Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Leftovers

For Stuffingback Saturday today, we have Thanksgiving leftovers of a sort, with hopes that your fourth Thursday of November was a pleasant one, with plenty of inspiration for the giving of thanks.

In 1916, Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday in November, not necessarily the fourth one; so 100 years ago today, Thanksgiving hadn't happened yet. Here's John McCutcheon's Thanksgiving Day cartoon of November 30, 1916:
"The Face at the Window" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune,  November 30, 1916.
The Face at the Window, of course, being war-torn Europe, where French cartoonist Abel Faivre had drawn this next pathos-laden cartoon not for the American Thanksgiving holiday, but for All Saints' Day at the beginning of the month.
"Where Must I Pray for Papa?" by Abel Faivre in l'Echo, Paris, November 1, 1916
The issue consuming the cartoonists with allied sympathies was Germany's deporting of Belgian citizens to replace German soldiers in the factories and farm fields.
"Are You Ready to Make Munitions for Germany?" by Louis Raemaekers for De Telegraaf, Amsterdam, November, 1916
Use of a whip, rather than a gun, was a leitmotif of American cartoons on the subject.
"To the Step-Fatherland" by Nelson Harding for Brooklyn Eagle, November, 1916
On the other side of the trenches, the German press played up the Allies' lack of significant progress in the war. And, true enough, the Western Front was still well West of die Vaterland.
"Shall We Soon Be on the Rhine?" unsigned for Lustige Blaetter, Berlin, November, 1916
As far as whipping up sentiment against Allied behavior toward neutral countries was concerned, however, German criticism here lacks the punch of Raemaekers's and Harding's work.
"So You Don't Like My Blacklist?" by E.N. for Meggendorfer Blaetter, Munich, November, 1916
Further south, Serbian, French and Russian forces captured Monastir (present-day Bitola, Macedonia) from Bulgaria on November 19. 130,000 allied fighters died in the fighting or from disease while Germans and Bulgarian losses numbered about 61,000. The Monastir Offensive did not prove a decisive defeat of Germany's Balkan allies, and shelling of the city continued throughout the war.
"Back Home" by Clive Weed for Philadelphia Public Ledger, November, 1916
Returning to this side of the pond, we find that Pancho Villa was still pestering the U.S. Army. I've run this cartoon before, and now that we've passed by its 100th birthday, here it is again. More leftovers.
"Breaking In Again" by Sidney Greene for New York Evening Telegram, November, 1916
That's all, folks!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Q Toon: Broadway Has Its Eyes On You

This kerfuffle over the cast of Hamilton addressing Vice President-elect Mike Pence in their audience over the weekend has served to distract national attention from a number of important stories about the incoming administration. Sure, some media reported that Donald Berzilius Trump settled the lawsuit over his Trump University Scam for $25 million; and the appointment of a racist Attorney General and a fascist Chief of Staff. But since a growing percentage of Americans get their news from late-night comedians, there is a danger of those of us in the Humor Biz aiding and abetting Trump's efforts to redirect the nation's attention toward issues of his choosing.

The curtain call speech was pretty mild stuff, especially if you compare it to the organized shout-downs of any attempt to discuss the Affordable Care Act in 2009. You'd never know it from the howls of indignation from the Tweeter-in-Chief, however.

What Brandon Victor Dixon (Vice President Aaron Burr in the play) actually said was:
“You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening — Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you hear just a few more moments. Sir, we hope that you will hear us out.
“We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
To Trump's base, this was one more case of librul ayleets lookin' down there nozes at Middla Murkan Valews — because that's a one-way speedway, ain't it? — so Trump is delighted to divert their righteous indignation in the direction of the Great White Way.

