Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Headlines

I've been taking photos of the year in newspaper front pages and magazine covers at the end of every year since I was a kid; here's the 2017 effort.

As noted many times before, many very important stories get overlooked this way. They happen gradually, or too late for early Sunday deadlines, or, frankly, they happen too far away and editors prefer to focus on more local events.

Or, in the interest of brevity, daily headlines have no staying power. If you're reading this post years down the road, you may think it was awfully considerate of Harvey to drive so many to shelters, whoever he was. The Journal Sentinel headline offers no clue why Fear Gripped Vegas.

Or there were so many natural disasters that it was impossible to display them all; the hurricane that left Puerto Rico in ruins was Maria. The same goes for terrorist attacks. And I don't have any headline to represent any of this year's devastating earthquakes (e.g., Mexico, Iran, Italy).

Here, too, is a collage of my favorites of the cartoons I drew this year. I don't pretend for them to be a comprehensive review of the year. They're just the ones I happen to like right now.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Goal Is Won, Jerusalem

In light of near-unto-global ostracization of the U.S. for the Corrupt Trump Administration's plans to recognize Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the state of Israel, Seventeenback Saturday takes one more look back at editorial cartoons from December, 1917. The issue this time is the British conquest during World War I of Jerusalem, then part of the Ottoman Empire.
"Again at the Gates of Palestine" by William Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, December, 1917
The Sinai and Palestinian Campaign of the war had begun for the most tactical of reasons: the Ottoman Empire, in league with Germany, attacked the Suez Canal in January of 1915 in an unsuccessful attempt to cut Great Britain off from its colonies in India and eastern Africa. Over the next two years, Britain retook the Sinai peninsula and advanced into Ottoman territory. The Battle of Jerusalem began on November 17, and American cartoonists, to a man, made the now unfortunate decision to depict the battle as the Fourth Crusade. ("Crusade" being the Christian word for "jihad.")

"Fourth and Last Crusade" by Kenneth R. Chamberlain in Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, December, 1917
Even Kenneth Chamberlain, an antiwar socialist whose work had appeared in The Masses (until it was shut down after the November-December, 1917 edition), succumbed to the temptation to draw the British conquest of Jerusalem as a triumph of Christendom over the Heathen Foe. "I just went along after we were in the war," Chamberlain said in a 1966 interview. "I wanted to hold my job as a cartoonist although I wasn't for the war."

The British populace, on the other hand, considered the conquest of Palestine as a minor operation, a distraction of soldiers and materiel which would be more useful fighting on the Western Front. Harper's Weekly agreed, writing, "The capture of Jerusalem by the British forces has almost eclipsed the more important military operations in Europe."

Contrast this whimsical cartoon from Punch, of Sultan Mehmet V reading a telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm, with most of the American cartoons in this post.
"A Great Incentive" by Leonard Raven-Hill in Punch, London, November, 1917.
Jerusalem surrendered to British forces on December 9, and as far as American cartoonists were concerned, it was time to break into "Good Christian Men Rejoice."
"After Seven Centuries" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December, 1917
If Lord Balfour believed that "His Majesty's government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for Jewish people," American cartoonists were not celebrating this victory as one for Zionism. (There must have been at least one cartoon drawn for an American Jewish publication on this topic, but I'm afraid I have not been able to find it.)
"Christianity's Christmas Gift" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, December, 1917
Not every cartoonist went all "Onward Christian Soldiers" on this topic. Ted Brown clearly labeled the character in this cartoon "Turkey" and clothed him to match, although the face has the upturned mustache of Kaiser Wilhelm.
"Ending the Pipe Dream" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, December, 1917
I have qualms about including this next cartoon. There is a lot of blatant racism in cartoons of this era, and I have avoided posting some otherwise interesting cartoons — not all by Dixieland cartoonists — because of stereotypes that are now offensive (and casual use of the N-word). In this case, was "Papa Mohammed" the only Muslim name Harry Keys knew, or was he actually trying to depict the Prophet? Why not draw the Ottoman Sultan (whose name, of course, is a Turkish variant on the Prophet's)?
"Papa Mohammed Hasn't Been the Same" by Harry Keys in Columbus Citizen, December, 1917
It's not as if Mehmet V's visage was totally unknown in the states; John McCutcheon had it handy for a cartoon depicting Allied forces closing in on Turkey on its Palestine, Baghdad, Persian and Persian Gulf fronts.
"The Bagdad Corridor" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, December, 1917
McCutcheon correctly does not depict Entente forces threatening Mehmet on his Balkan front. As noted last week, Romania signed an armistice with the Central Powers; Greece was busy fighting Bulgaria; and Italy was counting on Serbian help fending off Austrian and German forces in the Alps. And although Turkish and native forces made further attempts to wrest Jerusalem back from the Allies, the end result of the campaign would be the British Mandate for Palestine and the French Mandates for Lebanon and Syria.

