Thursday, March 28, 2013

Q Toon: Same Sex, Mixed Politics

As I told my editors over the weekend, I was trying to come up with an idea for this week which didn't involve drawing a whole lot of empty chairs for the second week in a row.

Last week, there were only 20 chairs showing in the cartoon (more before I decided to display the dialogue along the bottom of the cartoon instead of in a balloon). I'm not counting them this week.

The roster of Democrats coming out in favor of bona fide marriage equality seems to be growing daily -- including such "red state" politicians as Senators Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester. It must be keeping the contributors to Wikipedia's list of supporters of marriage equality on their toes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gun-Due Burden

You were probably expecting to see a cartoon about the marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court today, but after seeing some local newsmakers echoing the NRA party line that requiring instant background checks for gun sales imposes an "undue burden on the little guy," I was compelled to draw this cartoon this week:

I find that a hard argument to swallow, considering the undue burdens Republican state legislators across the country are imposing upon the little guy who tries to exercise his or her constitutional right to vote, and the undue burdens they are imposing upon the little women who seek reproductive health services.

As an editorial in the Tucson Sun Sentinel put it:
"The NRA argues that requiring licensed gun dealers to maintain an inventory would be unduly burdensome on law-abiding dealers. But maintaining accurate inventory records is a routine business practice in nearly every other retail industry and any burden on lawful dealers—who are likely already keeping these records as part of a good business practice—is outweighed by the benefit to public safety of quickly identifying missing guns and reporting them to law enforcement. An inventory requirement would also serve as a deterrent to gun dealers tempted to break the law by selling guns to criminals, as well as an incentive to law-abiding firearms dealers to ensure that they are in full control of their dangerous inventory."
A statement from Mayors Against Illegal Guns co-chair, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino added:
"The NRA’s argument that background checks are ‘inconvenient’ for gun sellers and buyers is ridiculous, especially since almost every American lives within ten miles of a licensed gun dealer."
And speaking of undue burdens: this is the time of year to point out that in those states where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry, DOMA requires any couple who wants to take advantage of the right to jointly file their taxes to calculate their taxes once as joint filers for their state return, then recalculate their entire tax forms a second time as complete strangers for their federal return.

Resistance Is Futile

Just a little something I threw together for my Trekker friends -- one of whom suggested that I had better sign it.

Before it shows up on George Takei's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Scoop on Marriage Equality

As a reminder of how far we've come toward the goal of marriage equality in ten years, here's a cartoon of mine from 2003 about the Democratic contenders for the presidency:

Monday, March 25, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

This is a small section from this week's Q Syndicate cartoon; I'm also working on a bonus cartoon which may get posted here first.

I also need to get cracking on a cartoon for a week coming up soon when I won't be able to draw one. I call these "pothole cartoons" -- cartoons about a safe, not-at-all-timely topic.

There had better not be any important Supreme Court rulings that week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hillary Clinton and the Old Ball and Chain

This week, Hillary Clinton came out in favor of marriage equality. As President, her husband had signed the "Defense of Marriage Act" which made marriage inequality a matter of federal law.

It's not the first time that Hillary has needed to distance herself from antigay legislation enacted during the Bill Clinton administration.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" was billed as a means of allowing gay and lesbian service members to continue their military service, but it did not have that effect. As Bill learned only too well, keeping one's sexual activity a secret ain't as easily done as said.

(Cartoon drawn in December, 1999, but copyrighted in 2000 according to Q Syndicate dating conventions.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hath Spring Sprung?

This is a cartoon I drew for a local magazine targeted at retirees. Back in 1989.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Last weekend, Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) publicly reversed his position on the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), a bill he co-sponsored when he was a House member in the 1990's. His reasons, as he explained in an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch, were close and personal:
“As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.
"Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.”
Over the course of two years, the Senator figured out how to resolve his love and hopes for his son with his Christian faith. After all, these things take on a different light when we're talking about one's own children.

Portman also revealed that when the Mitt Romney campaign had been considering him as a possible running mate last year, he had told them about Will. We are told that Will's sexual orientation had nothing with Romney's decision not to pass over Portman Pater, a senator from a crucial swing state with 18 electoral votes, in favor of Paul Ryan, a congressman from a swing state with only 10.

But you have to know that there was someone in the Romney campaign afraid that somewhere between the convention and November, news that Portman's son was gay would break and eclipse whatever message the Republicans were hoping to talk about that week. Worse still, it could be the big media/SNL obsession arising from the Vice Presidential debate.

No, just kidding. The big obsession was going to be Biden's smirking, laughing and finger-wagging, no matter what.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

Now that I've got my sermon out of the way, it's back to the business of editorial cartoons.

For as it was written in Herblock's first letter to the Washingtonians, the nineteenth chapter, "There are no actuarial tables on the life expectancy of cartoons, but people who make a hobby of collecting editorial drawings occasionally express a preference for 'something that will always be good.'"

