Friday, June 29, 2012

Hovde Wants Singaporean Tax Rates

In Wisconsin senatorial candidate Eric Hovde's latest TV ad, the Republican hedge fund manager stands before a graph showing that U.S. corporate tax rates are higher than those in eleven other countries around the world.

Of course, the fact that the U.S. spends more on defense than all those other countries put together might have something to do with those tax rates.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Qtoon: There's Something About Mary

I was worried that this week's cartoon was an unduly harsh reaction to a happy event -- the proverbial turd in the punch bowl -- and then I saw that at least my turd would not be alone in the punch:
 "So on behalf of all the progressives in America, Cheney family, allow me to say, 'You’re welcome.'
"Because while Dick Cheney’s party spent decades calling people like Mary deviant or unnatural, the liberals were fighting for her. When Karl Rove made same-sex marriage a wedge issue to divide Americans in the 2004 election, liberals were writing the checks to defeat that homophobic agenda. And when Fox News spent hundreds of hours lying about people like Mary Cheney and calling them a threat to traditional marriage, the very people Mary’s dad so deeply despises were the ones standing up for her liberty.
"So you’re welcome, Cheneys, we were happy to do it."
(Who knew that John Fugelsang had a news show these days?)

I should note that in spite of her father's record in office (see yesterday's post) I further agree with John Fugelsang that at least Dick Cheney "was ahead of the curve" -- and of President Obama -- on gays in the military and marriage equality. The snark of this week's cartoon aside, I'm very happy for the Poe-Cheney family. 

So mazel tov to Mary and Heather. May you have a long and happy marriage, and may all the turds in your punch bowl be strictly proverbial.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Family Matters

My cartoons very seldom make it into the mainstream press, but this one appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in January, 2007. I drew it after then Vice President Dick Cheney bristled at questions about his daughter Mary's family -- they were then expecting their first child -- during an interview on CNN by Wolf Blitzer.

Blitzer asked the vice president about a statement from Focus on the Family about whether having a child outside of a married mother or father is best for the child.
Cheney said Blitzer was "out of line" even asking the question about Mary Cheney and said he fundamentally disagreed with Blitzer's perspective.

It wasn't the first time the Cheney's had treated Mary and her partner, Heather Poe, as if there was something to be embarrassed about. In the 2004 vice presidential debate, Democratic nominee John Edwards cynically tried to prod Dick Cheney into discussing how the Republicans' gay-baiting, homophobic tactics affected the Vice President's own family. Mr. Cheney would have none of it, and his wife, Lynn, came out swinging afterward (although, to be fair, it was moderator Gwen Ifill who brought the subject up in the first place).

(This cartoon alludes to another point in the debate when Dick Cheney denied ever having met Senator Edwards in the U.S. Senate, a claim contradicted by the public record.)

Tune in again tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

It's summertime, so this week's cartoon heads for the beach, where, apparently, there's something interesting on a rounded rectangular thing-a-ma-bob.

Check back in a couple of days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

.000004 Million Moms

A Christian fundie group called "One Million Moms" (a division of the American Family Association) has had its panties in a bunch over J.C. Penney's ever since the retailer hired Ellen deGeneres as its advertising spokesperson (if they objected to her ads for Maybelline, it never registered on the Richter scale -- perhaps make-up isn't a big deal in the Bible belt).

Then the retailer came out with one advertisement showing a lesbian couple, their children, and one of their mothers. Or maybe the white-haired woman is half of the couple (she looks young to me) and the third adult is her daughter. Or maybe they have an au pair. It really could have been any group of happy, smiling ad models, but OMM was shocked to find -- deep in the catalog --
“On pages ten and eleven, under the title “Freedom of Expression,” you’ll find “Wendi and her partner Maggie and daughters” and again “Wendi, daughters Raven and Clover, and partner Maggie” in text. In the picture both women are wearing wedding bands.”
Then JCP produced another ad tagged "First Pals" featuring two gay fathers playing with their two children in their living room. Where Wendi and Maggie and their family were merely standing together in front of a green background, the ad featuring real-life couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith and their two kids could not be mistaken by people who didn't read pages ten and eleven for a group of randomly selected models. OMM was none too pleased.
"One Million Moms (OMM) is disturbed that JC Penney's (JCP) is continuing down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements," a statement read on the One Million Moms website. "In JCP's June catalog, there is another homosexual ad, but this time with two dads celebrating Father's Day."
I can hardly wait for Penney's Fourth of July ad campaign.