Germany had been directly involved in the fighting in Palestine; but German cartoonists, if they commented on the British victory at all, did so in the snarkiest of terms.
"Die Gralshüter" by Wilhelm Schulz in Simplicissimus, January 15, 1918

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Q Toon: Life Isn't All It Seems at '17

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🎉Dec 28, 2017

Buzz and Killer would like to remind you that despite a year with a deranged pathological liar in the White House (when he wasn't golfing), a summer of exceptionally brutal hurricanes, national surrender to mass shootings, and a virulent strain of penile encephalopathy wiping out entire careers, 2017 was not all bad.

Marriage equality came to Australia, Austria, Germany and Malta. All the countries that are not governed by the Corrupt Trump Administration committed themselves to fighting climate change. Sufficient numbers of voters in Alabama, Virginia and France rejected appeals to their basest instincts. Rian Johnson resisted the urge to have a Romulan from the future time-travel back before Phantom Menace to destroy the planet Tatooine. There was that one really cute video you saw. And chances are you will, in fact, see your taxes cut next year.

Although your kids will be the ones paying for it.

Unless Paul Ryan succeeds in raising your retirement age to 92.

Still, 2017 isn't quite over yet. It still has time to redeem itself. It ain't over until the fat Eskimo lady sings.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Trump on the Drawing Board

"William Howard Taft" by Oliver Herford in Confessions of a Caricaturist, Chas. Scribner's Sons, 1917
Matt Wuerker had a wonderful post at Politico the other day in which eight of the top U.S. editorial cartoonists share their thought processes about drawing Donald Joffrey Trump. Included are videos in which you can listen to Pat Bagley, Barry Blitt, David Horsey, Kevin Kallaugher, Mike Lester, Ann Telnaes, Signe Wilkinson and Matt himself describe their approach to the subject while their drawings come into being before your very eyes.

All eight offer variations on the opinion that D.J. Trump is the easiest president to draw in the history of the Republic, which I'd like to take issue with.

We cartoonists end up thinking every president is the easiest thing to draw.

When Gerald Ford became president after less than a year as veep, the conventional wisdom was that he was a disaster for cartoonists, a bland face devoid of caricaturable features. "Cartoonists' first attempts at capturing the quintessential Ford," Newsweek wrote in its August 26, 1974 edition, "have been bland enough to raise the risk of mistaken identity."
Cartoons by Tom Darcy (Newsday), Don Wright (Miami News), John Fischetti (Chicago Daily News) and Hugh Haynie (Louisville Courier-Journal) reprinted in Newsweek, August 26, 1974
"Jerry Ford's face," sighs Miami News editorial cartoonist Don Wright, "has a striking similarity to the backside of my thumb." Few of Wright's colleagues would go quite that far, but it seems clear that not having Richard Nixon to caricature any more has sent the U.S. cartoonist corps into a technical tizzy. "Nixon's face was covered with things that said what you wanted them to say," observes Pat Oliphant of The Denver Post. "But Ford is the most challenging political figure I've had to draw."
But by 1975, even high school newspaper novices such as myself could draw him in our sleep.

With Trump, the challenge is that he presents a visual overload: the meticulously overworked comb-over, the jowls, the squinty pale eyes, the elastic mouth from his Mussolini pout to his Joker rictus.

But I'm tired of the overly long tie. Whenever possible, I like to draw him not in a suit and tie, but golfing (which allows me to include two other overloaded features: his paunch and rump), or keeping Melania awake with his pre-dawn Twitter addiction. He is not presidential, and I'd rather not draw him looking presidential.
From my sketchbook
Sadly for us cartoonists, that orange skin tone is fading away; I guess he hasn't moved his tanning bed into the White House. It will live on in our cartoons until he becomes as pasty-white as the bags under his eyes and we can't ignore it any more.