Monday, March 18, 2013

The History Channel's Bible: Grief for Saul

I watched a couple hours worth of the History Channel's "The Bible" last night. I was particularly interested to see whether or not they would whitewash the reason King Saul ran afoul of Yahweh's favor.

Chances are, your Sunday School Bible stories glossed over that salient detail. As you may recall, the Israelites prevail upon the prophet Samuel against his better judgment to give them a king, as all the nations around them had. It is not Samuel, however, but God who chooses Saul as king:
[Saul and his servant] went up to the city; and as they entered the city, there was Sh’mu’el [Samuel] coming out toward them to go up to the high place. The day before Sha’ul [Saul] arrived, Adonai [The Lord] had given Sh’mu’el a revelation: “Tomorrow at about this time I will send you a man from the territory of Binyamin [Benjamin]. You are to anoint him prince over my people Isra’el. He will save my people from the power of the P’lishtim [Philistines], because I have seen my people’s situation, and their cry of distress has come to me.”  When Sh’mu’el saw Sha’ul, Adonai said to him, “Here is the man I told you about, the one who is going to govern my people.” (1 Samuel 9:14-17, Complete Jewish Bible)
(I like the CJB for Old Testament references, just to avoid the influence of medieval Christian translators.)

So, God had at first been so impressed with Sha’ul/Saul, and you probably remember that Saul did something or other that displeased God so much that God sent Samuel out to find someone outside of Saul's family to anoint as the next king. Samuel finds Jesse and determines to check out each of Jesse's boys, finding each of them unsatisfactory until someone goes and fetches David in from herding the family's sheep. Samuel anoints David Heir Apparent, and David goes on to slay Goliath and ten thousand more Philistines.

But what did Saul do that was so wrong? Well, there was the matter of going ahead and attacking the Philistines -- and more importantly, making the prerequisite burnt offering himself instead of waiting over a week for Samuel to show up to do it.
Sh’mu’el said to Sha’ul, “You did a foolish thing. You didn’t observe the mitzvah of Adonai, which he gave you. If you had, Adonai would have set up your kingship over Isra’el forever. But as it is, your kingship will not be established. Adonai has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and Adonai has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you did not observe what Adonai ordered you to do.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 CJB). 
That episode was rendered on TV pretty much the way it was in the Bible, with Saul acting out of hubris and concern that his troops are fed up with sitting around doing nothing. When he wants to repent, Samuel is gone.

But the last straw, Saul's damning offense, comes after Saul and his son Jonathan have driven the Philistines away. Samuel returns and tells Saul that God wants him to commit genocide against another of the Israelites' neighbors, the Amalekites.
[Samuel said,] "Here is what Adonai-Tzva’ot says: ‘I remember what ‘Amalek did to Isra’el, how they fought against Isra’el when they were coming up from Egypt. Now go and attack ‘Amalek, and completely destroy everything they have. Don’t spare them, but kill men and women, children and babies, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” (1 Samuel 15:2-3, CJB)
The reason God was supposed to be so angry at the Amalekites was that way, way back centuries earlier when the Israelites were wandering the desert with Moses and Joshua, Amalekites attacked them from the rear. The Israelites had no shortage of hostile neighbors (see 1 Samuel 14:47), but their -- I mean, of course, God's -- grudge against the Amalekites runs hysterically deep. Three of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) from the Old Testament are to remember what the Amalekites did to Jews, not to forget what the Amalekites did to Jews, and to destroy the Amalekites utterly (Deuteronomy 25:17–18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Samuel 15:3.)

Saul, however, took the king of the Amalekites captive instead of killing him, and his troops didn't kill every one of the sheep and cattle outright. Samuel pronounced God's final judgment against Saul, and cut the chained king of the Amalekites into pieces.

The History Channel version sanitizes this chapter as much as it can without rewriting the basic plot. Yes, Samuel tells Saul to kill every last one of the Amalekites, but what we see is a small encampment of maybe five or six tents, and there is not one woman, child, or baby to be seen. Slaughter ensues, but it barely qualifies as genocide.

Oh, and Samuel merely slits King Agag's throat rather than going into a Tarantino-esque orgy of gratuitous gore.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Toon: Francis I

In honor of the first Argentinian Pope, my first cartoon of Francis I:

I was monitoring the announcement of the new Pope on the Daily Telegraph's web site yesterday afternoon; the ladies' Bible study was meeting across the hall and they wanted to be told who the new Pope was as soon as it was known.

As the world waited, a band had marched out and played a couple very brief snippets of tunes that many in the waiting crowd knew and tried to sing along with. When the band abruptly stopped, the crowd kept singing, but the band didn't rejoin them. This was several minutes before the lights came on in the chamber behind the balcony window, so it wasn't because the announcement was imminent.

The initial announcement was made in Latin -- including Latinizing the man's name -- so for a while, all I knew was that the cardinals had elected Georgium Marium Somebody and he had taken the name Franciscum. If there was any mention of Argentinibus or Bonibus Airibus, I completely missed it. I only took one semester of Latin in college, which was enough to figure out qui vicit quem, but the class never got around to learning New World geography.

