Monday, February 29, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

I wasn't really watching the Oscars last night -- it's more the case that it was on across the room while I was drawing. I did catch that the lists of people winners would want to thank were running on a brisk crawl line on the bottom of the screen in a futile effort to keep the acceptance speeches under 45 seconds.

Next year, they'll probably insist upon moving the socio-political speeches down onto the crawl, too.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Riders on Desert Storm

Awe shucks, it's Shockback Saturday again; and I read this week that it's the 25th anniversary of the end of Gulf War I. 25 years ago today, Saddam Hussein ordered the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, although combat continued at the Kuwait City airport for four more days, and the retreating army set fire to hundreds of oil wells as they fled.

I was drawing for two college newspapers and the Racine Journal Times in those days, so here are only a few of the cartoons I drew about that war. You may look to other sources for the factors that led up to the war, but as far as most Americans were concerned, it all started in August, 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded the sheikdom of Kuwait.

The Bush administration (Pappy, not Dubya) had, through Ambassador April Glaspie, earlier told the Saddam Hussein regime that "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait," but that an actual invasion would be cause "for me to be concerned." Now that the invasion was a fait accompli, President Bush had some serious decisions to make.

Throughout the remainder of the summer and fall, both sides engaged in a great deal of saber rattling and bellicose talk. Bush swore that the invasion of Kuwait would not be allowed to stand, and Hussein promised "the mother of all battles" if the U.S. and the coalition of allies Bush was gathering tried to do anything about it.

For civilians stateside, it was an opportunity to fight the Vietnam War Protests all over again.

If the U.S. military had learned one lesson from Vietnam, it was that having TV news cameras out filming the troops and civilians and broadcasting whatever they witnessed back home the next day allowed the American public to form their own opinions about how the war was going. This time, the press had to be largely satisfied with military briefings showing successful missile strikes on guaranteed military targets.

This time, once the U.S.-led coalition entered the ground war in mid-January, the actual fighting was surprisingly short. Hussein quickly evacuated his forces from Kuwait all the way back to Baghdad. The ceasefire agreement was signed shortly afterward.





Thursday, February 25, 2016

Q Toon: Tolerating That Crap

We take a break from the presidential campaign to check what's going on in statehouses around the country:

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 25, 2016
"We're currently tracking 192 bills, the vast majority of which are anti-LGBT with major themes being trans bathrooms and rfras (religious freedom restoration acts) focused on marriage," Mark Daniel Snyder, spokesman for the Equality Federation, a gay rights group, told ABC News.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R-Of Course) is poised to sign the first of a wave of bills to keep transgender persons out of public rest rooms. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R-Need You Ask?) wants his state to void the recent anti-discrimination ordinance passed in Charlotte on the grounds that no place in North Carolina should be allowed to be any more progressive than the most backwards backwoods hamlet.

Where established LGBT organizations have dropped the ball, it becomes necessary for tax-paying businesses to pitch in. Tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple and Yahoo have come down solidly in favor of LGBT rights; the pushback from firms such as PayPal and Salesforce were instrumental in getting Indiana to reconsider its "religious liberty" law last year.

Business leaders in Georgia are worried about a loss of film and convention business if the state's so-called "First Amendment Defense Act" protecting antigay discrimination is signed into law. Decatur, Georgia telecom firm 373K recently announced that it would pull up stakes and leave the state over the issue:
“I’m gay, our CFO is gay, we have people from every walk of life working here,” co-founder Kelvin Williams told [New Civil Rights Movement] on Saturday. “I’ve got Muslims, Buddhists, atheists here. We’ve got great Christians working for us. They’ve never thought of not serving anyone – that’s not the message of Christ.”
“We don’t tolerate that crap,” he added definitively.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Remembering Scalia

As promised when I posted this week's cartoon, Supremeback Saturday rummages through the dank and musty files of my early cartoons throughout the admagistracy of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Enbiggenification available when beclickened.)

It was 1986 and Ronald Reagan was in his second term. So far, he had named Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, filling a 1980 campaign promise to name the first female Justice. The liberal wing of the Court consisted of Justices Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, Thurgood Marshall, and William Brennan (not pictured: John Paul Stevens); Reagan clearly itched for some of them to retire.
Next to Reagan in this February, 1986 cartoon are Attorney General Ed Meese, and Appeals Court Judges Robert Bork and Richard Posner (both Reagan appointees). Is that Scalia peering over Meese's suitcase? I don't remember whether I already knew who he was or what he looked like; but that's not how I drew Nixon, and it doesn't quite look like Pat Buchanan or Joe McCarthy, either.

