Saturday, October 21, 2017

Election Quadranscentennial

Return with us this Solaceback Saturday to that halcyon moment only a quarter century ago when America stood at a crossroads and elected not to go with the egotistical millionaire claiming to have all the answers.

These are some of my cartoons from October, 1992. With only a month to go before the election, the representatives of the two major party nominees had finally agreed to a debate schedule and formats, only to have H. Ross Perot, who had quit his independent campaign in the summer, announce that he was back in the race.

Wisconsin's First Congressional District was represented by eleven-term Democrat Les Aspin. 1992 would be the last election for that seat in which a Democratic victory was virtually assured. As Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Aspin had only token opposition from Janesville realtor Mark Neumann in 1992, and attacks on him by Republican interest groups and a national newspaper barely dented his popularity in southeast Wisconsin.
President Clinton would choose Aspin to be his Secretary of Defense in 1993, necessitating a special election. And while that election would be won by Democrat Peter Barca, it was only by 675 votes, and Barca would lose to Republican Mark Neumann in the rematch the following year. After 1996, the Democratic Party all but stopped contesting the seat entirely. Redistricting in 2001 and 2011, the decline of the auto industry, and widening exurban sprawl out of Chicago have made Wisconsin's CD1 safely Republican.

H. Ross Perot had originally entered the presidential race by promising on Larry King's CNN program to run if enough people committed to support his campaign. His withdrawal from the presidential race in July — making unsubstantiated claims that Republicans and the CIA had doctored photographs to portray his daughter as a lesbian and thus ruin her wedding — came as a stunning betrayal to those who had done the legwork to get his name on their state ballots, since polls had been showing him running ahead of both President George H.W. Bush and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

This next cartoon spoofs a Bush campaign ad which blurred Bill Clinton's face while accusing him of flip-flopping on the issues.

Tune in again next week for the exciting conclusion of Decision 92!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Q Toon: What's a Cthulhu to Do?

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
👾Oct 19, 2017
This is supposed to be my LGBTQ cartoon for the week, but I have to admit that I just wasn't finding any inspiration in the LGBTQ news stories over the weekend.

Australia is holding a vote on marriage equality, with the usual suspects weighing in pro and con. Antigay pogroms are underway in Egypt and former Soviet republics. Some Balkan nations are holding their first Pride parades over right-wing objections; so is a rural town in Iowa. Alabama will probably elect an antigay fascist to the U.S. Senate this year (but what else is new?).

Perhaps I could have tried harder to come up with an LGBTQ angle on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. My problem was that what ideas I did come up with could rightfully be accused of making light of the situation. (No, Mr. Weinstein, women do not consider watching you jerk off "foreplay.") Twitting those silly heterosexuals wasn't going to work, either; we have testimony that some male actors have had to put up with sexual harassment or assault from other Hollywood or Broadway moguls, but so far, James Vanderbeek, Alex Winter, Javier Muñoz and Terry Crews have not dared to name those perpetrators.

As Corey Feldman explained this week,
“Everybody deals with things differently. I’m not able to name names. People are frustrated, people are angry, they want to know how is this happening, and they want answers—and they turn to me and they say, ‘Why don’t you be a man and stand up and name names and stop hiding and being a coward?’ I have to deal with that, which is not pleasant, especially given the fact that I would love to name names. I’d love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody’s name, I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I’m the one that would be sued. We should be talking to the district attorneys and the lawmakers in California, especially because this is where the entertainment industry is and this is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world.”
So perhaps I could have made this cartoon about Hollywood instead of Washington, as long as I had monsters on my mind. In the end, I decided that we have had such an unending stream of ghastly news emanating from the White House this year that more readers would understand this cartoon if it were about a president who has no interest in any policy other than reversing every accomplishment of his immediate predecessor; who has no loyalty to anything but his own bloated ego; who doesn't give two shits about the environment, the working class, or our men and women in uniform; and who is a consummate con man who has been able to get by with the unquestioning support of the 33% he can easily fool.

When America finally grasps the impact of the Trumps' rape of the nation, my fear is that the statute of limitations will have passed.

And we'll be told by an uncaring world that we knew what we were getting into.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Environmental Stewardship: Solar Sanctuaries

by John Berge

For many individuals and businesses, protection of the environment, reducing their carbon footprint, and doing their bit to reduce global warming and climate change are the primary reasons for installing solar panels. For some, the federal tax credits may be the deciding factor, since they reduce the overall costs and the “payback” time. But for churches and other non-profit organizations, those credits are not available; yet they may still want to do their part as good environmental stewards.

