Friday, March 30, 2012

My Phone Call With Romney

I sat through 20 minutes or so of a live telephone "town hall" call with Mitt Romney on the other end last night. Wisconsin's primary is coming up on Tuesday, and Romney and his SuperPAC are spending heavily in this state. (I haven't seen any ads by the Santorum campaign, although his "Red White and Blue" superPAC has one ad up on TV.)

While I was on the phone call, there was one questioner who thought high gas prices were caused by oil company profiteering. Mitt told her he disagreed and blamed Obama for not drilling, mining and fissioning enough. Mitt saw great potential in natural gas, but avoided any reference to fracking.

The other questioners lobbed easy pitches like what his first executive order would be, whether he'd consider Paul Ryan as his running mate, whether he agreed that Governor Scott Walker is a national hero, and what he thought of President Obama's "I'll have more flexibility after the election" comment to Russian President Medvedev. For the record, Romney listed five first orders, from stopping "Obamacare" to opening up government contracts to non-union shops. Mitt praised Ryan's budget plan while promising that his own budget plan would balance the budget sooner (and said naming a running mate hadn't occurred to him yet). You'll also be astounded to hear that Mitt applauded Darth Snotwalker and disapproved of that flexibility remark.

If I had answered the call on the phone in the computer room, I could have put it on speaker. I could have live-blogged it and at least not have felt it a complete waste of time. But 20 minutes is about as long as I can stand to hold a phone to my ear and listen to someone else's conversation.

Between questions, a staffer urged us to press "1" if we agreed with Romney and would vote for him. I never heard anything about what to press if I wanted to ask a question. At least when I sit through these "town hall" calls from Paul Ryan, listening to all the questions from birthers who want to press the congressman about what he's going to do about exposing the president as a socialist or to compensate the Notch Babies, they regularly tell you how to ask a question. For Romney's call, I have to assume that even the woman who didn't like oil company profiteering first had to tell the Romney campaign that she liked and would vote for him.

Oh, and the staffer pronounced Mequon "McWahn." (It's "MECK-wahn.")

Thursday, March 29, 2012

QToon: Tell Me All Your Secrets

I normally put these up on Wednesday, but I've been having computer issues at home.


Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
+Mar 29, 2012
I've been trying to figure out why "job providers" now need applicants to reveal their Facebook passwords.

They already had the ability (and the right) to visit your Facebook page and find out whether you Like lolcats or George Takei's jokes; whether your Farmville is overgrown with weeds or you've slaughtered entire neighborhoods in Mob Wars; and whether you've shared posts from 350.org, Tea Patriots, or TMZ. If all they wanted to do was check out how many photos you've posted of yourself stumbling down drunk in a bar or bleary-eyed in an Amsterdam hashish den, they could simply demand that you "friend" them.

But your password? Given that for the typical job applicant, applying for jobs is itself a full-time job, that's a lot of companies who would be able to pose as you and elicit opinions about you from your Aunt Brenda, the ex-boyfriend who still thinks you're coming back to him someday, that girl from study hall in high school, or that guy who thought you were the sax player in a jazz ensemble he was in back in 1973 but when he found out you weren't he kept you on as a friend anyway because you share a casual interest in "The Mentalist."  

What are employers going to demand next? The PIN to your bank account? The keys to your house?

Monday, March 26, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Remember the old suspense tale that ends "The calls are coming from INSIDE THE BUILDING!"?


Well, this week's cartoon has nothing to do with that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

John Greenleaf Whittier Cartoon

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
∫ Mar 24, 2012


Do they teach John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) in the schools any more? Has he ever made it into the Oprah Book Club?

Political cartoons used to be rife with references to poetry and literature, but those references can sail right by your average 21st Century reader. I might reach more people with a reference to The Hunger Games, if it weren't for the fact that I am quickly becoming an old fuddy-duddy. I had never even heard of the book or the movie until a few days ago.

Heck, I was taken aback when I saw a TV ad for the 3-D re-release of Titanic which started out with the announcer touting the film "from the director of Avatar!"

At any rate, the sad words at the end of Whittier's original couplet, for the benefit of those who aren't familiar with it, are actually "It might have been."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Q Toon: Suppose Marriage Equality



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Mar 21, 2012‡
Seriously. If DOMA were still the unquestioned law of the land, the current Republican-led drive to suppress voting might still allow for a marriage license as valid ID. If things go the other way, the only thing that would keep Republican legislatures from requiring a digital rectal exam for same-sex couples seeking a marriage license would be the suspicion that gay men might actually like it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I typically try to omit text from these weekly teasers; but today, that's all I'm offering.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder

I used a part of a Christmas gift certificate the other day to buy Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Volume 1 of a promised 12-volume printing of every Pogo comic strip to appear in newspapers. I haven't decided if I'll buy all twelve yet; they could become mighty pricey at $40 each (plus the cost of another bookcase, since I don't have any room for any more books as it is).

I started reading with the Editors' Note, which the editors expressly did not expect anyone to read before the comics. I'm glad I started there, because they mention that Kelly's initial 1948-49 strips, drawn for the short-lived New York Star, appear in the back of the book. So, of course, the next thing I read was those early, pre-syndication comics.

A few of the characters (notably Porky Pine) hadn't achieved their ultimate form in the Star, but what really strikes one is how much stuff Walt Kelly is able to pack into every cartoon. For example, the first frame of the January 10, 1949 strip shows six characters, four of whom are talking and one of whom is loading a slingshot; plus a tree stump and a poster hanging from another tree. Three more action-packed frames follow. No daily strip would have room for such a thing these days!

