scott Walker for Governor after his disastrous record as Milwaukee County Executive?
The county's Mental Health Complex has been so badly managed under his watch that vulnerable people have been needlessly victimized. His budgets have failed to meet the need, even as overtime salaries for some complex employees boggle the imagination. The Milwaukee County Transit System has suffered route cuts and fare hikes, a victim to diminished county revenues and lack of vision. The state took over what state officials said were badly managed public assistance programs - though county officials said those programs simply were underfunded by the state.

We differ with Walker on some of the stances he's taken during this election. Stopping the fast train between Milwaukee and Madison reflects the kind of fiscal conservatism for which he is known, but it still is shortsighted.

Also of concern was his answer to whether he would support state legislation to require the shadow groups pouring in millions of dollars into surrogate ads to reveal their donors. We fear he would veto such efforts.

We worry about his views on embryonic stem cell research, which holds great promise for treatment of a variety of ailments. Wisconsin is a world leader in this important work. In the past, Walker has gone so far as to say he would sign a bill banning such research. More recently, he has been less strident, saying, "I'm going to put the money (state funding) behind adult stem cells - not embryonic." That would be a colossal mistake. ...

Barrett, meanwhile, has run a spirited, though at times too negative, campaign. His jobs and deficit proposals are far more detailed than Walker's and should be considered even if he's not elected. ...

We would hope the Legislature would right-size Walker's proposal for broad tax cuts that would threaten to deepen the state's budget deficit. On this point, Barrett's targeted tax cuts are the better approach.


Fat chance of our probable Republican legislature "right-sizing" Walker's tax cuts! The only reason he hasn't bankrupted Milwaukee County is because there is a majority on the County Board willing to stand up to him. (And what part of Walker's campaign has been positive? None of the commercials I've seen. Tom Barrett's campaign has been as positive as could be expected when outside interests have been attacking him mercilessly on TV since well before the September primary. Fercrysake, even the JS endorsement of Walker finds plenty to criticize Walker for!)

I cannot understand why the JS editorial board thinks that Walker and state Republicans, who have promised to be hard-line, partisan and doctrinaire, will be anything else once they control all three branches of state government plus the AG's office.

I'm proudly voting for Tom Barrett, and to reelect Senator Russ Feingold. Also John Lehman and Cory Mason. And Haslett for Attorney General.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Week's Q Syndicate Cartoon



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 20, 2010

After making the rounds on TV defending his scripted remarks that gays are "brainwash[ing our children] into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option," New York Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Carl Paladino eventually issued an apology -- which then prompted the Orthodox Jewish rabbi who hosted the original speech to withdraw his support of Paladino.

Perhaps the apology was prompted by the fact that Paladino's nephew, a gay man and a volunteer on his uncle's campaign, was publicly offended by the original remarks. If so, good for him; that's another argument in favor of coming out of the closet to one's relatives and friends.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

Coming home to find that the frivolous cartoons I'd left behind for Q Syndicate to release during my vacation coincided with some decidedly unfrivolous events in the news, I felt obliged to draw something more somber this week.

I also decided to observe the serious side of National Coming Out Day. Anyone who knows me is (or ought to be) aware that I am gay, but since Coming Out is more an everyday process than a single event, I decided to wear a rainbow tie and a pink triangle lapel pin to church on Sunday. (I am organist at a moderately sized ELCA Lutheran congregation.)

I don't know whether there are any gay kids in the congregation at this point, but if so, I want to remind them that one can grow up gay and well-adjusted and without abandoning one's faith. The ones calling them "faggot" and teasing them about pole sucking or carpet munching do not get the last word on whether their lives are worth living.

Well, I hope that's what I'm reminding them of anyway. I hope I'm not that creepy old gay guy as far as the Kids Today are concerned.

And if I am, well, screw 'em. I'm too old to care that much what other people think of me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Last week's cartoon



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 10, 2010
Last week's cartoon was drawn well ahead of time because I would be returning from my vacation on the day that I would ordinarily be drawing the syndicated cartoon. If not for jet lag, I suppose I could have pushed myself to whip off something more timely, but honestly, I could barely stay awake through the afternoon and evening. (Then I woke up around 1:30 a.m. and could hardly get back to sleep. I might as well have gone down to my drawing board after all.)

My editors suggested that I draw something in consideration of October being LGBT history month. With all that might have inspired me from Alexander the Great and James Buchanan; to Tchaikovsky, Rimbaud and Whitman; to the Mattachine Society and Harvey Milk -- I came up with this piece of fluff.

