Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Q Toon: Republican Group Endorses Mitt Romney!

Paul Berge/
Q Syndicate
÷Oct 31, 2012
The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney for President this month after a brief meeting with the candidate. I guess his staunch opposition to marriage equality as a candidate and as Governor of Massachusetts never came up.

Highlights of their endorsement announcement:
"If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate’s history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans. ...
"And for those people who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann."
They then go on to argue that Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter, and Joe Biden is Anthony Weiner.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I know that folks are getting sick and tired of all this election stuff. Everyone complains about all the attack ads on TV, and all the political posts on Facebook, and all the junk flyers in their mailbox.

And that's not even counting the people in Wisconsin who have had no relief from partisan politics for over two solid years now.

But this is the last week I can draw about the election for Q Syndicate, so that's where I'm going, dammit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Syria Is Iran's Route to the Sea

"Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea." -- Mitt Romney, in his third debate with President Obama, October 23, 2012
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 26, 2012
According to the Manchester Guardian, that was the sixth time that Mitt Romney has characterized Syria, which is separated from Iran by northern Iraq, as Iran's route to the sea.
"Maybe one of the few bright spots in the Middle East developments in the last year has been the rising of the people in Syria against Assad. Obviously, as you know, Syria is Iran's only Arab ally in the region. Syria is the route that allows Iran to supply Hezbollah with weapons in Lebanon. Syria is Iran's route to the sea." -- Romney, at the AIPAC conference, March 6, 2012
"Syria is their [Iran's] key ally. It's their only ally in the Arab world. It is also their route to the sea." -- Romney, in a Republican candidates' debate on February 22, 2012
See also an interview on MSNBC on December 21, 2011; an interview with the Washington Post on February 10, 2012; and an interview on Brian Kilmeade's radio program on March 14, 2012.

And here you thought Romney couldn't be consistent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Q Toon: Marriage Equality on Balance

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
÷Oct 24, 2012
With election day 13 days away, it's time for this cartoonist to stop frittering his time away on cartoons about National Coming Out Day, evangelicals slumming in the gayborhood, and TV sitcoms.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
[Judge Dennis Jacobs] said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. "Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," Jacobs wrote.
He rejected arguments by supporters of the law that it was intended to limit new categories of eligibility for federal funds, promote uniform administration of federal law, protect traditional marriage and encourage responsible procreation.
"Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it," he said.
That DOMA was headed for the Supreme Court was a virtual certainty, so the question is how the ruling will affect ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state on November 6. The legislatures of Maine, Maryland and Washington have voted for, and their governors have signed into law, marriage equality. Opposite-sex marriage exclusivity, on the other hand, is the law in Minnesota, where the Catholic Church is dropping everything else to enshrine it in the state constitution.

The Washington, opponents of marriage equality succeeded in putting Measure 74 on the ballot, possibly confusing voters because passage would actually affirm what the legislature and governor have already done.


In Maine, this marks the first time that gay-rights supporters -- rather than opponents -- have chosen to put same-sex marriage before voters. A gay-marriage law passed by the legislature in 2009 was overturned in a referendum that fall. Marriage equality supporters in the state decided to put a measure in support of marriage equality on the ballot this year, when the presidential election would draw out more voters.

The polls have the Minnesota amendment on the razor's edge, while there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about one of the other three states becoming the first in the nation to support marriage equality by popular referendum.


In Maryland, as in Maine and Washington, the most recent polls show a lead for the supporters of same-sex marriage. But comparable leads in other states -- notably in California in 2008 -- evaporated by Election Day, and Josh Levin, manager of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, expects the final result to be extremely close.
With races this close, anything, from a judge's ruling exciting one side, to the Obama and Romney campaigns' decision to focus their efforts elsewhere, could have an effect on the outcome.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Not to be judgmental about it, but judging from this snippet from this week's cartoon, you can expect some jurisprudence coming your way.

Stare decisis, nolo contendere, ex parte and all that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two More McGovern Cartoons

I finally located the folders with my cartoons from 1983 and before, and found George McGovern in two more cartoons about the early race for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination.

Fair warning: both cartoons reference death, so I hope people don't find them in bad taste today. The first cartoon is from September, 1983, imagining Democrats' response to the announcement of McGovern's third try for the presidency:
The state of the race at the time was that former Vice President Walter Mondale was the front runner with the support of organized labor and a number of other interest groups. Ohio Senator John Glenn was a more centrist alternative, while California Senator Alan Cranston and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson were competing for the party's far left. Some of the party faithful held out hope that Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy would change his mind and run a second time, and there were Senators from Colorado, and South Carolina and a former Governor of Florida (Gary Hart, Fritz Hollings, and Reuben Askew) who were trying to get some attention.