Solar energy promotes a cleaner and healthier environment, lowers energy costs which means more money for mission and programs, and provides an excellent and very visible example to their community.
The former Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Racine installed solar panels on its south roof
So if there are no tax incentives, what is available? Renew Wisconsin provides grants for churches and other non-profits installing solar panels. They can provide up to 20% of costs of solar arrays as well as grants for site assessment ($250) and engineering review ($500). Renew Wisconsin, thanks to a local philanthropist, will award up to $125,000 to churches and other non-profits in Wisconsin. They have been “the organized voice for renewable energy since 1991.”

Another route is to team up with a business or individual that can use these tax incentives. Newer churches often have sufficient land, and older churches frequently have large roof areas for solar panels that businesses might not have. A church and a business can form a Limited Liability Corporation, in which  the church is the minority (such as 15%) partner and the business or individual is the majority owner which can use the federal tax credit. The LLC will build the solar array on the property of the church, thus lowering the costs for both the church and the business.

The potential for the business is to deduct as depreciation up to 85% of the costs over five or six years. The church will get its electric power at a significant discount over the life of the project. In addition, the church usually will be given, or be offered at a sharply discounted price, the solar system at the end of the period of tax credits. This is a new and innovated legal structure for the advantage of the church or non-profit and the business or individual that form the LLC — one that churches should look into. I obviously cannot give all the ins and outs of such a decision, but I can refer everyone to Focus on Energy, Renew Wisconsin, Arch Electric (Wisconsin’s number one installer of solar systems) and Southeast Wisconsin Solar Group Buy for further information.

Obviously, switching to renewable solar power is a major decision for any congregation. I believe that church councils, social ministry, green and property committees, and staff should be investigating all possibilities for reducing their congregation’s carbon footprint.

I also believe that individuals should be expressing their interests in this area to the leaders of their congregation. Wouldn’t it be good environmental stewardship if all congregations would get their electric power from a renewable source such as solar rather than from a coal-fired, carbon dioxide spewing power plant?

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

Positions open: Mixologist. Hours flexible. Must be available second shift. Must be able to multitask while listening to customers' complaints, woes, hopes and ramblings. Psychoanalytical degree a plus. Apply within.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

War Declared; Hilarity Ensues

This is kind of a Scattershotback Saturday post of 100-year-old cartoons today. Let's start with the serious stuff: Boardman Robinson illustrates suffragettes in front of the White House protesting President Woodrow Wilson's opposition to women's suffrage. Between June and November 1917, 218 protesters from 26 states were arrested and charged with "obstructing sidewalk traffic" outside the White House gates. The banner in the cartoon directly quotes a banner carried by one of the arrested women.
"Kaiser Wilson" by Boardman Robinson in The Masses, October, 1917
The German press seized upon England's arrest and imprisonment of British politician Edmund Morel, a leader of the antiwar Union of Democratic Control. He was convicted of violating the Defence of the Realm Act by sending a UDC pamphlet to a friend in Switzerland. Simplicissimus cartoonist Olaf Gulbransson here compares Morel's fate to that of French Socialist Jean Jaurès, who was actively working to head off World War I when he was assassinated on July 31, 1914 by a French nationalist.
"Der Geist Jaurès'" by Olav Gulbransson in Simplicissimus, Munich, October 16, 1917
Morel served six months in Pentonville Prison, which was six months longer than any punishment  Jaurès's assassin ever received (although the assassin eventually met a rather ignominious end in Spain during its civil war).