Nevertheless, it was Antonin Scalia's name that came up a few months later when Reagan's next opportunity to shape the Court arose. Liberals were none too enthused by Scalia's nomination, but the higher profile appointment was that of William Rehnquist to succeed fellow Nixon appointee Warren Burger as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (Scalia was appointed to replace Rehnquist as Associate Justice.) Rehnquist was the most right-wing justice on the court at the time, having been the lone dissenter in Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), Bob Jones University v. U.S. (1983), Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia (1980) and Taylor v. Louisiana (1975). Rehnquist had also recused himself in the otherwise unanimous U.S. v. Nixon (1974).

Scalia and Rehnquist were easily confirmed anyway, and this cartoon from July, 1986 predicted that they would be joined by Donald Regan, William Clark, Bork, Meese, Clint Eastwood, and Nancy Reagan; and that claims of discrimination would become much harder to prove.

Reagan did in fact name Robert Bork to the court the next year, when Justice Powell retired; but you may remember that the Democratic Senate refused to confirm his nomination and Republicans turned his name into a verb. The Senate eventually confirmed Anthony Kennedy, in an election year, as your liberal Facebook friends have already reminded you several times. (The time between Bork's nomination and Kennedy joining the Court -- even with the aborted nomination of pot-smoker Douglas Ginsburg in the interim: 233 days.)

The first of my cartoons in which Scalia gets the starring role was in June, 2003, after Scalia's caustic dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. The case arose from the arrest of John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner, whom Houston police found having consensual sex in Lawrence's home when they responded to an unfounded weapons complaint. The Court's decision, written by Justice Kennedy, was that Lawrence's and Gardner's right of due process was violated by Texas's laws outlawing homosexual activity between consenting adults.

Scalia scolded the majority for overturning Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and predicted a parade of horribles: an end to state laws against obscenity, bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, and bestiality.
"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed."

Two years later, this happened:
I'm sure that today, that kid is a well-respected junior partner somewhere.

There have been two Justices on the Supreme Court whom I have particularly enjoyed drawing, and it's amusing to learn that in spite of their diametrically opposed views on so many constitutional issues. and the lively exchanges in the opinions they have authored, they were actually very close friends who shared a love of opera and celebrated New Year's Eve together year after year.

When the Court struck down the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) in U.S. v. Windsor (2013), Scalia's dissent wailed that the Court had "formally declar[ed] anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency."

And finally, last year, Scalia's prediction of the end of civilization was fully realized, as the Court voted 5-4 in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. Each of the minority judges wrote his own dissent; Scalia called the decision "a threat to democracy." Contrast the "mummery" of the majority opinion with the sheer poetry of Scalia's uffish thoughts:
"Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Q Toon: Day After Day

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 18, 2016
The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia overnight this past weekend completely changed my plans for this week's cartoon. The passing of the notoriously antigay and prickly jurist could not go unremarked. But what sort of eulogy could I possibly draw to commemorate the passing of this defender of "the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct" for publication up to a week later?

The answer came with equal suddenness as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared even while the body was still on the way to the morgue that Scalia's seat on the Court "should not be filled until we have a new President."

I hastily posted a grayscale version of this cartoon to the AAEC site on Monday, fearing that the place would be crawling with McConnell tortoises by Thursday. (Thankfully, no, and Jon Stewart isn't around to beat me to the punch on The Daily Show, which is in reruns this week anyway.)

I soon heard from a repeat commenter who thought I needed to be told that back in 1987, then-Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had advised the U.S. Senate not to consider any more of Ronald Reagan's Supreme Court nominees.

That's nice to know, but Schumer was not Senate Majority Leader, and I don't recall the Senate ever following the leadership of third-term members of the House. Senator Schumer's 2007 comments on Dubya's Supreme Court picks would be more germane. As would Senator Mitch McConnell's in 2005 be more germane than his opinion in 1970.

I'll be back on Supremeback Saturday with more on Justice Scalia, and probably over the next year or so with more on whomever President Obama -- or President Sanders or President Trump -- names as his successor. Especially if a 4-4 Court is asked to decide another presidential election in the meantime.

Monday, February 15, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


Tune in later this week for some argle-bargle, jiggery-pokery and Nietzschean mummeries with a side of apple sauce.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Day, 1916

It's Sufferback Saturday again, and Valentine's Eve; so for kicks, here's a Valentine's Day card from 100 years ago:
Okay, this particular card is not so much an expression of love as it is a plea for women's suffrage. That's right: 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote. Men thought that womenfolk might base their decisions on frivolous considerations, such as whether a candidate had a popular TV show and kept saying whatever was on his mind. Or perhaps they didn't want to risk their wives and daughters being condemned to a special place in hell for not supporting female candidates.

Mr. Pou here is Congressman William Edward Pou, a delegate from North Carolina to the 1916 Democratic Convention. Mr. Pou was an "arch enemy" of the suffragettes, according to a contemporary article in the Worcester Post.