So where do I get off calling Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the IIIrd a racist, antigay bigot?
  • Testifying before the Senate as it considered Sessions's 1986 nomination for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Figures testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." Sessions passed the comment off as a joke.
  • Concerning another allegation, Sessions testified, "I may have said something about the NAACP being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it."
  • As Attorney General of Alabama, Sessions worked to deny funding to student Gay-Straight Alliances at The University of Alabama, Auburn University and The University of South Alabama, stating "an organization that professes to be comprised of homosexuals and/or lesbians may not receive state funding or use state-supported facilities to foster or promote those illegal, sexually deviate activities defined in the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws."
  • He is on the record against hate crime protections, marriage equality, and open military service by LGBT persons, calling gay rights "a threat to Western Civilization."
Well, I could be wrong about him.

He could, perhaps, be a complete misanthrope. My first cartoon about him, was back in 2009. A Filipino woman was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the "Uniting American Families Act," which would have granted the partners of same-sex binational couples the same protections different-sex couples have, when her 12-year-old son started crying over the prospect of one of his mothers being deported. Sessions reportedly muttered to his aides, "Enough with the histrionics!"

Monday, November 21, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frankie Joe Kicks the Bucket

In today's episode of Salzback Saturday, we observe the 100th anniversary of the death of Franz Josef (Francis Joseph, if you prefer the Anglicized version of his name), Emperor of Austria-Hungary, on November 21, 1916. The 86-year-old Hapsburg-Lorraine monarch, on the throne since 1848 (consider who the world leaders were in 1948 — when Queen Elizabeth was still a princess — to give yourself an idea of how long that is) had been in declining health for a few years.

Memorial cartoons today are no better today than they were back then, and perhaps they have gotten worse. I did not see any Imperial Eagle With A Single Tear, or St. Peter Cheerily Welcoming Franz At The Pearly Gates.
"Peace" by Nelson Harding for Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 22, 1916
From what I've been able to find, most American cartoonists neither praised nor castigated the Emperor. Nelson Harding (above) draws a cold irony about the Emperor finding peace after his country had launched the war then having consumed Europe for two years and counting. Bill Sykes's cartoon below looks instead to the succession of Franz Josef's grandnephew, Karl. If there was supposed to be something The Future was whispering to History, sadly, the Philadelphia Evening Ledger neglected to print it.
"Concerning the New Emperor" by Charles "Bill" Sykes for Philadelphia Evening Ledger, November 23, 1916
Of the cartoons I found, only John McCutcheon's attempted to assess the Emperor's legacy. For those unfamiliar with European history, Austria-Hungary at the start of the War was considerably larger than the two countries are today. The Empire covered the present-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and portions of Italy, Poland, Ukraine and Romania. Wars had flared up in the Balkans shortly before World War I, and would rekindle in the early 1920s.
"Francis Joseph's Hyphenated Family..." by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, November 22, 1918
To appreciate McCutcheon's cartoon, you must also consider the campaign against "Hyphenated Americans" during the presidential election, which would only intensify once the U.S. entered the War.

I wanted to include some cartoons from the belligerent nations here; The Great War: 1914-1918, The Cartoonists Vision includes one by a British cartoonist (I can't make out the signature) depicting Kaiser Wilhelm drawing back from Franz Josef's bier, musing, "Well, you did have the luck of dying in your bed. I wonder whether I shall!" The shadow of a noose appears on the wall above the Kaiser's shadow.

Compared to Great Britain, Italy and Russia were more directly engaged in fighting Austria-Hungary, so their cartoonists take a more caustic view of the Emperor. This first Italian cartoon was no doubt drawn before Franz Josef shuffled off his mortal coil, although it appeared in the United States afterward. Kaiser Wilhelm and Emperor Franz Josef are the thumb and forefinger of the hand; the other fingers are Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Sultan Mehmet V of Turkey, and Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.
"The Black Hand of Europe" by "Egggini" for Il 420, Florence, ca. November, 1916
This Italian cartoon is probably representative of its country's response to the Emperor's death, and probably Russia's as well. (I suspect Russian cartoonists heaped even worse ignominy on the Emperor, perhaps having his corpse shredded by wild pigs. If there were such cartoons, they were too rude for American editors of the time, and I have yet to master Googling in the Cyrillic alphabet to find Russian sources.) The caption translates to "Need for Hygeine"; the cart reads "Universal Sanitation."
"Need for Hygeine" drawn for Numero, Turin, December 3, 1916.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Q Toon: Rising to the Occasion

I typically stew over what to draw for Q Syndicate for an entire weekend before committing ink to the page, but with feelings so raw after last week's presidential election, this idea came quickly and urgently. Kind of like what it depicts.

