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.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

With a Rebel Yell She Cried

Shaltnotback Saturday takes this last opportunity before the special election in Alabama to rehash the three cartoons I've drawn about the Republican standard bearer in the race. Alabama voters will go to the polls this a week from Tuesday to elect someone to complete Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's term in the U.S. Senate. The odds-on favorite according to the latest polls? Moore, Moore, Moore.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore made himself a cause celèbre in 2001 by unilaterally installing a 5,200-lb. granite monument of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state judicial building. He sparked a reprise of the lawsuits and countersuits sparked after he had mounted a wooden version of the Decalogue in his Etowah County courtroom in 1992, but this time it ended with his fellow justices removing the monument when he refused a federal court order to do so.

A judicial panel then removed Moore himself from the Court, but Alabama's voters returned him to the seat in 2012.

I occasionally get push-back from right-wing Christian evangelicals who object when I refer to the politicians who push their agenda as "theocrats." When it comes to the theocratic agenda, Judge Roy Moore is the case in point.
Having sworn to uphold the law, he nevertheless insisted upon being a law unto himself after the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges established marriage equality as the law of the land. He instructed Alabama officials to openly defy the Supreme Court decision and to deny equal rights to Alabama's LGBTQ citizens. The U.S. Constitution be damned, he declared; it's the Book of Leviticus that is the supreme law of the land.

And for the second time, the judicial panel removed him from the State Supreme Court.

For all his posturing as a paragon of Biblical morality, accounts of Judge Moore having been a creepy guy hanging around the mall angling to pick up teenage girls began to came to light last month:

His hardened core of supporters includes a number of prominent "Evangelical Christians" and their fiercely loyal flock; given their support of the Pussy-Grabber in Chief, why wouldn't they be equally eager to overlook Moore's prurient interest in pubescent girls? When you're a Republican, they let you do anything.

The other day, I read a comment on GoComics trying to cast this as a Democratic scandal, because Moore "was a DEMOCRAT when all the incidents are supposed to have happened" — a variation on the drivel blaming Democrats for racism because way back in great-great-grandpappy's day, all the racists were Democrats. (Left unsaid is that the racists have since found the Republican party more hospitable to them. If the Democrats drive Al Franken and John Conyers out, perhaps sex offenders will follow the racists to the party of Trump and Moore.)

Meanwhile, Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, prosecuted the men who bombed the two surviving perpetrators of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which you might think would give him some credibility as a defender of Christianity. But no.

I guess they can't forgive Jones for also coordinating the state and federal task force tracking down and prosecuting Eric Rudolph for a string of bombings 20 years ago, including the 1998 attack on Birmingham's New Woman All Women Health Care Center, killing a police officer and critically injuring a nurse.

It was an abortion clinic, after all.
Perhaps you remember Mr. Rudolph, a radical Christian terrorist whose other targets included LGBTQ bars and the 1996 Olympics.

With December 7 coming up this week, I would be remiss if I failed to take note of this Day That Will Live In Infamy:
100 years ago this Thursday, the United States, citing "repeated acts of war against the government and the people of the United States," declared war on Austria-Hungary. Unlike the European powers, whose treaties bound them to declare war on each other like a room full of tripping mousetraps, the U.S. had up to this point been at war only with Germany.

The House passed President Wilson's declaration of war against the Hapsburg Empire by a vote of 365 to 1, the lone dissenting vote being cast by Rep. Meyer London (Socialist-NY). The Senate approved the measure unanimously (Sen. Robert LaFollette, Progressive-WI, being intentionally absent).

The declaration enabled American soldiers to come to the aid of Italy in its fight against the Central Powers. 5,000 members of the 332nd Infantry would fight alongside Italian troops in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in the fall of 1918.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Q Toon: Last Man Standing

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Nov 30, 2017
Adding Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor to the list of disgraced sexual shenanigangsters, I believe we're getting dangerously close to witnessing any more allegations just becoming so much background noise.

Either that, or unless women suddenly decide to adopt the chador or habit as everyday dress, men are going to be forced to wear thick woolen mittens at all times. And pants which sound an alarm whenever dropped below the waist.

