Monday, July 30, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Video blogger Jackson Pearce last week proposed a counter-protest to Mikey Huckabee's Take a Boy Scout to Chick-Fil-A Day on Wednesday:
“There’s this bible passage, Proverbs 25:21 ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.’ So if you are not a fan of Chick-Fil-A’s stand on hate, on August 1, I suggest you go there and ask for a large water. If they say you need to order something, cite Proverbs 25:21. I mean technically if they are operating on biblical principals they should give you an entire combo meal if your stomach growls but lets keep it simple. Just ask for a large water and nothing else. If they give it to you, you just got a few pennies of their profit and less money goes to their hate foundations. And if they don’t…”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Q Toon: Guns Don't Protect People

Mr. Jackson, News Director for the American Family Association, actually blames the Aurora, Colorado shootings on more than teh gays.
Jackson: I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets [sic], whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.
Jackson's discussion on "AFA Today," with co-host Teddy James continued:
Jackson: We’ve been dealing Teddy and I know the AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible, they no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.
James: And God will not be silent when he’s mocked, and we need to remember that.
Jackson: We are seeing his judgment. You know, some people talk about ‘God’s judgment must be just around the corner,’ we are seeing it.
Guns don't kill people.

God kills people.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Online Public Yellow Pages

While the primary focus of my blog is editorial cartooning, I occasionally feel compelled to offer public service to my fellow consumers. Online Public Yellow Pages is a firm with a mailing address in Mooers Forks, New York. Another one of the myriad on-line phone listing knock-offs, they offer to improve the Google ranking of businesses, schools, religious institutions, and whatever other gullible customers they can snag through their phone solicitations -- a service for which they charge upwards of $599.99 per year.

If they had any talent at improving the Google ranking of their customers, would the first page of a Google search of their own name look like this?

P.S.: See also "Fraudulent Yellow Pages Scam: Beware It's Back!" by Denise Richardson.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Q Toon: Voter ID-OC

Yeah, yeah, I know the argument. You need a photo ID to board an airplane, open a bank account, buy a house or join a country club -- all sorts of things that some of the poor, elderly, students, blind, minorities and whatnot try to get along without. The fact is that these laws have been crafted to include Republican-leaning groups (gun licenses are okay) and inconvenience Democratic-leaning groups (student IDs are not).

But it's only a photo ID, they say. And if cataracts keep your great-grandmother from schlepping out to spend a day at wherever the heck they moved the DMV these days, that's a small cost to prevent the .0000003% of voters who have no business exercising their civic responsibility.

Wisconsin voters have just been through a nasty series of recall elections, and with Democrats having eked out a narrow victory in just one election in my own State Senate District (enough to cost Republicans their senate majority), local Republicans have been literally digging through garbage dumpsters in a desperate effort to rustle up something to allege voter fraud. Our Republican dumpster diver found -- stop the presses! -- "some ripped up voter registration forms which he [placed] in a garbage bag along with a prescription bottle, a couple of bills and - get this - a MacDonald's food bag," which he duly turned over to sheriff's deputies.

After a thorough investigation, the Racine County Sheriff's report concluded:
"In summary, none of the items brought to the Sheriff's Office removed from the dumpster by Ottelien prove or even suggest voter fraud had occurred at the Cesar Chavez Center. The items discarded in the trash are just that, trash."
Aside from that, some poll workers around the state -- those nice ladies who sit in that voting room all day from before the polls open until the last vote is counted -- made occasional mistakes about which parts of the Voter ID law had and had not been stopped by judicial injunction. Republican provocateurs have highlighted a few isolated cases in which a voter did not sign a registration sheet (the only part of the law currently in effect in Wisconsin). Yet elsewhere, voters were turned away for not having the photo ID the injunction expressly said they wouldn't need.

Clearly, Republicans have their work cut out for them as they seek to level the playing field between their multimillionaire campaign contributors and the hoi polloi whose free speech under Citizens United is barely audible, but make up the other 99.99999% of voters.