If the cartoons of the day are to be believed, Germany had high hopes for a peace settlement proposed by Pope Benedict XV. The proposal included freedom for Belgium, Poland and Armenia, restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France and Italian-speaking areas of Austria's empire to Italy, and negotiations for the status of Balkan states — essentially wiping out any of the Central Powers' military gains. Since England, France and the U.S. refused to negotiate with the existing governments of the Central Powers, however, Germans were pleased to be able to blame the continuation of the war on the Entente powers.
"Englands Antwort auf die Papstnote" by Thomas Theodor Heine in Simplicissimus, Munich, October 16, 1917
But turning to the lighter side: as terribly, soul-crushingly awful as the Great War was, cartoonists were still able to find nuggets of humor amidst the death and devastation. This French cartoon depicts that country's warm welcome to the freshly arriving American troops.
"Spirit of Conquest" by Maurice Radiguet in Le Rire, Paris, September or October, 1917
Mademoiselle from Armentières had quite the reputation at home, as well as the one that quickly spread abroad. Do you suppose this could be the earliest appearance of cabbage patch kids, mon petit chou?
"Jardins de Guerre" by Adolphe Willette in La Baïonette, Paris, May 24, 1917
For American cartoonists, further removed from the front than their French counterparts, it was easier to make light of the war. Keeping things light was better for morale, after all.
"Hey, Mister," by R. B. Fuller in Cartoons Magazine, Chicago, October, 1917
The war made its presence felt on newspapers' comics pages in a way unparalleled in the century since. Certainly many adventure strips during World War II had their heroes fighting Nazis and "Japs," but American comic strips of the 1910's were almost exclusively of the humorous variety. Not every comic strip was suited to wartime boosterism, but it was hardly a stretch to have "Bobby Make-Believe" imagining himself battling the Huns. Other comic children put on shows or collected rags to raise funds for the troops, or engaged in other darling displays of patriotism.
"Freckles and His Friends" by Merrill Blosser for NEA, December 31, 1917
Among adult comic strip characters, even chinless Andy Gump answered the call to arms (only to be rejected as physically unfit). In Walter Allman's domestic comic strip "Doings of the Duffs," one of the Duff family members, Wilbur, was conscripted into the service.
"Doings of the Duffs" by Walter Allman, NEA, October 9, 1917
Wilbur Duff was not alone among comic characters to serve his country in the Great War, yet you don't find the denizens of Funky Winkerbean, Luann, or Dilbert volunteering to ship overseas nowadays. Racking my brain to come up with any modern comic strip characters who have gone to war, I can only think of Doonesbury, a few of whose characters who have served in Vietnam or Iraq. Of course, there's Beetle Bailey, but he has never left the relative comfort of Camp Swampy, wherever that is. (Is someone still drawing Sad Sack these days?)

If there is any cartoon that demonstrates how startling the realistic portrayal of Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe would be to the next generation of American cartoon readers, it's got to be this drawing for the cover of the Newspaper Enterprise Association's monthly bulletin to its subscribing editors, Pep.
Cover illustration by DeAlton Valentine for Pep, NEA, Cleveland, Ohio, September, 1917
Which is not to say that there was not more realistic humor about the war, but as with Sgt. Bill Mauldin in World War II, it came from cartoonists with first-hand knowledge of life in the field. By far the most famous was the British cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather. Having been promoted to the rank of Captain in the British Army before being hospitalized with shellshock and hearing loss at Ypres in 1915, Bairnsfather drew the exploits and travails of soldiers he named Old Bill, Bert and Alf for the humor weekly The Bystander.
"A Miner Success" by Bruce Bairnsfather in The Bystander, London, July, 1917
Bairnsfather garnered considerable fame despite initial protest from civilian readers to his "vulgar caricature" of the troops. His best-known cartoon, in which Old Bill counsels the soldier complaining about the miserable foxhole they share, "Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it," has been borrowed as the basis for countless cartoons since. But if Old Bill could be fairly wise, Bert and Alf were not necessarily the brightest bulbs in the trench.
"A Carriage Full of Bairnsfathers" by E.T. Reed in The Bystander, London, August, 1917
Well, that's enough World War I for a while. Log in again next week for some more recent history.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Q Toon: On a Roll