No, I'm pretty sure this will all blow over and everything will go back to status quo ante.

You don't think so?

I caught part of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor celebration of David Letterman on PBS last week. Senator Al Franken had been the first presenter in the ceremony, but because of the recent accusations against him of sexually improper behavior, the telecast edited out his appearance and the part of Letterman's acceptance speech in which he paid tribute to Franken. Franken is also missing from the list on the Kennedy Center's web site of the evening's featured speakers.

I couldn't help thinking how ironic it was that Letterman was publicly humiliated by a sexual impropriety scandal of his own only eight years ago.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

School for Sex Scandal

I've been over the river and through the woods with family over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I may have missed whatever new accusations of sexual harassment or under age dating or indecent exposure have come out against whatever beloved, respected, or powerful politician, entertainer or sports figure came out Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. It's not as though I've been incommunicado with the world, but given the vast range of political opinions around our dinner table, some subjects just had to be ignored for a while.

But now that we're all back home with our Thanksgiving leftovers, Sexcapadeback Saturday reheats cartoons of selected sexual scandals that I've had the occasion to draw about. This mess didn't start with Harvey Weinstein, and it probably won't end with Charlie Rose. It goes way back, and there has often been one Usual Suspect in particular.

Because of the accusations against Alabama Inquisitor Judge Roy Moore, conservatives want to re-litigate the sexual dalliances of President Bill Clinton. His peccadilloes fall in that gray area between consensual affairs and clear and obvious sexual harassment; Monica Lewinsky was no 14-year-old, but she was a subordinate employee, and the episode displayed, more than any of Clinton's other affairs, a profound lapse of judgement on the President's part.

But if we are to re-litigate the Clinton imbroglio, it's only fair to file an amicus curiae brief about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, too. After all, unlike Bill Clinton, Justice Thomas is still regularly collecting a government paycheck.

Sexual harassment scandals are the exclusive province of no political party. But the Edwin Edwards test often determines the degree of damage to the accused: the Louisiana Democrat once boasted, "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

In 2006, Republican Congressman Mark Foley lost his reelection bid in Florida over revelations that he propositioned male pages who worked in his office.

Four years later, it was Democrat Eric Massa of New York who was compelled to resign as the House Ethics Committee investigated reports that he habitually groped male members of his staff. He admitted on Glenn Beck's Fox News program that "not only did I grope [a staffer], I tickled him until he couldn't breathe," but then he denied on Larry King's CNN program ever having groped anyone.

The revelations that House Speaker Dennis Hastert had molested student athletes when he was a high school wrestling coach in Illinois came out only after he had left office. The statute of limitations had run out on those incidents; he was convicted of violating banking rules when he paid hush money to the now adult victims of his predatory behavior.

Sexual harassment typically involves an imbalance of power: adult vs. adolescent or child; employer vs. employee; faculty vs. student; celebrity vs. average citizen. Or the strong arm of the law vs. the legally vulnerable:

Many of these cartoons have involved male-on-male misdeeds because I draw cartoons for the LGBTQ press, so unless the perpetrator has a history of telling us how immoral we are, it's extremely rare that I turn my pen to heterosexual hanky-panky. In part it's also because for so long, male-to-female sexual harassment was passed off as relatively normative — even funny. (You can draw a straight line from Pepe LePew to Al Franken.)

When it comes to sexual relationships between adults and children, however, we have always reacted with more seriousness, whether we're talking about girls or boys. (Gauzy recollections of heterosexual boys coming of age in The Graduate and The Summer of '42 notwithstanding.) Prior to the Roy Moore accusations, the right-wing media played up man-on-boy pedophilia scandals because it was so easy to extrapolate sexual misbehavior victimizing under-age males with consensual and healthy relationships between adult gay men.

The LGBTQ community constantly needs to remind Republican Puritans that one thing is not always like another thing. Again and again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Q Toon: Good News/Bad News Bears

I'm throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this week's cartoon. Gosh, I hope I'm able to find something else to draw about next week.

