Saturday, July 8, 2017

Seven and Seven

In belated honor of yesterday having been 7/7/17, Septback Saturday brings you a sampling of stuff I drew in July of 1987, 1997 and 2007.

In July of 1987, Congress was investigating the Iran-Contra scandal. In case that's ancient history to you, the Reagan administration was caught having sold arms to Iran, in violation of an embargo against that country since the hostage affair of 1979-81, and using the money from those sales to surreptitiously fund the right-wing militias fighting the government of Nicaragua.

This was America's introduction to Lt. Col. Oliver North, then an aide to the National Security Council, who was the guy who proposed the Iran-Contra link, and destroyed vital documents as the affair became exposed. Adopting an air of indignant moral impeccability, the future Fox News commentator insisted upon wearing his army uniform and medals when testifying before Congress, and pretty much whenever he appeared in public.

I was freelancing cartoons on local topics for the Racine Journal Times in those days. Cartoons involving court cases are usually unwelcome, but this one skirted the issue of prematurely convicting the accused. The particulars of the case hardly matter for the understanding of the cartoon thirty years later; in fact, I have no recollection whatsoever of how the case was adjudicated.

Ten years later, I was drawing for two Milwaukee newspapers. I illustrated the editorials of The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee; here's one on one of the few topics that needs no explanation — although it might be useful to recall that in Bill Clinton's first term, he had put Vice President Al Gore in charge of a commission to review and streamline government regulation of business. You can pretty accurately imagine the Beej editorial on your own.

The other paper I drew for back then was a now-defunct biweekly, In Step, serving Wisconsin's LGBTQ community. Again, I doubt that this cartoon from July, 1997 requires any explanation.

Twenty years later, we're still waiting for Mickey Mouse to suffer an almighty smite.

Now, had I drawn this cartoon for the Journal Times, there would no doubt have been reader complaints that I was attacking religion. (Had I drawn it for the Business Journal, there would have been editor complaints that this wasn't what his editorial was about.) But at In Step, I was preaching to the choir — if you'll pardon the expression.

Finally, I'll circle back to another Fox News personality with this cartoon from July of 2007 featuring one Mr. Bill O'Reilly. We derisively called it Faux News back then — the precursor of Trumplestiltskin's "Fake News" epithet for all the other channels, newspapers and magazines.

Which brings up a topic having very little to do with this cartoon, but which has been bothering me lately. For all the media outrage at the .gif Mr. Trump tweeted showing him beating up a guy whose face is covered by a CNN logo, American media have been largely and curiously silent about the hamfisted efforts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to force Qatar to shut down the Al Jazeera news network.

While not all complaints against Al Jazeera are baseless (concerning an allegation that an Egyptian president was an Israeli agent, for example), freedom of the press has got to be respected. It's one thing to call the integrity of Fox's Bill O'Reilly on the one hand, or CBS's Dan Rather on the other; it's quite another for any government to insist that someone else's government shut down the entire network.

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