In case the note under my signature requires any explaining, this week's cartoon is a take-off on Bill Mauldin's famous cartoon for the Chicago Sun-Times after John F. Kennedy's assassination.

There are those who will object to this cartoon and to all who feel this way. Yes, I've heard that Donald Berzilius Trump is now our President-Elect and deserves a chance and some respect. That must be a new thing, because if there was any chance- or respect-giving from the Trump electorate during the past eight years, I must have blinked and missed it.

Trump was a mercurial tyrant, an egotistical bully, a lying con artist and a spoiled bigot up to the eve of the election. At 70 years old, there's not much chance that he has it in him to change.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

In lieu of the usual snippet from a corner of the cartoon I drew last night, here's a cartoon for Harper's Weekly by the great Thomas Nast drawn after another presidential election in which the winner of the popular vote did not become the president-elect.
"Keep Cool!" by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly,  December 2, 1876
Here's a historical oddity: since the founding of the Republican Party, there have been four presidential elections in which the winner of the popular vote failed to win the presidency: 1876, 1888, 2000 and now 2016. In all four cases, the Democrat was the one with the most popular votes and the Republican was the one with his hand on the Bible on Inauguration Day.

If you flip a coin four times and each time it comes up tails, and then you flip it a fifth time, there's a 50-50 chance that it will come up tails again.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

How the Fork We Got Here

Months ago, Sad!back Saturday presented a retrospective of my Hillary Clinton cartoons. Now that we face the imminent inauguration of a self-absorbed, lying, bullying, impulsive, mercurial con artist tyrant with the emotional and intellectual maturity of a 4-year-old, beloved by white supremacist and Kremlin dictator alike, it's about time I finally got around to assembling my work on the subject of Donald Berzilius Trump.

Trump made a brief run for the Republican nomination in 2011. (This was actually his second run for the presidency, but I did not draw anything about his easily overlooked try for the Reform Party nomination in 2000.) Doing his best to fit in with the others in the race, he came out against marriage equality.
He learned a valuable lesson from that abortive candidacy: rich guys don't get anywhere making golf analogies.

In the crowded field of contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, New And Depraved Trump stood out as the shiny object, capturing hours of free media attention without ever actually having to campaign. Just pick up a phone and chat with Morning Joe or the friendly folks at Fox News, and voilá! Sorry, Governor Perry, there's no time left to discuss your policy paper on expanding oil drilling in the Everglades.

He actually had to show up to the so-called debates in person; and there, too, he sucked all the air out of the room. While most of the other radical right-wingers were trying to present a softer image for the television, Trump relied on the strategy that every successful schoolyard bully knows: be first with the name-calling, and keep it simple. Nobody's going to remember those Poindexters' lame-ass comeback attempts.

Most difficult to understand has always been how the Christian Right fell behind this vulgar, thrice-married casino owner so early in the campaign. By February, Trump was on a roll, and apparently, the tenets of Prosperity Gospel dictated that The Donald must be The Lord's Anointed One.

The Christian Right weren't the only ones taking notice.

For my own part, finding reasons to draw Trump for the LGBT publications which run my cartoons has been a challenge. LGBT issues have not been a favorite topic of his (or of debate moderators this year). This cartoon from May illustrates that the focus of his interest was elsewhere.

Trump remembers his friends, so for his running mate, he repaid his debt to the religious right by choosing Indiana Governor Mike Pence, famous mainly for defending a state bill enshrining discrimination against same-sex couples as an inviolable right of all Christian entrepreneurs.