Danica Roem received a fair amount of press when she was elected to her state legislature, not only because she is the first openly transgender person elected to such a position in this country, but also because she unseated a lead sponsor of Virginia's version of a "bathroom bill."

You might also have caught coverage of Australia's non-binding referendum on marriage equality; over the month of October, over 12 million Australians sent in their ballots by mail, with nearly 62% of respondents voting Yes.  While the 80% voter participation fell somewhat short of  regular compulsory elections, that's a rate greatly above any national election in the U.S.

Other news items may have escaped your notice unless you follow LGBTQ news closely. This past Monday was Transgender Day of Remembrance, by which time 25 transgender persons had been murdered in the U.S. in 2017. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), that sets a record.

HRC is sounding the alarm over five Trump-Pence administration judicial nominees openly hostile to LGBTQ rights, Jeff Mateer, Damien Schiff, Leonard Steven Grasz, Mark Norris, and Stephen Schwartz. I drew a cartoon about Mateer in September.

I didn't include the name of Ohio State Representative Wes Goodman, a married "up and coming conservative" who pushed anti-LGBTQ legislation by day and "exchanged salacious texts and emails with gay men he met on Capitol Hill, and sent sexually suggestive messages to young men" by night; he was forced to resign over "inappropriate behavior" with a man in his state office in Columbus.

And finally, anti-LGBTQ repression is on the rise in Turkey as the country abandons its secular government in favor of a sharia-based one. This week, the governor of the capital Ankara banned "any events such as LGBT... cinema, theater, panels, interviews, exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province to provide peace and security." Gay pride events have been banned in Istanbul for the past two years, although homosexuality is not a crime per se.

I visited Turkey once, in 1996, and I would have liked to go back; that first visit only scratched the surface of the place. But there's no chance I would go there the way things are now.

Ah, well. We'll always have Australia.

Monday, November 20, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

Where's Debbie Downer when you need your happiness punctured by somebody who can't keep a straight face?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Italian Front

Saltareback Saturday continues our tutorial on World War I. In my opinion, the War to End All Wars gets short shrift in American history lessons, considering how pivotal it was in revealing European monarchies as sclerotic and dysfunctional. The Italian campaign of that war is ignored all the moreso; but I've married into an Italian-American family and been fascinated by the history of the place during visits to the Old Country. So indulge me a little, would you?
"Clouds That Will Pass" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, November, 1917
Russia's withdrawal from the war had allowed Germany to come to Austria's aid in the Battles of Isonzo. Greatly outnumbered as a result of this turn of events, Italian forces surrendered the line at the Tagliamento River and retreated to the Piave. Austro-German forces employing chemical weapons captured the highlands of Asiago and the Brenta valley, pressing toward the Venetian plains.

