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.