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
ᏈOct 12, 2017

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III this month delivered on a promise to grant Christian conservatives a "license to discriminate" against LGBTQ employees, consumers, patients, neighbors, students, and passers-by. Any victims of discrimination will find the Department of Justice deaf to their complaints.
[T]he relentless message [in Sessions' memo] is that whenever federal agents in the course of their activities collide with claims that they conflict with religious tenets, they should back off. One of its 20 “principles of religious liberty” bluntly tells federal entities that civil-rights laws protecting people of faith from employment discrimination on religious grounds must be strictly enforced — but they do not apply to religious employers themselves.
It's more than a question of wedding cakes and bathrooms. The Human Rights Campaign lists a number of ways Mr. Sessions' rules encourage antigay discrimination:
● A Social Security Administration employee could refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse.
● A federal contractor could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts.
● Organizations that had previously been prohibited from requiring all of their employees from following the tenets of the organization's faith could now possibly discriminate against LGBTQ people in the provision of benefits and overall employment status.
● Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple.
The day before Sessions published his memo, he had released a memorandum excluding transgender persons from civil rights protections. These assaults on LGBTQ civil rights were written under the guiding hand of the theocratic Alliance Defending Freedom, a hard-line anti-LGBTQ activist legal advocacy group with deep pockets.
In 2012, [Alan] Sears, then-president of the ADF (called “Alliance Defense Fund” at the time) delivered remarks at a U.S-led conservative conference called the World Congress of Families in Madrid. “In the course of the now hundreds of cases the Alliance Defense Fund has now fought involving this homosexual agenda, one thing is certain,” said Sears at a session titled “The Homosexual Agenda.” “There is no room for compromise with those who would call evil ‘good’.”
So to all those gay Trump Loyalists over at Breitbart who post that one picture of Trump holding the rainbow flag upside-down as some sort of proof that he's not as bad as the people who make up his administration, I'm having none of it. Your president is not a details guy. Sessions, Pence, DeVos et al. are in charge of bringing back Puritan Rule, and no hastily scrawled message on a flag is going to change the fact that they are his legacy. He's just there for the signing ceremony and the applause.
“Trump’s supporters like to say, ‘It’s not what he says, it’s what he does that matters.’ That’s definitely the case when it comes to issues affecting LGBT Americans,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, who started the now-defunct conservative gay rights group GOProud along with Barron. “I never thought that Donald Trump was an anti-gay homophobe. I certainly didn’t think that when I met him back in 2011. But we’ve all learned a lot about who he really is since then. With his political pandering and posturing to endear himself to the intolerant wing of the GOP over the last few years, it doesn’t surprise me that this administration will go down as the most anti-LGBT in history.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Denne Uken Snikitt

Happy Leif Erickson Day, everyone! Skøl!
In 1929, Wisconsin became the first U.S. state to officially adopt Leif Erickson Day as a state holiday, thanks in large part to efforts by Rasmus Anderson. In 1931, Minnesota did also. By 1956, Leif Erickson Day had been made an official observance in seven states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California) and one Canadian province (Saskatchewan). In 2012, the day was also made official in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1963, the U.S. Representative from Duluth, John Blatnik, introduced a bill to observe Leif Erickson Day nationwide. The following year Congress adopted this unanimously. In 1964, the United States Congress authorized and requested the President to create the observance through an annual proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson did so, as has each President since. Presidents have used the proclamation to praise the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery. In addition to the federal observance, some states officially commemorate Leif Erickson Day, particularly in the Upper Midwest, where large numbers of people from the Nordic countries settled.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Storm Before the New World Order

We start this Strikeback Saturday with an early cartoon by the great David Low, then 26 years old and drawing for the Bulletin of Sydney, Australia in a style very different from that with which he became best known.
"Bruin and the Brink" by David Low for Sydney Bulletin, October, 1917
Low's accession to the post of the Bulletin's resident cartoonist in Melbourne coincided with the start of World War I, and he soon achieved fame such that his face showed up in other cartoonists' work. Prime Minister Billy Hughes even once called up the Bulletin's editors to insist that a cartoon about him not be published. (Because of wartime censorship, Hughes had been able to see the cartoon prior to its publication.) When Low received his call-up notice for military service, the Bulletin successfully filed a claim to exempt him from the draft on the grounds of "national importance."
"Stop Him!" by William Donahey for Cleveland Plain Dealer, September, 1917
The war was not going well for Russia on the eve of Russia's October Revolution (November 7 in most of the Western World). The German army had routed Russian forces in Riga, in present-day Latvia, and worker strikes in Petrograd had spread to several other Russian cities.

To put down the strikes, Army Commander-in-Chief Lavr Kornilov marched his troops toward Petrograd. At first, he had the acquiescence of Provisional Minister-President Alexander Kerensky; but fearing a military coup, Kerensky rescinded Kornilov's orders and armed the Petrograd Soviet to stand against the army.
"Divided Against Itself" by Frank Holland for Reynold's Newspaper, London, October, 1917
It would be the Soviets who would be seen as having prevented the military coup d'etat, and when they did not disarm after Kornilov's arrest, the death of loyalty within the military to the Kerensky government meant that it was defenseless against well-armed foes.
"A Gentle Reminder" by Frank Holland for John Bull, London, October, 1917
The Russian government may have had friends in Japan, but they were a long, long way from Petrograd.
"No Rest" by Wilmot Lunt in The Bystander, London, September, 1917
Meanwhile, with its success in Riga, Germany was then able to send troops to bolster Austrian forces on the Italian front. Italy had enjoyed only modest success up to this point, but the Italian supply lines were stretched to their limits and the arrival of German forces tipped the balance in Austria's favor.
"Under the Test" by Lucius Curtis "Lute" Pease in Newark Evening News, October, 1917
The Italian army was forced to retreat to the Plave River. Opinion among the allies was split whether it was wiser to send troops to fight in Italy or to continue pressuring Germany on its Western Front in France and Belgium.

