Thursday, July 29, 2021

Q Toon: Hungary and Thirst for Rightwingness

This is one of those weeks when I wish I were one of those cartoonists who didn't care whether the subject of my cartoon bore the slightest resemblance to my caricature of them.


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is an ultra-right-wing politician who came to power in 2010 whipping up fear and anger against Muslim refugees fleeing civil wars in Syria, Sudan, Libya and Afghanistan. His administration has been marked by an assault on press freedoms and dissent, and by unchecked kleptocracy.

Part and parcel of this right-wing package has been enforcement of a conservative brand of Christian "traditional values," primarily by attacking LGBTQ+ rights in every aspect of Hungarian life. The latest move has been a law prohibiting any positive mention of LGBTQ+ orientation or persons in the nation's education system.

Faced with outrage from Western members of the European Union, Orbán has proposed a national referendum to prove that his criminalization of LGBTQ+ discussion in schools enjoys popular support. Arriving at a meeting of his fellow EU leaders last month, Orbán claimed that there was nothing at all antigay about his antigay law.

He even portrayed himself as an LGBTQ+ rights hero:

"I am a fighter for their rights. I am a freedom fighter in the communist regime. Homosexuality was punished and I fought for their freedom and their rights. So I am defending the rights of the homosexual guys, but this law is not about that."

His anticommunist activities in 1989 notwithstanding, in the last two years, his agenda to defend the rights of the homosexual guys has involved rescinding recognition of transgender persons, and censoring LGBTQ+-positive content from television and film.

Orbán last appeared in this blog last December, when Hungarian representative to the European Union Parliament, József Szájer, a founder of Orbán's Fidesz Party, was caught at a gay sex party in Brussels that had too many participants according to Belgian COVID-19 restrictions then in effect. Orbán quickly accepted Szájer's resignation, telling the Hungarian press that "What our fellow member József Szájer has done does not fit into the values of our political community."

I doubt that Orbán's concern for the values of his political community was that there had been too many homosexual guys in that apartment.

Monday, July 26, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Drawing this week's cartoon last night with only out-of-date photos and teensy weensy pictures on an iPod for reference, I had to make some hasty edits by computer this morning.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Cheer the Deer!

In honor of the Milwaukee Bucks clinching the national championship 50 years after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robinson, John McGlocklin and Bob Dandridge brought home the title, I've decided to dig up some of the Bucks-related cartoons I drew for the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee back when I was their editorial cartoonist.

in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, January 15, 1999

The Beej, of course, didn't ask me for cartoons about the team per se; this cartoon drawn to accompany an editorial celebrating the end of the 1998-99 NBA lock-out is as close as we'll come today to a cartoon about the game itself.

in Business Journal oGM, Nov. 30, 2001
Most of these cartoons concern negotiations to merge the Bradley Center, the Bucks' home since 1988, with the Wisconsin Center, two blocks to its south.
in Business Journal, March 22, 2002
This one accompanied an editorial congratulating UHF Channel 41 for winning the rights to televise Bucks games for the 2002-03 season. Then using the call letters WMLW-LP (now WBME-CD), Channel 41 is a low-powered station whose broadcast signal has never extended far from Milwaukee County; local cable monopoly Time Warner only grudgingly added it to its line-up in 2003.

Channel 41 didn't retain the rights to Bucks games for long, however. It now runs TV reruns from the 1950's to '70's as part of the MeTV brand.

in Business Journal, Feb. 14, 2003

Now, this one was probably about the Bradley Center-Wisconsin Center merger, unless it was about the above-mentioned renovation plans, or something else entirely. I'm afraid I don't remember. Obviously, the Beej had some trepidations about whatever it was. What I really liked about this cartoon was that it didn't take very long to draw it.

I wish I could take credit for the composition of the cartoon, but credit is rightly due to the great Pat Oliphant. A basketball-themed cartoon of his years earlier demonstrated how to exaggerate height in a horizontally oriented cartoon, and I followed his example quite closely.

