Saturday, July 30, 2016

100 Years Ago: Britannia Riles the Waves

Welcome to yet another installment of Spitback Saturday Goes to War, your trusted source for the very latest century-old news!

Aside from the occasional pacifist work, the American World War I cartoons I've posted here up to now have been entirely pro-British, so today we look at another side of the coin. In the summer of 1916, England hardened its line against neutral countries' trade with the Axis powers.
"Mailed Fist" by Evans in Baltimore American, July, 1916
Americans were already chafing against English censorship of intercontinental mails and cables when, in the summer of 1916, Great Britain passed the Trading With the Enemy Act, resulting in sanctions against some 80 American firms. This is well before the U.S.A. became the world's dominant nation, calling the shots around the globe; with its navy and far-flung empire England was arguably the strongest of the world's major powers at the time and well able to interdict transAtlantic trade.

American cartoonists took a dim view of the British blacklist:
"The Road Hog" by John N. "Ding" Darling for Des Moines Register and Leader, July, 1916
George Washington Rehse (1868-1930) drew for St. Paul Globe, St. Louis Republic, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press up to the early 1910's before Pulitzer's New York World lured him away to the Big Apple. A self-taught artist, Rehse transitioned from the pen-and-ink style in vogue at the turn of the century to a crayon technique becoming popular in later decades.
"Notice to Neutrals" by George W. Rehse in New York World, July, 1916
I'm somewhat surprised at the harshness of this next Winsor McCay cartoon. McCay produced a lengthy animated propaganda film (1918) about the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania, exhorting his countrymen to avenge the murder of innocents which he showed bobbing in the water and sinking beneath the waves. The British blacklist hardly seems to be in the same league, but McCay goes there anyway.
"Walking the Plank!" by Winsor McCay, July, 1916
McCay pays such close attention to detail, in his editorial cartoons, in his animations, and most famously in his Little Nemo in Slumberland. His is one of the greatest names in cartooning history, and I've got a couple more of his editorial cartoons waiting for Labor Day weekend. I have to say, however, that people in water in his cartoons just don't look as though they are in any particular danger. Keeping one's head above water requires a considerable amount of effort, but "American Foreign Commerce" and "American Mails" appear able to walk to shore.

On the other hand, they say that drowning people don't look as though they are drowning, so perhaps McCay watched some people drown and took notes.

Robert Brinkerhoff has a much more bemused take on British blacklist:
"Wish I Knew Where He Was Comin' Out" by Robert M. Brinkerhoff for Boston Journal, July, 1916
And then, on August 3, England executed Sir Roger Casement for his role in Ireland's Easter Rising. Many American newspapers condemned the execution of the diplomat who had been an advocate of human rights in such far-flung places as the Congo and Peru. His devotion to the oppressed has been linked to his homosexuality, although that aspect was not widely reported on this side of the Atlantic.
"A Stain That Will Cling Forever" by Harry Murphy for Chicago Examiner, August 4, 1916 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Q Toon: All Star Heel

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jul 28, 2016

The National Basketball Association announced last week that it is moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, over the HB2, the state's "bathroom bill" requiring transgender persons to use the bathroom of the opposite sex, as well as granting Christians special rights to discriminate against LGBT citizens and visitors to the state.
“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
Governor McCrory is sticking by his law, complaining that a "selective corporate elite" is "bypassing the democratic process."

HB2, you may recall, was passed this past March in a hastily called special one-day legislative session and quickly signed by McCrory that night. There was no opportunity for anybody but a selective Republican elite to engage in the democratic process beforehand.

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


I promise to discuss the issue this week without drawing a basketball being slam-dunked into toilet.

You're welcome.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

¿Hispanics Para Trump?

I am not going to second guess the genetic origin of these two delegates to last week's Republican convention, or of any of the others waving "Hispanics para Trump" signs. For all I know, their parents were bankers from Havana until 1959, or lost their government jobs upon the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

And, as someone with only a rudimentary grasp of Spanish, I have difficulty myself knowing when to use "para" and when to use "por," so I'm only taking someone else's word that "para" is the wrong preposition.

(A tweet cited on HuffPo states that "Hispanics con Trump" would be more correct — although I'd suggest that "Trump cons Hispanics" would be better still.)

I'm reminded of a campaign at my alma mater in which a foreign exchange student ran for student government president. The slogan on his campaign literature may have sounded good in the original Ghanaian, but "A vote for [the candidate] is a vote for [his running mate] and a vote for you all" just sounded silly in English.

Returning to the present day, I do know that "Hispanics" is an English word, not a Spanish one.

It took me three seconds on Google Translate to get "los hispanos."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Democratic Conventions Past

Last week, I dusted off a selection of my cartoons about Republican National Conventions. For Stepback Saturday this week, I ought to give the Democrats equal time.