As worrisome to the Entente were workers' strikes in Italy and the possibility of Russia's troubles being replicated on the peninsula. A march by 40,000 Turin workers against the war in August expanded to general strikes, barricades in the streets, and attacks on factories and churches. The Army was sent in to crush the revolt on August 24, resulting in 50 deaths and 800 arrests. This pretty much put an end to revolutionary fervor in Italy's industrial north, but remained useful for German propaganda.
"Uncle Reuters's Collected Fairy Tales" by Thomas Theodor Heine in Simplicissimus, Munich, October 9, 1917
I've noted in previous posts the German knock against U.S. capitalist interests in the Great War. I'll close today's post with a cartoon from Spain, a country which remained neutral throughout World War I, taking note of the U.S.A.'s rise as a world power by virtue of its economic strength — with a hinted caveat that seems to predict Great Britain's decline. (Mendicity: n. the state of being a beggar; the practice or habit of begging. —MacMillan's)
"Mendicity in Europe" by S. Lleno for Blanco y Negro, Madrid, October, 1917

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Q Toon: Truth Will Out

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
📧Oct 5, 2017

A peculiar little detail in the case of Jared and Ivanka Kushner using private e-mail for government business (gosh, where have I heard about that before, I wonder) is the revelation that Jared Kushner was somehow registered as a female voter in the state of New York.

It has since been revealed that the mistake was due to a clerical error rather than some subconscious desire on the part Kushner himself. It does lead one to wonder, however, whether any other such clerical errors will be cited by the Kris Kobach Kommission as proof of widespread voter fraud.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Toon: American Horror Story

Sunday night, a 64-year-old white male with an arsenal of assault weapons barricaded himself in a 32nd-floor room of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, broke through a window or two and opened fire on thousands of people attending an open air concert across the street. As of this morning, the death toll stands at 59; 527 others were injured in the shooting and resulting panic.

Congress, out of respect to the dead and maimed, plans to lead the nation in a moment of silencers.

The above cartoon won't show up on the AAEC web site until tomorrow, but I decided to break with my usual practice and post it here today. If I had waited a little longer to draw this cartoon, I could have featured disgraced Fox "News" star Bill O'Reilly instead of NRA Ghoul In Chief Wayne LaPierre:
"[H]aving covered scores of gun-related crimes over the years, I can tell you that government restrictions will not stop psychopaths from harming people.
They will find a way. ....
This is the price of freedom.  Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.
The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection.  Even the loons."
Mr. Trump called the Las Vegas massacre an act of "pure evil."

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." — Edmund Burke

Monday, October 2, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

This was one of those mornings when I woke up, turned on the TV, and said, "Oh, my God, I hope I didn't draw something grossly inappropriate last night."

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the Las Vegas shooting victims, survivors, and their families.

I'm sure we'll be told that This Is Not The Time to discuss America's ridiculously lax gun laws. So maybe This Is The Time to discuss climate change.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

America in Cartoons: A Book Report

In place of my usual Smorgasback Saturday rummaging through my own old cartoons or the century-old cartoons of others, I herewith present a book report on the latest addition to my bookshelf.

Perusing the remaindered books cart at Barnes & Noble recently, I discovered two copies of America in Cartoons: A History in Pictures, edited by Tony Husband. I'd never seen the book on the regular shelves; but then, I don't visit the bookstore quite as often as I used to, so perhaps I had missed it. At any rate, I bought the 192-page hardcover tome for under $6.00.

Husband is a British cartoonist whose work has appeared in Private Eye, The Spectator, and Punch. The bulk of his work is humorous, but he has published more serious cartoon books about dealing with his father's dementia and with his son's drug addiction. His compilations of other people's topical cartoons include books on propaganda, dictators, and the 20th Century; I already had his book on cartoons of World War II*.

There is a nice selection of cartoons in America in Cartoons, but if there is one glaring fault, it is that they all appear to be downloaded off the internet. I do the same here, but I do my best to clean up the images so that they are legible. And that's only for viewing on a 96 pixel-per-inch screen; the print quality for a book needs to be considerably greater.