In this age of Manhunt and on-line chat, there may be a lot of gay people who have no idea what the "hanky code" was. Briefly, a guy would have a hanky sticking out of his left or right rear pocket. The color of the hanky corresponded to particular sex acts, and left or right indicated whether the guy prefered to be the one doing the act or having it done to him. There was no semaphore involved.

This cartoon gave me a chance to poke loving fun at some 1970's archtypes. One that I missed, however, was the drag queen -- sorry, female impersonator, or whatever the preferred term is today. The reason for the omission is that I wasn't confident of an image that would be quintessentially of the era. Barbra Streisand? Bette Midler?
Wonder Woman?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last Week's Editorial Cartoon



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 5, 2010


I'm still getting over my post-vacation jet lag, so here's the cartoon I drew for Q Syndicate to release last week. National Coming Out Day is actually October 11, but since some of the newspapers that print my cartoons publish every other week, this timing enables whichever of them wants this cartoon to print it on time.

I don't have a lot to say about this cartoon, other than I hope that I got it out ahead of all the cartoons about the ever earlier and earlier commercialization of Christmas.

And here's this week's sneak peek, by the way.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Catching up

I'm back from vacationing in France for the last couple of weeks; here's one of the cartoons released while I was away.


Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 23, 2010

During my vacation, the Senate voted down the bill to end the military's antigay discrimination policy, which did indeed get coverage in the French press. I also read the news of the gay American college student who committed suicide after his roommate and others posted on line video of him having sex in the privacy of his dorm room. I wasn't in a position to draw cartoons about those news stories; instead, I had drawn a couple cartoons before I left on other topics. One of them is still slated for release later this week.

Also during my vacation, the Eiffel Tower was closed down twice because of terrorism threats, and the U.S. issued a travel warning that Americans should avoid going to popular tourist sites in Europe. We went to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Moulin Rouge and Monaco anyway, and had a swell time.

Europeans have been dealing with terrorism on their soil longer than Americans have. The IRA, Brigate Rosse, Baader-Meinhof and the like all predate Al Qaeda, and we can only hope that Al Qaeda and company will someday follow them into obscurity. We saw plenty of signs of a heightened security level on our vacation, starting with the machine gun toting soldiers in Charles DeGaulle airport as we arrived -- a bit startling to these American eyes, to be sure.

I also noticed that French TV didn't go into 24-hour coverage mode of the terrorist threat. The networks reported the story, provided context and detail, and then moved on to the next story. What I did not see were media commentators appearing to expound their own prognostications of what this might possibly mean for Nicolas Sarkozy, or how the terrorists would carry out their plans, or any of the usual U.S. TV yadda yadda yadda.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Old Soldiers Never Die...



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 15, 2010
They just get tarnished.

Since I drew this cartoon, Steve May has been forced to withdraw from a race for the Arizona statehouse not because of his cynical recruitment of homeless people to put on the Green Party ballot, but because of a drunk driving arrest.

But the true outrage is the chicanery of May -- and apparently others in the Arizona Republican party, according to this withering Arizona Republic editorial -- who stoop to dirty tricks to win elections. I strongly suspect that Al Greene in South Carolina is another case in point.

I'm old enough to remember back in 1986 when Illinois Democrats were stunned by the victory in primary elections of Lyndon LaRouche lunatics, including for the post of lieutenant governor. The debacle doomed the gubernatorial campaign of Adlai Stevenson III (whose grandfather has been featured in some of the R.C. Bowman cartoons elsewhere on my blog). In that case, the LaRouchies got on the primary ballot themselves, however, and were not put there by Republican operatives.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

R.C. Bowman's 1900 Cartoons: Sen. William A. Clark

Before the passage of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Senators represented -- and were elected by -- not the people of their state, but their state legislatures. Not surprisingly, there arose such cases as that of Senator William A. Clark of Montana, who bribed state legislators to elect him in 1898.

Out there in Montana.
(The musical staff quotes "get your money's worth" from what I assume was a popular song.)

Clark came to Montana in the gold rush of the 1860s, eventually establishing himself as a banker and in turn, a mine owner by virtue of foreclosing on mining properties. He also owned a newspaper, the Butte Miner, which he used to advance his political ambitions. He presided over Montana's 1884 and 1889 constitutional conventions, and advocated Helena for the state's capital over its rival, Anaconda. (He was one of the two richest Americans when he died in 1925; Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, is named for him.)

The New Chore Boy
When Clark's bribes came to light in 1899, the U.S. Senate refused to seat him. But in 1900, he won election again.

