Saturday, March 6, 2021

Good-bye—And Howdy!

"Good-Bye—and Howdy" by Wm. C. Morris for Geo. Matthew Adams Service, ca. March 4, 1921

100 years ago this week, the second most corrupt presidential administration in U.S. history was sworn into office.

"Good Luck, Old Man" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 4, 1921

Of course, nobody could foresee the rot that would lead to the Teapot Dome Scandal (unlike Donald Trump's complete and utter lack of ethics and responsibility, which were well in evidence long before he rode down the escalator), so most editorial cartoonists welcomed the new administration into office. "Ding" Darling, while a loyal Republican, had drawn his disapproval of Warren Harding during the campaign; but there is no trace of that in his Inauguration Day cartoon.

"He Should Worry About Eviction" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Collier's, February 26, 1921 

Conversely, Ding had offered a less than dignified send-off in Collier's magazine for the departing President Woodrow Wilson.

"Good Luck and Best Wishes" by Bob Satterfield for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. March 4, 1921

So anyway, there were plenty of cartoons of Uncle Sam wishing the new president luck. I could re-post Clifford Berryman's sycophantic March 4 cartoon again today, but frankly, it wouldn't add much to the conversation.

"Exit the Donk" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1921

 For their part, partisan Republicans such as Carey Orr were especially gleeful.

"The Dawn of a New Day" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1921

To hear Republicans of the day, you would think that the Wilson administration had seen eight bleak years of depression and hopelessness as Mr. Wilson spent the whole time in Europe ignoring the utter collapse of the republic at home. You can fault Wilson for cozying up to racist segregationists and persecuting socialists, but I hardly think those were criticisms Mr. Orr gave one whit about.

"At Last, After Eight Years..." by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 3, 1921

No, for the most part, the change from Democratic government to Republican government was of interest solely to the committed partisans on either side. Hiram and Frank might have needled each other at the feed store, but well before March 4, neither one still had Cox, Harding, or Wilson For President flags still waving in front of their home.

"A New Brand" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 4, 1921

This must be a slightly less snotty way of saying "Put that in your pipe and smoke it." Do the kids still say that these days? As an aPOThecary reference, I suppose.

"The New Partner" by Wilson in Farmington (MO) Times, March 4, 1921

Miss Columbia appears positively underjoyed by her new dance partner in this cartoon by someone with the same name as the departing president. I know virtually nothing about Wilson the cartoonist, save that he appears to aimed his cartoons at a rural audience; they appear on the front page of the weekly Farmington Times of St. Francois County, Missouri, until June, 1921 when he is replaced by someone named Parks. I did not find that any of his cartoons were about state or local issues, so this was likely a syndicated feature.

"Der Neue Mann im Weissen Haus" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, March 6, 1921

Across the pond, the German press, upset over the punitive postwar punishment insisted upon by France and the Wilson administration's helplessness to do anything about it, hoped for a better deal from the New Man in the White House.

"His Legacy" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 5, 1921

But Harding had little interest in European affairs, Leo Bushnell's cartoon here notwithstanding. He left a lot of the foreign policy decision-making to his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who nevertheless could not convince him to let the U.S. join the League of Nations or the Permanent Court of International Justice.

The U.S. would, however, sign a separate peace with Germany in August.

in New York Evening World, March 4, 1921

Lest I leave you with the impression that there was unanimous relief at the end of the Wilson era, here's the cartoon Democrat-leaning cartoonist John Cassel had published on Inauguration Day, lauding the retiring president for his efforts to bring peace to the universe.

in New York Evening World, March 7, 1921

All the same, Cassel's first Harding cartoon during the new administration lacked the animus Cassel had leveled at Harding during the election campaign.

"Being So Long Accustomed to the Hammer..." by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 4, 1921
Another Democrat-leaning cartoonist, this one sharing a name with the new Commander in Chief, leaves us with this trenchant observation that applies to just about any time the parties in and out of power trade places. 
I'm not familiar with the hammer and shovel maxim having been a well-known proverb in grandpa's day. Perhaps it was just Nelson Harding's way of saying those grapes were probably sour, anyway.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Q Toon: I'll Get You, My Pretty

By now, you are probably well aware that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Idiocracy) last week responded to a colleague's transgender rights flag across the hall from her office by posting a sign reading "There are two genders: male and female. Respect the science."

If you really want to respect the science, you have to acknowledge that reality is not as simple as that. I'm no biologist, but someone who is attempted to explain the possible and existing complications in a Twitter thread a couple years ago. For example,

Turns out there is only ONE GENE on the Y chromosome that really matters to sex. It’s called the SRY gene. During human embryonic development the SRY protein turns on male-associated genes. Having an SRY gene makes you “genetically male”. But is this “biological sex”?

Sometimes that SRY gene pops off the Y chromosome and over to an X chromosome. Surprise! So now you’ve got an X with an SRY and a Y without an SRY. What does this mean?
A Y with no SRY means physically you’re female, chromosomally you’re male (XY) and genetically you’re female (no SRY). An X with an SRY means you’re physically male, chromsomally female (XX) and genetically male (SRY). But biological sex is simple! There must be another answer...

Most of what I know about biology comes from BBC nature programs, so genes and chromosomes are beyond what I could ever hope to explain. I also have no idea what it's like to feel that your gender doesn't match your genitalia. 

Heck, I couldn't tell you why I write and draw with my left hand yet shave and use silverware with my right. Maybe some L2R protein leapt from one chromosome to another somewhere along the line. It is what it is and thank God I don't need surgery or hormones to make me fit someone else's ideas of who or what I am.

So Biologist Tweeter Rebecca Helm can have the last word today.

[P]lease be kind, respect people’s right to tell you who they are, and remember that you don’t have all the answers. Again: biology is complicated. Kindness and respect don’t have to be.