The bowling ball, however, was my idea.

in Business Journal, Dec. 19, 2003
Principals in the merger negotiations were Bradley Center Chair Ulice Payne, Jr. and Frank Gimbel, Chair of the Wisconsin Center District Board, so you'll be seeing them again in subsequent cartoons.
May 21, 2004

A proposal to rent out space at the Bradley Center was, of course, aimed at commercial development, but it was fun to imagine the Center opening up to residential occupancy instead. Of the cartoons in today's post, this is probably my favorite.

in Business Journal, Dec. 17, 2004

Editorially, the Business Journal was eager to see the Bradley Center-Wisconsin Center merger come through, and frustrated that negotiations were not getting anywhere.

in Business Journal, March 11, 2005

As negotiations dragged on, the Bucks' lease at the Bradley Center came due. Team management viewed the 17-year-old arena as out-of-date, and there was talk of the team considering pulling up stakes to find a more modern facility elsewhere.

in Business Journal, Oct. 14, 2005

The Business Journal decided to drop editorial cartoons at the end of 2005, before this merger business ever got settled. Once Wisconsin state government approved replacing the Bradley Center with Fiserve Forum in 2015, the merger was made moot. 

(If the merger ever happened, I've been unable to find a report of it. An on-line timeline from the Wisconsin Center District mentions the talks in the early '00's. It doesn't mention the Bradley Center again until July, 2015, when the Wisconsin State Senate's financing package for the Fiserv Forum included a provision for the WCD Board to oversee the Bradley Center. The Bradley Center was demolished in 2019, leaving plenty of room for the 65,000 fans massing outside Fiserv Forum on Tuesday.)


I can't end today's post without adding a much earlier cartoon of then-owner of the Bucks, Herb Kohl, when he was running to succeed U.S. Senator Bill Proxmire (D-WI). Kohl won the September primary against former Governor Tony Earl, former Senate candidate Steve Garvey, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, and perennial also-ran Edmond Hou-Seye; Republican nominee Susan Engeleiter was a State Senator from Brookfield who had won her nomination over state party Chair Steve King.

in UW-M Post, Milwaukee, Wis., Sept. 20, 1988

Kohl's deep pockets helped him to a decisive victory over Engeleiter; that he had brought the Bucks to Milwaukee didn't hurt, either. Kohl sold the Bucks in 2014, and a son of new co-owner Marc Lasry is one of a swarm of Democratic candidates vying for the nomination to challenge Senator Ron Johnson next year. Alex Lasry sponsors posts that show up in my Facebook feed every day.

Time — and there is plenty of it between now and August, 2022 — will tell whether the Bucks' championship is enough to propel Lasry to the front of the pack.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Q Toon: Is Fox News Evil?

I'm exaggerating any antigay animus on Fox News's part because this is a cartoon drawn for the LGBTQ+ press. That animus exists — especially against transgender people as the whipping boy/girl/children du jour — even if Fox News hasn't been up in alarms about marriage equality or Gays In The Military lately.

What I'm not exaggerating is Fox News's reliance upon stirring up its audience's phobias and resentment against The Other, and promoting The Big Lie. As a Republican media outlet, Fox News is acutely aware that majority rule is a potential threat to their party; so it is eager to cast doubt upon the legitimacy of free and open elections.

Absent any real evidence of massive voter fraud by Democrats, Fox News can't state it as fact. (Indeed, nearly all of the instances of voter fraud that have come to light, rare as they are, have been individuals casting a second vote for Republican candidates.) Instead, Fox News puts democracy in jeopardy by casting its aspersions in the form of a question.

Fox News isn't accusing Democrats of busing dead illegal immigrant voters to the polls. It's just asking whether they might be doing it. Journalists are supposed to ask questions, aren't we?.

Hence the title of today's post.

Monday, July 19, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

My dad keeps joining and quitting these wine-of-the-month clubs that send him an entire case of wine every four weeks. The wines come with cards describing of the wine, the vineyard's history, and pairing suggestions.