And may I just add that it's a really sad day when I find myself linking to TV commercials!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Republicans' Rigged Set-up

"I still think that in many ways the [recall election of State Sen. Van Wanggaard] was illegitimate. To have a recall where someone is going to be serving for the next two years but use the old district lines seems like kind of a rigged setup."  -- Robin Vos, R-Burlington
Assemblyman Vos's concern for the disenfranchised voters of Burlington and rural Kenosha County is indeed very touching. What an outrage that voters in Burlington, Brighton, Paris, Salem and Randall will be represented until the year 2014 by someone they never had any chance to vote for or against!

What Chairman Vos conveniently overlooks is that even without this month's recall election, those people were going to be represented by someone they never had any chance to vote for or against, and they were going to miss out on their previously scheduled opportunity to cast a vote for their State Senator this fall -- all thanks to the Republicans' heavy-handed redistricting of the state.

As a reminder, here's a map of the 21st and 22nd Senate districts as they have been for the past ten years, with an artificial gap inserted between them. The divisions within the Senate districts are the Assembly districts, numbered in yellow. (I hadn't noticed the typo in the cut line before. Oops. The numbers within the map are the correct ones.)
The above Senate district boundaries had changed only slightly in well over half a century. The 21st Senate district included most of Racine County, minus Waterford in the northwest and Burlington in the southwest. The district has flipped back and forth between Republicans and Democrats seven times since 1990. The 22nd Senate district included most of Kenosha County, minus Wheatland in the west but plus Burlington immediately to its north. The district has voted consistently Democratic since 1964.

In 2010, Republicans swept the governorship and majorities in both houses of the legislature (not to mention the state Supreme Court, and that they already held the Attorney General's office). They ignored county borders when redrawing the Senate districts:
Left: the new 21st Senate district. Right: the new 22nd Senate district.
The Kenosha-Racine county line mostly follows the border between the 63rd and 61st assembly districts (green and purple at left), and cuts through the northern arm of the 64th assembly district (orange at right).
The result is a decidedly Republican 21st district of rural and suburban voters (plus much of West Racine and Racine north of Melvin Avenue), and a predominantly Democratic 22nd district throwing together most of the cities of Racine and Kenosha, plus a weirdly gerrymandered 64th Assembly district. A north arm of the 64th A.D. extends out from Kenosha to Elmwood Park and the Lake Park neighborhood in Racine County, while a west arm extends out from Kenosha west of I-94, with a jagged border taking in one property and shutting out the next. And no, it does not follow Kenosha's City limits. But it becomes a winnable seat for Republicans, who have other ways of  deterring the folks who live in the decidedly unfashionable area around 22nd and Mead Streets in Mount Pleasant from voting.

Residents of the 22nd Senate district are served by separate newspapers, school districts, and sheriffs' departments. (The same is true of the larger 21st S.D., too, of course.) Few Kenosha residents know where Kinzie Avenue is, and fewer Racine residents could find the Kenosha Public Library.

Here are a couple other anomalies: voters who live on Athens Avenue in Racine live at the southern tip of the 62nd A.D., which covers northern Racine County from Norway township in the west to Wind Point in the east (orange in the left map). They can easily walk east or south into the A.D. 66/S.D. 22, or west into the A.D. 63. They cannot drive from their street to any other location in their own assembly district without driving through some other assembly district -- unless they can get away with driving on the wrong side of the road.

Residents in the housing development off 144th Avenue in Bristol all live in A.D. 64/S.D. 22 but are completely surrounded by A.D. 61/S.D. 21. Whatever side of the highway they drive on.