McGovern's bid for the 1984 nomination was doomed from the start. In recent history, Democrats have shunned any of their candidates for president who had previously run and lost (although Teddy Kennedy could have easily been an exception had he tried in '84).

It hasn't always been this way: Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland for a third time in 1892 after he had been thrown out of office in 1888; and Williams Jennings Bryan won three out of the next four Democratic nominations. Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson for a rematch against Eisenhower in 1956; and if it weren't for the McGovern rule changes of 1968, Hubert Humphrey might have been a shoo-in for the nomination in 1972 or 1976.

As the nominating process stands since -- and even including -- 1968, the only way for a failed Democratic candidate to win the Democratic nomination is to have served as Vice President in the meantime. The examples of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Gore do not bode well for Joe Biden.

Back to George McGovern. He is only an extra in the cartoon below, but it might have some resonance for Republicans today. Democrats felt they had an opening to unseat President Ronald Reagan because the economy had been in recession since 1981. By December of 1983, however, all reports indicated that the recession was over.
If you missed the cartoon from December, 1983 (published in January), my earlier blog post is here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Q Toon: The Cross in the Closet

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 17, 2012
This week's cartoon is inspired by a fundamentalist Christian originally from Nashville (now in Portland, Oregon) and graduate of Liberty University who has written The Cross in the Closet, about the year he spent pretending to be gay.

The only people Timothy Kurek let in on his ruse were an aunt, asking her to keep an eye on how his mother was handling the news, and a guy he recruited to pretend to be his boyfriend after getting weirded out by oiled-up beglittered guys trying to pick him up in gay bars. He began working in a gay café, joined a gay softball league, and attended Pride events, all the while maintaining his inner identity as a straight Christian.
Many friends, especially from Liberty, ... wrote emails to him after he came out asking that he repent of his sins and warning that he faced damnation. He does not regret their loss. "I now have lots of new gay friends," Kurek said.
He sneaked a peek at his mother's diary and read that she would rather have been told she had terminal cancer than that her son was gay. Fortunately for Mr. Kurek, she did not attempt to ship him off to an ex-gay indoctrination center.
Eventually she too was won over and changed her views. "My mom went from being a very conservative Christian to being an ally to the gay community. I am very proud of her," he said.
Kurek also experienced firsthand being called abusive names. Though he himself had once called gay protesters at Liberty "fags", he found himself on the other side of the fence of insults. During a softball practice session in Nashville, a man walking his dogs called Kurek and his teammates "faggots."
Kurek had to be restrained from confronting the man and then broke down in tears at the shock. "When I was first called that for real, I lost it. I saw red. I felt so violated by that word," he said.
The version of the story I came across first was this one on RawStory.com, and it's a good thing I googled Timothy Kurek before setting pen to paper. Rawstory illustrated the article with a picture of a cute cowboy in a presumably gay line dancing group. The cute cowboy looks nothing like Mr. Kurek, who is considerably more ... hefty. And given to wearing heavy steel earrings. Although he does like plaid shirts. As a bit of editorial license, I have given him a shave in the cartoon.

I have no idea what his mother actually looks like. I considered drawing her as Debbie Novotny from Queer As Folk (US), but decided against it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

George McGovern

This morning comes the news that former Senator from South Dakota George McGovern is "coming to the end of his life" and has been entrusted to hospice care.

I don't have any of my own cartoons from his 1972 race for the Presidency, although I do recall having tried to sketch a Time magazine cover image of Richard Nixon only to have my drawing look more like McGovern than Nixon. I do have a college newspaper clipping of a cartoon from December, 1983, when McGovern was making yet another try for the Democratic nomination:
If I remember correctly, I had difficulty drawing McGovern this time around and ended up drawing him on another sheet of paper and pasting that head over the one on the page with the rest of the cartoon. That would account for all those marks around his head on the printed copy, as the exposure here appears quite dark.

