Saturday, December 31, 2011
The choice of reviewing a year this way tends to skew what stories are included. The Greek default crisis, for example, didn't make banner headlines in the newspapers in my corner of America. Silvio Berlusconi's resignation wasn't the top story of November 8 as far as midwestern editors were concerned, either. The independence of South Sudan was below the fold, if not on a back page.
Stock market plunges and rises in unemployment make headlines; economic recovery (or stagnation) rarely does. The end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Almost a non-event once it finally happened. Marriage equality in New York? I don't get any New York newspapers here. Well, I can find the New York Times, but their headlines are seldom legible in these photographs.
Disasters usually make headlines, unless they happen on a Saturday night after the Sunday paper has gone to print. Monday's headline may be something tangential, such as "President Promises Aid Package." Even if the disaster is fresh, my local newspaper figures everyone has already heard about it on cable news and Facebook, so its headline is either the number of dead (in spite of the fact that the number is bound to have changed between press time and finding the paper on your doorstep) or some pull quote like "It Was Terrible!"
Other stories unfold over the course of several months. As significant as were Wisconsin's protests against Governor Walker and his Republican putsch -- and similar protests in Ohio -- and the Occupy protests -- it seems unfair to give them the same weight as the protests in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. (To say nothing of the protests in Bahrain, Yemen, and those in Tunisia that sparked them all... and these headlines indeed say nothing about them.) Time's "Person of the Year" cover will have to suffice.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
John Lawrence, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, died on November 20 at the age of 68. While his death was not kept secret, it only came to national attention after a lawyer in the case attempted to invite him to a commemoration of the ruling.
Thanks to Dr. Thomas Schmeling for alerting me to this story!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
As Chris points out, if this governor were not a Republican, Fox News and AM radio would be giving him holy hell for declaring war on the word he and Mrs. Walker fail to utter.
In the course of posting cartoons from The Minneapolis Tribune Cartoon Book for 1901: Being a Collection of Over One Hundred Cartoons by R.C. Bowman last year, I included a series of cartoons about Montana Senator, newspaper publisher and copper mining millionaire William Andrews Clark. Those cartoons caught the eye of msnbc.com reporter Bill Dedman, who has been covering the legal tangle over the financial affairs of Clark's sole heir, Huguette Clark, who died this past May at the age of 104 after living almost her entire adult life as a total recluse.
To explain the cartoon again: William Clark was elected to the U.S. Senate from Montana (with the strong support of the newspaper he owned) but forced to resign when evidence of bribery surfaced. Still determined to keep the office he had bought and paid for, he arranged for Montana's Lieutenant Governor to appoint him Senator on the same day Clark resigned -- the Governor being conveniently out of the state that day.
Whereas other robber barons (sorry, I mean Job Creators) of the day, such as Rockefeller and Carnegie, left civic and charitable institutions to bear their names, Senator Clark left his name only to Nevada's Clark County, keeping his money in the family after he died in 1925.
Since corresponding with Mr Dedman, I've been following the story of the Clark estate with some interest, and there are new developments today.
"Based on 'shocking' evidence of tax fraud, a judge on Friday suspended [Ms. Clark's] attorney and accountant ... from handling her $400 million estate.
"The judge said there was more than enough evidence that the two men engaged in a tax fraud that allowed the elderly woman to run up an IRS bill of $90 million in unpaid gift taxes, interest and potential penalties."The judge in the case declined to rule on the question of allowing descendants from Senator Clark's first marriage to enter into the legal dispute, which involves two wills signed six weeks apart in 2005, when Huguette was 98. The first leaves most of her fortune to those descendants; they are cut out of the second will entirely, although the aforementioned attorney and accountant would make out handsomely from it.
Bill Dedman's series on the Clark case is on line on this msnbc.com page.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
"The defense stated Saturday that Manning, 24, had written to one of his supervisors when he was stationed in Iraq before his arrest and said he had concluded he was suffering from gender identity disorder, which is classified as a medical disorder in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. He included a photo of himself dressed as a woman in the letter and said the issue was affecting his ability to do his job or think clearly. A defense attorney and a witness also stated that Manning had created a Facebook profile and opened at least one email account using the name 'Breanna Manning,' which the attorney described as an 'alter-ego.'"
