Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Race Card Canard

I try very hard not to ascribe racism as the motivation of people with whom I disagree. But when a woman who "can't stand to look at" President Obama is upset because Michelle Obama "doesn't look like a first lady," what else is one to think?
"I just - I don't like him. Can't stand to look at him. I don't like his wife. She's far from the First Lady. It's about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a First Lady and looks like a First Lady." --Bobbie Lucier, interviewed at the American Legion Convention in Indianapolis
Put Mrs. Obama next to either Laura Bush or Ann Romney and tell me what about her doesn't look like a First Lady. Her sleeve length?

Puh. Leeze.

Add to that the incident in which two white men at the Republican convention threw peanuts at a black female CNN cameraman and shouted "This is what we feed animals!" at her. It is not known whether they were delegates or alternates; to the Republican Party's credit, they were escorted from the floor.

The racists in these two incidents are white and around retirement age. Mrs. Lucier is from Manassas, Virginia; and while we don't know where the peanut throwers are from, cameraman Patricia Carroll seems to assume they were from the Deep South:
Carroll said that as an Alabama native, she was not surprised. "This is Florida, and I'm from the Deep South," she said. "You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don't think I should do."
February, 1989: Klansman David Duke wins the Republican
 primary for a seat in Louisiana's House of Representatives
Retirement-age white southerners are perhaps the most resistant group that President Obama has notoriously failed to win over in the four years since he ran for president. (I can think of several retirement-age white northerners who have been equally skeptical of him from the get-go, too. And young white southerners, for that matter. You can picture the Venn diagram for yourself.) Clearly, the election of Barack Obama as President did not herald the arrival of the long-awaited "Post-Racial America" some were celebrating at the time.

Patricia Carroll is not giving interviews. She's there to record the news, not be the news. But immediately after the peanut incident, she did say this:
"I can't change these people's hearts and minds. No, it doesn't feel good. But I know who I am. I'm a proud black woman. A lot of black people are upset. This should be a wake-up call to black people. . . . People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we're gone further than we have."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Q Toon: Paul Ryan Shirtless

It was somewhat annoying that my cartoon schedule last week caused me to miss the biggest story leading up to the Republican Party convention: Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's insight into the workings of the female reproductive system and its miraculous ability to shut completely down during "legitimate rape." Not exactly an LGBT issue per se, but it was dominating the national conversation in a way that Geraldo Rivera's offhand comment about a lesbian cabal taking over the Department of Homeland Security wasn't.

With the party convention underway and a hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast this week, media attention has wandered on, so the GOP War on Women is reduced to a pair of planks among several in the platform in this week's cartoon. Mr. Akin may not be welcome at the convention, but his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, threat to the life of the mother, or even ectopic pregnancy is right there in the platform.

If Mr. Romney had any core convictions of his own, we might be excused for ignoring his party platform. But since the current incarnation of Candidate Romney is turned 180 degrees away from Senatorial Candidate Romney -- to say nothing of Candidate Romney's promise to repeal the national health care reforms that were modeled after the Massachusetts plan Governor Romney was overtly proud to sign into law -- the platform is only clue we have as to what to expect from President Romney.

Well, that was Massachusetts, Mr. Romney's apologists tell us. He had to deal with a liberal electorate and a Democratic legislature. He couldn't very well hold out for the style of government he really, truly believes in.

If the American people who aren't turned away from the polls on November 6 elect Mr. Romney President, it is virtually certain that they will elect a Republican House and Senate as well. I have no confidence whatsoever that Mr. Romney has the disposition to, or capability of, standing up to the radical right-wing zealots who are responsible for the content of the Republican Party platform.

Monday, August 27, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Oh, looky! There's some beefcake on the way!

Meanwhile, I see that Bill Sanders's pen has gotten busy this month. (I've linked to his site generally, rather than to a single post; if you're reading this several months after I wrote it, you will have to scroll down a ways to see the Romney-Ryan cartoons).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Remember When the Posse Comitatus Was a Fringe Group?