My better half and I were over to Dad's for dinner yesterday, and Dad had selected a merlot from the Pays d'Oc region. I'd describe it as richer than a lot of merlots that you'll find out there; but as you may know, Wine People describe wine a bit more precisely than that. The card accompanying this merlot described its taste and aroma as incorporating black cherry, baking spices, truffles, pie crust, and riparian fauna.

Okay, I'll grant that maybe there was a bouquet reminiscent of cherry pie. If you say so.

But saying it smells like a wet beaver isn't going to be much of a selling point.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Eire Apparent

"If" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch  July, 1921

I get to start this week's history tour off with a cartoon about Ireland by Ireland — Billy Ireland, that is.

"The Twelfth" celebrations in Northern Ireland in the early part of July feature twelve days of parades and bonfires in celebration of the anniversary of Protestant King William of Orange's victory over Catholic King James II on July 12, 1691 (Julian calendar). For centuries, these festivities deliberately provoked Irish Catholics, marching through their neighborhoods and burning Irish flags.

"Too Hot" by Rollin Kirby in New York Evening World, July 22, 1921

So it may have been a happy coincidence that British forces and the Irish Republican Army declared a truce in the two-year-old Irish War of Independence on July 11, 1921.

"The Next Stop" by Roy H. James in St. Louis Star, July, 1921
American newspaper reports told of the news being greeted with celebrations and parades, although I have to wonder how many of those celebrations had more to do with "The Twelfth" than the announcement of the truce.
Untitled, by Bill Satterfield for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., by July 11, 1921

American cartoonists certainly received the news with enthusiasm...

Untitled, by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, July, 1921

... even if they didn't quite agree upon who was inviting whom to the peace table.

"They'll Both Enjoy a Refreshing Plunge..." by Leo Bushnell for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., by July 13, 1921

Declaring a truce was one thing. Agreeing to a peace settlement was another thing entirely. The proposal from British Prime Minister David Lloyd George offered only limited autonomy to Ireland within the British Empire, analogous to England's dominion over Canada at the time. Irish Republic President Eamonn de Valera demanded complete independence for a united Ireland. Ulster Premier Sir James Craig insisted Northern Ireland would not be governed by Dublin.

"Getting Together to Drive the Snakes Out" by Wm. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, July, 1921

Nor did hostilities stop completely. Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith was convinced that the violence alone had no chance of achieving victory over the British army, but irregulars in the IRA continued to recruit fighters and to stage guerilla attacks against royalist targets. Peace negotiations, mediated by South African Premier Jan Smuts, kept plugging away nevertheless.
"Bearding the Lion in His Den" by Leo Bushnell for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., by July 20, 1921

Bushnell's second cartoon here hangs on a relatively obscure story from the Old Testament; cartoonists could get away with a greater store of biblical references a century ago than we can today.
"Getting Together..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, July 25, 1921
Whereas virtually everybody can understand the challenge of getting a bulldog and a cat into the same basket.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Q Toon: One Small Step

Or, Friends In High Places:

Richard Branson won the billionaires' race to space on Sunday (or maybe not quite), and there have been a spaceshipload of cartoons criticizing Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk for squandering so much capital on vanity flights when there are still so many problems down here on Earth.

Rather than strain to find an original way to make that well-worn point, I expound today upon a minor sidebar article. Among the guests and bric-a-brac Branson took on his Virgin Galactic spaceplane was an LGBTQ+ pride flag*, intended to commemorate the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre five years ago.

He also brought along a photo of Stephen Colbert, which I didn't catch what that was supposed to commemorate, but having to cut it down to postage stamp size because of the weight taught a valuable lesson about materialism or whatever. And he's organizing some sort of a Go Fund Me to send a couple random less-than-billionaires up to the outer limits of the thermosphere.

So he went to space and he's trying his darnedest not to be a dick about it, and he respectfully asks all you earthbound socialists to get off his back, like, as if you wouldn't jet up to outer space if you had several billion quatloos burning a hole in your bank vault, okay?


* Update: Turns out it was a ribbon, not a flag.