And someday — a day which can't come soon enough — we cartoonists will have to move on to some other Easiest Thing To Draw. Unlike with Gerry Ford, we've had plenty of time to hone our visions of Mike Pence; and even if the Democrats put up someone we've never heard of before, we've been through that with Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

We'll do just fine.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Week's Sneak Peek

Sorry, this isn't a Provide Your Own Caption contest.

Tune in later this week to find out what these two are talking about.

In the meantime, Happy Kwanzaa Eve!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Toons of 1917

We're busy wrapping presents, fattening geese and wassailing all over town here at Spruceback Saturday, but we've thrown together assembled some Christmas-themed editorial cartoons from the U.S. and Canada for your holiday cheer.

The famed "Christmas Truce" of 1914 was not repeated for the following yuletides, as all sides grew literally and figuratively entrenched in their mutual hatred. Cartoons Magazine resurrected this John Darling cartoon from 1916 in its December, 1917 issue, no doubt because of the practical matter of not having more up-to-date Christmas cartoons in time for the magazine's November publishing deadline. Surely, however, the sentiment was even more poignant to its American readership now that the U.S. was in the war Over There.
"It Seems Almost Heartless to Be Happy" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, December 20, 1916
If the editors of Cartoons Magazine imagined that they could just file the Christmas, 1917 cartoons about the war for the next December's edition, they were to be happily mistaken. American soldiers spent only one Christmas fighting The Great War, and would leave Europe to settle its own disputes for another 24 Christmases.

The caption of this next cartoon seems likely to have been added by newspaper or syndicate editors, since the cartoon itself clearly depicts children of Romania, France, Serbia and Armenia in addition to those of Belgium. British and German forces were battling each other on Belgian soil as winter set in, which was covered extensively in the American press; but then, so were other fronts in the war. (Romania, by the way, signed a truce with the Central Powers on December 10.)
"How Santa Claus Finds Belgian Children" by Bob Satterfield fin Cleveland News, December, 1917
It is true that in the early months of the war, German soldiers, fearing insurrection by Belgian citizens, burned whole villages and executed tens of thousands of men, women and children. Those tales of German atrocities in Belgium were used well after the fact to whip up anti-German sentiment and to promote sales of U.S. Liberty Bonds.
"Christmas in Belgium!" by A.D. Condo in Cleveland Press, December, 1917
Meanwhile, national elections in Canada pitted the incumbent government of Conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden against the Liberal stalwarts of Wilfrid Laurier. At the outbreak of the war, Canadians of all stripes gave enthusiastic support to the war effort; but by 1916, new volunteer recruits were not keeping up with war casualties. The war was especially unpopular in French-speaking Québec. While some Liberals joined Borden's Union government in supporting institution of the draft, Laurier was afraid of losing Québec to anti-conscription Francophones led by Henri Bourassa.
"Christmas, 1917" by James Fergus Kyle (?) for Canadian Liberal Monthly, Ottawa, December, 1917
Laurier's campaign charged that the war only benefited the rich, whereas everyone else was forced to bear the burden of the fighting overseas and shortages at home. Borden's campaign warned that if Laurier's party were elected, he would merely be a tool of Bourassa and would pull Canada out of the war. The latter argument carried the day, Unionists winning a decisive victory in the December election.
"A Disappointed Santa Claus" by Sam Hunter in Toronto World, December 25, 1917
I can't read Santa/Bourassa's face outside the doorway, but to me, Kaiser Wilhelm appears to be the more disappointed one. (Again, some editor must have felt obliged to add a headline to a cartoon that didn't need one.)

At the Chicago Examiner, Harry Murphy devoted a lot of ink to his publisher's various holiday-themed charity drives.
"Where They Meet" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, December 21, 1917
And I'm not just referring to his customary love of cross-hatching.
"The Good Fairy" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, December 8, 1917
Across downtown at the Tribune, John McCutcheon offered much the same sentiments, although not explicitly for the Trib's sponsored activities. "Will he give needless gifts," McCutcheon asks, "Or will he give needed ones?"
"His Christmas List" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, December, 1917
The scan quality here is terrible, so I'll explain that the gentleman's list reads "Wife, Children, Servants." The figures behind him in the second panel are "Destitution Abroad," "Soldiers' Christmas Fund," and "Local Charities."