As for myself, I reserve judgment on whether Pfc. Manning's actions amount to high treason or not, but I wish his defense would concentrate on the government's habit of stamping "Top Secret" on everything from aircraft crash reports to last month's cafeteria menu at Foggy Bottom.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Somehow, I forgot to post a sneak peek last week. Not that anybody missed it, but I do try to post more often than once a week even if it's just to say "Next on Bergetoons...."
So anyway, here's this week's sneak peek, and just a few words to try to clarify something I wrote over the weekend -- or maybe just to walk it back a little. Plagiarism is a serious charge, and I still hope that the Steve Breen cartoon I mentioned is not in fact a case of it. I really like Breen's work, and think he's a very good cartoonist. It is entirely possible that both he and Jeff MacNelly were inspired independently by Winslow Homer's painting. I have no way to know one way or the other.
You would think, moreover, that if he had any recollection of having decided to redraw a cartoon he'd seen somewhere else, Mr. Breen wouldn't risk the opprobrium from his fellow inkslingers by submitting the thing to Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year where anyone who owns MacNelly's Directions is bound to see it.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I just received my copy of The Best Editorial Cartoons, 2012 edition from the publisher the other night. Its founder, Chuck Brooks died shortly after the deadline for submissions, so one wonders how many more editions of the book there will be.
There are more on-line only cartoons in the book than ever before, and a few idiosyncratic choices -- there is only one Tom Toles cartoon, for example (aside from the one in the chapter for cartoons which won awards this year), but five by Chuck Asay. In my humble opinion, Toles is far and away the better cartoonist, but Asay's worldview is more in line with the late Mr. Brooks's.
I was struck by two cartoons: one by Jeff Stahler and another by Steve Breen. Mr. Stahler just lost his job at the Columbus Dispatch over charges of plagiarism -- charges which have relaunched a debate over what in fact constitutes plagiarism. Accusers pointed out cartoons which seemed to echo New Yorker cartoons, although some of the questionable cartoons involved ideas which easily could have occurred to multiple cartoonists independently (what Daryl Cagle calls "Yahtzees"). Cartoonists have also been debating where to draw the line between a plagiarized idea and a common meme.
The Stahler and Breen cartoons in BECY illustrate the murky of this delineation. Stahler's cartoon shows presidents from Nixon to Obama saying one word each of the sentence "We must reduce our dependency on Mideast Oil." To my mind, that recalls a Mike Peters cartoon about the Vietnam War, drawn for the Dayton Daily News and reprinted in Time magazine and other national outlets, in which presidents from Eisenhower to Ford said one word each of the sentence "Victory is just around the corner." (One of them must have had two words, but I don't remember which.) Other cartoonists besides Jeff Stahler have used the same gimmick since -- at least once on the topic of energy independence -- and it just seems to me to be lazy to swipe Mr. Peters's basic idea to rehash it as your own.
Steve Breen's cartoon is more disputable. He substitutes President Obama for the hapless boatman in Winslow Homer's painting "The Gulf Stream." Breen duly credits Homer, as he ought, but I was instantly reminded of the 1974 cartoon by the late Jeff MacNelly depicting President Nixon in the exact same painting.
Is that plagiarism? Just about every editorial cartoonist in the country, myself included, has drawn some parody of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" to comment on every topic from the weather to inflation to marriage equality. The same with several of Norman Rockwell's paintings, da Vinci's "Last Supper" and James McNeill Whistler's "Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist's Mother." But any first grader is bound to recognize those paintings to some degree or another, whereas many adults are not familiar with the works of Winslow Homer at all. Some cartoonist, forgotten to history, was the first to draw each of those parodies, and the rest of us have, let's face it, swiped those ideas.
Does the fact that an image is already well-known make it okay for a cartoonist to swipe it? Aside from paintings, many cartoonists have borrowed and re-borrowed many images from movies. I have no idea who the first cartoonist was to draw Toto pulling the curtain aside to reveal the humbug behind whatever politician is projected as the Great And Powerful Oz, but many have drawn that same cartoon since. (There's one in the new BECY about Newt Gingrich, who has also inspired a new round of Grinch Who Stole Christmas cartoons for anybody who missed them back when he was Speaker of the House.)
We cartoonists traffic in cultural images all the time, so it makes sense that we'd reuse images that everybody knows. The tricky part is reusing less well-known images that only Art History majors and other cartoonists will recognize.
