Monday, February 27, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek


And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to...

... Milk, pork chops, bananas and toilet paper?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Remembering Ed Garvey

Ed Garvey died this week at the age of 76. Garvey was a labor lawyer from Burlington, Wisconsin, perhaps best known for having been executive director of the National Football League Players Association during their strikes in 1974 and 1982.

After leaving the NFL Players Association post, he entered Wisconsin politics, serving as Wisconsin's Deputy Attorney General, then winning the Democratic nomination for the 1986 Senate race against Republican Robert Kasten. His campaign against Kasten, an unremarkable freshman senator elected in the Reagan wave of 1980, has to be included among the Wisconsin Democratic Party's many lost opportunities.

Garvey's TV and radio ads hammered Kasten, highlighting — among other things  the Senator's refusal to release his tax returns, and his having been arrested in 1985 for driving drunk on the wrong side of the road and running a red light (the charges were dropped). Consumer advocate Ralph Nader came to Wisconsin to campaign for Garvey, calling Kasten a "chronic drunk" who needs "rehabilitation rather than re-election." Kasten's campaign manager countered Nader's attack by accusing Garvey of "mov[ing] his campaign from the gutter to the sewer."


Nationally, 1986 was a good year for Democrats, but not in Wisconsin. With Kasten vastly outspending Garvey, there wasn't much doubt that he would win re-election. The race ended up being a bit closer than some pre-election polls had predicted; so if Garvey had somehow managed to pull an upset win, there would still have been readers who would have found this post-election cartoon (drawn before the returns were in) appropriate.

Garvey made a quixotic run for governor against Tommy Thompson in 1998, at the height of Governor Thompson's popularity. At the time I was drawing separate cartoons for two University of Wisconsin student newspapers, the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, In Step Magazine and Q Syndicate; yet somehow, I did not draw a single cartoon about the gubernatorial race all year. The Business Journal editorialized on the Feingold-Neumann senate race a few times, requiring cartoons to match; the LGBT press was more interested in Tammy Baldwin's election to Congress.

Madison blogger Gregory Humphrey summed up Garvey's legacy in a more positive light than my cartoons have, so I'll let his words be the ones to leave you with:
"His optimism about the future needs of our political institutions was always strong as he continued to speak out and strongly support those who had a message that often echoed his own. He proved that politics it is not only about winning or losing but keeping the spirit of the fight alive even when the odds are against you."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Q Toon: End Around

The Donald Joffrey Trump administration announced this week that whether or not transgender students can safely pee in school lavatories should be up to state legislatures to decide. So let's take a look at how that's going, shall we?

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 23, 2017

Republicans in the state of Texas are pushing Senate Bill 6, the Lone Star version of North Carolina's phenomenally unsuccessful Bathroom Bill to require men who were born female to use the ladies' room and women who were born male to use the men's room. As in North Carolina, SB6 is aimed at overturning local ordinances and school policies protecting transgender rights.

The National Football League and National Basketball Association have come out against Texas's "Bathroom Bill," warning that if any bill seen as "discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events."

With a potential loss of hundreds of millions in sports revenue, Texas Governor Greg Abbott shot back, "We don't care what the NFL thinks and certainly what their political policies are because they are not a political arm of the state of Texas or the United States of America. They need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.”

Y'all remember when Thomas Jefferson about the wall of separation between sports and state.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and bill supporter Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Austin) protested that sports venues are exempt from SB6. Maybe.
When asked whether businesses and sporting venues would definitely be exempt, [Buckingham] added, "Well, we'll see what the language looks like, but it's my understanding that that's the intent — to realize that there are some complicating factors there and our priorities are really the schools."
Sports organizations may be the most prominent opponents of the legislation, but they are not alone. Major investment firms have also warned Texas of their opposition to the bill.
"As professional investors, we know that discrimination is simply bad for business," Matthew Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, which signed the letter, told the teleconference.
A coalition of Texas convention and tourism leaders predicts a short-term GDP losses of $8 billion in revenue. Bob Jameson, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, worries that the impact to his city alone could be massive:
"Business and leisure tourism delivers a $2 billion economic impact each year in Fort Worth and supports more than 20,000 jobs. An important driver behind that is our friendly hospitality and a strong message that all are welcome here. We want to maintain that.”
“Restroom laws are one of the top policy deterrents for planning conventions, conferences and meetings,” said Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association. “Our industry holds 1.83 million meetings annually and brings $28 billion in U.S. federal, state and local taxes annually; with more than $280 billion in annual U.S. direct spending spurred by our sector. Should SB6 be signed into law, you ensure Texas’s future percentage of these taxes and spending will exponentially be reduced.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Look Who's Speaking

After two consecutive cartoons featuring Trump administration flacks, Spokespersonback Saturday takes a brief moment to recall mouthpieces of the past.