There's just one problem about that. As Hillary Clinton demonstrated yesterday, Democratic nominees' vice-presidential picks are often spectacularly uninspired.

Walter Mondale's choice of New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was surely intended to be bold and ground-breaking. The choice may have come off as such, if not for a perception that Mondale was yielding to feminist demands, or for his too-public "P.R. parade of personalities" (as Jesse Jackson called it) to his home in Minnesota before making his choice known. Besides, rival Jackson had beat Mondale to the punch by promising to name a woman to as his running mate if he had won the nomination.

1988 nominee Michael Dukakis played it too safe with the choice of Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen to balance the Massachusetts governor's ticket. Jesse Jackson had been the strongest of Dukakis's rivals for the nomination, and his supporters were disappointed that he didn't get the #2 spot.

And that's it.

Nobody got booed off the stage at the Democratic National Conventions of the 1990's, 2000's or (so far) the 2010's. As Veep picks, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and Joe Biden didn't inspire me to rush to my drawing board to laud them as wonderful choices or to bemoan them as terrible ones. I have been inspired at other times to draw cartoons about each of them (which is more than I can say about Timothy M. Kaine), but not about their vice presidential nominations.

So screw equal time. Here's a cartoon about behavior by the front-row Texas delegation at George W. Bush's 2000 Republican National Convention, even though it was drawn three months later.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Q Toon: Veep Stakes

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jul 21, 2016

Donald Trump threw a bone to his right-wing Christian theocratic supporters by letting them write the most antigay party platform in the Republicans' rabidly antigay history, and by naming Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.

Followers of this blog (you clearly being a discerning and intelligent bunch) may remember him having signed Indiana's antigay "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," guaranteeing Christian Hoosiers' right to discriminate against LGBT citizens. Blowback from business giants such as Apple, Walmart, and Salesforce – and even the Disciples of Christ and the NCAA – forced Indiana to tweak the law to tone down its antigay hostility a bit.

Although he is not as much of a firebrand as Newt Gingrich or Ted Cruz, former five-term Congressman Pence continues his party's trend of vice presidential picks lurching ever further rightward.
In the 107th Congress (Pence’s first, covering 2001 and 2002), for example, out of 435 members of the U.S. House, Pence ranked #428 – meaning that 427 members were to his left, putting the Hoosier on the far-right-wing fringe. The results were roughly the same in the 108th Congress and the 109th.

By the 110th Congress, Pence was at #432, putting him to the right of nearly everyone in the chamber. The results were roughly the same in the 111th Congress and the 112th.
Let’s put this another way: during his congressional career, Pence wasn’t just more conservative than Paul Ryan. His voting record also put him to the right of Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Steve King, and even Louie Gohmert.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


I've been noticing occasional spikes in visits here by readers in Mauritius; so welcome, and my apologies for going yet another week without any cartoons about Mauritius issues.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

GOP Conventions Past

Since I've already posted about 1916 this week, for today's installment of Swerveback Saturday, I rummage through the dusty crate of my own cartoons.

The topic this week is cartoons about Republican National Conventions. I didn't draw national issue toons for a newspaper that published during the summer until 1988, so that's where we'll start. My George H.W. Bush caricature didn't quite come together until this second one:
My caricature of Vice President Dan Quayle never really came together at all, so I don't miss him as a national figure.

Skipping an entire generation, all I can find from 1992 to 2000 is this never-published one. It might have worked better in a vertical (portrait) orientation, so that I'd have had room to draw George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's with their arms raised.

As you've seen, these convention cartoons are usually about the candidates; but once in a while, the convention itself comes up for discussion. There was never any contest for the Republican nomination when Dubya ran for reelection in 2004...
...so instead I coupled the GOP keeping its LGBT supporters at arms length with its introduction of a "free protest zone" that year.

The party platform always gets a lot of attention at convention time, even if it becomes wide open to interpretation afterward.
Because...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

100 Years Ago: Judge John H. Clarke

100 years ago today, July 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Ohio judge John H. Clarke to the United States Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created when Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned from the Court to accept the Republican nomination to run for president.

The United States Senate unanimously approved the Clarke nomination in just ten days.

Ten. Days.

Today, July 14, 2016, it has been 120 days since President Barack Obama officially nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. The Court begins its Fall session in another 81 days from now. No confirmation hearings have been held, nor are any being planned, ostensibly because there's a presidential election in 117 days, and Republicans have decided that such things are simply not done in a democracy.

The nine-member Supreme Court in the Fall of election year 1916.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Q Toon: Pride Parade Planning

The usual summer doldrums are running a little late this year, so I've stepped back to take note of a story that was largely overlooked a couple weeks ago.