The article goes on to describe some of the suffragettes' other cards, such as one to Wisconsin Republican Congressman William Joseph Cary with a picture of a woman watering a flower:
"Cary, Cary, quite contrary,
And your suffrage vote so slow."
Senator James W. Wadsworth Jr. (R-NY) received a valentine reading:
"'Conservative' Senator, greatly you vex us.
If we were a man, on your cold solar plexus
We'd land such hard punches you could not resist 'em,
And your 'deep-seated prejudice' jolt from your system."
The article credits the campaign to one Mrs. Jesse D. Hampton, who explained, "We have tried reasoning, eloquence of the soap box, cart tail and the back of an automobile variety; and we hope that rhymes may influence the politicians where the other forces did not."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Q Toon: Log Cabin Fever

At the risk of piling on Mrs. Clinton, here's this week's cartoon:

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 11, 2016

Last month, The Log Cabin Republicans emerged from their hole in the ground to issue a political ad criticizing Hillary Clinton for being “wrong on gay rights when it mattered.” Their ad shows clips of Hillary Clinton making statements such as "I do not support gay marriage" in 2002 and 2004, followed by one of Bernie Sanders on Rachel Maddow's show last October in which he says, "It's great that people evolve... but it's important for people to stand up when the going is tough."

Now, whatever one thinks about Bernie Sanders' record on LGBT issues, it's hard to imagine that LGBTs who identify as Republican actually want to see the Vermont Socialist elected President of the United States. (The Log Cabin Boys do post a disclaimer at the end of the ad stating that they aren't endorsing either candidate. Whew! I'm glad they've cleared that up.)

Log Cabin president Gregory Angelo told the Washington Blade, "I personally think and Log Cabin Republicans thinks [sic] that voters should be aware of Hillary Clinton’s past, specifically on marriage equality. We felt that urgency to do so now ... because other LGBT organizations have not done due diligence regarding Hillary Clinton’s past, and we felt we were in a unique position to step up in that regard."

A decade ago, you'd have been very hard pressed to find any Democrat at the national level willing to vouch for marriage equality. Civil unions were as far as most of them were willing to venture.

You'd have had a hard time finding any Socialists at the national level pushing for marriage equality, either. Not included in the LCR ad is Sanders, in the same Rachel Maddow interview, defending having told the Rutland Herald in 2006, when asked whether Vermont should legalize same-sex marriage, “not right now.”

Nor do the Log Cabin Boys include anything from this 16-year-old column by the late Peter Freyne about Sanders' reaction after Vermont's Supreme Court ordered the state legislature to do something to afford same-sex couples equal rights with different-sex couples. I'll quote Freyne at length:
Obtaining Congressman Bernie Sanders’ position on the gay marriage issue was like pulling teeth...from a rhinoceros. Last month, shortly after the decision of the Amestoy Court was issued, Mr. Sanders publicly tried walking the tightrope — applauding the court’s decision and the cause of equal rights without supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples.
This week we were no more successful getting a straight answer. All we did get was a carefully crafted non-statement statement via e-mail from Washington D.C. And Bernie’s statement wins him the Vermont congressional delegation’s Wishy-Washy Award hands down.
Once more he “applauds” the court decision but won’t go anywhere near choosing between same-sex “marriage” and domestic partnership. “By all accounts the legislature is approaching this issue in a considered and appropriate manner and I support the current process.”
Supports the current process, does he? What a courageous radical!
That’s as far as Ol’ Bernardo would go. It’s an election year, yet despite the lack of a serious challenger, The Bern’s gut-level paranoia is acting up. He’s afraid to say something that might alienate his conservative, rebel-loving rural following out in the hills. Something that could be interpreted as “Bernie Loves Queers!”
As Freyne noted earlier in the column, however, the two Democrats running for Sanders' seat in Congress that year were both on the record in support of full marriage equality. Sanders easily won reelection in 2000, so I guess Sanders had the better read on those rebel-loving rural Vermonters.

To be perfectly honest, I tend to think the Democrats would be better off not nominating a guy who wasn't even a member of their party a year ago (and the Republicans would be better off not nominating a Donnie-Come-Lately, too, for that matter). But wherever the candidates stood on marriage equality in 1972, or 2000, or 2004, or 2006, I want to support a candidate who'll stand up for LGBT rights "when it matters."

Like when Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


While we wait for Ben Carson to venture out of the wings and for Marco Rubio to stop skipping Rubio to stop skipping Rubio to stop skipping Rubio to stop skipping Rubio to stop skipping Rubio to stop skipping *scrrrratch!*

...I'm still stuck on last Saturday's discussion of Hillary and marriage equality.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Support Your Right to Explode

Dateline Shigagowinj, WI (IPU): At the National Rifle Association and Wisconsin Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs, and Educators Inc. (FORCE)  annual convention in Weston this month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) signed a bill into law that allows suicide vests, five years after the state approved concealed firearms and seconds after a bill to allow carrying switchblades.