Brief, because I haven't drawn many cartoons about them.

Not that their faces aren't well known; but I'm usually more interested in highlighting the presidents rather than the schlubs who have to speak for them. But sometimes I want to populate a cartoon with assorted administration figures, or to have someone else speak for the President.

The latter was the case in this 1985 cartoon of Ronald Reagan's Acting Press Secretary, Larry Speakes.


An adversarial relationship between an administration and the White House press corps, as you see,  is nothing new.

I just want to note what an apt name Larry Speakes had for a spokesperson. It's as if he were born to have that job. I can imagine that the family name derived from a long line of Speakespersons for medieval kings and princelings.

There wouldn't be another Press Secretary so aptly named until Barack Obama appointed Josh Earnest, whose name literally means "Just Kidding, But Seriously."

Another item to note is that Speakes, and his immediate successor, Marlin Fitzwater, were "Acting" or "Deputy" Press Secretaries. James Brady was officially kept on in the position of Press Secretary throughout the Reagan administration, in spite of having suffered severe brain injury in John Hinckley, Jr.'s  assassination attempt on the President only two months into the job. (Fitzwater continued as full-fledged Press Secretary in the George H.W. Bush administration.)

Technically, then, Brady was not still Press Secretary when the "Brady Bill" (officially the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act) passed the Congress and was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, prompting this cartoon:

The importance of Brady Act in ending Democrats' domination of Congress cannot be understated. Republicans took over both houses in 1994 with loud support of the National Rifle Association in key races. During the George W. Bush administration, with Republicans in charge of the legislative and executive branches of government, hey systematically gutted one firearm safety measure after another. With that monopoly of power again today, in fact, the NRA and its minions in Congress and the White House even want to make sure that mentally unstable Americans have free and easy access to guns.

Just like NRA poster boy John Hinckley, Jr., who is a free man these days.

Mr. Brady is no longer available to comment.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fake Newsmakers


Just read it from left to right.

Now, I really wish I had posted this cartoon before Donald Joffrey Trump's little hour-and-a-half press tantrum yesterday. I had a little problem with my scanner this week, and it was the regular syndicated cartoon's turn to appear here yesterday, so I figured I'd just hold off until today.

Well, nobody's talking about the lies of Stephen Miller or Kellyanne Conway now.

Unless it turns out that they are the people who told Mr. Trump that his 304 electoral votes are more than Barack Obama's 332 in 2012, or his 365 in 2008, or Bill Clinton's 379 in 1996 or 370 in 1992, or George H.W. Bush's 470 in 1988.

Boy, I wouldn't want to be whoever that Trump loyalist was. I'll bet that person is in for a serious finger wagging.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sookie Spice

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Feb 16, 2017
With a new administration comes a host of new Saturday Night Live characters, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's combative daily briefings have quickly shown him to be ripe for parody. It may be a one-joke sketch, but then, isn't that special? So are nearly all memorable SNL characters.

Because they're good enough, they're smart enough, and doggone it, people like them!

I had to draw this one quickly. HB2 clones are currently moving through the digestive tract of legislatures in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming; several of those states are immune to the threat of never hosting another Superbowl.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What Shall We Do with Roosevelt

Heartsick Americans were tortured this week by photos of former President Barack Obama kite surfing with Richard Branson off the British Virgin Islands and having such a wonderful old time, exercising smile muscles that we almost forgot he has. As one of the youngest former presidents this country has ever seen, he may have a very long retirement ahead. What shall he do?

T.E. Powers addressed this issue for another relatively youthful ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt, in a cartoon feature that appeared in the Chicago Examiner on Sunday, February 11, 1917 under this headline:


Syd Hoff tells us that William Randolph Hearst recruited Thomas E. Powers (1870-1939) to draw editorial cartoons for his newspapers during the circulation wars with Joseph Pulitzer, a job which Powers held for nearly 40 years. Powers's obituary describes him as a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, the subject of this multi-panel spread.
From the obituary:
Mr. Powers first attracted the attention of Theodore Roosevelt when he pictured the President threatening tall, silk-hatted figures labeled "The Trusts" with the then famous "big stick." His satirical thrusts at "grafting politicians" or others whose right to public office he challenged, however, usually were tempered with broad humor.
I should note that silk-hatted figures representing trusts were a well-established staple of editorial cartoons well before Mr. Powers came along.