Oh, and I have one cartoon in the book, by the way. Most of my favorite 2011 cartoons before the book's deadline were about flash-in-the-pan stories (does anybody remember the Craigslist Congressman any more?) which would have required a paragraph of explanation, so I'm not at all disappointed.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Think about it. It's amazing how free we are in America to celebrate Christmas. We can display larger than life glow in the dark nativity scenes on our front lawns. We can send Christ Is the Reason For the Season cards to all our Jewish friends. We can spend our property taxes to put religious messages on City Hall (and if you doubt that, just witness the furor when anybody tries to say No to it). We can wear hideous sweaters in public.
In my other career as a church employee, however, I can tell you that what churches are worried about most this year is that Christmas falls on a Sunday -- meaning that the church will be obliged to hold a worship service that will be attended by the pastor, the altar guild, organist, and an usher doing double duty as the acolyte. If we're lucky, some son or daughter of the congregation who arrived back in town too late on Saturday to make it to the Christmas Eve service will bring Mom and/or Dad to the Christmas morning service.
I was taken a bit aback the other day when I asked one of the talented musicians of one of my congregations whether he would be available to play a song at the Christmas Eve service, and he gave his regrets with the reason that Christmas Eve is "family time." Somewhere along the line, without my noticing exactly when, there has evolved a separation of church and family time.
This phenomenon isn't universal; one of my churches includes a congregation predominantly made up of Mexican immigrants and first generation Americans. I suspect that their attendance numbers on Christmas morning will put the Anglo congregations to shame, even though their Christmas Eve worship service is bound to run well into the night.
I don't mean by any of this to scold. I guess where I'm coming from is that I recently read the church history published in 1956 by a Lutheran congregation somewhere on the border of North Dakota and Montana to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its founding. The book included stories told by those of its founding members who were still alive, and the tales of winter hardship are truly impressive. (One old-timer speaks of how their winters came as such a rude shock to newcomers who were used to the "mild winters" of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota!)
The congregation hadn't quite finished building their church when a three-day late October blizzard hit; after everyone finally dug themselves out of their homes, they had to shovel feet of snow out from the inside of the church. The first time Christmas fell on a Sunday after their founding was 1910; it would be interesting to know what their worship service was like that day. I wonder if they even had Christmas Eve services. When you recall that back in 1906, these rural settlers didn't have snowplows or lighted highways, their stories of getting lost in the snow at night, unable to get home until dawn broke, are absolutely harrowing.
So anyway, I hope everyone reading this has as much family time as they can possibly stand this Christmas. And if there are any of you who are anxious to Keep Christ In Christmas, rest assured that it's very likely that there is a church just minutes from your house where someone would be more than happy to see you.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
"Most of the important candidates will come. Huntsman has 1% of the vote. I don't think he's coming. And by the way, Mr. Huntsman called my office a number of times trying to set up a meeting; I didn't have a meeting with him; and then he went on a debate and he said 'I didn't meet with Mr. Trump like everyone else in the room,' so, I'm sure he'll tell the truth about that, because he's a Mormon."-- Donald Trump, by phone, discussing his very own Republican presidential candidates' debate, on MSNBC's Daily Rundown this morning (around the 2:35 mark):
Thursday, December 1, 2011
And yet, after 30 years, I'm unsettled as to what image to use to symbolize AIDS. Ten years ago, I used a skeletal death figure, even though many people living with AIDS have reason to object to that as a characterization. (And, in my very limited personal experience, I count among my friends about as many living with AIDS as have died from it.)
In October, 1985, I was asked to draw an illustration to go along with an article about AIDS by Kari Dixon for the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside. For that illustration, I chose to illustrate the pariah effect the disease had in those days, when it was new to the public consciousness and there was no treatment.
(You have heard of Nathaniel Hawthorne, I hope. I certainly expected that a college readership would have.)
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Well, look who's back!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
16-term Congressman from Massachusetts Barney Frank announced yesterday that he would not run for office again in 2012. He cited his redrawn district as one factor, and that at 71, he wanted to spend some time in academia before settling down to retirement.
As the first out gay man in Congress, he has been the subject of occasional Q Syndicate cartoons over the years. Rep. Frank's office requested the original of this one from August, 1998.