And what's the deal with that itty bitty spur of A.D. 63 westward into Walworth County? There do not appear to be any streets within "C17" on the district map. Has Chairman Vos been eyeing a piece of property there? No, the answer turns out to be simple enough: the Burlington municipal airport runway crosses the county line.

The above maps are originally from the Wisconsin State Legislature Legislative Redistricting site, edited by me to highlight the borders between the two districts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Hope you had an enjoyable Father's Day yesterday.

Our back yard was visited by a family of European goldfinches yesterday -- two adults and a juvenile. At least, I think that's what we had, judging from the behavior of the three; the one I take to be a juvenile did not have red on its head like the other two but did have a yellow patch on its wing. 

One adult started eating at our finch sock while the other went to the bird bath and the juvenile sat on top of the shepherd's hook that holds the finch sock. Then a red-winged blackbird swooped through on its way to another feeder, and the two adults flew to the back of the yard. The juvenile stayed in place until I tried to take its photograph, whereupon it flew to where the other two were waiting, and the three flew away together. (Alas, I did not get a photo.)

European goldfinches are not native to the Western Hemisphere; apparently, a Chicago area pet dealer released some into the wild a few years ago. We have usually seen them only in the early part of spring, and up to now, only one or two at a time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Qtoon: Some Nights You Can Still Hear His Fabulous Cry

Based as it is upon a press release, this week's cartoon might be a step or two ahead of reality.
NEW YORK, NY – Sources have confirmed that Boy Scouts of America officials have proposed a new policy — which could be voted on as early as 2013 — that would allow local chartering organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay youth and leaders, according to .
The proposal comes after Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America from a popular petition on . The petition calls on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a lesbian den leader in Ohio, Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed from her position because of her sexual orientation, and to end the Boy Scouts' long-held policy barring openly gay scouts and scout leaders.
My better half thinks that I made the story-teller in the cartoon look a lot like his late father, a scout leader for many years. I just don't see it, though. I imagine that it's probably just the uniform. I think the story teller looks more like Ron Swanson or  Tom Friedman or that one guy on Newhart.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

This was Pridefest Week in Milwaukee, so Chris and I spent a good portion of Saturday there. We had a good time, ran into a few people we knew, and enjoyed a day of very warm sunshine and people-watching.

There were a smattering of nearly naked fest-goers this year, who were either well-tanned all over, or barely tanned anywhere; the latter group are most certainly in a mess of pain by today. Then there were the four young people in furry animal costumes -- their suffering was in the moment, thanks to the near-90F temperatures. As for ourselves, we dressed in comfortable street clothing.

So did most of the folks we saw there, although I could without exaggeration have dressed some of the people in last week's cartoon more provocatively.

There was only one S hole with a bullhorn harassing people coming in and out of the festival this year. Some young people had about as much of a response to him as you can legally get away with.

None of which has anything in particular to do with the cartoon coming out later this week.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bill Sanders on the Recall

Bill Sanders was the editorial cartoonist for the Milwaukee Journal from 1967 to 1991 -- for much of that time, appearing on the front page. The merger with the staunchly conservative Milwaukee Sentinel essentially forced the unapologetic liberal cartoonist into retirement, but he's still following events here in Dairyland from his vantage point in Fort Myers, Florida.

The guy gave this aspiring cartoonist some valuable pointers back when I was a kid, so I like to throw a link his way once in a while.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Brief History of Wisconsin Recall Elections

Now that the 2011-2012 spitstorm of Wisconsin recall elections is over, our elected representatives in Madison (the Republican ones, anyway) have promised to rewrite the state Constitution to make recalls more difficult -- requiring a charge of official malfeasance. They will probably move pretty quickly on that idea, too, while resentment of the recall process remains high.

But before that happens, let's take a quick look at previous recall elections in Wisconsin.

