Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Headlines

Newsmagazines have made further inroads into this year's edition of my annual photograph of newspaper headlines.

While I've always had a row of magazines along the top, and have occasionally filled in the sides of the photo with magazines as well, there were some stories this year that just didn't make big headlines in my neck of the woods: easing of military dictatorship in Myanmar, for example, or election of a new leader in China.

And my hometown newspaper doesn't appear at all; the Racine Journal Times increasingly highlights local stories atop page one. And while they did scoop the Kenosha News by a day on Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, the JT had to cram the story in as a two-column story on the edge of the page -- hardly legible in photos such as this one.

It's hard enough to read the Financial Times banner headline about Fran├žois Hollande's election in France. That story didn't get as prominent play in the other newspapers available in my area, however. I remember buying this particular paper at the local Barnes & Noble; the cashier remarked that it was the first copy of the Financial Times she had ever seen anyone buy there.

Last Sneak Peek of the Year

In case we don't see each other again before the ball drops in Times Square, I'd just like to thank my readers for following -- or at least checking in with -- me during 2012. Thank you, also, to my editors, and to the publications around the country that run my cartoons.

Best wishes to you all for peace, joy and laughter in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rememberin' Stormin' Norman

General Norman Schwarzkopf passed away yesterday at the age of 78.

He was such an imposing figure during the First Gulf War (Gulf War I, I suppose) it is hard to believe that the generation who currently make up the bulk of our armed forces would have no real memory of him, but that was 22 years ago now. He was briefly an analyst for NBC news, but retired from that position as well.

By 2004, he had his doubts about Gulf War II, criticizing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and civilians in the Defense Department who "showed a total lack of understanding of the culture that we were dealing with" in Iraq.

As a veteran of America's war in Vietnam, I imagine he nevertheless decided that the troops could do without his criticism of the war, and he maintained a low profile during the rest of the war.

Back during Gulf War I, the media chafed at being kept away from the war -- another reaction by military brass with bad memories of how news media covered Vietnam from the field. Schwarzkopf became famous for his news briefings in which the media were treated to military film of how the war was going:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Q Toon: Condemned to Repeat It

Senator Lindsey Graham appeared with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman on CNN earlier this month, and program host Piers Morgan brought up the topic of marriage equality. After Graham had stated that South Carolina would never vote for marriage equality, the other two senators couched the issue in the question of states' rights to define marriage for themselves.

Morgan then suggested that it wasn't fair that a couple could be legally married in New York but not in South Carolina. I've twisted Senator Graham's words in the cartoon, so here's his original reply:
"Can — can I suggest this? Slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. Go watch 'Lincoln,' a great movie. The people decided. The question for us is who should decide these things? Should it be a handful of judges or should it be the people themselves? And I come out on the side of the people themselves. Different people will look at it differently. But slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. If you want to propose a Constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage and it passes, that’s the law of the land."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sneak Peek for the Holidays

Because of holiday schedules, I actually had to draw this week's cartoon last week. That may or may not be a sufficient clue to the mystery of who this subject of the cartoon might possibly be.

For the answer, tune in at the same bat time, same bat channel.

Meanwhile, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Q Toon: AP Style

Last month, the Associated Press announced that it would no longer use the word "homophobia" in news articles. Contrary to my cartoon, the alternative verbiage is reportedly "antigay," which no doubt upsets those lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons who feel left out by the word "gay" because they believe that "gay" refers exclusively to gay men.

On the other hand, congratulations to all you lesbian, bisexual and transgendered purists. With the end of "homophobia," you're now universally accepted and respected!

Of course, one could argue that "homophobia" excluded bisexuals and the transgendered, too. But the problem, according to the AP, was not the "homo" but the "phobia" in the word.
AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told Politico that “homophobia” is often “off the mark” as a descriptor. “It's ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don't have,” Minthorn said.
While "antigay" may serve as an adequate alternative to the adjective "homophobic," it doesn't quite do the job of replacing the noun "homophobia," however. When Ricky Martin spoke at a recent U.N. conference against homophobia, the AP reported it as such. That is what the conference was called, after all; how could the AP have reported it as a conference on antigaiety?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Further Apologies

Andrew Wheeler over at Editorial Explanations thought that my cartoon this week was "the most egregious example ever of 'two things make a cartoon."