And the cat came back.
Clark served one term (1901-1907) in the U.S. Senate. He was the subject of a scathing Mark Twain essay, "Senator Clark of Montana" (1907; see Mark Twain in Eruption, ed Bernard DeVoto, 1940):
"He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs. To my mind he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed's time."

To bring this story into the present day, 104-year-old Huguette Clark is his daughter. You may have heard of the legal dispute over the financial affairs of the reclusive Miss Clark, who has not been photographed since the 1930's. her palacial estate near Santa Barbara, California, has sat empty since 1963, and her properties in Connecticut and New York City are likewise unoccupied. The fact that nobody seems to have seen her except her accountant and her attorney have seen her in decades is a major point in the legal tangle.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

It looks like this is a cartoon about Arizona politics that has nothing to do with the Headless Governor, Jan Brewer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Miltary Edginess Survey



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 8, 2010


This week's cartoon concerns a Pentagon survey of military spouses of their attitudes about the possible end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The 44-question poll includes such questions as “Assume Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed. Would repeal affect your family readiness?” and “Assume Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you live in on-base housing. If a gay or lesbian Service member lived in your neighborhood with their partner, would you stay on-base or would you try to move out?"

Servicemembers United claims that the survey poses questions that assume that lesbians and gays are scary people, and supposes that repeal of DADT would be difficult for military families to handle.
Just as the assumption that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be problematic for straight troops is an insult to the professionalism of straight troops, so to is the assumption that the law’s repeal would be problematic for families an insult to military families and military spouses. The assumption that spouses and families might be ill-prepared to handle such a simple and long-overdue policy change insults their own professionalism, their generation’s non-discriminatory values, their unique ability to handle diversity, and their battle-hardened ability to handle any changes that the military throws their way.


This week, I have a little fun with the military, and with polling. And while this particular survey was sent by e-mail, it's more fun to draw people interacting each other in the real world than over their computer, so I drew this rather old-fashioned door-to-door approach.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

This guy does not have the rank insignia that I wanted him to have -- in fact, his shoulders probably don't match his lapels. I had in mind that he should be some mid-level Pentagon guy, but I think I've ended up with Corporal Major First Class Larry Ensign.

Friday, September 3, 2010

R.C. Bowman's 1900 Cartoons for Mpls. Tribune, part VII

Here are some cartoons on a variety of world issues by R.C. Bowman, cartoonist for the Minneapolis Tribune in 1900.

Uncle Sam to the Senator: "Ho there! Take that bill in hand, will you? That other fellow seems to be too reckless."
There were two competing ideas on where to build a canal through Central America at this point in history. A rival to the Panama Canal route would have gone through Nicaragua from Bahia de Punta Gorda in the east, to Lake Nicaragua and out to the Pacific.

John Bull: "Heavy? Of course it's heavy. But think of the glory."
Great Britain was in the middle of the Boer War in South Africa at this time.

Looking for his Thanksgiving dinner."
The United States sent warships to occupy Izmir (Smyrna) in order to collect indemnities against Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) for "outrages committed against missionaries." Here's a New York Times article. Keep in mind, this turkey pun was a bit younger back then.


The World: "You know, uncle, it's getting so I do almost all my trading here, now!"
Uncle Sam: "I'm glad to hear it; and to be candid, I'd sooner have your trade than that of any other planet I know of."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look, it's the new guy!



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 1, 2010
"The reality is, it’s taken me 43 years to come to terms with this part of my life. The process has been something that has made me a happier and a better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago."
--Ken Mehlman, to Mark Ambinder in Atlantic Magazine

Part of the fun of drawing this particular cartoon was the opportunity to poke some light-hearted fun at the phenomenon of The New Guy.

We've all been there, and we've all seen it. When a person comes out as gay or lesbian, whether in high school or middle age, he/she goes all out. Suddenly, everything is rainbows, bright colors, leather, body piercings, mullets, the shaved head, late nights at the disco, or what-have-you, depending on the person's particular proclivities. The phenomenon also includes Devotion To The Cause:

Indeed, Mehlman’s first act as an out gay man will be hosting a fund-raiser of the foundation next month to help support the case [against the anti-equality marriage amendment to California's constitution], which likely carries a price tag in the millions of dollars (the group has declined to disclose exactly how much). Although the invitations have yet to be mailed, Mehlman told The Advocate Wednesday evening that just through pre-selling the event, organizers had already helped to raise about $750,000.

Well, welcome to The Cause, Kenny. You may have been the Roy Cohn of the '00's, but if you Republicans can welcome all those Dixiecrats into your party, the energy of The New Guy entitles you to our grudging acceptance. As long as it lasts.