That's especially true of the oldest cartoons in this book. Reading the tiny, italicized, vertical dialogue in the typical cartoon drawn in the early years of the Republic is difficult enough without each letter being reprinted as six or seven dots. The intricately detailed crowds and crosshatching of Winsor McCay's cartoons a century later become fuzzy, fading into the gray background suffered by many of the book's illustrations.

Using the internet as source material also leads to some curious crediting in the appendix. The artists are credited by name in the text of the book, but while for example the book includes several cartoons by Daniel Fitzpatrick and Bill Mauldin from their days at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the cartoons are credited in the appendix to the State Historical Society of Missouri. Herblock's cartoons are credited to the Library of Congress.

I appreciate that space is limited, but it seems strange to me that there is no mention of Watergate or Bill Clinton's impeachment in this book, which was published in 2015 and closes with a fairly generic Bill Bramhall cartoon (credited to Getty Images) of Barack Obama. Watergate in particular marked the glory days of 20th Century American editorial cartooning and illustration, whether you think the actual scandal was of lasting importance or not.

That said, there is a nice mix of cartoons about politics and war on the one hand and everyday life on the other. Entertainment and pop culture often get overlooked in collections of historical cartoons, and I enjoyed running across them in Husband's book. And I'm happy to see the 600-thread-count, precisely composed editorial cartoons of Winsor McCay, which often get passed over in favor of his equally amazing Sunday comic pages. I just wish these copies were worthy of the originals.

For all I know, they might look just fine on your iPad or Kindle. There are people like me who will eat this stuff up anyway just for the chance to see some classic cartoons that we haven't seen before. If you're one of us, check out the remaindered books cart at your local bookstore, or watch for it to show up used on-line.

I just wouldn't pay the full £9.99 list price plus shipping and handling.


* Which I also found in the remaindered books cart, apparently.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet Mr. Mnuchin

It's time for another installment of Meet Your Cabinet!

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Sep 29, 2017
Sixth in line in the presidential order of succession is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin, 54, followed his father in the mortgage department at Goldman Sachs, becoming a partner there in 1994. He left in 2002, managing hedge funds and heading the residential lender OneWest, as well as founding a film production company, RatPac-Dune Entertainment.

An early supporter of Donald Joffrey Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Mnuchin accepted Trump's offer to be the national finance chairman of his campaign last April, after Trump had won the New York Republican primary. Up to that point, the Trump campaign had not set up a large-scale fund raising drive; Mnuchin set to work creating and managing one.

In spite of Trump's campaign attacks on the banking industry (an ad charged Goldman Sachs of having "robbed the working class"), Mnuchin joined the Trump administration, along with fellow Goldman Sachs alums Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Eric Ueland, and appointees up and down the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In August, Mnuchin came under scrutiny for his use of government aircraft after his wife, Louise Linton, posted a selfie on Instagram showing her deplaning a government jet in Kentucky in time to see the solar eclipse. Mnuchin denied that the solar eclipse had anything to do with the trip, saying "People in Kentucky took it [the solar eclipse] very seriously. Being a New Yorker, I don't have any interest in watching the eclipse."

An investigation by the Treasury Department's Office of the Inspector General subsequently found that Mnuchin had requested a military jet for his honeymoon travel to Europe in June. The OIG investigation also showed Mnuchin had taken a USAF C-37A to return from New York to Washington on August 15 after flying to New York commercially. Mnuchin's return flight lasted less than an hour and had an operating cost of at least $25,000.

Mnuchin has reimbursed the government for the definitely-non-eclipse-viewing flight, and has defended the honeymoon flight on the grounds that he needed access to secure communications during that trip. But a pattern is emerging of Trump cabinet officials who seem unable to accomplish anything without a five-figure government plane trip involved.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Q Toon: Smokin' in the Boys' Room

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
👿Sep 28, 2017

Having to draw this week's cartoon days before Alabama Republicans went to the polls to nominate Baptist Inquisitor Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate, I had to find another topic (on the way, way, way outside chance that Alabama Republicans might join the 21st Century on Tuesday). I found it in Donald Joffrey Trump's nomination to a federal judgeship in Texas of another politician of Moore's ilk.

Jeff Mateer is a theocratic culture warrior in the Texas Attorney General's office who has preached that transgender schoolchildren are a sign of "Satan's plan."
"In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she's a girl who thinks she's a boy or a boy who thinks she's a girl, it's probably that, a boy who thinks she's a girl," Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN's KFile. "And the school said, 'Well, she's not using the girl's restroom.' And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults: a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean, it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."
The link from the CNN page to Mateer's speech on Vimeo yields a "Sorry, we couldn't find that page" message, but there are other speeches in which the First Liberty Institute propagandist sermonizes about the persecution of conservative Christians who are forced to coexist against their will with LGBT persons.