Powers was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his family moving to Kansas City "before I was old enough to appreciate the product on which the 'fame' of that fair city rests," as he told Editor and Publisher in 1906. His cartooning career began at the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Herald before heading to New York. In addition to editorial cartoons, he also created half a dozen comic page strips, and is credited with drawing the first American newspaper color comic.

"The leak" in this next selection refers to the leak then under investigation of President Wilson's Christmastime peace proposal to stock and commodities brokers (see the Gibb cartoon here).

The bottom panel of this next section has Roosevelt sailing up the River of Doubt, or Rio da Dúvida, a tributary of the Amazon renamed after the former president, who led an expedition in the area with the famed Brazilian explorer Cândido Rondon in 1913-14. Upon his return, Roosevelt wrote in Through the Brazilian Wilderness of battling rapids and waterfalls to find the previously uncharted river's headwaters.

I have not been able to find what exactly inspired this cartoon — presumably some comment by former President William Howard Taft, judging from the newspaper headline. Roosevelt and Taft were publicly criticizing each other in January over the League to Enforce Peace (cf. one of the Harry Murphy cartoons last week); Taft was a founding member of the League and spoke in support of President Wilson's foreign policy, whereas Roosevelt attacked both.

When the Chicago Examiner published this cartoon, Roosevelt had been out of office for eight years, but not out of the public arena. He had run for President on the Progressive ticket four years after leaving office, and made a run for the Republican nomination another four years after that. Only 58 years old in 1917, he was just three years older than Barack Obama is today.

As it turned out, however, Roosevelt would only live two more years. His death had nothing to do with the assassin's bullet still in his body since 1912, or the debilitating asthma he had overcome as a child. He died in his sleep on January 5, 1919 of a blood clot that got into his lungs.

The Vice President, Thomas Marshall, is quoted as saying "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Q Toon: HAL No

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✵Feb 9, 2017

16 years after the disaster that took the crew of Discovery One, and the dishonest media still refuse to cover the story. Sad! Stop all obelisks from entering U.S. until we find out what's going on!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

As we step back one century again for Seekriegback Saturday, we are entering a momentous month in world history.
"The Homing Pigeon" by William "Jack" Farr in New York Evening Herald, January 28, 1917
When last we checked in, proposals to bring World War I to an end were shriveling up like the leaves of a Christmas poinsettia. The U.S. wanted a return to the status quo ante, plus a League of Nations to replace the complicated web of alliances that had obliged one European nation after another to declare war on the others for reasons that had nothing to do with the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian archduke. Germany wanted instead to ratify its gains on the battlefield, while the Entente of Russia, France and Great Britain preferred to punish Germany for its belligerence.
"The World's Two Great Comedians" by Lluis Bagaria for El Sol, Madrid, January, 1917
Since talk of peace was going nowhere, the German government declared "unrestricted submarine warfare" on February 1, 1917: a resumption of its U-boat blockade of Great Britain. The Kaiser warned that ships from any country, including neutral nations, would be attacked and sunk without warning anywhere within hundreds of miles of the British and French coasts.
"Well, Count, We Did Our Best" by W. A. Rogers in New York World, February, 1917
The British had a naval blockade of Germany, too, which as we've shown before, rankled those Americans who wished only to have transatlantic commerce and communications continue unimpeded regardless of European hostilities. The operative difference to U.S. public opinion now was that the Entente powers had not sunk any ships with Americans on them, operating under what were called prize or cruiser rules. Under these rules, British forces would board ships and place their crews in "a place of safety" before sinking the ship, unless the ship displayed "a persistent refusal to stop."

"The Last Straw" by Robert W. "Sat" Satterfield in Cleveland News, Ohio, February, 1917
As John Darling notes below, the German announcement was made with the full realization that the U.S. would be brought into the war because of it.
"Nobody But Himself to Blame" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, February, 1917

Europe's war had been raging at a stalemate for over two years, but, save for some very old veterans of the Civil War, Americans' only experience with war was of the relatively quick and easy victory over Spain twenty years earlier.
"And When It Falls 'Twill Fall on Him" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News Press, February 2, 1917
Even at Hearst's newspapers, resistance against the move toward war was waning. Here's Harry Murphy's cartoon on the day unrestricted submarine warfare was announced...
"I Feel Safer on My Own Side" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, February 1, 1917
...and five days later, as ships were being dispatched to Davy Jones's locker:
"I Want Real Preparedness" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, February 6, 1917
From this point on, jingoism fills the inkwells of nearly every cartoonist in America. The only ones still advocating against U.S. entry into the war were the socialists at The Masses.
"Peace Only with Honor" by Boardman Robinson in The Masses, February, 1917

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Q Toon: 404 File Not Found

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✵Feb 2, 2017

Many in the LGBTQ community were concerned when the LGBTQ page disappeared from the official White House web site.