As far as some Germans were concerned, this was just desserts for Italy's having deserted the Triple Alliance when war broke out in the summer of 1914 and subsequently having declared war on its erstwhile allies in May of 1915.
"Vittorio der Meineidige" by Olaf L. Gulbransson in Simplicissimus, Munich, November 20, 1917
Olav Gulbransson's cartoon of King Victor Emmanuel III fleeing buxom furies includes a notation that the cartoon is based on a work of Franz von Stuck, "Orestes Erinyes." There is no record that the royal family was ever considered to be in danger, but given the situation unfolding in Russia, Simplicissimus's cartoonists delighted in imagining the Vaterland's conquest of Rome.
"Wenn die Not Am Größten" by Erich Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, November 20, 1917
Allied commanders prepared for a worst-case scenario of losing everything north of the Adige. Many priceless statues, paintings and ivories, as well as the famed horses of the Basilica of San Marco, were spirited away from Venice in case that city were to fall to the Germans.
"When 'Kultur' Reaches Venice" by W.A. Rogers in New York Herald, November, 1917
Jubilant German cartoonists depicted the removal of art and artifacts somewhat differently.
"Furchtbare Panik" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, November 20, 1917
Most American cartoonists accepted their role of cheerleader for the Allies, either drawing cartoons of Germany and the Kaiser as menacing evil despoilers of civilization...
"The Progress of Kultur" by Oscar Cesare in New York Evening Post, November, 1917
...or encouraging readers not to give up hope, belittling the enemy's successes.
"Maybe There's a Nail in the Boot" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, November, 1917
It is worth noting that when Italy entered the war, its army had significant numerical superiority over Austrian forces in the Alps. Italian military leadership relied, however, on strategies that were 100 years out of date. Italy's casualties in the eleven Isonzo offensives were huge yet yielded negligible results, and troops brought in to replace soldiers killed were severely under-trained. Supply lines were stretched beyond their limits, and low morale led to desertions and mutinies. The newly appointed Italian commander in 1917, General Luigi Cadorna, was widely despised by his troops, but you wouldn't know that from Allied cartoons.
"No Touchdown!" by Homer Stinson in Dayton News, November, 1917
No, American readers were more likely to see disparaging assessments of Germany's partners in the war...
"Und Only Mein Unselfishness Iss Safing You" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, October, 30 1917
...And, above and below, thanksgiving that Great Britain and France were coming to Italy's rescue.
"In the Nick of Time" by Bert Blessington in El Paso Morning Times, November 13, 1917
By the way, there is much to see and do in Venice. If you ever visit, which you ought to do before climate change puts it all under water, don't miss those gleaming bronze (well, probably mostly copper) horses at St. Mark's Basilica. The ones you can see from the Piazza di San Marco are modern replicas, but for a modest fee and a trip up a very old and worn staircase, you can look at them up close and personal. You can also see the originals, which date from antiquity, in the museum up there. Only then can you fully appreciate how much they've traveled, from ancient Greece to Constantinople to Venice to Paris and back to Venice again. And wherever they were hidden in 1917.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Q Toon: Moore-ality Play

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Nov 16, 2017

Cartoonist and content provider Daryl Cagle coined the term "Yahtzee" for when two or more editorial cartoonists draw the same idea on the same topic. That's what happened with the cartoon I drew on Sunday night, because I've seen the same basic idea, more or less, in the meantime drawn by Steve Sack and Phil Hinds. (Sack, as ever, did the concept up best, if I do say so myself, since he's not the sort to say it himself.)

Anyway, it's too late to change my cartoon now, and besides, all the other great ideas about Alabama's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate have already been taken.

When I was at the drawing board, my chief worry was that Judge Moore would drop out or be forced out of the race between then and now.

I needn't have worried. A poll found that 37% of Alabama Evangelicals, and 29% of the electorate in general, claimed they were "more likely" to vote for Moore after the allegations against him were made public. Dinesh D'Souza, or whomever he was plagiarizing, tweeted that he used to be lukewarm about Moore, but now "we must elect him." An Alabama politician compared Moore to St. Joseph, Step-Father of Our Lord, and an Alabama pastor slammed Washington Republicans as "sissies" for withdrawing their support of Moore.

On the other hand, current polls show that Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, has come from behind and may have as much as a 12-point lead. Jones, a former U.S. Attorney during the Clinton administration who prosecuted Klan members who bombed a black church in 1963, has been careful to distance himself from national Democrats. Republicans are desperately considering delaying next month's special election, or pushing a write-in campaign for incumbent Luther Strange, whom Moore beat in the September primary.

I don't know whether Alabama is one of those states that requires a run-off election if nobody gets over 50% of the vote, but it seems likely (that being one of the tactics southern states used to safeguard against Black candidates coming out ahead if the White vote were split); that would be a possibility if Republicans split between Moore and Strange. National Republicans would prefer a Strange-Jones runoff or maybe a Strange-Moore runoff, but could be stuck with a Moore-Jones runoff prolonging their present agony.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an evil wizard at the byzantine rules of politics, has even floated the idea of having Strange resign from the Senate before the December election, in order to force a new election. If Moore should win next month's election outright, the Senate could vote to expel him, allowing Alabama's Republican Governor to appoint a replacement. That seems a long shot with little precedent, but so did refusing to consider President Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

These are interesting times. Strange days, indeed.