I'm going to stick with the recalls in my lifetime -- the ones I've drawn cartoons about -- starting with the recall of George Petak in 1996. Republican Petak represented Racine County in the State Senate.Republican  Tommy Thompson was Governor, and Republicans held a one-vote margin in the Senate. The Milwaukee Brewers wanted to replace County Stadium, and wanted Wisconsin taxpayers to chip in big time for the proposed Miller Park Stadium.

Instead of hiking taxes on the entire state, Thompson and the Republicans came up with the idea of imposing a .1% sales tax on Milwaukee County and the four counties which border it. Opposition to the tax in Racine County on Milwaukee's southern border was strong (not helped by Thompson's telling the rest of the state to "stick it to 'em"). Petak opposed the tax plan as well, but Senate leaders kept bringing their plan up for votes again and again, late into the night. Finally, at 4:00 in the morning, Petak changed his vote, and the tax plan passed.
Racine citizens started the recall process almost immediately. The Wisconsin Democratic Party claimed at first to have no part in the "No More Petax" drive, although that charade lasted about as long as the pretense that Petak and the Republicans had no connection to "push poll" telephone calls attacking the Democratic candidate, Kim Plache.
Plache, however, won the election, and Democrats gained the majority in the State Senate. Twelve years later, that .1% sales tax is still in place, and the recall is still a sore point with Wisconsin Republicans. It's also not a good idea for Racine residents to identify themselves as such at Brewer home games or Milwaukee sports bars.
The next year, right-wing religious groups, led by Family Research Council chair Gary Bauer and "Virginia Citizens for Reform" (and supported by presidential candidate Steve Forbes) launched a recall effort against Wisconsin's two Democratic U.S. Senators, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, based on their support of women's right to choose. The drive was unsuccessful, and was ultimately ... aborted.
Which brings us to the recall of Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament in 2002. Ament was a reasonably popular County Executive -- at least, the Milwaukee Business Journal, for whom I was drawing at the time, and the Journal Sentinel liked him. Then the lucrative pension system for Milwaukee County employees and its capacity for bankrupting the county came to light and all hell broke loose. A group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government mounted a recall drive against Ament. And they would have succeeded, too, if Ament had not resigned from office (thus saving his own $87,000 pension). Seven county supervisors lost recall races over the scandal.

An election to elect a new County Executive was held that summer, and the victor was none other than one Scott Kevin Walker.
Update: And if you perceived a link between the Milwaukee County pension scandal and the Republicans' 2012 attack on unions, give yourself a hand. Bruce Murphy has the best post mortem I've read yet on the bipartisan creation of the scandal and how unions are now paying the price for it.

There has also been a recall of the mayor of Sheboygan earlier this year -- a sordid affair involving public drunkenness and sexual assault. I haven't drawn any cartoons about it, but I bring it up because it is the only one of these recalls that involved "official malfeasance."

Qtoon: Uncle Sam Wants You

The recall is over. Wisconsin government has been bought and paid for. This is what plutocracy looks like, so let's move on...

Every June, I try to come up with some sort of cartoon to observe the LGBT Pride Festivals which many communities now have. I've been at this long enough that, frankly, there aren't many ideas left undrawn.

In trying to tease out something that might be new this year, I recalled (damn, there's that word again!) the Pride cartoon I drew in 2010. I would have liked to have updated that specific cartoon, but I can't expect my readers to remember it.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate 
May 26, 2010

Monday, June 4, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I gotta tell ya: living in Wisconsin, it's mighty hard for any news story to overcome the constant din of our recall election. (Dammit, there's Mayor Barrett on the phone again!) So I might have easily missed some other LGBT story that I could have drawn about this week.

(Well, at least the Tea Party canvasser who just rang the doorbell was polite when I told her I think Scott Walker is a total knob.)

Come to think of it, that's the one thing our recall elections have sorely lacked: a gay angle. Come on, Rebecca Kleefisch, you know you want to sing us a chorus of "Ain't No Gays in Heaven."

(Yes, Jesse Jackson, and the other 25 celebripoliticos cluttering up my inbox. I will remember to vote. Thank you for reminding me this morning and again this afternoon.)