In another speech, Mateer lamented that states have banned "conversion therapy," in which quack psychiatrists inspired by the Bible and A Clockwork Orange purport to turn LGBT victims straight. He believes that marriage equality will lead to people getting married to dogs, trees and summer breezes, and plenty of other such nonsense.

And he is not alone among Trump judicial appointees in such views. Matthew Kacsmaryk, nominated to another Texas district court, is a deputy general counsel to the First Liberty Institute. Leonard Grasz, nominated last month to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, is on the board of a Nebraska organization that defends conversion therapy.

Whatever Mr. Trump's personal beliefs on LGBT persons' rights may be, it is clear that the crew making judicial appointments for him are steadfastly antigay. And determined to stock the American courts system for decades to come with activist judges for whom the book of Leviticus always trumps the Constitution.

Monday, September 25, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

We've had some record-breaking heat in my neck of the woods for the past several days, which probably had something to do with this week's upcoming cartoon.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Disloyalty Daze

Today's installment of Seditionback Saturday takes a look at cartoons attacking whoever might be hindering America's war effort 100 years ago.

In the September 9 post here, I mentioned William Randolph Hearst's reputation as fostering a pro-German bias in his media empire. Cartoons magazine, in reporting his hiring of outspoken anti-German cartoonist Louis Raemaekers for his syndicate and recently purchased Puck magazine, said,
 "Raemaekers for a long time has fought his silent battles against Prussianism with a courage borne of convictions. His new employer has been doing his bit in the war by opposing the dispatch of American troops to Europe."
"The Poisoned Pen" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
It's a common myth today that one's own ancestors arrived on America's shores fluent in the Queen's English — or at least Bronx English; but in truth, many clung to the comfort and familiarity of their home tongue. Ethnic newspapers thrived in many cities and towns throughout the U.S. a century ago, and even some English language papers in major cities would have foreign-language pages. (The New York Evening Telegram, for example, had a regular page of news in Italian.)

In any city associated with beer brewing, one would find two to five competing German language newspapers, in which German immigrants could catch up on all the news from back home. Since the outbreak of war in 1914, that news from home had to be cleared through German government censors, who obviously wanted to put out a completely different message than did the Entente governments — now including the United States.
"His Adopted Son" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
While the German-American press could hardly go so far as to advocate for Central Powers' victory over the Entente, the Milwaukee Herold, Westliche Post of St. Louis, or Illinois Staats-Zeitung might enthusiastically report peace proposals from the Kaiser that were, according to the official U.S. government line, utterly unworthy of consideration.

Outside the Hearst newspaper chain, quite a few journalists actually joined in the calls for countermeasures that would clearly be in direct violation of the First Amendment. Most cartoonists characterized the German-American press as a bothersome but relatively harmless dachshund, yet "Kin" Hubbard of the Indianapolis News here goes so far as to portray it as a vicious German shepherd that has treed Uncle Sam, who wishes for a gun.
"He Needs One" by Frank "Kin" Hubbard in Indianapolis News, September, 1917
John Lenz, drawing for Vorbote ("Harbinger"), a German language socialist workers weekly newspaper in Chicago, drew several cartoons in the fall of 1917 lamenting high prices, which I'm sure didn't bother the censors or his fellow cartoonists one little bit. Vorbote did, however, publish one Lenz cartoon criticizing congressional measures to clamp down on dissent.
"Wenn Uns Jetzt Unsere Vorväter Sehen Konnten" by John Lenz in Vorbote, Chicago, October 31, 1917
I apologize that I can't clean up the image any better than this. The figure in the top hat is Congress, blindfolding, binding and gagging "the People." The banner behind Congress reads "Freedom of Speech, Press Freedom, Right of Assembly." The rolled parchments beneath George Washington represent the Constitution and First Amendment.