At the time, revelations of the affair between President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky were coming out fast and furious; that the famous semen-stained blue dress was in existence and in evidence was a recent headline. While many congressional Democrats whispered that perhaps it was time for Clinton to resign and let Al Gore assume the presidency, Barney Frank was vocal -- and alone -- in his defense of the President.
Later that year, Frank was joined in the House by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who has the distinction of being the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to Congress. The above cartoon refers to an incident where Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) was recorded referring to the Gentleman from Massachusetts as "Barney Fag."
After a separate incident of Armey making a poor joke about Frank's homosexuality, a reporter asked Frank if he wanted an apology from the Texan. "I’m trying to think of what I would be less interested in than an apology from Dick Armey," he replied. "Maybe the lyrics to the national anthem of Bhutan."
I'll wrap this post up with a cover I drew for Q Salt Lake. Playing up Rep. Frank's role on the House Banking Committee, I drew him as he might look on U.S. currency. This was in 1999, well before the subject of this week's Q Syndicate cartoon advocated throwing Mr. Frank in jail for the temerity of imposing rules and regulations on the banking industry whose reckless abandon (not, as Republicans have been trying to convince people ever since, schoolteachers' retirement plans) created the worst recession in 80 years.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Last week, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience, "[Jerry] Sandusky has to be — he’s a gay guy. Nobody’s mentioning that aspect, because it’s just too dangerous." The Gay Mafia, Limbaugh explained, is enforcing omertà on the mainstream media, keeping the former Penn State assistant football coach's homosexuality hidden way back in the closet.
With any luck, there will be some news event of common knowledge to draw about next week -- although there's a big holiday this week shutting down Washington D.C. and many of the big-name newsmakers around the country are taking most of the week off. Unless I finally find some gay angle to the Occupy Movement (oh, God, I hope Offisa Pike is straight!), I suspect that next week's cartoon will be just as obscure as this week's.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
And the winners in the expletive derby are "Gadzooks" and "Dang."
To keep Hoover's garb contemporaneous with Hoover himself, the dress in the cartoon is patterned more after Marilyn Monroe's famous updraft dress or something out of the Folies Bergères. Not that it wouldn't have been fun to have shown him dressed like Snooki or Lady Gaga.
Monday, November 14, 2011
We almost went to see this movie this weekend. I wish we had gone to see it, though; it would have been helpful for this week's cartoon to know what sort of expletives Clint Eastwood and Dustin Lance Black put in the mouth of Leonardo DiCaprio's J. Edgar Hoover.
Tune in later this week to discover my choice.
Friday, November 11, 2011
I needn't have worried. The congressman has been caught -- twice --on video going batshit crazy at constituents, and both incidents have gone viral. He even made Willie Geist's "Week in Review" segment at the end of Morning Joe today.
So Joe Jervis of the blog Joe. My. God. took note of my silly cartoon, and almost all of the reader comments approve enthusiastically. (Sorry, Charlie.) I appreciate the feedback.
It feels good to be ahead of the news curve for once!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
This news item may not have the shock value of Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story, but we're giving it the notice it deserves here at Bergetoons. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Teaparty, not the former Eagles guitarist) was recently named a "True Blue" member of Congress by the right-wing, gay-bashing Family Research Council. His "unwavering support of the family" falls somewhat short of supporting his own, however; he is more than $117,000 behind in child support payments to his ex-wife and children.
The thick nine-year-old divorce file in Cook County Circuit Court chronicles how every few years Laura Walsh has gone to court saying her ex-husband is not paying [child support] and asking a judge to order him to pay, sometimes garnishing his wages.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Incidentally, I guess there is nothing coming of the ire from a prominent blogger to which I alluded a couple weeks ago. I was only forwarded a portion of the e-mail he sent to an editor, so I don't believe I could fairly characterize his opinion. Since that editor did not print the letter -- perhaps it wasn't meant for print -- there's no kerfuffle, no dispute.
That particular blogger has since become far more interested in the Occupy Wall Street protests, so unless and until the topic of whether Barack Obama has done anything for the LGBT community comes back to the fore, move along; there's nothing to see here.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Since the Urban Tulsa doesn't keep an on-line archive of its cartoons (and I guess Simpson is the only cartoonist in the world who doesn't post his stuff on the internet), This Land posted pictures of Simpson's UT cartoons requesting help spotting any more plagiarized work. I spotted three right away: #3 is straight out of an August, 1972 cartoon by Pat Oliphant; #12 rips off another Oliphant cartoon from December, 1975. #35 copies a Jim Borgman cartoon from August, 1985.