Monday, March 1, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

The first sneak peek of March comes in like a flying monkey.

P.S.: Daily Cartoonist posted their tribute to Bill Sanders today, including a link to his cartoons at Western Kentucky University.

The second cartoon in that collection displays Sanders's support of LGBTQ rights, long before anybody called them that. (Heck, back then, I myself wasn't touching the topic with a ten-foot pen!) Since LGBTQ issues are a primary focus of this here blog, I'd like to share that cartoon here.
"Gays March in Washington..." by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, October 18, 1979

I encourage you to go visit the WKU archive for the rest.

"Amendment to the 14th Amendment" by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, May 12, 1978

Sunday, February 28, 2021

R.I.P. Bill Sanders

"Put It Back" by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, July 1, 1971


The family of past AAEC President Bill Sanders announced his passing today.

Editorial cartoonist during his life at the Japan Times (English edition), Greensboro Daily News, Kansas City Star, and Milwaukee Journal, he had time in his busy schedule to give this aspiring cartoonist valuable tips and insight when I was still scribbling on typing paper with ballpoint pen.

Rest In Power, sir!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February on the Ones

I've used some of these Saturday posts to rehash my own cartoons from 30 years ago, which at this point in the calendar, has led up to Gulf War I. My problem this month is that I've already posted most of my February, 1991 cartoons for one reason or another. The cartoon below may very well be the only one previously unrehashed.

in UW-M Post, Milwaukee, February 12, 1991

So for a theme this week, here are some of my Wisconsin-themed cartoons from 2001 and 2011.

in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, February 23, 2001

This cartoon, drawn to accompany an editorial in the Business Journal, has a date written on it of February 16, but so does another Beej cartoon. I don't see a cartoon dated February 23, so I think this one is the one with the wrong date.

At any rate, Chuck Chvala (D-Madison) was the on-and-off Majority Leader in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1995 to 2002 — on at this point in time — and the Business Journal thought that a prescription drug bill in the state legislature was doomed and little more than a partisan ploy. Chvala ended up not looking so heroic when he was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws by having Democratic caucus staff do electioneering work on the state dime.

Quaint, aina?

Now Chvala podcasts political punditry with former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who had his own run-in with ethics laws.

2011 was a tumultuous year in Wisconsin politics; Scott Walker took office as Governor with a Republican majority in both houses of the state legislature. Backed by an ad blitz from anti-union oligarchs, they launched an all-out assault against public employees (notably excepting the police and fire unions, the only unions to have backed Walker's campaign).

Wisconsin Club for [Cancerous] Growth took the lead in TV and radio advertising. One of their ads highlighted the wage and benefit cuts that unions at various private firms had been forced to swallow during the 2008-2009 economic crash — Mercury Marine, for example, could threaten to close down its Fond du Lac plant and open shop in Bumm Fork, Alabama, instead; but the same can't be done with schools and snowplows, prisons and parole officers. So the voice-over announcer complained that public employee unions were not sharing in privately employed workers' pain:

 "All across Wisconsin, people are making sacrifices to save their jobs: frozen wages, pay cuts and paying more for health care. But state workers haven't had to sacrifice; they pay next to nothing for their pensions and a fraction of their health care. It's not fair. Call your state legislators and tell them to vote for Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. It's time state employees paid their fair share, just like the rest of us."

It was cute that the folks at Wisconsin Club for [Cancerous] Growth included themselves in "the rest of us."

Act 10, as Walker's "budget repair bill" was officially called, gutted public employee unions' ability to negotiate salaries and benefits, banned those unions from collecting dues from public employees who chose not to belong to the union (but would continue to be included in whatever union contracts would follow). Having made union membership pointless, Act 10 also made mandatory annual recertification votes, further encouraging employees to bust their unions.

All in the name of fixing Republicans' "hole in the state budget."

Well, folks, as appreciation for your indulgence while I wallow down memory lane today, here's a February, 2021 cartoon featuring three members of Wisconsin's illustrious delegation to Washington, D.C.: Congressmen Glenn Grothman and Scott Fitzgerald, and Senator Ron "This Didn't Seem Like an Armed Insurrection to Me" Johnson.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Q Toon: Exceptionalism

The House is expected to vote this week on the Equality Act sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to extend its protections to LGBTQ citizens. President Biden has vowed that signing it into law is one of the first priorities of his administration.

But first, it has to get through the U.S. Senate.

Requblicans object to the bill, claiming that it discriminates against religious people who believe in discriminating against LGBTQ people. They have also raised fears that men in sports will rush to transition to female in order to put women in sports at a competitive disadvantage, or at least to get into the ladies' locker room. And of course, everybody's bathrooms.

Democrats and Requblicans are evenly split in the Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris could vote in the case of a tie. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was a co-sponsor of the Equality Act in 2019, in case you'd still like to get your unrealistic hopes up for her again. But there doesn't appear to be much likelihood of any other Requblicans supporting the bill; Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rob Portman (R-OH) aren't making any promises, and Mitt Romney (R-UT) declared his opposition just last week.

Since, under current rules, any bill needs to have the support of 60 senators in order to get anywhere, Requblicans can filibuster the Equality Act without lifting a finger. Almost literally. We tend to think of a filibuster as involving some senator speaking for hours on end until he/she collapses from exhaustion. Nowadays, all it takes is 40 votes against a motion to close debate. Actual debate need not even follow.

There used to be a saying that the Senate was the saucer in which the overheated soup from the House was allowed to cool. Now the Senate is the arctic vortex that freezes the whole bowl of soup, a plate of lasagna, a bunch of bananas and the rest of the whole damned kitchen into an impenetrable block of ice.

Monday, February 22, 2021