Well, I never. In the first place, two things always make a cartoon. In the second place, I gave you at least nine things, which ought to count for something.

It's not as if describing as "a Christmas present" a Supreme Court decision whether or not to take a case was a strikingly original thought of mine -- so I guess I should have included the San Francisco Examiner, and NUVO, among others, in my list of apologies in the corner of the cartoon.

A 1994 Christmastime cartoon of mine.
In it, Governor Tommy Thompson was demoted from
having been the Grinch in a cartoon requested by
another editor a few years earlier.
As I noted in a reply on Wheeler's blog, editorial cartoonists are contractually obligated to draw Christmas-themed cartoons in December, whether we want to or not. Usually, that means portraying politicians we don't like as Ebeneezer Scrooge or the Grinch (even when they're not being miserly); sending the three wise men out in search of whatever goals seem illusive at the moment (or whatever is bright and shiny at the moment); planting anybody with a wish list on Santa's lap; or placing goodies under Christmas trees. Conservatives have enjoyed drawing President Obama as Santa dispensing "free stuff" to undeserving 47 percenters ever since being let down by Fox News's predictions of a Romney landslide. You're bound to see a coal-in-the-stocking cartoon somewhere before Christmas Day dawns.

Well, Merry Christmas, anyway. Because of my editors' schedules, I'm not likely to draw any more Christmas-themed cartoons this year. In fact, I'm frantically trying to come up with a couple of ideas before Christmas for release in January (just in case the Mayans were wrong).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Keeping Christ Out of Advent

There is a Christian tradition of not adding the baby Jesus to the family manger display until Christmas day arrives. It helps make the Big Day all the more special, but the way most manger sets are designed, the result looks a little ... odd.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Q Toon: The Christmas Court

It's customary among editorial cartoonists when stealing borrowing other cartoonists' creations to credit the other cartoonists with "apologies to..." or a similar note. We're not usually so assiduous about apologizing to film makers or 19th Century authors -- think of any of the myriad cartoons that use whatever current movie is out to draw some parallel to political or social events (my own from last week, for example). But it would have seemed discriminatory to have left Charles Dickens and Frank Capra out of this week's credits, so in they go.

Besides, I wasn't confident that everyone would recognize Mr. Potter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

It looks like this week's cartoon may be an indication that we watch too much Turner Classic Movies channel in our house and not enough News.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

RIP Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck on piano in "You Are My Rock and My Strength" with the Russian National Orchestra and the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir in Moscow, December 1997.

(Bobby Militello on sax, Jack Six on bass and drummer Randy Jones. Conducted by Russell Gloyd. Soprano Maria Maskhulia, tenor Mark Bleeke and bass-baritone Kevin Deas.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Q Toon: The Life of Lambda

Drawing this cartoon, it occurred to me that there are such things as Siberian tigers, so I could have put tigers in both boats. I stayed with my original idea of using a bear, which is, after all, the cartoon shorthand for Russia.

And in trying to find a picture of a tiger from the angle I wanted, I was somewhat surprised to learn that there is no real difference between African tigers and Bengal tigers. I guess I had assumed that, as with elephants, there would be something to distinguish one from the other -- more stripes, a longer snout, tufted ears, or that sort of thing.

I did squeeze in one change along the way. The original proposal to my editors called for the word "death" to be crossed out on the tiger's label, with "life in prison" squeezed in, due to claims by the Ugandan bill's sponsors that the death penalty has been removed from it. More recent reports, however, are that the death penalty remains in the bill, so I shoehorned "death" back into the label.
"The only version of the bill that is public today still includes the death penalty provision for 'aggravated homosexuality'" said Kasha Jacqueline, Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). "We know that the bill still refers to death, contrary to what the media [are] saying."
The Russian bill doesn't include a death penalty, but the proposed ban on "homosexual propaganda" recalls the Soviet-era ban on homosexuality:
Igor Kochetkov, head of the LGBT Network, a Russian gay rights group, [said,] "It's a strange coincidence that this law will be looked at on 19 December, and on 17 December 1933, the Soviet authorities made sexual relations between men illegal. They argued that gays were alien to Soviet society. Now and then, we hear the same rhetoric."
Update: It  has been brought to my attention that tigers are not native to Africa at all. Which would explain why there wouldn't be any way to distinguish between African and Bengal tigers.