Then there's #16. It's not the entire cartoon that is copied from a September, 1975 Jeff MacNelly cartoon, it's just the garbage truck. I remember that garbage truck well.
Because I used it as a model for a garbage truck in a May, 1987 cartoon.
The garbage truck was the sole focus of the original MacNelly cartoon, which blamed New York City's sanitation workers for their contribution to the Big Apple's financial mess. The cartoon showed the Manhattan skyline inside the back of the truck.
Back in the Reagan administration, we didn't have the Google like the kids of today have. If I needed to draw a garbage truck in a cartoon, my options were a.) draw one from memory, b.) see if the dictionary has a picture of one, c.) drive around town until I found a parked garbage truck and draw it, or d.) Don't I have a cartoon of a garbage truck in my scrapbook somewhere?
So I'm reluctant to include Simpson cartoon #16 in the list of plagiarized cartoons, because it would mean I plagiarized, too. Besides MacNelly's garbage truck, I've referenced horses drawn by Pat Oliphant, whose drawings of horses in motion are some of the most alive and vibrant you will ever see in black and white. I certainly don't copy them, and I also reference Animals: 1419 Copyright-Free Illustrations of Mammals, Birds, Fish, Insects, etc., A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources selected by Jim Harter (Dover Publications, Inc.You can probably find it in the art section of your local bookstore) .
We cartoonists copy images all the time. Just think of all the cartoons riffing on Shepard Fairey's poster of Barack Obama over the word "HOPE." (The poster image itself was swiped from an April, 2006 photograph by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia for the Associated Press.)
When Moammar Khadaffy was killed, several cartoonists whipped out cartoons showing the remnants of Pan Am flight 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland. Some didn't even bother to draw the image, but rather scanned the photograph and used that image as the basis of their cartoons.
Creators Syndicate Inc.
Oct 20, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Now that gay and lesbian military personnel no longer have to lie about themselves, and since some of them are able to marry, a group of service members and veterans has filed a lawsuit that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory. DOMA, passed by the Republican Congress in July, 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, forbids any aspect of the federal government from recognizing the marriage of any same-sex couple in any way.
Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, 41, and her wife, Casey, 34, are serving as lead plaintiffs in the suit, which includes five other troops and two career Army and Navy veterans. The McLaughlins, from Foxboro, Mass., married in December 2009 and have 10-month old twins. Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.
Although Shannon pays for the twins’ health care through her military benefits, Casey, a former high school history teacher who gave birth to the twins, pays about $700 a month for a separate health-care account, the couple said. ...If Shannon is deployed, Casey would be barred from taking the twins to regular medical appointments at a nearby military base, the couple said.
“What Shannon and Casey are seeking is the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which helped organize the suit and once represented troops discharged for violating “don’t ask, don’t tell.”Likewise, same-sex widows and widowers of servicemembers are ineligible for survivors' benefits, unlike different-sex widows and widowers. Happily, there is nobody yet with standing to bring suit in that respect, but someone will inevitably be in that position someday.
It will be interesting to see how this legal issue plays out in court -- if the Republican-dominated state legislatures produced by the 2010 elections don't fast track a constitutional amendment first.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
When kids commit suicide, their parents are permanently devastated. Their friends grieve for years, but heal and go on with their lives. But do the bullies who drove them to it even notice? Or do they just grow up and continue to leave their mark on the world by posting insults on internet comment pages?
Monday, October 24, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Readers, the conventional wisdom goes, love cartoons memorializing the recently deceased. Editorial cartoonists, by and large, hate them.
P.S.: Yes, Mr. Kameny came up with the "Gay Is Good" motto years after he picketed the White House. His picket that day was nowhere near as pithy.
Monday, October 17, 2011
So it's on to more current cartoons here at the old blogstead. Here's this week's sneak peek. For the benefit of any fellow cartoonists visiting this page, let me just point out that those are not the pearly gates back there.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
When Miller Stadium first tried out its new retractible roof, there were some kinks to work out. It screeched loudly, for one thing, and rain got through some areas. I only imagined this problem, however.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
No lutefisk in this cartoon, although it's another example of having fun naming shops in a mall. (Having background people talking on the phone has been another of my leitmotifs.)