There are other groups whose influence in elections Republicans would like to cut down. In the future, we can look forward to Republicans whittling down workers' ability to vote by shortening voting time to between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and require that you fill out and seal absentee ballots at the state capitol in the presence of your Congressman and FedEx them to your local elections office. In a hermetically sealed box the size of a grand piano.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thompson Gubernatorial Toons from the Archive

These are some cartoons I had dug up and posted on my old GeoCities web page when Tommy Thompson made his eminently forgettable run for the presidency in 2007.

Thompson came into office as Governor of Wisconsin in 1987 making a lot of talk about cutting the budget. While Politifact has ruled that "Wisconsin’s overall tax burden went down while [Thompson] served as governor from 1987 to 2001," his budgets from 1995 to 1999 contained $188 million in general tax increases. The 1995-97 budget also contained $120 million in increased fees.

A column by Bruce Murphy this week argues that taxes went up considerably during his tenure as governor.
"A study by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found that in his first 12 years of office, state spending rose by 101 percent — more than twice the rate of inflation. ...
"During Thompson’s first 12 years in office, the average Wisconsin citizen’s income tax payments rose by 127 percent — more than two-and-a-half times faster than inflation. Sales taxes rose by 90 percent, nearly twice as fast as inflation. As a study back then by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance found, income taxes had soared because in 1986 the state stopped “indexing” the income tax rates to account for inflation."
(Dave Blaska blames a good deal of the increase in taxes on Thompson's Democratic predecessor, Tony Earl. But now that blaming one's predecessor is anathema to conservative thought, let's just ignore Mr. Blaska, shall we?)
The catch was that Thompson was so gosh-darned passionate about spending for some pet items that it overwhelmed his gosh-darned passion for cutting taxes. He pushed through a voucher plan to spend public tax money on private schools. His other passions included trains, state worker pensions, and concentrating power in the Governor's Office (in particular, asserting control over the Department of Natural Resources).
Thompson's conservative legacy is based largely by the establishment in 1997 of Wisconsin Works, or W-2, replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Like President Obama's Health Care Reform, W-2 was extremely complicated, with a lot of moving parts; a program to extend health care benefits to low-income families with children was added to W-2 in 1999.
Conservatives loved W-2, and that's how Thompson ended up as George W. Bush's Health and Human Secretary (when the post he really wanted was Transportation).

But let's return to the issue of the measure of conservatism as it's defined today. Again, from Bruce Murphy:
"Thompson crowned his tenure as a tax-and-spend governor with the passage of an outrageous 1999 law that sweetened the state pension system’s payoff for Thompson and other veterans. The law was championed by union leaders and Thompson and passed by a bipartisan legislature, sweetening an already generous state pension plan at a long-term cost of $5.5 billion.
"As with the infamous Milwaukee County pension plan, Thompson’s was skewed to deliver the big benefits to the insiders, the employees with the biggest salaries and longest tenure.  The lifetime value of Thompson’s already generous pension, for instance, grew by $111,000. "
While these pension plans won Thompson the endorsement of the state's public employee unions over his Democratic opponents in 1994 and 1998, they have not endeared him to the current Governor, whose first actions in office have been to unilaterally scuttle the agreements.

In the end, Thompson left his successor, Scott McCallum a precariously balanced budget when he left for Washington D.C.  in 2001.

Monday, July 16, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peak

As you ought to be able to guess from the sneak peek at this week's cartoon, the topic is Voter ID, and it involves one of those cable news opinion shows that feature discussion between or among panelists of widely differing viewpoints.

I've chosen to call this fictional program "Cross Talk," after the late CNN program "Crossfire." The reference is not to Christianity, but to the term for a major feature of these programs: multiple people talking simultaneously.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mark Neumann, Part the IInd

After squeaking by two elections as Congressman from Wisconsin's First CD, Mark Neumann decided to take on first-term Senator Russ Feingold in 1998. Since Neumann had limited name recognition outside his district while Feingold was well-known and reasonably popular around the state as a fiscally sensible, independent-minded of regular guy who kept in touch with the folks back home, Job #1 for Neumann was to go on the attack.