In addition to the German press, the socialistic International Workers of the World union was targeted as a threat to the national war effort. As discussed before, the U.S. government went after the I.W.W. "wobblies," arresting hundreds of the union leaders in Chicago and elsewhere. By and large, the American press gave the crackdown its seal of approval.
"The Masked Batteries" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1917
Bill Sykes below shows Uncle Sam in a wholly different light than did Frank Hubbard. The German press can do little more than yap and nip at Uncle Sam's heels, while the I.W.W. is stunned by a quick jab from the butt end of Sam's bayonet. The dog skedaddling with its tail between its legs is labeled "slackers," the common term for draft dodgers of any kind.
"Dog Days" by Charles H. "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger,  August 17, 1917
When Chicago Mayor "Big Bill" Thompson allowed the People's Council of America for Democracy and Terms of Peace to hold its hurriedly conducted convention in his town, he came under withering attack even from his fellow Republicans at the Chicago Tribune, including its front page editorial cartoonist, John T. McCutcheon.
"Going Against the Current" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 5, 1917
James P. Alley, father of Cal, links "conscientious objectors" (in scare quotes) with foreign agents who had blown up munitions factories and storage facilities in several notorious attacks.
"Brothers-In-Arms!" by James Pinckney Alley in Memphis Commercial Appeal, September, 1917
Conscientious objectors, malignant pacifists and Kaiser boosters appear together in "Is This Your Little Pet Peeve?", a regular feature of Frank King's full-page "The Rectangle" in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917
"Slackers" were an easy target for cartoons, and there are far too many editorial cartoons to choose from condemning them. Just as many exhorted Mom and Dad to be proud that their son was heeding the call to risk life and limb on some foreign field. By the same token, a patriotic bride supposedly should want to see her groom not in a tux and tails, but in a khaki green army uniform.
"You Can't Hide Behind That" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, August, 1917
Although I'm not sure that Frank King was really helping sell the point here.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917

Friday, September 22, 2017

Environmental Stewardship

My dad has been writing a monthly column called "Environmental Stewardship" for the local Lutheran churches for the past few years. But as various congregations have merged with each other, sold their buildings, or turned Latino, the only church still running the column as far as I know is the one he attends.

I had been printing it in the newsletter of the church where I used to work, until the decision was made to keep articles down to a single paragraph or two in the interest of bilingualism and an arbitrary six-page limit. After that, I posted it on the church weblog; but since I'm no longer there, the weblog hasn't been updated.

Dad doesn't have his own weblog, but I do. So here is his October column. 

Are you practicing good environmental stewardship in the yard around your house? Or as one national organization would put it: Is your yard humane? Fall is an excellent time to make some of these changes to improve the environment that primarily you control.

Do you provide water and natural food sources for the creatures with which you share this environment? Birdbaths and ground level sources of water are important for just about every animal, not just birds. I see many squirrels up on our birdbaths and the bees so necessary for pollination also need a drink. A wetland behind our house is another source of water for much of the year. Native plants, bushes and trees are often the best, or only, foods that native animals will eat. The larva for the monarch butterfly only eat the several varieties of milkweed native to our area. Fall is one of the best times for planting trees, shrubs and perennial plants.

Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides on lawn and garden beds; insecticides frequently kill all insects, including the harmless and beneficial ones. Do you really want to get rid of those beautiful butterflies and moths? Many pesticides are also harmful to your pets if they are allowed out in the yard. Bees are some of the most beneficial insects that have been severely attacked by pesticides in the yard and on some plants as they come from the nursery. Check how the latter have been treated before you buy. I have never been an advocate of bee and butterfly houses, but many like them as decorations that may also be useful.

A major killer of birds is glass windows in homes as well as high-rise buildings. If you, like us, receive a number of window stickers from various organizations, sticking them on windows that birds may run into can be a major avian lifesaver. Birds either see a free pathway through the windows to the other side of the house or their own reflection which they may attack in mating season. Breaking up the space of clear glass with such decals is most important near bird feeders or bird baths.

That leads me to urging all cat owners to keep them in the house. Cats may be the top killers of song birds in this country. As President of the City of Racine Board of Health, let me remind you to license all your cats and dogs; it is the law in Racine and many other jurisdictions, even if they stay inside.

Native fauna need places to hide or rest. Therefore, it is generally good stewardship or humane to reduce the size of the mown lawn whenever possible. This might be with a rain garden accepting the water from the downspouts, an area of native ground cover, a small woods or copse of (native) trees. Another possibility, if you have the room as we do in the far back of our yard, is a brush pile. Fallen branches and trimming from trees and shrubs will quickly provide this extra cover for native fauna.

Another shelter that you may wish to include is a bat house. Bats have a bad reputation that they do not deserve. You may not need as much mosquito repellent if you attract bats to your yard to hold down the mosquito population.

If you have a swimming pool, take the necessary precautions to keep animals from falling in; presumably you have already taken the precautions necessary to keep those wild creatures called children and partying adults from doing the same. This too is good environmental stewardship.

John Berge