So, with malice toward none and charity for all (whoops, sorry, wrong war), let's close out with Harry Murphy's cartoon for Christmas Day.
"Christmas Bells" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, December 25, 1917
And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Q Toon: Censor Sensibility

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Dec 21, 2017

Political Correctness hasn't gone away; now that the evangelical right-wingers are in charge of it, PC is stronger than ever.

I drew a picture of Donald Trump glowering down upon CDC chair Brenda Fitzgerald (R-GA) and her press gaggle, but I strongly suspect that Mike Pence, Ben Carson, and the other official representatives of the so-called Christian Right have more to do with the banning of the Seven Dirty Words at the Centers for Disease Control. Sure, Trump is into marketing, but he's more concerned with enriching the rich and diverting Robert Mueller's attention than calling a fetus a "pre-born baby."

I shudder to think what their preferred term for "transgender" is.

All of the Corrupt Trump Administration is fully behind scrapping anything science-based or evidence-based. They have their faith-based belief in clean coal, trickle-down economics, no-risk deregulation of industry, defunding public education, and the up-side of hastening Armageddon.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Environmental Stewardship: Watershed Restoration

It's time once again to lend the blog to my dad for his monthly Environmental Stewardship column. Take it away, Dad!

With the location of the Foxconn factory in the Village of Mt. Pleasant, Lake Michigan water going to Waukesha and the reorganization of Root-Pike WIN, “watersheds” are certainly in the news. First of all, what is a watershed? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a watershed is “the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater.” All of us live in one or more watersheds.
Marker at 85th Street just west of Cooper Road in Pleasant Prairie

At the largest level, did you know we have a continental divide (or sub-continental divide) right in our backyards? This divide separates the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed from the Mississippi River watershed. It goes right through the area to be developed by Foxconn. Some of the water that falls on that area flows south to the Des Plaines River and thence down the Illinois River to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Rain and snow falling on the east side of the divide will go into the Pike River and then into Lake Michigan.

Major watersheds may be broken up into smaller watersheds fitting that same definition and generally based on a single river and its tributaries. Thus, most of us [in eastern Racine County] live in the Pike River, Root River, Des Plaines River, Oak Creek or Fox River watersheds or in a somewhat different kind of watershed without a named river such as the Wind Point watershed.

It should be noted at this point that all (or most) of these rivers were recently assessed and classified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) as being “impaired” using the Wisconsin’s Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). This methodology basically is to determine whether the river is swimmable and fishable, checking on nitrogen, phosphorus, biological oxygen demand and e. coli levels.

But rather than wringing their hands in despair, organizations such as the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network have worked out long-term Watershed Restoration Projects to upgrade and improve these rivers and their watersheds. According to the latest WIN newsletter, they “have helped raise more than $1.4 million for watershed restoration projects” and “More than 40 projects are in some phase of planning, design or implementation.” Within approved Watershed Restoration Plans for the Root, Pike and Wind Point watersheds, are more than 500 project recommendations. “Approved” means by both the WDNR and EPA; local governments are also adopting or endorsing these plans.
Pike River in Mt. Pleasant, Racine County
Obviously, these plans and projects involve good environmental stewardship. I have been involved with some of the removal of invasive, alien plant species along the rivers and in the wetlands. I have also assisted in the planting of native species in these areas. These projects will continue once the weather warms up again in the spring. Organizations such as Weed Out! Racine can use lots of volunteers. To volunteer, contact Melissa Warner or Dave Giordano, the Executive Director of Root-Pike WIN, or any of the other organizations that make up the “Network.”

May I also suggest that you visit one of the major restoration successes in the city of Racine; make sure you get down to Samuel Myers Park in most any season of the year. This restoration project was carried out under the direction and fund raising of Dr. Julie Kinzelman, Laboratory Director for the Racine Health Department. It is located on Lake Michigan just south of Gateway Technical College (junction of 11th Street and Pritchard Drive). Invasive plant species were removed, native species planted, proper grading and a board walk with educational signage installed. Acceptance of a large grant from the U.S. Forest Service for additional native tree planting has just been approved by the City Council. This will more than double the amount of tree canopy and stormwater infiltration, thus improving our health as well as that of the Lake.

