Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With This Ring

I don't have much to add about this cartoon. The exchange took place at the Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can watch the video here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sneak Peek of the Week

I had to redraw this week's Q Syndicate cartoon completely after I started inking it. For some reason, the ink was bleeding into the bristol board as if I were trying to draw on a sponge. I don't know why -- it's the same brand of bristol board I've been using for years (maybe it sat out in the rain or nearly got washed out to sea somewhere along the line) -- but it's the second sheet out of two since I bought this particular pad, so I guess the whole pad is likely to be ruined.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sew and Say

I expect that the Obama administration was afraid that news reports about a racist employee in the Department of Agriculture would step all over this week's news about the banking reform bill and/or extension of unemployment benefits. Well, surprise, surprise: the Shirley Sherrod story is overshadowing the administration's two legislative accomplishments anyway.

The reason is simple. There are four things that the media love to talk about:
1. The media
2. Race
3. Bloggers
4. The media

That, and any topic that allows the cable talking heads to discuss, at great length, the excellent 20/20 hindsight advice they would have given the administration if only the administration would have listened to them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Q Toon: Meanwhile, Back at the Vatican

On the Racine Post blog, a reader responded to my latest cartoon (on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race): "Walker raised taxes????? Walker passed the Wheel Tax in The City of Milwaukee, Tried to talk over MPS from the voters? Walker allow Billions of Gallons of untreated sewage into Lake Michigan?"

I posted a reply citing the One Wisconsin Now tax and fee figures reported in the Shepherd Express, and this person's response was, "Calling the Shepherd Express a newspaper is like calling the Journal Times a newspaper."

As tempted as I was to reply that a.) I hadn't called the Shepherd Express a newspaper, b.) the Shepherd Express and Journal Times print news on newsprint on a regular basis, which ought to define them as newspapers, and c.) whether or not they were newspapers was completely irrelevant -- especially in the case of the Journal Times, which wasn't part of the conversation at all -- as tempted as I was, I realized that to reply that way would send the discussion veering off on a useless tangent, the way so many internet discussions end up.

Then I realized that here we had the opportunity to provide a definition for Sarah Palin's new verb, to refudiate. To refudiate: to argue or to deny by changing the subject; to counter an argument with an unrelated accusation.

E.g.: "Bush administration policies caused the worst recession since 1929, and now Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to prevent President Obama from reversing those policies."
"Show me the birth certificate!"

"Sarah Palin says that America cannot achieve energy independence while federal regulations continue to discourage domestic exploration and extraction."
"Sarah Palin says she can see Russia from her house."

This week's Q Syndicate cartoon (above) is not an example of refudiation, however. It is rather an example of the Will & Grace school of comedy: creating a joke by making a gratuitous celebrity reference with no direct connection to the topic at hand.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sneik Pique of the Weak

Perusing the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists web page this morning, I noticed one of my respected brethren making a reference to "alter boys" in today's cartoon. I do a lot of church work (which may come as a surprise to some readers of my cartoons), and that is an error I see often. With any luck, the newspaper copy editor was able to catch that the table at the front of a church is spelled "altar," not "alter," and was able to get the cartoonist -- or someone handy with Photoshop -- to alter the cartoon accordingly before printing thousands of copies of it.

The occasional need editorial cartoonists have for copy editors arose last week when a cartoonist for some local Kentucky newspapers posted a cartoon on the AAEC web site denigrating "Canzian" economists. I had no idea what he was attacking when I read the cartoon -- given the conservative bent of that particular cartoonist, I figured that Fox News had turned its attack guns on some deputy assistant undersecretary in the Obama administration named Canzi or something like that.

What the cartoonist had meant to attack, as it turns out, was "Keynesian" economics, named after the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes, whom one could easily find in a dictionary or on Wikipedia if one knows enough high school level Econ 101 for a passing grade. After one of our more established colleagues sent this cartoonist a caustic e-mail (and perhaps an editor of one of those local newspapers said something to him as well), the cartoonist yanked the cartoon off the AAEC site.

I can't claim infallibility for my cartoons. I don't have spell check on my drawing board; and because I'm left-handed and therefore ink my cartoons from right to left, I've occasionally dropped entire syllables -- even words -- from cartoons, and haven't caught the error before sending them off to my editors.

Spelling errors are the least of our worries in this business. One certainly doesn't want to get caught making a factual error. There are plenty of other potential landmines as well. Take for example the difference between an ex-marine and a former marine. You might have thought that those terms mean the same thing; but to a marine, the difference is huge, and I wouldn't want to get caught making the mistake of using the wrong term in a cartoon.

Heck, I get enough flack at home whenever I draw a nurse wearing one of those traditional nurse hats that nurses don't wear any more. Or a doctor with a stethoscope draped over his shoulders.

The fact is, we cartoonists pretend to be authorities on plenty of subjects about which we frankly have little authority at all. We draw cartoons critical of the FAA even if we're not licensed pilots like Pat Oliphant is. We draw cartoons about what people in a foreign country we've never been to supposedly think. We predict the outcome of tax policy and budget deficits without even a bachelor degree in economics.

And some of us can't tell altar from alter, its from it's, or discreet from discrete.