By 1984, I had a lot more experience drawing Richard Nixon, so I doubt that it would have helped me to try to draw that Time magazine cover again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Yes, folks. The gay community drags mothers kicking and screaming to become our allies these days. I can't divulge how it's done, but if you've seen The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, or that scene in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan in which Ricardo Montalban puts big old scorpions into the ears of Paul Winfield and Walter Koenig, you begin to get a vague idea of the processes involved.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Veep toon: Yakov Smirkov

EditorialCartoonists.com won't have this posted until tomorrow, but I thought I'd share a sketch from Thursday's vice presidential debate with you today:
I've already posted this cartoon on the Bergetoons Facebook page, where someone has kindly pointed out that Paul Ryan may be the only conservative who hasn't complained about Vice President Biden's condescending attitude throughout the debate. Fair enough. I drew this sketch during the debate and then decided to impose a cartoon on it, adding caption balloons and swapping out the suits and ties for children's clothing.

Frankly, I had been hoping that Biden's having gotten ahead of the President on marriage equality, or perhaps ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell would come up in the debate so that I'd have something to draw for Q Syndicate, but I guess I'll have to come up with another topic for that cartoon this week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Qtoon: 14, 12, or 11 Years Later

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
ΔOct 11, 2012
Today is National Coming Out Day, and to mark the occasion, I decided to follow up on a cartoon I drew way back in 1998. (See this week's "Sneak Peek.")

In the original cartoon, Uncle Jim did most of the talking to his 18-year-old nephew, Dylan. The cartoon implied that Uncle Jim was past his 38th birthday but still well short of his 48th. Twelve years later, Dylan would be 30, and Jim somewhere in his 50's. Uncle Jim has changed his appearance significantly over the years. He's put on a fair amount of weight and decided to compensate for his thinning hair by growing a heavy beard. Nephew Dylan now wears glasses and has exchanged his shaggy mane for something with more product in it.

Now, most of my readers don't have my life's work at their fingertips, so it's not like any of the following really matters. But if there are any obsessive fans reading this blog, there is one nagging little inconsistency about this week's cartoon that I might as well try to explain.

I added the copyright date in the second panel as I was nearly done inking the cartoon, and suddenly realized that 1998 was fourteen years ago, not twelve. I hadn't left myself enough room to change "twelve" to "fourteen," so we're left to suppose that perhaps Dylan didn't come out to his parents at 18 (after all, in the original cartoon, Jim advises him that there's no rush to do so) but two years later after another conversation at this diner.

Then, when I hunted up the digital file for Monday's Sneak Peek, I found that for reasons I cannot recall, its copyright date had been changed to 2001. This cartoon was originally drawn in August, 1998 as a "reserve" -- to be released at some later date when I might not have another cartoon at the ready, so my first thought was that we held onto that reserve cartoon for three years.

There is a note on the page the cartoon was drawn on, however, indicating that it appeared in the Phoenix Echo in October, 1998. (Back then, a few of the papers in which my cartoons appeared would mail me those issues.) So either I mistakenly included this cartoon for three years in the January ritual of updating the copyright dates of the unreleased reserves, or somebody wanted to re-release this cartoon in 2001.

I don't have any idea. All I know is that I've fallen woefully behind in keeping up a supply of reserves; I've been without one for months, if not years. I've learned that there's little point in drawing up reserves such as the original Dylan and Jim cartoon for release at specific dates on the calendar unless I have plans to be busy or on vacation at that time. It's more useful to have something totally generic in case of emergency, and I have less need for a reserve Christmas cartoon than I have for a cartoon to be released for publication immediately after Christmas.

By the way, if you have any confident predictions about what is going to be a happenin' topic for LGBT readers around December 27 of this year, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Love Imperial Zombie Lucy

Here's a drawing I was asked to do for the Twin Cities Imperial Court of Minnesota (kind of an LGBT Elks Lodge, I suppose) to publicize an event this weekend:
It's their first annual Zombie Ball, and my assignment was -- wait, let me describe it in steps:
  1. Start with the picture from "I Love Lucy" of Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred driving in the car.
  2. Replace Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred with four members of the Imperial Court.
  3. Make them zombies.

I started out by sketching the original picture, just to get the characters in place. Then, without zombifying them, I tried caricaturing the Imperial Court, beginning with "Ethel," since I was sent two pictures of her, and she bore some slight resemblance to Vivian Vance. "Ricky" was next, since he's in front; I was told he'd be clean-shaven for the event. The one photo I had of him is almost ten years old if the imprinted date is correct.

I found several pictures of "Fred" among the Court's Facebook photos -- which helped a lot. With "Lucy," on the other hand, I only had this one photo to work from, and it was the lowest-resolution photo of the bunch. (There were some photos of a woman who might have been the same person, but I just couldn't be sure.) That made her very difficult to draw, and I decided that nothing about this drawing would work at all unless I gave her Lucy's hair -- particularly since she and "Ricky" bear little or no resemblance to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I suppose I should have done the same with Ethel, since the guy who's going to be Ethel is no doubt rustling up a Vivian Vance wig for the party.

