Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Environmental Stewardship: Solar Sanctuaries

by John Berge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

War Declared; Hilarity Ensues

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

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Q Toon: On a Roll

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
ᏈOct 12, 2017

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Denne Uken Snikitt

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Storm Before the New World Order

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

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Q Toon: Truth Will Out

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
📧Oct 5, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Toon: American Horror Story

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

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

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

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