Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Q Toon: Controlled Outbursts

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today, I saw Mitt Romney tell Joe and Mika that unlike Rick Perry, he had to work with an opposition-led legislature and therefore knows how to reach across the aisle and get things done. That, he predicted, would be the style of a Romney presidency.

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. 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

This Week's Sneak Peek

 The party of Joe Wilson is discovering that not all the news is made on the stage.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Job Creators Toon

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

Q Toon: Bachmann Tooner Overheard

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.

So here instead is another Michele Bachmann cartoon. In case you missed it, Bachmann claimed in a TV interview that some woman at a campaign appearance had told her that the woman's daughter had been given the vaccine to prevent the cancer-causing Human Papillomavirus, and the daughter had subsequently become mentally retarded. Medical authorities swiftly condemned Bachmann's claim, and Bachmann retreated slightly by saying that she was just repeating what some anonymous woman had told her. (But in these days when everybody and their dog has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog, don't you think someone would have already found some trace of this phantom mother by now?)

Meanwhile, it looks like Bachmann is Last Month's Flavor of the Month, so I'm now working on my Rick Perry caricature. Tune in again tomorrow for my first attempt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cameo guest appearance

Yours truly makes a guest appearance in Dave Brousseau's comic strip, "A Couple of Guys" this week. Dave is marking his strip's 15th anniversary by having the title couple renew their vows in a New York wedding. (Joey and Eric had earlier gotten married in Massachusetts, but are New York City residents.)

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.

This Week's Toon: Gqhadđaƒphįyee

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.
"That may have been what got him killed."
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.

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.
* * *
When Chris saw this cartoon, his first question was whether Qaddafi had really said that the people he has killed are gay. When there are stories like that of the Catholic woman who is afraid to leave her house for fear that her children will see same-sex couples, it can be hard to tell fact from exaggeration. My convention for real news stories is to have "News Item:" in front of the caption. Perhaps captions such as this week's need to be prefaced with "Might Be an Onion News Item."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 2001

Much has been said about the period of national unity that followed the 9/11 attacks. This cartoon is a reminder that the first to hurl accusations against other Americans were those on the religious right.
(Okay, there was also Ted Rall.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

It looks like I'm taking a break from domestic politics this week.

Or am I?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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.

Psalm 46:1-3

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10, 2001

The day before 9/11 was a Monday like any other Monday. In the morning, I scanned the above cartoon and sent three versions to Q Syndicate: a TIFF, a bitmap, a grayscale JPEG at 600 dpi and another at 100 dpi. I had drawn the cartoon Sunday night about Lynn Johnston's cartoon, "For Better or For Worse," in which one of the young characters had recently come out as gay. Some newspapers were deleting references to Lawrence's sexuality on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the funny pages.

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.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dancing with the Stars 'toon

Religious conservatives have found a new frenzy to get into with the announcement that Chaz Bono will be on this fall's Dancing With the Stars. Chaz is famous for having been the goldilocked baby daughter of Sonny and Cher, who would bring her out at the end of their 1970's TV show to be cute while they sang "I Got You, Babe."

At 42, Chaz is now Cher's son, which deeply upsets the moral monopoly in America. They are very concerned with the question of which lavatory people go to the bathroom in, and their Dancing With the Stars experience will be totally ruined because they can't help but spend the entire show picturing Chaz taking a dump.
Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council is urging his minions to boycott the show:
"Email ABC Network and let them know that we will not tolerate these subjects being forced into our homes. DWTS airs 8/7 central when children are awake and Christian families will not enhance the ratings by watching the show when it returns September 19 unless this issue is taken care of and these cast members are replaced."
"One Million Moms" whine "This is completely unacceptable, and Christians should not watch the show. No excuses." Fox News Asshat Dr. Keith Ablow advises the nation not to let children watch any DWTS episodes in which Chaz appears, adding, "Chaz Bono should not be applauded for asserting she is a man (and goes about trying to look like one) any more than a woman who believes she will be happier without arms, has them removed and then continues to assert that she was right all along—her self-concept was that of a double amputee." (I'm sure that Ablow is similarly against facelifts, tummy tucks, and hair plugs.)

I haven't been watching DWTS, but now I suppose I'll have to just to offset one of those transphobic Moms... even though I'm not a Nielsen Family, and it won't make a difference to the show's ratings.
Meanwhile, if you're one of those Million Moms, and Dancing With the Stars has been part of your family's weekly routine all these years, and you're petrified of having to explain to your children how Chaz used to be Chastity, I have a suggestion. Instead of boycotting Dancing With the Stars, it might be easier to keep your children from watching 40-year-old reruns of Sonny and Cher.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mom Remembers 9/11

The local newspaper, the Journal Times, asked readers to send in their memories of 9/11/01. Apparently, they liked my mom's submission enough that she was one of a half dozen people they asked to come in and tell it to the camera. This is her story about learning about it at her cabin out in the southwestern part of Wisconsin:

She gets the day wrong -- I can't forget that it was a Tuesday, because I had a cartoon to send to the Business Journal that morning.

I got off on a rather late start to my day and skipped the usual routine of eating breakfast while watching the Today show. I ate at the computer, scanning and e-mailing the cartoon I'd drawn Monday night. Getting in my car to go to my day job, I heard NPR's reporting on the story and thought that they were interviewing someone with a book about the February, 1993 World Trade Center attack. But the details seemed all wrong, and then they went to their Pentagon reporter as alarms started to sound around him, and it was clearly live reporting.

Tuesday was the day the senior citizens center met at work, and we had no cable television in the building -- just a TV used for watching VHS tapes and DVDs. The seniors spent the morning watching TV news coverage with extremely poor reception while I (along with hundreds of thousands of others) discovered that and the other news sites were essentially overloaded for the morning. had live video feed of the Pentagon from a traffic cam or some other fixed camera, so that and the radio were my source of news.

As in New York, the weather here that day was absolutely beautiful -- in total contradiction to the events of the day. And that weather continued as all air traffic over the country was grounded over the next several days; cloudless skies absolutely free of jet contrails for the first time in my life.

As for my Mom's recollection, I have to believe that she saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center on her TV, not the first one, unless she's talking about several hours later when the footage of the first crash made its way onto TV. But 9/11 became for all of us who lived through it one of those days about which we will always remember where we were -- no matter how far removed from the actual events that happened to be.

This Week's Sneak Peek

I want to be mindful of everyone who is cleaning up after Irene or Lee, or out of work, or shouldering the nation's military burden far from home; but to all of you, as far as it may be possible, I hope you're able to enjoy this Labor Day Weekend.