The last step was to add zombie features. In the case of Ricky, that involved giving him a totally different facial expression than Desi Arnaz in the photo, in which the four appear to be singing. I beat up the hats, blackened eyes, tore off ears, and broke Lucy's neck. (Sorry, dear.) Jeff, who had signed me on to the project, had suggested turning the picture into a car accident, but then there would have been no element of the original picture left.

In the end, does it work? I'm not sure it does. I might have liked to choose a different picture to start from -- say, Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory. I can see severed heads going by them on the assembly line as they top the exposed brains with whipped cream and cherries; Fred could be messing with the line's speed dial, and Ricky... um, I don't know. Bandleading, or reacting to the mess, or something.

Or don't you think these four would be ideal as zombie Mary Ann, Ginger, Skipper and Gilligan?

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek. Sort of

Instead of the usual snippet from a corner of this week's Q Syndicate cartoon, this week's sneak peek is a cartoon I drew for the syndicate 14 years ago.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

QToon: Tommy v. Tammy

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 3, 2012
National media attention this week has been on tonight's debate between President Barack Obama and Bain Capitalist Mitt Romney. Less attention gets paid to the congressional and senatorial debates around the country, by and large, although the Elizabeth Warren v. Scott Brown debate over the weekend did get some tongues wagging.

(As an aside: I don't buy the media spin that it was a gaffe when Warren started to answer a question about which Republican now in the Senate she could work with on major issues by citing Dick Lugar. Dick Lugar is "now in the Senate," as David Gregory phrased the question, even if Lugar won't be there once the next Congress is sworn in. And while a Democrat might be able to work with, say, Marco Rubio on immigration reform, or Rand Paul on limiting government surveillance of private citizens, on "major issues," the Republicans who will be calling the shots if Scott Brown is reelected have no interest whatsoever in working with any Democrats.)

Last Friday in the race to succeed retiring Senator Herb Kohl, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and Madison area Congressman Tammy Baldwin met in what was billed as a debate. It was no such thing; the format consisted them taking turns answering questions from four TV/radio people. They each got to give one answer to each question, and there was no opportunity for rebuttal or response to each other. The one time a questioner asked what he called a follow-up question, he changed the subject from abortion to marriage equality. Well, that's not a follow-up question; that's a question asked out of turn.

Having breezed through several debates in his races for governor, Thompson was at ease with the format, repeating his favorite talking points frequently but as if they were fresh new thoughts each time -- so that any given one of those sound bites could be used in news reports or his own campaign commercials. Baldwin faltered a bit more at the outset, with enough umms and uhhs that I began to wonder if she had only crammed for the event on the drive to the studio. But she addressed the questions directly, with detailed facts, and without harping on a select few talking points all night; and she seemed more comfortable by the end of the hour.

And, unlike Thompson, Baldwin did not come off as downright scornful of her opponent. It rang strange when, after Baldwin had given her answer to a late-in-the-debate question asking what could be done to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, Thompson blurted out with mock astonishment, "I'm absolutely surprised! That's the first time I haven't been blamed for something or George W. Bush!"

Thompson brought up his wife three times during the debate, although, curiously, he never said her name. Now, admittedly, that's fewer times than he said that he'd cut taxes 91 times, but one wonders what kind of point he was trying to make. There was nothing all evening that he said that he hadn't planned beforehand to say. I have to suspect that this was a "dog whistle" to the people whom he wanted to remind that Ms. Baldwin is one of those scary lesbians.

What else went on during the evening?

We learned that somehow, when nobody was looking, Tommy Thompson built a hospital in Afghanistan. The morning-after research finds that not all is well with that particular project:
A contractor's assessment of the hospital found that Afghan physicians at the hospital often did not have basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology and lacked skills needed to resuscitate women and infants. In addition, the hospital routinely lacked basic supplies, including surgical gloves and antibiotics.
More impressively, he also built Wisconsin. He even claimed to have brought Wisconsin unemployment down below 2%. (Politifact disagreed with an earlier claim of 2.1%.) But don't blame him for any of today's problems. He's not in Congress, he's a private sector.

Monday, October 1, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

It's rare that I get to draw about Wisconsin issues for Q Syndicate, but this week, I'm afraid I'll have to insist.