You may have caught coverage of Justin Trudeau becoming the first sitting Prime Minister of Canada to march in Toronto's LGBT Pride Parade. (Marching while sitting is a feat in and of itself!) You may not have seen reporting about the controversial start of the parade.

Parade organizers had chosen to give the lead spot in the parade to the local Black Lives Matter group, which returned the favor by blocking the parade, setting off multi-colored smoke bombs, and refusing to move until a list of demands was met. Among other things, the BLM activists demanded the removal of police from the parade, both as participants and as protection, which strikes me as particularly boneheaded coming so soon after the massacre at Pulse in Orlando.

Toronto Pride found itself with no alternative but to tell the police to get lost, and only then did BLM allow the parade to get underway. I'm not sure what else BLM managed to accomplish, other than to make any further invitations for BLM to participate unlikely; Toronto Pride has since indicated that they have no intention of fulfilling their promise to ban law enforcement participation in the future.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jul 13, 2016

I considered drawing about this topic last week, and I'm glad I didn't. Whatever I might have drawn before the events in Baton Rouge, the Twin Cities and Dallas ripped the scab off the nation's race relations would surely have appeared in a different context than it had been drawn in.

As it is, I know I risk offending some readers who expect me to stick to lampooning Republicans and the religious right 24-7.

For the record, I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has a legitimate grievance against law enforcement due to a pattern of incidents in which black citizens have been killed over petty infractions (busted tail lights, selling cigarettes on the street, etc.) and/or when presenting no danger to the officers or the community. These incidents contrast with episodes of white citizens openly threatening to kill law enforcement agents with a curiously lower rate of "extreme prejudice."

As an internet meme points out, many of the people who argue that the "Black Lives Matter" crowd should settle for being covered by "All Lives Matter" are the same people upset that "Happy Holidays" somehow discriminates against "Merry Christmas."

What I'm criticizing here is the all-or-nothing attitude that pervades socio-political dialectics these days. Calling for improved training of police is one thing, especially if our society continues to idolize gun culture. Equating the police with terrorists, on the other hand, is hardly helpful.

And I tend to agree with the words of John Aravosis: "In a nutshell: Fred Phelps protests Pride parades. Our friends don’t."

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


I don't always put a title in my cartoon, but when I do, I use a big bold Egyptienne font.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

100 Years Ago: O Verdun!

You may have noticed on the front pages from 1916 that have appeared on Saturback Sommeday here lately that by this point of the year, the Battle of Verdun had been underway for several months. Lasting from February into December, the Battle of Verdun was the single longest battle of the Great War.
"Offensives and Defensives" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, July 6, 1916
Verdun-sur-Meuse is a small river town on what was the Western Front; you'll find it on a line between Luxembourg and Paris. The French had not expected an attack there in winter, so the Germans were able to capture several forts in the first four days of their advance. Once the French put General Petain in charge of defenses there, however, a deadly stalemate took hold. By July, 185,000 were dead on the French side, 200,000 on the Germans'.

In June, the British launched a counterattack at the Somme, where they would suffer their greatest losses of the war over the next several months. It succeeded in forcing the German army to divert forces about 120 miles northwest, softening their line enough that the French were finally able to retake some six miles of territory on July 5.
"The Crown Prince and the German Sheep on Their Way to Slaughter"
Gabriel Galantara for L'Asino, (Rome)
German sheep being herded to slaughter was a theme I came across more than once in searching out cartoons about this particular battle. Keep in mind that as far as cartoonists in the belligerent countries were concerned, the enemy's casualties were always the more significant issue than those of one's own side.
"CLOWN PRINCE: Gott is mit uns! Another hundred thousand German lives will do it!"
Joseph Morewood Staniforth for Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 
In the U.S., officially a neutral country for the moment, some cartoonists saw that the carnage was equally tragic on both sides.
"Shade of Dante: 'My Inferno Was Child's Play.'"
William C. Morris for Harper's Weekly Independent, New York, July 17, 1916
As for German cartoonists, I have only this one cartoon about Verdun, probably from May or June. Here, the German soldier has his hapless French foe pinned on his back; the two figures belching fire in the background are British Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Dmitrievich Sazonov.
W. A. Wellner for Lustige Blaetter, Berlin
I don't know what the caption to that cartoon was in the original German, and I don't speak German anyway; but I doubt there was anything clever or witty to Wellner's cartoon, or in any of the other German cartoons I've seen. Faced with the horrors of war, most continental cartoonists abandoned any sense of humor in favor of hyperbolic chauvinism.
"The Eagle Strangled by France"
Louis Raemaekers for Amsterdam Telegraf
Louis Raemaekers was without a doubt a great cartoonist, but even with reported grain shortages in Germany, the idea that France was strangling the German Eagle is wildly optimistic at this point of the war. The Western front was still entirely in France. This British cartoon by Leonard Raven-Hill is a better metaphor:
"Held" by Leonard Raven-Hill for Punch (London)
In July, a number of other cartoonists repeated some variation of this second cartoon by Raven-Hill from a few months earlier:
"The Grapes of Verdun" by Leonard Raven-Hill for Punch (London)
Meanwhile, Germany and Austria-Hungary also had to deal with the last major offensive of Czarist Russia on their Eastern Front. From his vantage point in America's Midwest, here's how things stood in John McCutcheon's eyes.
"The Supreme Test" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1916