How are we as a nation supposed to have civil discussion about our political disagreements when elected conservatives are nothing short of fucking nuts?

It's not just idiots like Congressman Todd Akin, who thinks that his only mistake in describing how a woman's hormones will protect her against pregnancy during a "legitimate rape" was using the word "legitimate" when he meant "forcible."

There's Tom Head (pictured at right), who has been a county judge in Lubbock, Texas, since 1999. He was being interviewed on the local Fox affiliate on Monday, and defended a proposed 1.7-cent  tax increase to fund the sheriff's department and courts because Barack Obama's reelection will result in civil war -- and Judge Head wants to be in the front lines of the armed insurrection:
"He's going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the [United Nations], and what is going to happen when that happens? I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. We're talking Lexington - Concord - take up arms and get rid of the guy. Okay?
"Now what's going to happen if we do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops. I don't want 'em in Lubbock County, okay? So I'm going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say 'You're not coming in here'. The sheriff, I've already asked him, I said, 'Are you gonna back me?' He said, 'I'll back you.'
"I don't want rookies. I want trained, equipped and seasoned veteran officers to back me."
So now we know what it takes to get one of these Red State Republicans to support a tax increase. *

If this longhorn moron were the only Republican talking about armed insurrection, that would be one thing. But here's something from the Greene County (Virginia) Republican Committee newsletter, written by its editor, Ponch McPhee:
”[W]e shall not have any coarse [sic] but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November.  This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue.”
This editor could use a copy editor.

Passage of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") was greeted with death threats against Democrats in Congress and vandalism to their home district offices, including that of Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords -- who would be shot in the head by a deranged assassin a few months later.

Over a year after those shots were fired in Tuscon, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA this past June. Matt Davis, formerly a spokesman for Michigan's Republican Party, sent out an email with the somewhat less radical view of Gee, I Hope It Doesn't Come To That:

"If the Supreme Court's decision Thursday paves the way for unprecedented intrusion into personal decisions, then has the Republic all but ceased to exist? If so, then is armed rebellion today justified? God willing, this oppression will be lifted and America free again before the first shot is fired."
How about an elected Republican that you've actually heard of?
“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back,” --Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
And who can forget Nevada senatorial candidate Sharon Angle proposing "Second Amendment Remedies" to change Congress in 2010?

So much of the vandalism, death threats, and plans for armed insurrection came in response to health care reform -- people willing to take up arms to defend their right to have private health insurance companies price them out of the health insurance as they have kids, grow old, file claims, and become less profitable to the corporate bottom line.

Contrast that to the uproar over state governments' crackdown on union workers these past two years. As vitriolic as the confrontations in Wisconsin and other states were, I don't remember any elected or party officials calling for "Concord - Lexington - take up arms" "Second Amendment remedies."

The most violent reaction? Some jerk poured beer on Wisconsin State Representative Robin Vos (R-Burlington) in a bar.
* UPDATE: I had wondered whether antitax crusader Grover Norquist would approve of Judge Head's little tax hike. Apparently not.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Q Toon: The Mystery of Janet Napolitano's Vault

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Aug 22, 2012
This little news item somehow got buried beneath the gynecological expertise of Congressman Todd "Legitimate Rape"Akins (R-MO) and the swimming form of Congressman Kevin "Galilee Skinny Dipper" Yoder (R-KS) this week. Last Friday, "Fox and Friends" aired a story from which Geraldo Rivera concluded that lesbians are taking over the Department of Homeland Security.

Somehow, I thought this would be earthshaking news.
Geraldo: Is the subtext of the Department of Homeland Security Scandal that there is some sort of a lesbian cabal, that it's a same-sex takeover the the big agency?
Doocy: What do you think?
Kilmeade: Steve, what do you think?
Geraldo: I don't know. It just seems like everyone is talking around it. Is that really what people are saying? That men are disadvantaged because women, specifically lesbians, are ruling the roost there?
Carlson: I don't know about that last part.
Geraldo: It just seems that everyone is dancing around. No one's -- they're kind of making these inferences. That's what I'm saying.
Kilmeade: We don't know for sure, but it's easy to come to that conclusion, that there's some different type of glass ceiling separating the Homeland Security Department.
Geraldo: So, no, no machos need apply?
Where is Jack Bauer when we really need him?