Monday, December 18, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

I didn't get the memo about drawing elves on shelves under the mistletoe with Charlie Brown trees this week.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas!

This episode of Sleighback Saturday is specifically tailored to meet the needs of all you last-minute shoppers out there. And by last-minute, I mean people who meant to get their Christmas shopping done, oh, about 100 years ago.

Check out these Christmas deals from December, 1917!

Or, if a typewriter was not in your holiday budget, Loftis Bros & Co. offered reasonable terms toward the purchase of  something more romantic:
There being a war on, Loftis Bros & Hos would accept Liberty Bonds in lieu of cash.

Graham, Crawford Co. of Bonham, Texas, while acknowledging the sorry state of world affairs, offers a merry list of gift suggestions:

From the Houston Post comes this advertisement from G.A. Stowers Furniture Company, suggesting the gift of a Columbia Grafonola, along with a variety of Columbia records to play on it. "Life in a Trench in Belgium," for example, is touted as "A record altogether out of the ordinary  — a startling picture of what 'digging in' means."
Or, if your tastes ran to something more musical, 75¢ could also get you recordings of "The Naval Reserve March" or "We're Going Over." The latter promises, "Just to listen to this rousing popular hit makes you wish you were 'going over,' too."

One thing that has always amazed me when I hear stories about how Christmas used to be is that whole cities weren't burned to the ground every December. Yes, Virginia, they used to put candles on Christmas trees in houses and churches, schools and institutions. Lit candles.

I suppose future generations will feel the same way about the incandescent light bulbs that are now gradually being replaced by LED lights that don't generate so much heat. One year, my husband and I put enough strings of lights on our tree that the heat could be felt across the room. The tree was artificial, but fake trees are not completely non-flammable. (We do try to avoid stringing that many lights these days. It's easier on the fuses.)
Once upon a time, a good pen was a thoughtful and considerate gift. I don't know how to explain fountain pens to a generation for whom ballpoint and felt tip pens are relics of ancient history; suffice it to say that you had to fill its barrel with ink at regular intervals, and blot the ink on a scrap of felt before continuing to write. There was a tendency from time to time for ink to rush out faster than one might want it to, leaving big indelible blotches on paper, hands, and clothes.

For the convenience of soldiers, who needed to pack light without a wardrobe of replacement uniforms, Parker ink was available in tablets instead of the standard ink bottle. And here's something those of us who still use pens have come to take for granted: when it came to these Parker pens, the clip was extra.

Parker pens are still around, by the way, although it has been bought out by Gillette and the company headquarters has moved from Janesville, Wisconsin, to St.-Herblain, France. I guess you really can't keep them down on the farm after they've seen Pa-ree.

But let's face it. Typewriters and pens and watches and army recruitment phonographs are all well and good, but Christmas is all about the kiddies.
I have no idea why the giants of Lilliputania are a Chinese launderer and a police officer standing on a colossal pair of scissors.  I guess I would have had to buy the absorbing fairy story book that went along with the 120-piece model city. Now we'll just have to wait for Disney to make the feature film version.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ready for Their Tax Cut

Here's an extra cartoon for your Christmas stocking:

As I write, we're waiting to see whether Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) can persuade his party's deficit chicken hawks to increase the child credit in their tax bill to double the current amount. This as a sop to lower and middle class taxpayers so that the Republicans' so-called reforms don't come off as a complete give-away to corporations and the rich.

Republicans and their benefactors have long complained that tax rates for U.S. corporations and the richest Americans are the highest in the world — which they're not, but we have to let that pass for now. They gloss over the fact that the overwhelming majority of these upper-bracket filers end up paying little or no taxes thanks to a wealth of deductions that they have lobbied for over the years.

Slashing the upper income tax rates was supposed to be accompanied by erasing significant numbers of those tax loopholes, but by some miracle, the only exemptions and deductions being eliminated are the ones used by lower and middle class filers. Exemptions and deductions that benefit the top 1% — including many Republican members of Congress — remain or are increased.
For example, during the fall, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson — the 26th-richest member of Congress — withheld his support for the bill, leveraging his vote to pressure lawmakers to add provisions to the bill increasing tax breaks for investors in pass-through entities. The most recent federal records show Johnson has up to $30 million of ownership stakes in three LLCs that generate rental income. Johnson earned between $115,000 and $1,050,000 of income from those investments in 2016.
And if you still believe the theory that coddling the rich will enable the benefits to trickle down to everybody else once their wealth finally achieves some mythical critical mass, think again. They have plenty of other plans for their tax breaks, starting with mergers and acquisitions and ending with trimming the newly redundant employees from their mega-companies.