After these initial comic strips, there are annotations by R. C. Harvey, which would perhaps be more useful as footnotes from within the main body of the book. I probably would not have recognized Cully and Hawgshaw as caricatures of Col. Robert McCormack (publisher of the Chicago Tribune) and William Randolph Hearst without having read all about it first. Now I'm wondering if the hog in the Jack Acid Society series I wrote about back in January might also have been Hearst, or just an evolution of the type.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The Irish are a proud, hard-working people, and it's not fair to stereotype them as merry drunkards. Remember the Irish Industries song:
Ireland industries, that is what we are;
No one in between, how can we be wrong?
Sail away with me to another world
And we rely on each other,
 begorrah! 

Statehood for Puerto Rico

The other day, Rick Santorum told an interviewer for Puerto Rico's El Vocero that their commonwealth would be welcome as the 51st state -- as long as they made English their official language. He later tried to backtrack the remark by claiming that he was just stating what's in federal law -- except that, despite Republicans' best efforts, it isn't federal law. At least not yet. And English -- along with Spanish -- is already an official language on the island.

This reminded me of a cartoon I drew back in 1998 when the topic of Puerto Rican statehood conditional upon their forsaking their native tongue came up. Now, a lot of cartoonists would have simply redrawn the old idea with Rick Santorum in it.

But I'm even lazier. I'm just posting the old cartoon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Konopacki Case, continued

The Dane County District Attorney is seriously considering filing charges against Madison editorial cartoonist Mike Konopacki. I relayed the story on Tuesday: Konopacki sent a fake press release (at right) purportedly from State Assemblyman Steve Nass to the editorial page editor of the Capital Times, satirizing the Whitewater Republican's having forced the University of Wisconsin to cancel an exhibit of pro-labor posters from this past year's state protests.

Konopacki tells the Wisconsin State Journal that he has been suspended from the Cap Times for six weeks (he has free-lanced for them since the 1970's). Potentially more significantly, he could face up to 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the Class I felony of impersonating a public official.

Unintimidated, Konopacki has struck again, but has at least learned to make it a bit more obvious that this follow-up press release is not the real McCoy:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Q Toon: Emocide

You may have thought there would be no more cartoons about Iraq.


Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Mar 14, 2012
Shi'ite militants in Iraq are reported to be stoning gay and "emo" youth to death -- the weapon of choice being cement cinder blocks. ("Emo" is shorthand for "emotional hardcore," and is a style based on 1980's punk, goth, etc.)
[Iraq] has been preparing to showcase itself to the world as host of a high-profile meeting of Arab leaders in late March ... But the news that young men in tight T-shirts and skinny jeans are being beaten to death with cement blocks and dumped in the streets has threatened to overshadow the new palm trees and fresh paint. The violence offers a reminder that the government has been unable to stop threats and attacks against small religious sects, ethnic groups and social pariahs like gay men.
Human rights groups put the death toll as high as 40, although official estimates are considerably lower. That the Interior Ministry itself has called emo "satanic" can only have encouraged the killings and motivated officials to downplay the problem.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did WI Cartoonist Illegally Impersonate Legislator?

On Saturday, February 25, Wisconsin State Assemblyman Steve Nass did not send a press release to the (Madison) Capital Times.

The press release came from Wisconsin labor cartoonist Mike Konopacki. Upset that Nass had successfully forced the University of Wisconsin's School for Workers to cancel a display of posters and artwork from the protests launched in reaction to Governor Darth Snotwalker's attacks on state workers, Konopacki created a fake press release purportedly from the La Grange Republican. Tweaking quotations by Nass and his press secretary, Konopacki's fake press release reported that Nass wanted the Smithsonian Institution to remove pro-labor material from the National Museum of American History.

Konopacki mailed the gag release, appearing under a Photoshopped facsimile of the Assemblyman's official letterhead, to Cap Times editor John Nichols -- who mistook it for the real thing, and reported it on the Cap Times's web site as a genuine news item.

The report was only on line for 40 minutes, but that was long enough for Nass to sic the law on Konopacki for:

946.69 Falsely assuming to act as a public officer or employee or a utility employee...
(2) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:
(a) Assumes to act in an official capacity or to perform an official function, knowing that he or she is not the public officer or public employee or the employee of a utility that he or she assumes to be.
I can't wait to see whether Sarah Palin tries the same tack against Julianne Moore.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Swarthiness alert...

Last week, the cartoon featured a map of Europe; this week, a foreign flag. Whatever happened to good old American comics, huh?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Q Toon: That's Entertainment

This week's cartoon takes us back a few years. And away from the usual preoccupation with LGBT issues of marriage equality, gays in the military, etc.



Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
؟ Mar 7, 2012
In Mr. Limbaugh's latest attempt at an apology for calling Georgetown student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute whose sexual activities he would like to see posted on YouTube, he claimed to have accidentally departed from lofty conservative standards and become as bad as those lefty liberals:
 "This is the mistake I made: In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them. Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything that I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them."
Conscientious conservatives must be relieved to know that Mr. Limbaugh was in no way emulating the elevated likes of Ann Coulter, or Andrew Breitbart of sainted memory. Nope, it was only a momentary lapse into liberalism. Liberanazilism, even. Sexually demeaning personal attacks are so unlike him!
Columnist Molly Ivins reported (Arizona Republic 10/17/1993) this incident from Limbaugh's TV show--"Here is a Limbaugh joke: Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?" And he puts up a picture of [13-year-old] Chelsea Clinton.
"Some of these babes, I'm telling you, like the sexual harassment crowd. They're out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes." [Reported by Media Matters, 4/26/04]
One may at least take solace in the fact that Mr. Limbaugh is merely an entertainer, as many in the conservative movement have pointed out, and not a leader whom Republican politicians cross at their peril.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek


I was all set to put up the little snippet out of this week's editorial cartoon, but I don't think the little lady is at all pleased with it.