Manufacturing, selling, transporting, purchasing or possessing a suicide vest has been illegal in
Wisconsin since frontier days.

The bill also lowers the minimum age for wearing a suicide vest to three months and bars local governments from enacting suicide vest regulations stricter than state law.

The bill’s author, Kathleen Van Kooykmir (R-Idiculous) told reporters, “Local ordinances more restrictive than state law only serve to confuse or entrap law-abiding citizens traveling within or through the state. Preemption ensures that citizens can expect consistent enforcement of state suicide vest laws everywhere in Wisconsin.”

Suicide vests may now be worn in Wisconsin schools, houses of worship, bars, restaurants, sports arenas, public transportation, airports and amusement parks. The one place suicide vests will still be banned is the state capitol building.

“We may be wild and reckless,” said State Senator Ron Onionson (R-Eilavac), “But we ain't nuts.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton: HRC in NYC

For today's episode of Statenback Saturday, I dredge up some more of my old cartoons about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Last week, I posted some cartoons dating from her First Ladyship, and the Sandersnistas among my readers might be forgiven if they criticized me for a pro-Hillary bias. Today's cartoons date from her tenure as the U.S. Senator from the state of New York and were drawn for an LGBT audience -- and posting them again is probably not doing her any favors. (Especially since they criticize her for stuff which somehow failed to make this comprehensive list of all the terrible things she has done.)

Hillary Clinton chose to run for New York's open Senate seat because New York, having many citizens who are from somewhere else, have a history of electing public officials who are from somewhere else, too. Those citizens can be mighty proud of being from somewhere else, or at least that their great-grandparents were from somewhere else. There are also those who are from somewhere else because they aren't accepted for who they are somewhere else, and by golly, now they are proud of how far they've come.

Senator Clinton probably wished she had stayed somewhere else during the collision of ethnic pride and gay pride that New York enjoys every St. Patrick's Day. Running for the senate seat in 2000, she had marched in both the New York City Ancient Order of Hibernians parade, which banned LGBT participation, and also in an earlier "St. Pat's For All" parade in Queens, created as a gay-friendly alternative. Her attempt to please everybody placated nobody.

She skirted the controversy in 2001 by marching in Syracuse's parade upstate instead.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade issue had still not gone away when she was preparing to launch her 2008 presidential campaign.

But there were more substantive LGBT issues on her plate, too, such as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and marriage equality. My only cartoon depicting her efforts to distance herself from DADT  was when she was running for the Senate in 2000. As for marriage equality, a window of opportunity opened in California in 2008, but neither she nor her rival for the Democratic nomination were inclined to lead on the issue.

I'm skipping right past her tenure at the State Department now, but both Mrs. Clinton and President Obama did come around, eventually.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Q Toon: Through the Eye of the Needle

I take a risk any time I draw a cartoon like this one on the weekend before a presidential primary or caucus, knowing it won't be published until after the votes are counted and their entrails analyzed beyond recognition.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 4, 2016

It's too bad I didn't draw it a week earlier. I have been at a loss to understand the fulsome praise heaped upon Donald "Two Corinthians" Trump by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. (I didn't realize they had a history together.). Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas has also come as close as he can get to officially endorsing Trump without risking his megachurch's tax-exempt status (and I guess those two have no history together to explain what Jeffress sees in The Donald). An NBC News/Survey Monkey poll taken before the Iowa caucuses led one to believe that evangelicals were "flocking to Trump."
Among white evangelical Republican voters nationally, Trump earned the support of 37 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father is a pastor and has played a key role in recruiting faith leaders to support his son, is at 20 percent. In the same survey conducted the previous week, Cruz registered 9 percentage points higher. Below the top two contenders, Ben Carson earned 11 percent among evangelicals, and Marco Rubio took 10 percent.
What do these people who think President Obama is the Antichrist see in the guy often described as a thrice-married casino mogul? It can't be his powers of insightful exegesis:
Trump was raised Presbyterian and has often fumbled in his attempts to appeal to Christian and Evangelical voters. He declined to discuss his favorite Bible verse in August, after claiming the Bible was his all-time favorite book. He later tried to recite a verse that didn't actually occur in the Bible. He has also said he never asks God for forgiveness, and when asked which book of the Bible was his favorite, he said he likes the Old and New Testament equally.
On the other hand, they probably appreciated his promise to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the current Court's rulings for marriage equality. The Muslim-bashing didn't hurt his standing with them, either.

But the evangelicals could get that stuff from nearly every one of the candidates in the Republican party. They bought it from Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum before -- two Iowa caucus victors who are now stranded in the wilderness wondering how they let some Richie Rich from Noo Yoark Sitty swipe their schtick.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


I'm going out on a limb this week and crossing my fingers that heavy snow doesn't result in an upset win for Jim Gilmore tonight.