Well, at least Monopoly Man at the southeast corner of this cartoon is generating jobs for all the attendants at the sexual harassment clinic.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Q Toon: Second Best Wishes

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🎂Dec 14, 2017

I have to confess that I'm conflicted about the Supreme Court's current case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. As a legally married gay man, I'm perturbed by the claim that I might be denied service by any given business establishment on the basis of the proprietor's religious-based prejudice against me.

On the other hand, as someone who draws freelance cartoons for publication, I think I ought to be able to refuse, were someone to offer to hire me to draw a cartoon I vehemently disagree with. I also play music for weddings and funerals, although I've never had the dilemma of being  presented with musical requests that I would have refused to play.

Still, refusing to stick two plastic grooms on the top of a wedding cake seems almost dickish to me. I've been around to see all manner of wedding cakes for different-sex couples, frosted to match the color of the bridesmaids' dresses or the groom's army camouflage, festooned with homages to Star Trek, country music or Harley Davidson.

Mr. Phillips may very well be the artiste that he portrays himself to be, but if he should win the right to discriminate against same-sex couples, how far does that right extend? The so-called religious right has been agitating for decades now for their right not to participate in society's progress; it is no stretch of the imagination to suppose that they would press further for the right of plumbers or auto mechanics or firefighters or emergency medical technicians or (now that corporations are people) insurance companies to refuse service to LGBTQ persons.

Given that the same religious right feels persecuted by commercial transactions during which the employees of the business sell them whatever goods and services they want, but wish them anything other than a Merry Christmas, it's hard to be completely sympathetic with their plight.

Monday, December 11, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon won't be published until after we find out how many Alabama pedophilophiles came out to vote for Roy Moore, so my attitude for now is "Let them eat cake."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Remembering John B. Anderson

SimonSezback Saturday today pays tribute to John B. Anderson, who died this week in Washington, D.C. at the age of 95. The Republican Congressman from Illinois was the first person I voted for in a presidential election, first in the 1980 Minnesota Republican caucuses, then in his Independent candidacy for the presidency.

We college students for Anderson were a devoted bunch, and I've seen a lot of Facebook comments from people my age who are still proud to have voted for him, and have never voted for a Republican candidate since. In the small town where I went to college, we vastly outnumbered supporters of all the other candidates —put together!— at the local caucuses, held on the same day as the New Hampshire primary.
John Anderson campaigning at UW-Parkside, March 27, 1980.
But by the time of the Minnesota Republican Convention to select the state's actual delegates to the National Convention, representatives from non-college districts had the votes to send a delegation committed entirely to the presumptive nominee, Ronald Reagan.

What endeared Anderson to us brand new voters was his earnestness and his willingness to go against a politician's instinct to say exactly what the people in the room might want to hear. From his New York Times obituary:
Mr. Anderson refused to pander, telling voters in Iowa that he favored President Jimmy Carter’s embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union after it had invaded Afghanistan. He called for a gasoline tax of 50 cents per gallon — when a gallon cost $1.15 — to save energy.
Early on, when all six of his rivals for the Republican nomination assured the Gun Owners of New Hampshire that they firmly opposed gun control legislation, Mr. Anderson said, “I don’t understand why.”
“When in this country we license people to drive automobiles,” he added, “what is so wrong about proposing that we license guns to make sure that felons and mental incompetents don’t get a hold of them?”
He was roundly booed.
My cartoons of John Anderson in 1980 betray the humorless earnestness of a dewy-eyed supporter of a doomed cause (and the difficulty I've always had with drawing hands). My characters were stiff and two-dimensional in more ways than one.

Anderson's campaign left me with a lasting dislike of media coverage that focuses on the poll du jour. But for third-party candidates like Anderson, popularity polls have a real and practical effect on whether the League of Women Voters allow them to participate in televised debates, or even whether they can get on the ballot at all.