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's Q Syndicate features a lot of foliage. Dozens upon dozens of little leaves which, having drawn, I then had to colorize. Individually. I could have used the paintbrush feature in Adobe, but that puts the color on top of the black, and I just don't like how that looks.

I guess you can paint on a separate layer, then cut the black elements from the background layer and paste them on top of the colors on the overlayed layer. Hunting down all the tiny little squiggles of black that don't happen to be connected to any other black lines can be a bit of a chore, though.

I'm still reading the first of the hardcover reissues of Pogo cartoons, and the description of the process for colorizing the Sunday comics is pretty interesting. The book includes copies of two of Walt Kelly's originals to compare with the finished product from Hall Syndicate's compositors. As a cartoonist, I would have appreciated a few more details (did he use ink or paint? Mustn't the color have been on a separate sheet from the black and white drawing?). I do know that back then, syndicated cartoonists mailed their work, rolled up in delivery tubes. More expensive delivery services might be called upon for cartoonists with a topical bent trying to draw as up-to-date as possible.

When I started cartooning, I would drive to Kenosha or Milwaukee to drop off the cartoon originals at my editors' offices. Now, of course, I email electronic copies instead. For all the damage the internet has done to the career option of editorial cartooning, I don't miss all that driving in the least.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Q Toon: That Dreamy Paul Ryan!

As I've noted before, part of the reason that I've drawn so few cartoons about Congressman Paul Ryan is that I draw cartoons for Q Syndicate, which distributes material to LGBT newspapers around the United States, and Mr. Ryan has had very little to say on LGBT issues. When asked, as he was on Meet the Press last February, he changes the subject to something of greater interest to himself.
“I support the Wisconsin amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman … I don’t know why we are spending all this time talking about this. We’ve got a debt crisis coming and the administration just gave us a budget that simply just charts another path to debt and decline.”
Being a 21st Century Republican, he doesn't have to spend any time thinking about defining marriage, or any other issue -- whether it's the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes, adoption rights of same-sex couples, ending Don't Ask-Don't Tell, the Patriot Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, criminalizing birth control, subsidizing Big Oil,  starting an unfunded war in Iraq, or creating an unfunded Medicare Part D.  He goes on autopilot and votes in lockstep with everyone else in his party, saving his precious intellect for that looming debt crisis.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Can't You Go Home Again?

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
+Aug 14, 2012+
It's a small point, perhaps, but it just struck me as strange that the media all persistently referred to the Romney-Ryan Rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, as a "homecoming" rally for the freshly presumptive Republican nominee for vice president, Paul Ryan.

The New York media could be excused for overlooking the fact that Mr. Ryan hails from Janesville, Wisconsin, and that Waukesha is not even in his congressional district. Yet even the Milwaukee media happily repeated that this was a "homecoming." That is, after all, what the Romney campaign officially called it.

But whereas working-class Janesville might have enjoyed a moment in the national spotlight, Waukesha is as dyed-in-the-wool Republican a suburb as you could hope to find anywhere in the nation. TV cameras were treated to an overflow crowd of overjoyed Waukeshans enthused at the prospect of replacing the Great Society with the Galt Society. And, as James Rowen pointed out, "Janesville's signature but shuttered GM and Parker Pen assembly plants don't exactly offer TV crews the kind of news-at-10 'B-roll' footage that the candidates' handlers are looking for."

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Part of the reason I've drawn so few cartoons about Paul Ryan is that the syndicate for whom I draw is interested in cartoons about LGBT issues, and Paul Ryan is less interested in those issues than, say, Michelle Bachmann or her husband.

But this week, I'm forcing myself.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

So What Have I Drawn About Paul Ryan, Then?

Now that Mitt Romney has settled on Wisconsin First District Congressman Paul Ryan for his running mate, you'd think that a political cartoonist from Wisconsin's First CD would have drawn oodles of cartoons about him.