He started with a TV ad criticizing Feingold for voting for a budget bill that had included deep within its provisions money that helped Russia send monkeys into outer space.
At a Q&A meeting with voters in October, Neumann snapped at a young woman who asked him a pointed question about his record on the environment. He refused to answer her, accusing her of being a "plant."

Late in the campaign came Neumann's most ridiculous ad ever:
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is the target of one of the year's prickliest tax-and-spend ads. It features his GOP opponent, Rep. Mark Neumann, denouncing a government cow-gas survey while a goofy-looking scientist scurries behind him trying to capture the bovine emissions. "This smelled like government waste to me," declares Neumann. --Ron Fournier for Associated Press

Neumann's constant attacks, aided by advertising from outside groups, wore down Feingold's initial popularity advantage to nothing. Vexing Democrats to no end, Feingold refused party funding and publicly called on all outside groups, including those friendly to him, to stay out of the race; but Neumann basked in the support of his friends. For example, Feingold bought $6,000 for a week's advertisements on the NBC affiliate in Madison, so Neumann countered with his own $4,600 purchase, and the Republican Party joined in with another $15,368 in commercials the same week.

Writing for the New Republic, Peter Beinart summed up the race thusly:
"Neumann assumed that, if he could define issues to his advantage, voters would not care where he got his money. He relentlessly attacked Feingold's record on government spending, "partial birth" abortion, and Social Security. Rather than raising and spending the money necessary to respond, Feingold gambled that voters impressed with his integrity would disregard the attacks. Even when Feingold finally did run ads, he devoted several of them to the meta-issue of his refusal to take soft money or go negative. He barely broached core Democratic themes like education and regulation of HMOs even though his legislative record on those issues was strong. Two weeks before Election Day, polls showed that voters trusted Neumann more on Social Security, an issue on which Democrats usually clean up."
In the end, however, Mr Positive Pureheart had just enough support in Madison and the industrial urban pockets of Wisconsin, eking out a 51% to 48% victory over Mr. Scoldy McNegative. (My editors at the Milwaukee Business Journal focused on one of those urban industrial cities.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mark Neumann Toons: Part I

There are four Republican candidates vying for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate nomination in the August 14 primary. I posted a cartoon about Tommy Thompson yesterday, and commented on an Eric Hovde ad a week or so ago. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald barely registers in the polls.

In the latest Marquette University Law Poll, former Mark Neumann came in at only 10%, but since he was Congressman from my district for four years, I've had plenty of occasion to draw cartoons about him. In his TV ad, he attacks President Obama's Health Care reform for including coverage for abortion; running for Congress in 1994, the real estate developer attacked President Clinton's Health Care reform efforts:
Neumann's opponent in that race was Peter Barca, who had beaten Neumann 49.9% to 49.3% in a special election the previous year to fill the vacancy left when Clinton appointed 10-term Congressman Les Aspin Secretary of Defense. (1994 was Neumann's third race for Congress in as many years; Aspin had beaten him by 17 percentage points in 1992).

Neumann was unrelentingly negative, attacking Barca as a big spending tax-hiking errand boy of the Clinton-Democrat Bureaucracy Machine. This time, Neumann unseated the incumbent Barca with 49.4% of the vote to Barca's 48.8%, and quickly established himself as one of the most staunchly conservative members of the new staunchly conservative House majority.

In a stark contrast to Congressman Aspin, Freshman Neumann didn't bring home the bacon to his district. Nor was he inclined to; he proved to be a doctrinaire devoté of the Balanced Budget Amendment, opposed to pork-barrel spending, as well as to Big Government, abortion rights, environmental protection, LGBT equality, and all things progressive. The guy is deadly serious to the point where he looks incredibly awkward when he tries to smile. As a campaigner, he has been quick to go vicious, so he just doesn't come off as a nice guy. It was kind of like having Dwight Schrute as your Congressman.

In 1996, the Democrats' congressional candidate was, like Barca, a Kenoshan: President of the City Council Lydia Spottswood. The major issue that year was Social Security, which Republicans promised to replace by encouraging private investments, claiming that the present system would soon be broke. Spottswood responded that Neumann wanted to end Social Security.