Friday, July 8, 2016

Anything to Help

Checking my email before going to bed Sunday night, I read a letter from the publisher of The Rainbow Times (Massachusetts), who was starting to get frantic because they couldn't download from the Q Syndicate site the memorial cartoon I had done after the Pulse massacre in Orlando. It being the Fourth of July weekend, I figured that there was a good chance that nobody was checking email at the syndicate; so after checking that the paper does in fact subscribe to my cartoons, I sent them the file from my computer.

Publisher Gricel Ocasio returned a very nice and thankful reply ("I am SO glad you replied to me. It was very important for this issue and I thank you for having drawn this cartoon. It will mean a lot to our readers"), so I'm posting a link to their paper in appreciation.

I'm very touched by the popularity of that cartoon, considering that I almost didn't draw it. No paper to my knowledge has published the other cartoon I drew that week, whereas a paper or two that had dropped me as a regular feature brought me back for at least one issue to print the rainbow and flag cartoon.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Q Toon: Amodo Fi

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒ Jul 7, 2016

Late last month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the DOD would lift its ban on military service by transgender citizens.
“This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force,” Carter said. “We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission."
The policy will not take effect immediately; DOD wants to draw up a policy manual first, and to determine medical protocols when a service member or veteran seeks hormone therapy and/or gender correction surgery. A Rand Corporation study estimates that there are anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630 transgender troops in the active-duty force of 1.3 million. Perhaps as many as a couple hundred might opt for gender correction surgery on the Defense Department's dime, costing $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year.

Republicans in charge of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, John McCain and Mac Thornberry, have threatened to hold hearings in an effort to scuttle the new policy — or at least to rile up their party's transphobic base in an election year.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Saturday, July 2, 2016

100 Years Ago: Unavoidably Came Peace

Last week's review of 100-year-old editorial cartoons may have left less historically literate readers with the impression that the United States and Mexico went to war in 1916. In order to reassure anyone worried for great-great-grandfather's safety, Stressback Saturday turns to the next page of the Punitive Expeditionary Force story.
"What Just the Sight of the Dentists' Tools Will Do":
John "Ding" Darling for the Des Moines Register and Leader
Troops C and K of the 10th Cavalry (Black "Buffalo Soldiers" led by white officers) suffered heavy losses against Venustiano Carranza's army at the Battle of Carrizal on June 21. The Woodrow Wilson administration responded with a massive mobilization of National Guard forces heading toward the border.

The Mexican Army suffered greater casualties at Carrizal than the Americans had. On July 5, Carranza sent a conciliatory note to Washington, promising to turn his army's attention away from the U.S. Army and toward the "bandits" in his own country. In return, he expected U.S. forces not to become a permanent occupation force on his side of the border.
"I Don't Believe I'm Quite as Hungry as I Thought I Was":
Alfred West Brewerton for the Atlanta Journal
As a gesture of good will, Carranza released a number of American soldiers his forces had taken prisoner, further defusing the crisis.
"Hiding the Main Issue": Jonathan H. Cassel for the New York Evening World
It seems that the reports of imminent war were not the only ones that turned out to be slightly exaggerated. Remember the headline splashed across the front page in April heralding the death of Pancho Villa?
"The Dual Personality": Hoffman for Baltimore Star
By July, reports that Mr. Villa was feeling much better could no longer be ignored.
"When He Was Last Seen": G. C. Bronstrup for San Francisco Chronicle
Fullblown war with Mexico, however, was avoided. Forces of the U.S. Punitive Expeditionary Force remained in Colonia Dublán to hold the Carranza government to its promises to capture Pancho Villa; although the Mexican Army failed in that regard, U.S. military activity more or less ceased through the remainder of the year.
"Something Else for Him to Look At": Luther Bradley for Chicago Daily News
While administration cheerleader Luther Bradley's cartoon turned out to be overly optimistic, R. M. Brinkerhoff proves here that you just can't please everybody:
"A False Alarm" by R.M. Brinkerhoff for the New York Evening Mail
Meanwhile, Carranza's newfound common cause with Wilson produced a side effect that would become achingly familiar to the United States in the 20th Century: aid and comfort to an erstwhile enemy.
"What Next?": John "Ding" Darling for the Des Moines Register and Leader