Friday, October 14, 2011
There may be more to post about it later. For now, I haven't heard anything from him directly, and haven't seen the conversation that is reportedly taking place.
Anyway, here's another Milwaukee Brewers cartoon from my days at the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee; this time the editorial had something to do with team owner Mark Attanasio's interest in determining what it is that draws fans to a ballpark.
The Minneapolis lady, by the way, is a tribute to Minneapolis Tribune cartoonist Richard Guindon. Apparently, there is some connection in my mind between baseball and lutefisk.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
This 2003 cartoon (predating the chorizo guy) was drawn to accompany a Milwaukee Business Journal editorial critical of a New York Times article which had portrayed Milwaukee as a decaying, crime-filled rust belt wasteland with third-rate sports teams and no future. I guess the Times also mentioned the racing sausages. The BJ editorial sniffed that the Times reporter didn't know whereof he wrote.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Like Jim Borgman, I like drawing cartoons set at shopping malls just so I can give names to all the stores in the background. When I drew for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Christmas shopping was a recurrent theme of December editorials, giving me the opportunity to toss in The Hardhaberdashery, All Things Argyle, and Sandy's Sundries.
And before any Tar Heelers get upset, I'm not trying to suggest that North Carolina is totally devoid of nice people, okay? It's just that Minnesota has cultivated a reputation for niceness, don't ya know.
Michele Bachmann notwithstanding.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Originally, I had set up this cartoon to liken LGBT voters unhappy with President Obama's record to those Republicans who fantasize about Chris Christie getting into the presidential race -- having had those same fantasies about Rick Perry's bigger head until he actually became a candidate.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Should the Democratic leadership declare that their Number One Goal is to make sure that Romney is a one-term president, that could be a little difficult. Not as difficult as if he were facing opposition from the lockstep Republican legislators; Will Rogers' quip, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat," still holds true.
MoveOn.org has got nothing on the [Insert State Name Here] Club for Growth. Code Pink is peanuts next to the Tea Party.
Radical conservatives made their 2010 gains after a summer of disrupting the town meetings of Democratic Representatives and Senators in a coordinated campaign to provide the media with ample dramatic footage of supposedly grass-roots opposition to Health Care Reform and all things Democrat. Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "You lie!" at President Obama during a State of the Union address.
And while Republicans in Congress have shielded themselves from heckling by charging constituents money to attend their town hall meetings, or conducting town hall meetings over the phone (where they can cut off any unruly outburst, and which it would be illegal to record), Republican presidential candidates are finding that the enthusiastic behavior their party's activists have encouraged is not limited to shouting down the opposition.
Texas leads the nation in death row executions. Wild applause! Should medical care be withheld from some 30-year-old without insurance? Heck yeah! Is that a gay soldier risking his life in Iraq in service to his country? Boo!
What is a political party to do?
Monday, September 26, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
You know those rich people President Obama is talking about taxing at rates unheard of since the boom of the 1990s? No, not those famous actors, heiresses and Wall Street speculators. We're talking about the hard-working industrialists who have spent the last couple of decades making their companies lean and mean by laying off as many employees as they possibly can.
They are job creators now.
Turns out that the only thing preventing them from creating more jobs is that they still have to pay taxes. (We certainly can't wait around for all those laid-off employees to stimulate the economy.) The Bush tax cuts haven't been around long enough to encourage our job creators to get around to any job creating, but never fear. The Republican party is dedicated to making sure that job creators' bank accounts stay fat and contended.
So our Republican governors and state legislators have been hard at work cutting workers' pay and benefits. Republicans in Congress have discovered the federal debt after eight years of ignoring it, and are willing to bankrupt the entire country to get the federal government shut down. They are willing to "broaden the tax base," which sounds better than "raising taxes on the poor, out of work, and elderly," and are eager to stop government spending on -- well, the poor, out of work, and elderly.
Whenever you see one of these Republican politicians, they repeat the same lines about protecting our job creators, cutting taxes, getting rid of government regulations (such as worker safety standards, consumer protections, anti-pollution laws and the like) and making it more and more difficult for anyone harmed by lax safety standards, defective products, pollution, or the like to sue them in court.