Once news sites started reporting the name of The New Guy, I went in and broke the news to the Bible study group. They all were surprised that it wasn't Timothy Dolan (who used to be the archbishop in our area, so the local media had been echoing New York media speculation of Dolan's chances).

For my own part, however, that I had suspected that this Pope would turn out to be either Latin American or Italian.

I had no idea he would turn out to be both.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Twinkiam!

But will he declare supersized soda pop anathema?
(Screen grab of Google News this afternoon.)

Q Toon: And the Rest

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
-Mar 13, 2013
For its first season of "Gilligan's Island," the show opened with a catchy little sea ditty as its theme song, which told the story of how the castaways got to the island, then introduced the characters in its third verse:
"With Gilligan,
The Skipper, too;
The Millionaire
And his wife;
The movie star
And the rest."
There were only two other characters in the regular cast, but it wasn't until the second season that the writers crammed "The Professor and Mary Ann" into the last line (leaving, I suppose, the radio announcer as the last regular cast member out in the cold.)

This month, the British Commonwealth produced a "Charter for the 21st Century" proclaiming broad support for human rights, which states, "We are implacably opposed to all forms of  discrimination, whether rooted  in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds." The London Daily Mail asserted that "other grounds" is meant to refer to gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual persons.

Not everyone is impressed, however. British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell points out that:
"More than 40 of the 54 Commonwealth countries still criminalise homosexuality, mostly under laws imposed by Britain during the colonial era. Six of these countries stipulate life imprisonment. Uganda is currently considering legislation that would introduce the death penalty for repeat gay offenders. The Nigerian parliament has before it a similarly draconian anti-gay bill that will outlaw same-sex marriage, and LGBT organisations and advocacy. The Commonwealth's response to these two bills - and to the homophobic witch-hunts in Cameroon - has been feeble."
Homosexuality is still a flogging offense in Pakistan; in Jamaica, anyone convicted of the "abominable crime of buggery" faces up to 10 years' imprisonment, with or without hard labor; Nigerian punishment already includes death by stoning as a possible punishment. (Wikipedia has a page devoted to LGBT rights in all countries of the world -- worth checking before booking that Caribbean vacation.)

The difference between the British Commonwealth and Gilligan's Island is that there were only seven castaways on the TV show. There wasn't any question who "and the rest" were.

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's special guest has dressed up for the occasion.

Chances are much better that I haven't gotten too far ahead of the news cycle this week; the Illinois House still hasn't passed that Marriage Equality Bill. Ah, well. They're giving that much more time for Illinois's LGBT publications to sign up to run the cartoon in whatever upcoming issue it might become timely for.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Just as an aside: considering that a guy has been given up for dead in one, aren't all the cartoons joking about sinkholes just a little bit creepy?

Trust me: there have been many more than five (although there have yet to be more than five actual ideas).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Da Q Toon: Illinois Equality

We had a little difficulty getting this week's cartoon out this week -- I sent it to the syndicate at the usual time on Monday morning, but apparently the Chinese or the Iranians or North Koreans hacked into the internet and turned my cartoon into a plea to send C!ali$ to the crown prince of Kenya or something. My editors left alarmed messages on our answering machine Tuesday afternoon, followed by urgent emails. Eventually, I got these messages and quickly sent the cartoon out again, hoping against hope that I was not too late. At any rate, as the deadline ticked down to 00:00:00, my original emails turned up deep in the recesses of the spam folder of their firewall program's File Not Found repository.

All this for a cartoon that presumes a news event that isn't scheduled to happen until Thursday, and then only if all goes well.

That's when the Illinois House of Representatives has been scheduled to vote on a marriage equality bill that has already been passed in the state Senate and which Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign. Advocates have been optimistic about its passage, but we've already seen -- in Maryland in 2010 -- that you can't always count on state representatives to vote the way they led you to believe they would. As of Tuesday, the bill's sponsors were still counting supporters and considering postponing a vote another week or so.

I could find myself in the company of the Chicago Tribune's famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline, but here's my cartoon anyway:

And, in case you're wondering, I certainly did have the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline in mind as I drew the cartoon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Call It Mariah

Returning to Earth: I came across a mesmerizing web page yesterday that illustrates the flow of wind over the United States at the current moment.

Yesterday, there was a vortex where a great deal of wind was headed -- starting in west central Indiana in the morning and working its way east past Columbus. This morning, you could make out the contours of the Appalachians from the decreasing wind speed on the windward side and a marked increase in speed with a slight change in direction on the leeward side of the chain.

Clicking on the map allows you to zoom in on the area where you click.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Venus Through Saturn's Rings

I am such a sucker for these pictures of Saturn!

Way back when Voyager 1 sent back spectacular images of Saturn casting a shadow on its rings, I drew a cartoon of the image with "So long, come again" in lights on the planet's dark side. (Pioneer 11 was the first satellite to fly past Saturn a year earlier, but its photos weren't quite as dramatic. Its photo of the rings from over Saturn's north pole, however, represented a remarkable feat nevertheless.)