There have been conflicting signals from the Donald Joffrey Trump administration on LGBTQ issues: there has been a uniform hostility among Trump cabinet appointees to LGBTQ concerns; and we can probably assume that the fellow he has appointed to fill Merrick Garland's seat on the Supreme Court believes that if the Founding Fathers weren't prescient enough to include LGBTQ rights in the Constitution, those rights do not exist.

On the other hand, the administration assures us that it has no intention of revoking President Obama's executive order protecting LGBT government and government contractor employees. “President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” according to the White House statement.

Yet establishing a right to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens is one of the most important issues to Trump's supporters on the so-called religious right. It strains credulity to think that they are going to be content with leaving anything in place that protects the rights of the LGBTQ community in any way.

Meanwhile, the White House appears to have no plans to name a liaison to the LGBTQ community. Even the imagined office in my cartoon may be more than we could hope for.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I Remember Mama

When speculation was circulating that Donald Joffrey Trump would name Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Judge Merrick Garland's seat on the Supreme Court, my first thought was to wonder if he were any relation to Anne Gorsuch Burford, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency in the first years of the Reagan administration.

As it turns out, he is her son.

A minion of Interior Secretary James Watt, Anne Gorsuch turned the mission of the EPA on its head, aiming to protect corporate profits at the expense of the environment. From her obituary in the Washington Post in 2004:
Her 22-month tenure was one of the most controversial of the early Reagan administration. A firm believer that the federal government, and specifically the EPA, was too big, too wasteful and too restrictive of business, Ms. Burford cut her agency's budget by 22 percent. She boasted that she reduced the thickness of the book of clean water regulations from six inches to a half-inch.
Republicans and Democrats alike accused Ms. Burford of dismantling her agency rather than directing it to aggressively protect the environment. They pointed to budget cuts for research and enforcement, to steep declines in the number of cases filed against polluters, to efforts to relax portions of the Clean Air Act, to an acceleration of federal approvals for the spraying of restricted pesticides and more. Her agency tried to set aside a 30-by-40-mile rectangle of ocean due east of the Delaware-Maryland coast where incinerator ships would burn toxic wastes at 1,200 degrees centigrade.
We cartoonists were no kinder to her than we were to Watt. I drew these cartoons in February and March, 1983, as scandal exploded around Ms. Gorsuch and her agency.

Charged with mishandling of the agency's $1.6 billion "superfund" for handling toxic waste, Gorsuch refused to turn over records to Congress and was found in contempt of Congress. There was also a scandal over promising a small New Mexico oil refinery that it could ignore existing limits on lead in gasoline because loosening of the regulations was planned. The regulations weren't loosened after all, and the company ended up having to pay huge fines.

To explain a couple things in my cartoons: between the first and the second, Gorsuch married Robert Burford, whereupon she took his last name. (That's not him in the bed, by the way; it's a generic industrialist character.) The woman hanging outside the windows is newly resigned Superfund administrator Rita Lavelle, who would be convicted in 1984 of lying to Congress about the superfund scandal.

I wasn't the only cartoonist to reach for the prostitution metaphor to depict Gorsuch Burford's handling of the EPA, but there were other allusions made by better cartoonists than me. Pat Oliphant depicted her as Maleficent from Disney's Snow White. Riffing on Ghostbusters, Jim Borgman portrayed her as an ectoplasmic spectre. Herb Block drew her as a jackbooted prison guard. After her resignation, Herblock drew Reagan and an aide tossing her into a smoking volcano labeled "Administration Environmental Scandals", with a slip labeled "Lavelle" nearby, as the aide tells the President, "We've given it two of our finest maidens!"

On a less personal level, Jeff MacNelly's response to the scandal was to depict the EPA as a garbage truck with all its garbage in the driver's cabin.

Reagan later appointed Gorsuch Burford to be chair of the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere, a post she dismissed as a "nothing-burger." The House and the Senate passed resolutions urging on President Reagan to withdraw the appointment; in the end, Gorsuch Burford decided not to accept the position.

In her 1986 book, Are You Tough Enough, Gorsuch Burford complained: "When congressional criticism about the EPA began to touch the presidency, Mr. Reagan solved his problem by jettisoning me and my people, people whose only 'crime' was loyal service, following orders. I was not the first to receive his special brand of benevolent neglect, a form of conveniently looking the other way, while his staff continues to do some very dirty work."

I brought Gorsuch Burford back one more time for a cartoon marking the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1989. She's behind Reagan in the supporting cast between Robert Bork and James Watt.