None of which will stop any of us from lampooning Sarah Palin's latest refudiations.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Republican Governors' Association TV Ad

The above Racine Post cartoon satirizes a series of TV ads aired in Wisconsin by the Republican Governors' Association.

Wisconsin's gubernatorial race this year has the interesting quirk of pitting the Mayor of the city of Milwaukee against the County Executive of Milwaukee County. (Former First District Congressman Mark Neumann is also running in the September 14 primary and could conceivably pull an upset over Walker, whom the state party officially endorsed last month, but for the purposes of this cartoon, I'm discounting that possibility.)

Every business closed and job lost in the city of Milwaukee is also a business closed and job lost in Milwaukee County. But the similarity of the two municipal executives' records extends to taxation as well.

It may come as a surprise to anyone who gets their news from Milwaukee television that Milwaukee County taxes have gone up during Walker's administration. Elected to office after the county employee pension scandal that sank the Ament administration, Walker has proposed draconian budget cuts, targeting the poor, the inner city, and county employees, every year. But according to the Shepherd Express cover story, "Fact-Checking Scott Walker":
"Here’s how it works: Walker will introduce an unrealistically stringent budget each autumn. The county board then has no choice but to add spending and tax increases to keep up with inflation and other increased costs of doing business. Walker will veto the changes, and the board will override the veto. Then Walker will use that budget as the base line for his next year's budget.

"And, voila! Walker can say that he hasn’t increased taxes and spending because the board has made the tough decisions.

"So how much have property taxes increased during Walker’s reign? One Wisconsin Now crunched the numbers and found that Walker's proposed budgets from 2003 to 2010 raised property taxes about 17%, while he's increased spending 35%, more than Gov. Jim Doyle did during the same period. What's more, fees on licenses, permits, fines and forfeitures have increased a whopping 129% during Walker's tenure."

So, to quote the RGA ad campaign slogan, Walker is "just like Jim Doyle. But worse."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Q Toon: Honest Barry

Goodness gracious, I was so busy planning the Palin-Johnston wedding that I plumb never got around to posting the cartoon yesterday!

At any rate, I seem to be in an American History mode this month. A couple of weeks ago, I drew the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and this week it's Barack Obama as Abe Lincoln.

The inspiration comes from a TV ad for an insurance company featuring Honest Abe Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. I'm counting on the reference being obvious, but I mention this just in case that particular company doesn't advertise in your neck of the woods.

Or perhaps this ad doesn't run south of the Mason-Dixon line. Given the Texas School Board's demand for textbooks that promote, among other things, the Confederate point of view of what they don't call the Civil War, "Honest Abe" may not be a term southern schoolchildren have been exposed to. The insurance company may choose to run its gecko ads there instead.

Of course, the ad itself is based on an even older comedic pretense than last week's "That is not my dog," so even a reader from outside the United States who has never seen any of this insurance company's ads ought to be able to appreciate some part of the gag here.

And getting back to my apparent penchant for drawing on American history for my cartoons lately, only a few months ago I drew President Obama as a Civil War era general's statue.

The tone of today's political debate may have something to do with the recurrence of that particular point of American history in my cartoons about this president.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Q Toon: Texas Republicans

The Texas Republican Party has a plank in this year's platform that explicitly demands the criminalization of "sodomy" and the arrest of anyone who unites a same-sex couple in matrimony. The plank also demands a ban on adoption by gay couples,
Family Values – We affirm that this section is a response to the attacks on traditional family values. These include wellfunded, vigorous political and judicial attempts by powerful organizations and branches of the government to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior upon school children, parents, educational institutions, businesses, employees, government bodies and religious institutions and charities. These aggressive, intolerant efforts marginalize as bigots anyone who dissents. ...
Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.
Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the
fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should 'family' be redefined to include homosexual 'couples.' We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant
special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil
penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.
Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Clearly, the Texas Republican "Party" has some serious antigay bigotry going on, even as they seek to deny any bigotry exists.

The Log Cabin Republicans have pooh-poohed concerns over the homophobes who control their party:
"I could go on and on about the platform writing process, how it's controlled by the extremists of our party, and how the old guard scheduled the Texas Republican Convention to make it difficult to have honest debate on the floor.
"What is more important is to understand the real impact the platform has on Republican legislative priorities.
"The fact is, Hardy Haberman is absolutely wrong in believing the platform is used as a litmus test for candidate recruitment and that it’s the basis for legislative decisions."
-- Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

Mr. Schlein's efforts to distance himself and the LCRoD from the Republican party -- even to distance the Texas Republican Party from its own platform -- reminded me of an old joke -- well, at least as old as the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies. Thus, this week's cartoon.

Incidentally, Texas's 1860 anti-sodomy law was overturned in 2003 by the landmark Supreme Court decision Lawrence et al. v. Texas. The court found that two men arrested in their own home by Houston police (responding to an unfriendly neighbor's complaint) were not committing a crime and that the law was an unconstitutional intrusion into the private conduct of citizens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This Week's Sneak Peek

It's precious puppy week at Bergetoons. Idn't he da cutest thing? 'Es he is! 'Es he is!