When Trump's "locker room talk" on the bus with Billy Bush came to light, it looked like the October Surprise that should have done him in. But even if his boorishness and sexual harassment hadn't been (excuse the expression) trumped by exquisitely timed assistance from Kremlin stooge Julian Assange, FBI Director James Comey and the vast health insurance conspiracy, Trump's core support was hardened and impervious. He could have, as he said, shot someone on Fifth Avenue and they would still lead the choir singing his praises.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Q Toon: I No Longer Approve This Message

Offer void in Louisiana.

Donald Trump, and shadowy Citizens United groups supporting him, advertised heavily on my local TV in October, as did Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold vying for one of Wisconsin's Senate seats. Hillary Clinton didn't invest quite as much on TV ads as Trump did; meanwhile, Paul Ryan was the only congressional candidate I saw advertising on Milwaukee TV (a market covering at least three congressional districts).

Perhaps the only bright spot in the advertising mess was a pro-Feingold ad from the Humane Society Legislative Fund, featuring a handsome German shepherd praising Feingold's voting record in favor of animal protection and conservation measures without claiming that Johnson favors animal cruelty and toxic waste. (The negative stuff is all in the press release you probably didn't read.)

While the candidates' ads were overwhelmingly negative, all but one candidate at least included some positive information about themselves or their agenda in at least one of their commercials. That one candidate with nothing positive to say, I'm very disappointed to report, was Hillary Clinton.

I know, I know: negative ads are more effective than positive ones. They tell us that every election season. But anyone who hasn't been hiding under a rock knows that Donald Trump says horrible things about women and boasts about behaving like a sexist pig. We know he mocks, denigrates and insults Mexicans, Muslims and handicapped reporters. It was all over the news. It was all over the late-night talk and comedy shows. It was all over our Facebook feed.

You know what was not all over the news, late-night shows and social media, Hillary? Any of the uplifting stuff in your stump speeches to the people at your rallies who were already planning to vote for you. Nor were there any policy goals for which you might have wanted to claim a mandate come January.

Trump, vile and offensive as he is, included in some of his advertising promises of making America great again and replacing Obamacare with, well, something swell. On your side, we've got, um, let me think... "I'm with Her." It doesn't exactly invite one to say, "Yeah! That's what I'm looking for!"
I drew that cartoon on Sunday night and wrote the above on Monday, when I had no idea that all that Hillary Clinton was going to win was the worthless popular vote. The verbiage had been stewing in my head for weeks, but I'd decided against posting it earlier because I don't like all the attention the process of the campaign gets during the campaign at the expense of the issues of the campaign.

Clearly, the Humane Society Legislative Fund's ads were no more help to Russ Feingold than Hillary Clinton's ads were to herself. Health Insurance Profiteers, the FBI Director, Julian Assange and the Kremlin, however, were probably more influential in getting Ron Johnson and Donald Berzilius Trump elected than any commercial.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Uncle Sam's New Hat

I'm just putting this one out there linkless today.

The regular Q Syndicate cartoon goes up tomorrow, with a commentary I wrote on Monday. The election has changed how I feel about both of them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

There was something I was going to do today. If only I could remember what it was.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remembering Janet Reno

I didn't draw very many cartoons about Janet Reno, who had the unenviable job of being Bill Clinton's Attorney General for eight years, and who passed away this past weekend. But here are two.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

And the Winner Was...

So, are you looking forward to having the 2016 election finally over with on Tuesday? Travel back in time with Spinback Saturday, then, to the thrilling conclusion of the 1916 presidential election.

I'll start with a pre-election cartoon by Luther Bradley highlighting Wilson's Benghazi; at this point in 1916, Bradley was soon to shuffle off his mortal coil, so this may be my last opportunity to showcase his work.
"The Silent Vote" by Luther Bradley for Chicago Daily News, November, 1916
On Tuesday, November 7, Americans cast their ballots in the last presidential election in which women in some states were denied the vote. (I don't think that's a deliberate topic of Bradley's cartoon, but it's worth mentioning anyway.) The nation awoke on the Day After Election Day 1916 to headlines like this:

Editorial cartoonists, in some cases putting aside their political differences, greeted Charles Evans Hughes as the new president of the United States.
"The New Pilot" by Harry Murphy for Chicago Examiner, November 8, 1916
Some cartoonists were more enthusiastic about the Republican victory than others. At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Frederick Morgan drew at least three editorial cartoons crowing about Wilson's defeat for Wednesday's newspaper. Here are two of them, and yes, that is the actual cartoon caption printed in the Inquirer for posterity.
"The Political Ass Barrel" by Fred Morgan for Philadelphia Inquirer, November 8, 1916
"The End of a Perfect Day" by Fred Morgan for Philadelphia Inquirer, November 8, 1916
If you know anything about American history, you might be wondering why you don't remember having been taught anything in school about the Hughes administration. Well, don't blame a faulty education system. As the sun came up on Wednesday morning, Charles Evans Hughes was still several electoral votes shy of the 266 needed to win. California, Minnesota, West Virginia, Indiana and New Hampshire, with a combined 52 electoral votes, were too close to call; less than a percentage point separated Wilson's and Hughes's vote tallies in each of those states.
"Another Doubtful State—Of Mind" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, November 9, 1916
With no clear winner, what, then, was a newspaper cartoonist to do?

Fred Morgan must have had cramps in his drawing hand or run out of ink, because his pen fell silent for the next few days. The New York Evening Post reran Monday's cartoon by Oscar Cesare on Thursday, but with a new and improved caption (originally "The Anxious Seat").
"Watchful Waiting" by Oscar Cesare for New York Evening Post, November 9, 1916
By the end of the day on Thursday, California finally appeared likely to cast its 13 electoral votes for Wilson — enough to put the incumbent president over the top. Wilson's margin of victory in California was only 3,800 votes out of a million.

There is a story that when a reporter tried to telephone Hughes on Wednesday morning to get his reaction to the election returns, the person who answered the phone told the reporter that "the president is asleep."
"Newspaper Slogan" by Nelson Harding for Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 8, 1916
The reporter snapped back, "When he wakes up, tell him he isn't the president."
"Some Mix-Up" by Sidney Greene for New York Evening Telegram, November 10, 1916
The outcome in Minnesota was still in doubt when the Duluth Evening Herald ran C.F. Naughton's congratulatory cartoon on its front page; its 12 electoral votes would go in vain to Hughes.
"Good Work, Woodrow. Keep It Up" by C.F. Naughton for Duluth Evening Herald, November 10, 1916

Wilson's election having been settled by the end of the week, Mr. Hughes nevertheless did not accept the results until November 22.
"Judicial Temperament" by H.S. Smith for The Masses, January, 1917.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Q Toon: Head for the Border

With all the focus on the presidential race this year, it's easy to overlook the state and local races that directly affect many people (for example, when they use a public rest room).

The Roanoke Times gave its endorsement to the North Carolina governor for doing so much to drive business into Virginia. His precious Bathroom Bill was one factor, they wrote, explaining that "In response, various companies and even sports leagues pulled events from the state. Three of those have wound up in Salem — the NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships, as well as the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship. That’s money in the bank for us."

But wait, there's more:
McCrory has given Virginia a competitive advantage in economic development, as well. When the University Economic Development Association recently held its national conference in Roanoke, the keynote speaker highlighted a North Carolina program to encourage partnerships between colleges and companies, as a way help recruit technology companies interested in research and development. The speaker hailed it as a model for other states to follow as they try to build a “knowledge economy.” Then the speaker noted that McCrory had cancelled it. The pro-business audience groaned.
Meanwhile, McCrory's hometown newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, headlined its editorial "Why We’re Not Endorsing Pat McCrory for the First Time in 25 Years."
McCrory’s term as North Carolina governor is the ultimate illustration of the Peter Principle: that people are promoted based on their past performance and not the abilities needed for the new role and thus rise to the level of their incompetence. McCrory has certainly done that. ...
While the state’s and nation’s attention has rightfully been focused on HB2 since spring, McCrory’s lack of leadership and wrong-headed policies have been on display since his first year in Raleigh.
By the way, if you're in the Raleigh area, the HB2 Bathroom Humor show is opening in your town tomorrow.