So too election rules crafted by the two major parties to safeguard their own interests. Anderson had to fight to get on the ballot in Ohio, where the deadline for an independent candidate to get on the November ballot was in March, well before either major party's nominee had been decided. In Anderson v. Celebrezze, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Anderson's favor, reasoning that
"Not only does the challenged Ohio statute totally exclude any candidate who makes the decision to run for President as an independent after the March deadline, it also burdens the signature-gathering efforts of independents who decide to run in time to meet the deadline. When the primary campaigns are far in the future and the election itself is even more remote, the obstacles facing an independent candidate's organizing efforts are compounded. Volunteers are more difficult to recruit and retain, media publicity and campaign contributions are more difficult to secure, and voters are less interested in the campaign. It is clear, then, that the March filing deadline places a particular burden on an identifiable segment of Ohio's independent-minded voters."
Mainstream cartoonists who had welcomed Anderson as a breath of fresh air in February were dismissing him as a quixotic kook in October. Still, I desperately clung to the prospect that The Issues were more important than The Polls. I even let the candidate of the Libertarian Party (which had a small but vocal presence on campus) in on the act.

President Carter in the above cartoon alludes to the brand spanking new Stealth Fighter planes (the F-117 and B-2 Spirit) announced by the Carter administration earlier that year.

This last cartoon was an extra wide oeuvre which you probably need to beclickify to embiggen to eulegibilitous size. I expect most readers to recognize the poem (itself a parody) and the song parodied by Ronald Reagan and John Anderson in this cartoon; the James Russell Lowell hymn parodied in the Jimmy Carter panel is more obscure today (my Lutheran denomination dropped it from its hymnals after 1978).

Ah, the zeal of youth! Been there. Voted that. Bought the t-shirt.
Thought I still had the bumper sticker, too.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Q Toon: Flip Service on AIDS

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Dec 7, 2017

Last week's World AIDS Day proclamation from the Corrupt Trump Administration was curiously lacking one thing.

Any mention of the LGBTQ community.

If not for his record eliminating some of the Affordable Care Act's protections of LGBT individuals against discrimination and his ban on transgender soldiers serving in the armed forces, one might cut Mr. Trump some slack here. One might suppose that perhaps Mr. Trump was trying to decouple the concept of being LGBTQ from the concept of having AIDS.

But the fact remains that here in the West, HIV/AIDS still disproportionately impacts LGBTQ persons, persons of color, the poor, and intravenous drug users.

The influence of Republican Party Theocrats upon the Corrupt Trump Administration reveals itself in petty slights such as this (which continued this week as LGBTQ and Black White House reporters were not invited to this year's White House Christmas party).

The practical effects of Corrupt Trump Administration policy on HIV/AIDS, however, are anything but petty. As former George W. Bush speech writer Michael Gerson pointed out this week,
For the first time since early in the American AIDS response, a fundamental change in approach is being debated. In its 2018 budget, the Trump administration proposes an $800 million cut in America’s bilateral HIV/AIDS programs (along with a $225 million cut for the Global Fund). Resources would be concentrated on 13 “priority” countries, while current levels of treatment would be maintained in other places. Neither South Africa nor Nigeria — which together have about a quarter of AIDS cases in the world — would be in the “priority” category.
The results? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 800,000 fewer people (compared to the current trajectory) would be placed on treatment in the first year of the new strategy, and 2.7 million fewer by 2020.
Domestically, the Corrupt Trump Administration has still not appointed anyone to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, whose web site has been a blank page all year. This year's White House budget proposal would have slashed nearly $1 billion from federal HIV-related programs, had not Congress reinstated the funds in a May omnibus bill.
However, Congress will be increasing funding for abstinence-only sexual education programs by $5 million, while also decreasing funding for the CDC’s [Sexually Transmitted Disease] division by the same amount.
"On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS," wrote whoever put together the White House proclamation last week. In the words of  Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal and one of six members who resigned in protest from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in June, "Prayers are good, but we need much more than prayers from this White House to solve the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States."

Update: The Corrupt Trump Administration's pettiness is not limited to its Christmas party. Congressional Jewish Democrats were also disinvited from the White House Hanukkah observance.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

Oh, cussedarn... I forgot to draw Trump's lawyer drafting his tweet for him.