It was a nasty race on both sides. Two years later, Spottswood described Neumann's attitude toward her in a PBS interview with Kwame Holman:
"My opponent then was actually very hostile and overtly hostile when he would see me, which was rare. I don't think he was interested in seeing me very often."
Hilary Clinton and Al Gore made campaign appearances with Spottswood, but Neumann won 50.9% of the vote to Spottswood's 49.1%. Since then, the national Democratic party has made no effort to support Democrats running for Wisconsin's First Congressional District seat. Spottswood made one more try for Congress in 1998, when Neumann ran for the U.S. Senate; but outspent by Republicans and outside groups, she lost by 15 percentage points to 28-year-old congressional aide Paul Ryan as the DNC sat idly by.

For Neumann's 1998 Senate race against Russ Feingold, stay tuned for Part II.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

WisToon: Tommy Thompson

First, a little background on this cartoon. Back in 2006, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson had this to say about the "individual mandate," the feature of Romneycare that required all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance whether they wanted to or not:
“This is a little bit opposed to what Republicans really think, but the truth of the matter is that just like automobile insurance; you gotta have coverage.”
...And in October 2009, Thompson joined former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt in calling the Senate Finance Committee version of the [Obamacare] bill “an important first step” that “moves us down the path of providing affordable high-quality health care for all and expanding coverage for millions.”
Now Thompson is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. He has a TV commercial out in which he stands next to a STOP sign, a cornfield in the background, and pledges to stop Obamacare and repeal that pesky individual mandate so that he can replace it with ... well, something. You know, deregulation and stuff, like the Republicans did with the banks.
Lastly, a few words about the nuts and bolts of the cartoon. I drew this cartoon on a sheet of Mead "Académie" drawing paper. I've had this pad for ages, because in spite of being advertised as "a textured, heavyweight (80#) drawing paper crafted to provide excellent results for pencil, ink, pastel, and color markers," it bleeds like a stuck pig. By "ink," they must mean ball-point pen ink, because india ink bleeds out in all directions (including onto the next page). It also claims to be "durable enough to accept watercolors," which I find hard to believe.

I had to edit the computer scan of this cartoon to put white in the whites of Thompson's eyes where bleeding ink had filled them in. But doing the same around all the lettering would be like redrawing the cartoon from scratch.

Which I might have done if I weren't so sure that Tommy is going to be upset in next month's primary.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Qtoon: They Pray Away, but Are Gay to Stay

Exodus International President Alan Chambers has admitted that "reparative therapy" for gays and lesbians does not turn us into straight gentlemen and ladies. Now living in a different-sex marriage ("The best marriage I know," he says), Chambers admits that his attraction to men has never gone away; he just doesn't give in to those attractions.
"For someone to put out a shingle and say, 'I can cure homosexuality' — that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth."
This has led some ex-gay hucksters, such as First Stone Ministries, to break up with their erstwhile partner. But is not going to stop the folks at Exodus. Exodus will soldier on, alone and unloved. Exactly the life model Exodus recommends for the suckers who come through their doors.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Coup d'oeil furtif de cette semaine

For this week's sneak peek, all I'm giving you is one lousy letter.

You may spin the wheel, or solve the puzzle.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

QToon: A Salute to Ronald Reagan

I passed over this story when it happened last month. If you get your news from John Stewart or MSNBC, it may have escaped your attention, but it seems some gay activists who were invited to the the White House in June took the opportunity to take pictures of themselves flipping the finger at the painting of Ronald Reagan. And to post those pictures on line.

Such behavior might have been considered pretty tame in Andrew Jackson's day, but not any more.
“While the White house does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do," Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, said. "These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House."
A look through my e-mail inbox suggested that by being so hasty in their repudiation of the activists' poor manners, they were missing an opportunity only an incumbent president would enjoy.

So for $23 (the dollar figure that for some reason Barack, Michelle, Joe and the gang always want from me), here's your chance to give a dead president a piece of your mind.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I guess this frame from this week's cartoon isn't much of a help narrowing down the subject matter.

When in the past three and a half years have the Republicans not been upset about something or other?