And through it all, you never see the Charles Koch's lips move.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
This week should, I suppose, have been time for a cartoon about the end at long last of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," had I been confident enough that there wouldn't be some last second maneuver from out of the blue to stop its repeal. Happily, the transition to equal opportunity in the military has been achieved smoothly and without a hitch -- which doesn't make for a particularly funny cartoon, but perhaps Chuck Asay or Michael Ramirez will draw some cartoon heralding the End Times that will inspire a cartoon next week.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I'm in the second panel, seated next to Joan Hilty and Paula Martinac at the wedding. Chris thinks that Cartoon Me needs to look more like Chuck Todd to look like me; but Cartoon Me has more definition to his jaw line than I do, and his bald spot is safely out of view, so I'm not about to complain.
Well, that's just silly.
Or is it?
The lawyers for Brandon McInerney, the boy who shot and killed fellow student Lawrence King amidst an entire classroom of kids, successfully achieved a hung jury by use of the "Gay Panic Defense" -- that is, the idea that killing someone can be excused if the deceased is the same sex as the killer and thought that the killer was cute. This transfers all blame for the crime onto the victim, and transfers all victimhood onto the killer.
(Important: this only applies in the case of same-sex attraction. A gal is not allowed to kill a guy who asks her out on date, no matter how much of a creep she thinks he is. Creeps like him go on to become influential businessmen, lawyers, congressmen, and AM talk radio hosts who look out for the interests of their fellow creeps.)
The gay panic, blame-the-victim narrative appeared in the initial Associated Press account of the murder:
"Larry King was a gay eighth-grader who used to come to school in makeup, high heels and earrings. And when the other boys made fun of him, he would boldly tease them right back by flirting with them.And somehow, in spite of the undisputed facts that McInerney told a friend the day before the shooting that he intended to kill King, that McInerney brought his father's gun to school, that McInerney sat down in the seat behind King (who didn't happen to be wearing any makeup, high heels or earrings that day), waited 20 minutes and then shot King in the back of the head at point blank range, the jury couldn't agree whether this was murder in the first degree or not.
"That may have been what got him killed."
So is it so silly to think that Muammar el-Qaddafi might try the same tack? It would at least garner him the sympathy of some in the religious right who have leapt to McInerney's defense.
Michael Brown, founder of ICN ministries ("Israel, the Church and Nations"), blamed gay activism in general:
"Some of the teachers in Larry's school, along with his adoptive father, specifically accused former assistant principal Joy Epstein, an open lesbian, of encouraging Larry's flamboyant behavior in order to promote her 'agenda.' If there is any truth to this, it is not just irresponsible, it is reprehensible. (At the least, there is no indication that she discouraged his pushy, sexual behavior.) ... It is true that Brandon McInerney murdered Larry King in cold blood, but gay activism is complicit in his death.(By the way, who could Brown be quoting with that "agenda" crack? Not Ms. Epstein, I bet.)
Consider Tim Ravndal, the Tea Party leader in Montana who complained on Facebook that America is no longer America because you can't kill homosexuals at will any more and asked for an instruction manual on how Matthew Shepard was killed. (At least Ravndal was forced to resign.) Conservatives from North Carolina Congressman Virginia Foxx to presidential candidate Michele Bachmann argued against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes act on the grounds that criminalizing assault and murder of LGBT people is an infringement of free speech.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
(Okay, there was also Ted Rall.)
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
I went to my job after that. I don't remember anything about the workday; the church where I work was planning for Sunday School Rally Day the following Sunday, so there would have been certain out-of-the-ordinary considerations for getting the bulletin started. An elderly woman was scheduled to come play piano for the senior citizens' group on Tuesday, and I remember that she was anxious about it and phoned for directions and details about how much music she should expect to play.
That evening, I got the e-mail from the Milwaukee Business Journal containing the first draft of that Friday's editorial, a eulogy for Milwaukee philanthropist Jane Bradley Pettit. My job for the BJ was to draw a weekly editorial cartoon to illustrate the editorial; my editor kindly attached a couple of photos of Mrs. Pettit to his e-mail. I spent most of the evening drawing the cartoon below, listening to Monday Night Football on the TV. (The Denver Broncos beat the New York Giants). I'm pretty I spent longer deciding what to draw than actually drawing it.