But you'd be wrong.

My first cartoon about him was drawn after he was first elected to the seat in 1998, beating out Kenosha's Lydia Spottswood in her second try for Congress. Ryan was from Janesville, in the western part of the district, but had spent his career in Washington D.C. ever since graduating college in 1992. He was, briefly, aide to Senator Bob Kasten -- that job being cut short when Kasten lost his reelection bid that November. Ryan moved on to work for Republican senators from other states, making a name for himself in conservative circles as a promising up-and-comer.
This cartoon referenced a news story out of Burlington, Wisconsin, in Racine County in Ryan's district. The Racine Journal Times editors thought this cartoon was unfair to the brand spanking new Congressman, but I've always felt him to be more the Congressman from the Ayn Rand Institute than the Congressman from Wisconsin's 1st CD.

I drew cartoons for the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee until 2006, and the only time I can recall ever being called upon to illustrate one of their editorials having to do with Congressman Ryan had to do with a General Accounting Office report that pointed out that health care costs in southeastern Wisconsin were higher than the national average. The editorial applauded the Congressman and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for their reaction to the report.
The main thing I remember about this 2004 cartoon was that it was the first one I drew of Mayor Barrett after he shaved off his mustache. The absence of what had been up to then Barrett's most identifiable facial feature meant having to reevaluate his entire face. As far as Ryan was concerned, however, I had nothing to say about him, really.

And finally, I drew this one for the Racine Post after Ryan unveiled his libertarian alternative health insurance proposal in 2009 -- if you can afford health insurance, you get a tax break:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Q Toon: RIP Gore Vidal

I had begun this cartoon with a single caricature of Mr. Vidal, but it got less and less recognizable as I continued to tweak it. So I junked that approach and drew two straight-up portraits instead -- which seems more appropriate anyway, since I'm quoting him returning to the subject of one quip of his several years later.

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

"Mr. Veedle, you owe us a balance of $23.64. When may we expect payment? Pardon? When what freezes over? I don't see why you're kicking up such a ruckus when according to our files your present bank balance, plus stocks, securities, and other holdings, amounts to exactly ... Pardon? Privileged information? Oh! (snort, snort) Mr. Veedle, that's so cute! No, no, no, you're dealing with the telephone company. We are not subject to city, state, or federal legislation. We are om-nee-po-tent."
--Lily Tomlin, as Ernestine, telephone company operator

I'd Only Need to Update the Headlines

Some cartoons, sadly, never get old.
I drew this particular one 13 years ago this month.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


According to the visitor statistics for this blog, Russian visits run a consistently close second to visits by American readers. I'm not sure why; I seldom comment on international events, and I'm pretty sure my cartoons don't run in any Russian papers. Visits from the Philippines run a distant third, thanks to the R.C. Bowman cartoons I posted a couple years ago about the Aguinaldo rebellion against the U.S.colonization of the Philippines in 1900.

Since it's Olympics time, I'm reminded of a cartoon I drew during the last Olympiad when Russia happened to be in the news. To my Russian readers, Добро пожаловать!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Q Toon for Chick-Fil-A Day

Obsessive readers of this feature may recognize the lady on the left from last month's cartoon about the One Million Moms' boycott of J.C. Penney over the inclusion in its Mothers' and Fathers' Day catalog of same-sex parents. She's the only one in the earlier cartoon who didn't have any dialogue, and she felt it was her turn to speak out this week.

I include her also because one of the arguments coming from Chick-Fil-A's apologists is that any sort of protest against Chick-Fil-A because its COO Dan Cathy is vocally against marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is somehow a violation of his right to free speech. We who disagree with Mr. Cathy have the right of free speech, too -- as do J.C. Penney, Jeff Bezos, Home Depot, et al.

And by the way, before all the comic nerds get on my case, I'm fully aware that Green Lantern is not the only gay comic book character out there. I just didn't have room to include Marvel and Archie comics in that panel. My apologies to Northstar fans.